Political Zoology in Cuba

By Armando Chaguaceda

Havana Scene, photo by Caridad.

People speak of “nestlings with their mouths wide open, awaiting everything from Daddy State.” These comments are made-with a mixture of good intentions and bad taste-in diagnosing the “syndromes” suffered by Cuban society.

However, the nation’s fauna includes more species that just nestlings.  It includes dinosaurs that impose their prehistoric ways of existence on every other species, and parrots that repeat their squawking, disguising it as science and public opinion.

We have crows that-stealing from everyone-prosper at the expense of scarcity as they rule the roost of the growing black market.  Likewise, we have dens of snakes that slither before imperialistic money.  Lone wolves defend to exhaustion the “double moral” and betrayals, while millions of humble, laborious bees, as singer Olga Tañon said, “descent folk”-who undo any machinations of the bureaucrats, the bourgeois and opportunists.

These days it seems in style to attack social programs (from ration books and on-the-job subsidized lunches, to rewards for leading workers).  This is justified by the reasonable demand to balance the State treasury.

Nonetheless, it may be worthwhile for us to pose a number of questions.

1-Isn’t this the same callous heresy as when in 1991 Presidents Felipe Gonzlez (Spain) and Carlos Andres Perez (Venezuela) and other western “friends”-opposed by the common sense of the Cuban majority-advised us to apply “structural adjustments” of neoliberal orthodoxy and cut the social safety net protecting seven million of our fellow citizens?

2 – Do you fight the diversion of resources by eliminating the possibility that newlyweds or outstanding students -who chose not to go to Miami- can go to hotels without using hard currency?

3 – Faced with the absence of accountability and transparency of Cuban State operations, who guarantees the people that the savings obtained will be socially redistributed and not used to provide the increasingly visible privileges rewarded to the armed forces for their loyalty (new Chinese cars, homes with garages, resort hotels)?

4 – Will society’s members continue to feel like a “uniformed people” defending the Revolution with militant commitment?

5 – Aren’t we, for realpolitik reasons, legitimizing a pattern of inequality that has little to do with the legacy of a Revolution “of the humble, by the humble and for humble”?

Will we cease being nestlings if they merely eliminate the bird feed from our mouths but not allow us-in compensation-to let personal initiative and creativity “fly high”?  By eliminating the benefits, in exchange for loyalty, are they maintaining the clientele relationship between the State and the public?   Wouldn’t it be better to expand the culture and practice of rights that would transform us into individual citizens, banishing the perverse idea of the monolithic “masses” in all national speeches?

I believe we should be attentive, because a revolution has just taken place in Cuban social sciences.  To the vast family of political sciences, a new branch has just been added: one that emulates the retrospect of political history, the mathematical precision of general political science and the passion of political sociology.  “Political zoology” has been born.  Only I hope the savage beasts don’t destroy or infect the honeycomb, and the bees-free and contented-ultimately prevail.

Armando Chaguaceda

Armando Chaguaceda: My curriculum vitae presents me as a historian and political scientist. I'm from an unclassifiable generation who collected the achievements, frustrations and promises of the Cuban Revolution and now resists on the island or contributes through numerous websites, trying to remain human without dying in the attempt.

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One thought on “Political Zoology in Cuba

  • Yeah, well. I figure you´re rediscovering that the sky is blue. “Zoon politikon”, a 2330 years old phrase, still works. 🙂

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