By Esteban Diaz
I remember an episode at the University of Computer Science (ICU) that occurred a little over a year ago. Several students there took advantage of the opportunity of a visit by Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada (president of the Cuban parliament) to ask him about some of their concerns.
They posed questions like why almost all retail sales are charged in Cuban Convertible Pesos (CUC) despite the fact that workers and farmers get paid in the other national currency (MN), which has 25 times less buying power.
They also asked why people do not have real opportunities to travel to other countries around the world. They continued, asking him why there isn’t more open and ongoing communication between the Council of Ministers and the population.
Through this, the students asserted, the leadership could explain the plans that exist to solve the objective problems of the country. People would be constantly aware of these strategies and could consciously participate to help resolve the nation’s problems, they maintained.
I was able to view this inquiry through a CD passed along to me by a Cuban student. It was evident that this information was being spread in this manner, from person to person.
It would have been truly revolutionary if the State had broadcast this on television. This would have opened a discussion for the whole country, so that no one would be left with the questions and uncertainties that are held by a large portion of the Cuban people-at least from what I can see, since I hear such questions every time I go out on the street.
This would have demonstrated the government’s transparency in the eyes of the public, and would have marked an opening, showing the path to revolutionary discussion in Cuba. By not broadcasting this, they lost an important opportunity to motivate people to fight against bureaucracy in a practical way.
Social conscience evolves slowly
More directly, I was recently informed that a young woman is now being accused of being counter-revolutionary for her writings in Havana Times, which is published in English.
I’ve had the opportunity to come to know the woman, Daisy Valera, since last year we both participated in May Day and International Woman’s Day celebrations. Likewise, we have discussed Cuba a great deal, coming to the conclusion that we both are faithful supporters of Cuba’s socialist revolution.
Although her criticisms seem strong, in no way can they be considered counter-revolutionary. Currently this accusation against her is putting in jeopardy her membership in the Federation of University Students (FEU), and perhaps her right to continue studying at the university.
It should not be forgotten that the Cuban people won their greatest battle against the Batista dictatorship, and that no criticism will be able to destroy the revolution as long as the entire people are in the trenches debating and democratically selecting the future of the revolution.
Socialism is created by imperfect beings, and not by know-it-alls. Ideas are won on the field of debate, not by gagging people.
I believe that, in all circumstances, the leaders of the FEU must resolve differences of opinion on the field of open debate.
You cannot combat bureaucracy with people’s mouths shut; everyone has their opinions and it’s necessary to respect them. The conclusions of debate are settled by raised hands, not by isolating or punishing those who think differently. Social conscience evolves slowly, not with “sticks.”
I hope the students find a place in the revolution where their questions are answered and their opinions are respected, without them being judged. If these young people are not supported, now-more than ever-Cuba will not be able to overcome its errors, and the bureaucracy will triumph.
Greetings to all workers of the world on their special day next week, and especially to Daisy, given the situation that has caused her so many problems.
Ever onward toward victory…
We shall overcome!