The Taliban and Coca Cola: The Intolerable Impunity of Power

Armando Chaguaceda

Battle of Ideas. Photo: nodo50.org

HAVANA TIMES, Dec 11 — A few years ago, at the height of the political campaign known as the “Battle of Ideas,” Havana was paralyzed with unusually frequent mobilizations of hundreds of thousands of people — all of which paid for with public resources — in the well-known “Marches of the Combative People” and the “Open Forums.”

Following the struggle for the return of Elian Gonzales (an effort whose correctness won the support of large segments of the population and world public opinion), there began a vigorous routine whereby each week new marches were convened, yet these mass demonstrations were around causes distant from the concrete interests and needs of people in the faltering economy.

Such actions were decided upon by a sort of central command led by Fidel and made up of the so-called “Taliban” leaders of the Young Communists, whose capacity for submissiveness, posturing and corruption were inversely proportional to their qualities of humanism, political commitment and administrative honesty.

I remember one evening at the University of Havana when, responding to my criticism of the unsustainability of such mobilizations, a leader of that coterie cried out to me, “But that’s not the logic of it all, professor.”

And surely that luminary was right, especially since he hadn’t been with the old woman who was crying at a bus stop, stranded out in the outlying Alamar neighborhood because the day’s march had virtually hijacked all of our public buses. Since she didn’t have money to take a private taxi, she missed the doctor’s appointment for which she had waited months.

But not only in the realm of bureaucracy do these things happen, because the logic of an unfettered market plays on the helplessness of common people. This afternoon I recalled the impunity with which the powerful operate, paralyzing the city where I live (Xalapa) by the glamorous arrival of the “Coca Cola Caravan,” a private mass public relations campaign to mobilize market demand for that soft drink.

Once again, normal street traffic was blocked for several hours, with the diligent support of transportation officials who ignored our demands. Enormous trucks filled with cases of the refreshment prevented buses from circulating along their routes, obstructing the exits of markets and affecting citizens at a time (immediately after working hours) when many of them were concerned about getting their groceries home.

The cheerful members of this caravan created chaos, with rows of hypnotized people planted along street curbs, or immobilized — for hours — at the doors of shopping centers and other private or government buildings.

When things like that happen, one has to ask themself the reasons why governments and companies, which talk about “the common good” and claim to represent the “public,” show such disrespect for the rights of the people, regardless of their ideological bias.

The answer is clear: It’s because the arrogance and manipulation of the powerful reinforces the impunity that all too often shields and protects them in each one with their acts. But also because the people — meaning each one of us — let them do it.

 


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.

2 thoughts on “The Taliban and Coca Cola: The Intolerable Impunity of Power

  • Con suerte, Chaguaceda no se tomará el trabajo de responder a esta provocación. Afortunadamente, quienes amamos esta isla no podremos más que hablar o escribir sobre ella todo el tiempo. Tal es el embrujo que nos ha echado. Unos desde la desesperanza, con toda la razón del mundo, y otros desde la esperanza (como Chaguaceda) también con sobradas razones.
    Elpidio Valdés es un conocido troll perteneciente a las huestes oficialistas cubanas. Recomiendo a los editores del sitio que anulen sus comentarios sobre todo porque ni siquiera se trata de una persona, sino de un equipo ocupado en desinformar y boicotear los espacios de debate sobre Cuba en la web.

  • Los que viven en el extranjero, digo los cubanos que se fueron de la Isla por diferentes razones, desde lo politico, lo economico y lo social, hacen uso de sus pensamientos y sentimientos para expresar lo que dejaron atras y que siempre le remuerde la vida por un regreso bajo las condiciones que sus pensamientos y deseos le marcan, ya, de por vida.

    Es interesante como pueden vivir en paises como Mejico, al cual amamos y respetamos por su bella y siempre viva historia, asi como a su gentil, amable y siempre heroico pueblo, pero que en estos momentos vive una de las desgracias mas grande de su historia, un gobierno corrupto, entregado a los diferentes gobiernos de los Estados Unidos y sumido en el dolor por las guerras que provocan la droga, la corrupcion y las ansias de riquezas del 95% de sus politicos.

    Es decir este senor piensa regresar a Cuba a meterse de lleno en politica, yo le preguntaria, es que vas a formar parte de los anexionistas de nuevo tipo, es que ya eres parte de los enviados del gobierno de los Estados Unidos para desestabilizar el pais, o piensas que el es Robin Hood y que al llegar se alzara en la loma del Burro para hacer otra revolucion, que nadie le ha pedido ni pensado.

    Este senor es uno de los tantos que se canso de luchar y rindio sus armas y anhelos por una vida comoda, pacifica y sobre todo alejado de los avatares de la lucha en la Isla, y ahora se presenta como el mas preocupado, el mas preparado y el mas listo para llevar a cabo los cambios que el pueblo, el partido y el gobierno de la Isla, acordaron, despues de miles de propuestas, discusiones y debates. Le sugiero a este luchador de la loma del Burro, que siga en Mejico, que se meta en politica en Mejico, que ese pueblo necesita muchos mas que Cuba, de personas que en realidad desean ver al pueblo mejicano libre, de corrupcion, crimenes, genocidios, terrorismo, drogas y carteles y sobre todo libre de la ingerencia del gobierno de los Estados Unidos de Americ, por supuesto este luchador debe saber que de hacer lo que le sugeri, su vida estara en peligro 24X7, para eso se necesita algo mas que cultura, conocimientos generales y deseos de lucha, se necesita muchas hormonas masculinas para que no tiemblen las piernas..

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