In a Valley of Shadows

Dariela Aquique

Santiago de Cuba neighborhood.

Attempting to read a comment concerning one of my posts in the English edition of Havana Times, I discovered a phrase that translates into Spanish as something like “en un valle de sombras” (in a valley of shadows).

The person commenting used that phrase to metaphorically express how they saw the current situation in Cuba, asserting that our society is foundering in a shadowed valley between socialism and capitalism.  That, in grosso modo, appeared to be the basic idea of the comment.

My attention was drawn to this point of view and I even have to admit that I had to recall Freudian postulates like the id (the state of the subconscious mind always activated in function of how others see us).  The word “shadows” was used in the reader’s assessment to mean anything from gloom and darkness to worry, sadness or glumness.

I don’t know if that person ever visited Cuba and understands the details of our real lives, or whether they’ve been sold one of the images of Cuba that are always pushed in mystified reports (with one side projecting a “purified” Cuba and the other portraying the island as “satanic”).

Of course truth is always relative.  Finally, the image held of our society was one of a frustrated society, and in my opinion that’s right, even if one does or doesn’t possess the complete body of understanding with respect to the issue.

Well aware of the phrase that perfection doesn’t exist, the great majority of us — those from here and those from there — agree what would be ideal: the island adopting the sinecure of the capitalist system while not losing the kind-heartedness of the socialist system.

The fact is that we’ve gotten lost in the attempt.  It’s worth agreeing that we’re living neither under socialism (because it simply hasn’t been achieved) nor under capitalism, which we would not allow to come back (although this is more out of arrogance than infallibility, and I’m not referring to the general consensus).

The promise of a better and more just society has been truncated.  Much effort has been put into demonstrating our values (which undeniably exist), though not to the degree that we would have wanted.  So, it turns out that at the end of the day the view held of us is one of our being lost in a shadowed valley.


One thought on “In a Valley of Shadows

  • I think that Cuba might “seem” to be in a valley of shadows, Dariela, because the economic system that was mistakenly put in place is unworkable, especially in the long run. It is a system that makes the same theoretical mistake of the Utopian socialists: trying to abolish private property right away by giving ownership of all productive property to the socialist state.

    This does not mean however that Cuba is not socialist. Cuba has a “form” of socialism because state power is held by a transformation-minded socialist party. As long as state power has not reverted to a capitalist class–domestic or foreign–Cuba will remain socialist.

    What is needed for Cuba to come out of the shadows is for the PCC to advance a program of cooperative socialism based on big enterprise co-owned by the state and cooperative worker associates. This reformed system would re-institute private property rights and bring the small entrepreneurial class into the socialist project.

    Thanks for a good article.

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