By Dimitri Prieto
The recent coup d’état in Honduras has left a deep impression on me.
This most recent page in Latin America history is a grand polygon of learning for us Cubans: where some see the possible reappearance of old authoritarian and dogmatic regimes with reddish “left” shades, others hope to find the answers to the weighty problems that the left forces of the 20th century were unable to solve.
In this way we are curiously examining the experiences – unknown to us in our own “body politic” – concerning popular elections of presidents, plebiscites on cardinal issues of a nation, recall referendums, fifth-generation constitutions and civic revolutions.
Any Cuban always sees such processes through their own eyes; they comment, ask questions, but are often unaware of the details (on the dwelling of the devil), because the international Telesur network is seen in Cuba only a little more than an hour daily, and we are provided solely with coverage that is preselected by some office promptly constituted for such a task.
What, a coup d’état? – in the 21st century?
We are all concerned about Honduras; hundreds of Cuban doctors, teachers, professors and other specialists are working there. We detest the shocking acts of institutionalized violence, and we know that the soil of that land was used on more than one occasion as a base to attack not only Cuba, but to also fight against the government of Nicaragua and guerrilla movements of El Salvador. Many Cubans are aware of those facts.
Over the course of the past 50 years, Cuban politics has by no means been detached from the region. However, it was a surprise for many that Honduras – perceived by most people as the most “passive” country in Central America – would elect a left president. Those of us who consider ourselves on the left of course condemn the coup.
But what do we do now? What’s going to happen?
I count myself among those who support the forces that are presently fighting against the de facto government. We stand by the deposed president and his government in exile, as well as the “international community,” which is to say the other governments that have given their support to the cause of the overthrown leader.
It is comforting to see such unanimous response – a diverse and firm response – in solidarity with the return of democratic process in Honduras. I myself would go there if it was necessary, and with an AKM assault rifle in hand if one were available; after all, I am a sergeant in the territorial troops of Cuba. We all remember what happened in Nicaragua in the 80s, and what also took place later in Haiti.
The question is whether the assistance from above of states and governments be enough, or even that of the most democratic foreign organizations created from below?
Without a doubt, the most important aspect, the most attractive and novel quality in today’s Latin American politics, is the organization of people from below: through social movements, unions, campesino organizations and among the grassroots.
This is an organizational thrust that operates in the chinks of traditional institutions of the wealthy and powerful. In the news images from Honduras that we receive in Cuba, we often lack the voices of that new democratic environment.
Moreover, I’m sure it is the poor – and not the military, nor the governments – who have the keys to the future of their country in their hands.
The politics of the 21st century are today being conducted from below and in a very diverse way, like was done in the time of President Allende in Chile and the bloody dictatorship of General Pinochet that followed.
But is the experience of Honduras important for Cuba?
Of course it is, because we ordinary Cubans are the ones who have the keys to our island in our hands. It is incumbent on us to look around and learn much about what we still don’t know how to do. If we observe what happens in our neighbor’s house, we can learn how to take better care of our own.