Who Do Cuba’s Authorities Think They’re Kidding?

Dariela Aquique

Foto: Janis Hernandez

HAVANA TIMES, Dec 21 — Any moderately intelligent people would soon figure out they were being duped, especially if the device was so obvious to the point of underestimating the reasoning ability of those being “fooled.”

The astute tricks being played by the country’s authorities are obvious. They are absolutely stop gap and respond to today’s Cuba, where expressions of discontent, dissatisfaction and disapproval of the political system are increasing.

In the first place, all of these maneuvers, resolutions, bills or whatever they’re being called are late. They should have been issued years ago, though it would have been better if what is being rescinded had never been issued at all.

Logic dictates that all those prohibitions were unreasonable and harmful to the people and even worse for the nation.

It smells a little strange that after so many taboos, we are now reaching these new levels of openness, and so suddenly, one after another (of course one cannot refuse to believe “in change, human improvement and the utility of virtue,” as Marti once said). But in the case of these regimes, one needs to be suspicious.

The lack of credibility that plagues their actions, the unpopularity of their plans and the level of demystification of their heroes have caused them to gradually condition society by giving Cuba a number of palliatives to mitigate the unbearable pain of its citizens, deprived of political, legal, civic rights.

But those palliatives are only that, painkillers for a condition that continues to exist. The torment will not cease without total removal.

I’ve thought a bit about this and it turns out:

The Cuba of UMAP (labor camps for anti-establishment individuals in the 1960s), of the ideological “parameters” and witch hunts of the 1970s, is now immersed in a campaign against homophobia (pleasing a social sector that can be quite defiant in extreme situations, and giving the country a new international image). However, it is being argued that Cuban society is not prepared for the legalization of relations between homosexuals, and marches and ceremonies of groups will be convened only if supervised and permitted by CENESEX and Mariela Castro, the institution and the individual who initiated this crusade.

– The Cuba where Cubans were denied access to hotels and tourist facilities designed for hard currency generation has today opened its doors to everyone (pleasing many people who have pockets deep enough for vacations and stays in these resorts.  The tourists don’t ask many questions; the Cuban presence makes for a better picture of the island and its people; and hustlers have an easier time, becoming less hostile in their aggressive in their interactions with foreigners.

By the way, currency in the hands of nationals is collected and registered in offices and files of such resorts, giving more control with the first and last names of people and their income levels.

The Cuba that once crucified the words “business” and “private property,” now allows self-employment and small independent enterprises (pleasing a group avid for private enterprise, the government collects taxes at sky-high rates, saves on the payment of wages, doesn’t have to secure some jobs and the domestic economy is made to seem to be reviving).

Yet most everyone knows it’s really not like this, but nonetheless resigns themselves to it. By virtue of not having been allowed anything, they now feel like getting whatever they can, and with many people scurrying around — daily — they will be too busy to dwell on certain analyses or engage in any activity that endangers their little business.

The Cuba where personal property seemed more like the property of the state, is now allowing the sale and transfer of properties such as homes and cars (the government is agreeing to permit owners to sell what belongs to them in the name of facilitating and enhancing the economic and social development of people. However, this is being done for no other reason than to benefit itself, charging a percentage on both sides of the transactions).

By the way, it should be pointed out that these same transactions that were carried out but illegally in the past will not be viewed as legal now, thus causing the beginning of new illegalities. But what will be exposed in the process will be many of these tricks that were carried out by the public through their lawyers and the staffs of Housing Department offices in acquiring and selling their homes and cars.

The Cuba where freedom of expression was a utopia after 1959, is now advocating the “derecho a la palabra” (the right to speak), criticism by citizens (thus allowing an irrevocable human right). Departments in the provincial headquarters of the Communist Party are now empowered to register people’s concerns and complaints.

Nevertheless, they will not accept proposals for change or questioning under this “permission.” What is demanded in universities is more combativeness against any expression of dissent and increasingly more political discussions at the different educational levels, trying to manipulate the next generation, using history and creating an awareness of the advantages of socialism as a fair and preferable system, and the only one possible in Cuba.

The Cuba of the absolutely official and centralized press, today is ironically making mention of a free unbiased press (without changing anything here, it’s pure rhetoric) every day waging fiercer wars against independent and alternative journalism, calling it cyber-dissidence, and every day blocking more sites so people are denied use of them, not to mention all the efforts made to postpone and delay access to the Internet by Cubans.

That’s why to me (and for many others) any of the new measures being put in place meet no other goal than to try to divert attention from the real problem: the need for an immediate change of policies and the authorities in place in Cuba.

Their palliatives, in concrete terms, are doing nothing but strangling the real possibilities for growth, prosperity and individual freedoms. Since this heartfelt desire is so exploited, and was abandoned so many years ago, I (and many others) have to wonder: Who are they kidding?

16 thoughts on “Who Do Cuba’s Authorities Think They’re Kidding?

  • “and even little Cuba are responsible for environmental disasters, ecological disasters”

    Let us not forget that WWF said in 2006 that Cuba is the only place in the world where sustainable economic growth can be archived.

    But whatever. Buy all liberalism you can eat, it’s not working either.

  • “Luis, the Cuba of the 80s had even bigger problems.”

    But the living standard was way better than today’s, wasn’t it?

    “If it was so successful then as you claim why did it break apart?”

    As I said, it was a model fit for the 20th century. Remember, the USSR was the second super-power. It crumbled, yes, now it’s time for the US to crumble.

    “The reason why Russia is the way it is today is because of its socialist past.”

    Wrong. The reason was the pillage of state resources by privatization of the common good.

    “I believe that liberal democracy works. I we can see it working in many many countries.”

    Then you’re either naive or a fool. Nobody feels they’re represented by any political party anymore. It is a system in crisis.

    “One day technology could make money obsolete. We may be able to have anything we dream within reason.”

    I don’t know… I think the blind faith in technology might be dangerous.

  • Walter please, I believe some some clarifications are necessary.
    First my quote

    “real possibilities for growth, prosperity and individual freedoms.”

    is from Dariela’s above post not from Elizabeth.

    I believe a great majority of people will agree on what she says. Not just in Cuba but in any part of the world we live.

    As to the definition of what is socialism. I have asked here that question before and there is not an exact clear answer. Working on the concrete form manifested in Cuba that we all have a real tangible experience with. I can show you many many Cubans that disagree with the process taking place there. It takes a lot of courage to manifest a strong opinion like what Dariela manifested here and like multiple other Cubans in Cuba do. Because the government does punish them in some way or another.

    Yes, comparing socialism to capitalism is like you say. It is like comparing apples to oranges and why can we not do such comparison? Since there is a common factor to all this economical systems and human societies, that common factor is exactly us.

    What society takes care of the individual needs in a better way without imposing to the individual. without pushing him or her to do the things they do not want to do. Giving the individual the freedom at every step at every second to make the right or wrong choices? Where you literally have your life in your hands. You are responsible for each of your failures but also for each of your own successes.
    I believe a majority of people do prefer to make their own choices in life and not have someone in government making choices for them. I do not want anyone but myself to make decisions about my life. About the simple things liker the music I listen to, about the books I read, about the movies I see about the countries I visit about my political vision. As you may be aware all of this is control in Cuba by the state. It is a very asphyxiating and paternalistic society that does not give you any personal space for you the individual to grow.

    I have to really smile with the eco-socialism!!!
    Socialism reinventing itself!! giving itself a new ideological skin.

    Russia socialist government and even little Cuba are responsible for environmental disasters, ecological disasters. Each at a different scale. To claim that socialism is ecological is really digging your head deep in the sand. I believe environmentalism have nothing to do with the economical system. Because of the lack of freedom back in Cuba it will be harder for them to protest and make the government change economical plans that are an environmental disaster. It all goes back to who is in control. Is it the people thru a truly democratically elected government or is it an elitist group?

    With regards to climate change I believe we will have the technology soon to avert it.
    From renewable forms of energy to sustainability. Many capitalist companies are leading the way. I can place here for example links to environmentally aware companies. Many others do try to recycle and limit environmental impact.

    “Like the gambling casinos of old Havana or current Las Vegas, a few get rich and the rest get ignored. Socialism is in essence the actual wish to create the opposite. So I think”
    this is the difference between theory and practice. In theory socialism and communism is perfect. In practice it does not work. Because it assume perfect humans. We are imperfect. This is nature and that is the struggle we must do. I wish we could all seat down and talk about all this things. I am glad I had my 26 years in Cuba because I learn how important freedom is.

    Liberty is what we must all fight for. So that there is no slavery in the world. No slavery of the mind. No economical slavery. I think that is more important than anything else.

  • These comments seem fueled more by anger that socialism and the leadership in Cuba did not succeed in bringing and sustaining a standard of living sufficient for all.

    First, it is irrational and dishonest to compare apples and oranges and then use the findings to support theological beliefs. If by socialism you mean the actual social-political practice, then you have to compare individual situations over time and take into account the many variables. If on the other hand, by socialism, you mean the ideal or theory, then you have to take history and possibilities into account in considering what is being advocated and why. I see theory and practice being confused in the arguments above.

    Judging both socialist achievements and aspirations by comparing the Koreas and Cuba is nonsensical. It is at best an emotional argument that clarifies nothing. So why not first consider the impact on Cuba of those championing socialism. And it would helpful, if like Julio suggests, we consider commentator’s opinions based on their underlying values and aims. He quotes Elizabeth as desiring “real possibilities for growth, prosperity and individual freedoms.” This is helpful, but only a beginning. I still don’t know Elizabeth’s definition of socialism, nor do I know if she would accept the current inequalities that exist everywhere that Capitalism in in charge. Simply put, these inequalities are the vast worldwide poverty and suffering that the imperialisms have created and maintained. And capitalism includes the actual suffering and dangers even in most of the wealthy homelands of these empires. The 99% in the US for example would argue capitalism isn’t working.

    So practically speaking, we have not had the evidence of a free socialist experiment anywhere. But we do have a vast evidence of the suicidal nature of capitalism. Do a little research and you will find increasing scientific evidence that capitalisms led by the US, and not sufficiently opposed by the other polluting nations, is driving the whole world toward catastrophic climate changes (C3). Changes that will do irreparable harm to the whole of humanity.

    Eco-socialism, which also has never been implemented, may be the only way to avoid C3. Will it happen? Do any of you who blame the socialists of Cuba for all the problems and inadequacies in Cuba today, think the government and military of my country, who are doing everything they can to make socialism fail in Cuba and everywhere, will change their stripes and try to save us all from C3?

    And it isn’t irrelevant to this discussion, to point out that the first and for a long time, only government leader who called for a worldwide effort to “avert” the devastation of climate change, particularly on the poorer peoples of the world, was Fidel Castro. A socialist, who lately has admitted many mistakes, but it is the world’s mistake that we or our grandchildren will suffer if his prescient warning remains ignored by those who control the outcome.

    Like the gambling casinos of old Havana or current Las Vegas, a few get rich and the rest get ignored. Socialism is in essence the actual wish to create the opposite. So I think.

  • Luis, the Cuba of the 80s had even bigger problems. Their economy back then was subsidized by the Russians. The Russians sent oil and it was mismanaged. If it was so successful then as you claim why did it break apart?
    The reason why Russia is the way it is today is because of its socialist past. I am afraid that will also be the future of Cuba. That is why I hope the current government does what needs to be done to take the country towards freedom and democracy and away from corruption and few people in control with all the money and all the power.
    I believe that liberal democracy works. I we can see it working in many many countries. I can not name a socialist country where socialism ever work. If we skip over the propaganda and see the realities socialism was a terrible mistake.
    There is a lot of similarities between Cuba and North Korea unfortunately. I grant you that Cuba is more open than the reclusive north Korean regime. Nevertheless both have been ruled by a family dynasty that has not listened to the will of its people.

    As for looking for alternative as I was mentioning I believe social systems can only change in dependence of the technological advances. One day technology could make money obsolete. We may be able to have anything we dream within reason. Maybe it does not even have to be materials things. That will make any talks about economical systems futile.

  • Julio, first of all, the difference between Cuba and RNK is huge.

    Second, socialism is not an ‘impossible dream’. It also can “flourish given the right implementation of it”. Remember Cuba of the 80’s, or compare the USSR to the mob-ruled Russia of today.

    But, as I said in another post, these models (liberal ‘democracy’ and state ‘socialism’) were fit for the 20th century. We must look for alternatives. Or do you think that the US way-of-life can be implemented everywhere? Now THAT is impossible, because it is environmentally unsustainable.

  • Yes you are right Luis but the promise of socialism was not that one. The creators of socialism and followers promise something that never materialized.

    A Utopian dream.

    Even worst an impossible dream.

    As for rich or not rich countries, We can see South Korea for example compare it to the north (A Stalinist regime not very different than Cuba is) maybe a tad more to the left of Cuba. The different is abysmal. The same way you can look at many capitalist countries in Asia that have sprung up in the last 50 years and are doing quite well. Malasia is another example. What we can conclude is that free capitalism can flourish given the right implementation of it. Socialism can not for any country.

  • “Because for the great majority of Cubans life is very difficult. It is a daily struggle.”

    We can say the same for the majority of people in the world. Or do you think capitalism is only bound to rich countries?

  • cuba has food shortages but life expectancy is about the same as america and other rich countries. why? cuba has a shortage of 500-600 pound monsters. cuba has a shortage of 300 pound hamburger princesses.

  • when people don’t have a lot, they socialize on the street instead of watching garbage sit-coms in their house with wide screen television. they are happier socializing on the street. this is true in socialist and capitalist countries which are low income.

  • Luis I bet that if Dariela or any other Cuban invited Elizabeth to live in Cuba like a Cuban with whatever a Cuban gets and without any privilege with no access to foreign currency and to struggle the way a Cuban must do each day to survive then she will have a very different opinion about socialism. I believe Elizabeth opinion is not based on facts. I just pointed that out. Because for the great majority of Cubans life is very difficult. It is a daily struggle.

    Elizabeth complains about poverty but she does not seem to know that the average Cuban earns between 10 to 20 dollars a month. Many of the prices for food and other items in Cuba are as high or higher than in the USA.
    So a country where pretty much all 11 millions earn this 10 to 20 dollars is a country of poor people. Families that are able to get by do so thru the help of relatives outside.

  • Walter, I think what Dariela would like to see from the tone of her article is a change in leadership. She as many Cubans do not believe in the elite and in socialism. You can resume the kernel of what cubans want in this words she expressed at the end

    “real possibilities for growth, prosperity and individual freedoms.”

    for obvious reasons nobody will trust those in power to be able to deliver any of this.

  • So now we have to have a ‘experience card’ to show our own opinions?

  • This seems to be one of three types of articles I find on this site. Some are interesting personal experiences of Cubans about Cuba. A few are more serious examinations of Cuban problems with attempts to understand and offer positive suggestions. But this article is a more common type where the sole point is to complain while not offering any solutions.

    In the US, we have lots of people, both ordinary and some well paid for their views who delight is criticizing all efforts to make any social change for the better. (Actually there have been less of those lately as they are mostly focused on attacking the “occupy” movement.) These criticisms look for all t he faults and failures of progressive efforts whether revolutions or just movements, and they can easily find many. But they never offer any helpful suggestions, except give up and give in to the powers that be. One way to stop their verbal diarrhea is to ask them what would they have done to better achieve success, if they had been leaders? How would they have succeeded in keeping a democratic, genuinely socialistic, or even christian communist movement alive lone enough for people to really benefit? Easy to criticize, hard to help, much less lead.

    Dariela Aquique, what are your positive suggestions and how might they work for the real benefit of the majority of Cubans or people anywhere? Persuade me.

  • Elizabeth, how do you know this?
    “Socialism is a good thing and it is something we should all aspire to. ”
    what real experience have you to demonstrate what you write?
    Poverty is everywhere. If you can visit Socialist Cuba it will open your eyes.

  • The problems in Cuba have more to do with the US embargo and with elitism within Cuba than they do with socialism. Socialism is a good thing and it is something we should all aspire to. Cooperation, not competition, will bring about happiness worldwide. As you know, poverty is rampant in the US, even though it is a country that has so much materially. And the health of Americans is much worse than the health of Cubans. I’m just sayin’…..

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