Freedom, a Divine Treasure

By Irina Echarry

I live in a free country.  Photo: Caridad
I live in a free country. Photo: Caridad

We Cubans have renounced our freedom – that ample concept as broad and deep as the sea – in order to submerge ourselves in an artificial lake of small liberties.

We delight in its name, and very few of us notice the injustice that we commit.  But we’re only becoming more enslaved, attached to the name but not to the right to exercise it.

It wasn’t so in previous times: there are plentiful examples of warriors, poets, politicians, thinkers who fought for true liberty, where no one puts obstacles in the way of citizens’ rights, where you can do anything as long as it’s not against the law, you can think and express your thoughts at any time, with unlimited options.

Everywhere that you go in the city of Havana there are allusive signs designed to make us believe that we are free as the wind: “I live in a free country,” “Liberty,” “A cultured person, a free person,” paraphrasing a quote from Marti.

But we already know that being in a place where once inside you don’t know how to get out doesn’t make you free.  On the contrary, it kills even the yearning for liberty.

Nevertheless, the artificial lake I’m talking about has been growing larger over time and at times becomes a source of confusion for people.  Those who decide to ignore the sea of liberty and live in that lake; in addition to deceiving themselves into thinking that they’re free, limit the freedom of others.

Many people live together in this lake.  They range from authoritarian figures who believe they have the right to impose their will because they once saved the country from a miserable life, so out of gratitude we are obliged to obey them until death do us part; to drivers who suddenly change the bus stops and leave people waiting under the hot sun until another one decides to stop.

Then there are clerks who don’t do their job, so that you have to go to another store to get the product you need even though they have it in stock.  The caretakers or porters who guard the doors of their establishments jealously – too jealously – so that to transact your business or to speak with the indicated person you have to break through the bunker of ignorance that has been set up in the entryway, without taking into consideration that they know nothing about what you want.

 “…The island would sink in the sea before we agreed to became anyone’s slave.”
“…The island would sink in the sea before we agreed to became anyone’s slave.”

There are family doctors who arrive late to their clinics where multitudes of sick people are waiting for them, patients who would rather be lying down waiting for their fevers to go down.  Then there’s the leaders who repeat trite phrases to the point of satiation, getting ever more comfortable in their positions of power in the face of the people’s resignation.

The people who let themselves be convinced or overwhelmed when confronted with the false proposal of liberty; who stop saying the things that disturb others, who stop listening to the things that others don’t want them to listen to, and only hear simple and false words.

The people who don’t listen to the whisperings of the wind of change that runs beside us.  The people who don’t feel the spark that lights up inside of those who haven’t let their yearnings be killed and who want at all costs to get out of the artificial lake.

Could we become capable of abandoning those small spheres of influence that give us a false sense of power in order to submerge ourselves, willingly, in the immensely deep sea of liberty that surrounds us and belongs to us?

Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

5 thoughts on “Freedom, a Divine Treasure

  • Grady, the first pre-requisite for reforming Cuban “socialism” is for the Cuban Communist Party to give up its monopoly on political and military power and adhere to basic international human rights norms. This is what the Baltic States and several Eastern European countries did 20 years ago.

    My fear is that the Cuban Communist Party post-Fidel will instead try to follow the path of China and Vietnam – introduce capitalist reforms while retaining one party rule.

  • To Mark G, Thanks for your remarks.

    We are a new movement and do indeed hope to form such a political party. Doing so however is easier said than done. Our greatest problem is that so many socialists still cling go Marxism, even though that ideology has destroyed every revolution that has applied its screwball “state ownership of everything in sight” principles.

    We believe that Marxism has done a thorough wrecking job on socialism from the inside. We believe that Marxism–not the powerful network of capitalist states–is the main obstacle to world socialist transformation. This is because it cocoons and paralyzes socialist activists.

    I agree with your view of Cuban-style socialism as not my idea of workable socialism. I’ve tried to state my alternative to it–for Cuba and also for the U.S. and other countries–numerous times in HT comments.

    I wonder if you have any suggestions for the Cubans as to how their form of socialism can be reformed?

  • Grady, if you truly believe your own rhetoric, why don’t you exercise your freedom of association and form a political party that espouses “cooperative socialism” as a key plank in its platform? Unlike Irina, you have the freedom to try to change the status quo in your country without having to fear political persecution.

    I consider myself a socialist, but Cuban-style socialism without political democracy and fundamental freedoms is a socialism that oppresses rather than liberates its citizens.

    Thank you Irina for a very courageous post.

  • Irina Echarry
    I live in the US and I feel free unless I violate some US laws that protect all US Citizens. If I do I have to pay a fine or go to jail for some period of time .
    I am a great admirer of Cuba, and what Cubans and have accomplish. As Alfred Einstien said a long time ago: “The only constant is change”. So the US changes for the good of it’s citizens, but not at a constant rate. Likewise I believe that Cuba also changes for the benefits of all Cubans.

    When the US rescinds it’s Embargo of Cuba. I think there will be more changes in Cuba that will benefit it’s citiizens.

    Robert Cowdery

  • Irina, if you mean that Cuba is a lake of non-freedom surrounded by an ocean of deep blue freedom, you are making a big mistake.

    The mistake is not in recognizing and rebelling against the absurdities of bureaucratic, unworkable state socialism. This is a healthy thing that can lead to solving Cuba’s problems. It is in believing that freedom surrounds you in the monopoly capitalist world, and that somehow you’ll be free if you can only let that ocean flood over your island.

    We live in the monopoly capitalist U.S., and (trust me) we are industrial serfs of the lowest order. We are not free! The only thing that can liberate us is to achieve a Cooperative Republic, i.e., a workable, non-bureaucratic form of socialism.

    If you can participate in working out your country’s problems and show the world workable, cooperative socialism, if you can achieve a cooperative republic, you will free your nation and help to liberate all the nations of the Earth.

    Very best wishes!

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