Cuba: Obama and the Rabble

Erasmo Calzadilla

Photo: Ethel Medina

HAVANA TIMES — In a well-known story by novelist Julio Cortazar, something begins to take over a house. Room by room, the thing advances, besieging the quiet family that inhabits this house. They say the literary genius was alluding to the irrepressible advance of Peronismo in Argentina. If the story had been set in Cuba, the ghost would have surely been the spirt of the rabble.

A strange kind of rebellion is taking place on the island. Vigorously and energetically, the life-style of low-income neighborhoods is imposing itself on the rest of society, and prisons appear to be the foundry where Cuban identities are forged today.

Like the buildings in Old Havana, the culture and values that sustain civilized co-existence are falling to bits before everyone’s eyes. The work ethic, without which there can be no prosperity or independence, a culture of self-organization and institutions that protect our rights and the rights of others, let alone a culture of metaphysics, understood as an inquiry into our place in the cosmos, are also in trouble.

The man who suffered on the cross for promoting tolerance, love and kindness is a poor fellow very few people remember. The rabble is proud of being the direct descendant of violent, deceitful, wicked, fratricidal, antisocial and horny demigods. I think Nietzsche would be reveling in all this.

Today, we are a more educated people than we were fifty years ago, there’s no question about it, but we have been infantilized and atomized. The passage from totalitarianism to post-totalitarianism, and from an iron-fisted to a silk-gloved dictatorship, hasn’t had the restorative effects many had expected. We continue to move backwards, down the slippery slope of what some call the “updating of the Model.”

Compared to drug trafficking, social exclusion and the violence shaking many Latin American cities, the rebellion of the rabble is a lesser evil, no one with a brain can question this. But the reality faced by Latin America will be our destiny if this tide continues to advance. With it, we won’t be able to overcome the immense challenges that the nation will face in the short term.

The rabble cares little about this and won’t move a finger to prevent Raul Castro from passing on the reins to his family or close collaborators in 2018, as though the country were his own, private ranch. The rabble doesn’t know anything about climate change or the energy crisis and one should not expect it to do anything to keep the most savage form of capitalism out of the island. As long as there’s bread and circus, everything will be okay and, when the pipes begin to spit out lead, it will be too late to do anything about it.

Part of the governing elite is extremely worried about this problem, trying to explain and advance solutions. There’s an abundance of simplistic and biased interpretations of the problem, however.

But I’ve said enough for today. If you are curious and desirous to know what Cuba’s elite thinks about the current discontents in culture, read the next chapter of Obama and the Rabble.

5 thoughts on “Cuba: Obama and the Rabble

  • There is a difference and it is huge. While the US has certain seen better days in terms of income growth and economic prosperity, this country remains the strongest economy in the world. Moreover, as bad as you may wish to believe the contrary, more Cubans are still willing to risk their lives to get here than are Americans clamoring to live in Cuba. Finally, and this is most important. There is nowhere on the planet, in good times and bad, where you are more able to change your lot in life based upon only the sweat of your brow or the gray matter between your ears. Things are tough in Cuba and there is little hope for change unless the US helps. Sad fact.

  • yes and in 10 BECAUSE of Obama and the Elite Republicans/Democrats we will still be in our Social and Moral decline, on our Economic downward spiral, not any different.

  • Good point. The essay has nothing to do with Obama. Perhaps some connection will be revealed in the next instalment?

    Erasmus makes a keen observation: “We have been infantilized and atomized”. That’s Cuban society in nutshell.

  • Erasmo writes well.

  • Why the title “Obama and the Rabble”? Why must Cubans continue to hope for and/or blame others for their failures? In 10 months, Obama is a private citizen, Cuba will continue to be in a social, moral, and economic downward spiral. I suggest that Cubans look only to what CUBANS can do to resolve their problems.

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