Revolutionary Paralysis (1)

By Esteban Diaz

Today in Cuba, the struggle against the bureaucracy is returning. Photo: Bill Hackwell

The greatest error that Cuban leaders have made is that, in certain periods of the revolution, they have imposed their political positions without mass discussion and popular debate.

I believe this error has left the leadership discredited in the minds of part of the population, who have ceased to participate actively in the political life of the country. By default, this has served only to further entrench the island’s bureaucratic strata.

Today in Cuba, the struggle against the bureaucracy is returning. Leaders such as Fidel and Raul Castro, along with numbers of intellectuals, are calling on the people to strengthen the revolution through open discussions held at all places of work, universities and settings in which the Cuban people meet.

Unfortunately, the younger generation has not acquired political experience in daily struggles, since they’ve almost always remained under the guardianship of their mass organization’s leaders, who provide them with little information about the economic, social and political aspects of Cuba or the world.

Likewise, these leaders have not encouraged open discussion on various issues of interest for young people’s development. Youth have not been encouraged to voluntarily debate and discuss the range of problems affecting their lives.

This generation, sharply critical of the system, sometimes forgets to offer solutions-or what’s worse, don’t have any. Some end up sinking into pessimism, convinced that nothing can change, while others simply surrender all power to the leaders. From what I’ve seen, this has resulted in a revolutionary paralysis among many Cuban youth.

You can’t blame them for not wanting to participate in these matters, new societies are born of the previous ones, and while they clearly develop intrinsically, they also acquire some of the weaknesses of the previous ones. To be continued…

esteban

Esteban Diaz: I am 26-years-old and from Buenos Aires, Argentina. I’m currently in my sixth year of studies at the Latin American Medical School in Havana. I like to travel, which has enabled me to get to know other cultures and see what life is like in other places. In my free time I play guitar and sometimes read books about politics.



5 thoughts on “Revolutionary Paralysis (1)

  • A prime example of this are the trials and tribulations your co-diarist, Erasmo Calzadilla, is now enduring. From what I make of it, he is an exemplary teacher, one who really engages his students and structures his courses in a democratic, participatory manner. Yet the bureaucrats, (“educrats” in this case) have made the decision to dismiss him, using specious charges. No wonder Cuban youth are becoming more alienated. Such arbitrary, top-down decision making kills the spirit. Yet all is not hopeless. There seems to be potential for reinvigorating the Revolution, but the key is to encourage, rather than discourage, more participation in the decision making process. The very fact that we have the Havana Times is a reflection of this potential.

    Reply
  • ihail!! to common sense. Great article. Kudos to both Michael and the author Esteban.

    i am here in cuba now for one mth, after several yrs in the US and although i will not be able to stay in the country of my birth, i have spoken to many young people in my own families who also seem frozen in time.

    My theory is that perhaps the in constant decision by most to keep thier mouths shut and continue the biz as usual is one of the issues that keep others quiet as well. Suffice it that perhaps it is time to engage students about what they wish thier own futures to be and to present this to the people who are still operating as usual.
    We must as Cubans, and others who are interested in seeing a democratic society understand that much of what occurs in Cuba, is vested in the OLE skool..and that often as in the case in the US the ole skool just cannot seem to let go and this is often due to fear, and a need to control

    My country has been lambasted, and accused of a lot that has not transpired, and the worlds seems to want to see/or have a sovereign gov overthrown for reasons unknown to most who have not lived through, what it was like in Cuba prior to 1959.
    Do we need change here YES!! without a doubt, but it must come through youth unequivacably and without interference other than to listen and possibly assist when asked.

    Now i know that you cannot respond here and that is NOT OK! however, for the good of the whole , simply passing my thoughts on would be best should you choose
    I am Cuban born and was there year before ans after 1959 and now it is time to allow / and encourge politically asute youth to pick up the banner of change. y con suave

    Your value Sr. Esteban..is to be saluted..

    Big Kudos my comrade

    withoutacountry

    Reply
  • Actually, Milagros, it seems like this perpetual struggle between the “Ole Skool” and the rising generations not only happens in Cuba, but everywhere. It is the perpetual dialectic between stasis and change, and while arguments can be made for either, the best way forward is a synthesis of both: preserving what is best in the old while encouraging the new. To start, the old school should LISTEN to the new generations. Only then can the conversation begin. Only then can we go beyond talking AT each other (or, worse yet, talking DOWN) to the other). Since the stated ideal of the Cuban Revolution was to create a more democratic society–both economically and politically–at least that goal remains for us to focus on and march towards, no matter how distant or mirage-like. True, it is easier to keep your mouth shut, and either mouth the slogans or respond with a dismissive “whatever” to the orders which come down from the responsables. However, this results in alienation, apathy and hypocracy, not the materials upon which a better world can be constructed. I have real respect for Esteban, Erasmo, and other diarists and posters here who go beyond the litany of offical slogans and dare to state what really needs to be done to keep the Revolution moving forward. I think their criticism of the Revolution is positive. They care for their society, love their nation, and offer positive criticisms which should be taken seriously.

    Reply
  • I agree that ther ole skool should listen..However, when the new skool has something to say all ears will open

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  • Ideas and debate are how any socialist society will progress; but what alienates the people right now is the lack of food, clothing, basic housing appliances — and houses too. And beyond that — modest, interesting opportunities for themselves on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. Not much to ask — just too bad Cuba is such a dirt-poor country.

    So the question is: how to develop the place, materially, ASAP..? And I can only really think of using ALBA as leverage for speeding up that process — which is a pretty short stick at this point in time.

    Reply

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