Be wrong, but not too wrong!

Dariela Aquique

Havana's Capitolio Building. Photo: Elio Delgado

An old acquaintance taught me a phrase that always seemed ingenious to me: “Be wrong, but not too wrong!”

Simply put, it means that along this chancy road of life, we are not exempt from errors.  On the contrary, we can always learn from our mistakes, and by correcting ourselves we invariably end up better off.  Further, it’s a law of life that each individual learns how much they and their actions may need perfecting, and march in the direction of constant improvement.

Since 1959, our country (the government leadership), has adopted as their indisputable standard the construction and practice of socialism as an economic, political and social system.  From the time that this path was definitively declared in April of 1961, following the Bay of Pigs victory, a gigantic mass of men and women have opted for this practice with a view towards the levels of social justice attributed to it.

Another quantity of people rejected this choice from the beginning and marched off into exile.  The fact is that for fifty years those of us on this island have been immersed in constructing that superior model of social equity.

There have been innumerable stumbles, and these experiences noted. However, I believe that what has been done in the corresponding measures has lacked a real determination to transcend our mistakes.  Conceit reigns, in place of discernment.

I’m one of those who favor not renouncing the justice that represents the basic impulse behind the socialist model.  But I also count myself among those who advocate for curbing the dogmatisms and totalitarianisms that this system has historically spawned par excellence, something that has been demonstrated repeatedly in that the majority of nations who had adopted this as praxis choose to abort it.

I discovered a text of words spoken just 30 years ago; I transcribe them in their entirety to promote greater understanding of what I am trying to say.

“We did not always know how to take advantage of all the benefits and opportunities of socialism. We could say that perhaps our achievements would have been even greater, or higher or more complete if we had known how to take advantage of all the potential and advantages of socialism.

“We were not always wise. We did not always make the best decisions, but we were always capable, with all the honesty in the world, of admitting and of noting in time any error, any erroneous decision, and of rectifying it, in order to move forward because even when one marches through the mountains with a compass —and our compass is socialism; our compass is Marxism-Leninism — at one moment or another there may be small deviations from the route. Even ships which are sailing in the oceans at times make small detours, but they continue to advance in the right direction.”

Fidel Castro, April 16, 1981

It’s evident that this text could be repeated today without changing even one comma and that it would seem to respond completely to the moment that we are currently living through.

So what has happened in these thirty years? Our compass seems to be damaged.  Are we advancing?  If so, I don’t know in what direction or course that might be.