Cuba and Fidel Castro’s Decision

Lynn Cruz

Frames from the documentary Nadie (Noone) by Miguel Coyula.

HAVANA TIMES – Ever since my childhood, I’ve been hearing people say Cuba is a small island, therefore the US is an abuser for taking such severe measures when the scales of power are completely tipped in their favor.

Of course, this is a practice it uses in many different parts of the world, the Empire it is. I’m not agreeing with this, but that’s the reality and it won’t change just because of somebody’s whim.

Instead, it has proven over time that Emperor Hirohito was largely responsible with Japan’s presence in the Second World War (after the US government dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese people), and faced with such a powerful adversary, he decided to create alliances.

Over time, and although this doesn’t mean happiness or the same progress for everyone, today Japan is one of the world’s leading economic powers. Another example, moving in the same direction, with similar experiences, is Vietnam.

In contrast, Fidel Castro opted for suicide in Cuba. Maybe it was his Galician blood, this ancestral nostalgia combined with the bitterness of Spain losing its Empire status to the US. 

What Cubans didn’t know back then was that while the victory of the Revolution was being celebrated, which declared the Communist Party the protector of Cuban sovereignty, it wasn’t Castro who was committing suicide himself, he was going to wipe out his own people too.

This is how he eliminated the concept of family first, which is a bourgeois concept, the family at the heart of society. Dividing families was one of the system’s first objectives. In my own case, I have now been kicked out of my parents’ home because I criticized State Security on the phone.

Sometimes, when my father advised me to be careful about the way I say things, because there are consequences and he wasn’t going to visit me in jail, I would say that the Revolution was led to end the terror and horror during the Batista era, and that if he was afraid for me, because of the things I write, then this was just proof that he was defending a government that is far from good.

The first time I was able to vent and unload my chest was when I had an opportunity to travel to the US for the first time, after receiving a 5-year visa, which this government handed out to Cubans during Barack Obama’s time in office.

I understood that I wasn’t an isolated case. I met Cubans from different eras, from different migrations. I was especially moved by a friend’s story, who was one of the children who emigrated during the so-called Operation Peter Pan (1961).

The trip meant a very emotional encounter for me, it had been 11 years since I had seen my brother, who is only 13 months younger/older than me. He left on a boat and was lucky to arrive with his life intact. He entered Florida via the Keys. He had political and economic reasons to leave. He didn’t want to live in a country where he had to steal from the State in order to live and where, you can’t say what you think, as that put him in jail more than once.

When he had been living in the US for four years, my brother went to Cuba’s Interest Office back then (now the Embassy), in Washington, and the Cuban government denied him the chance to apply for a passport and visit his family in Cuba because he had left the country illegally, risking his life, and needed to be punished.

My childhood unfolded during the Soviet era. In spite of Cuba practically being another province in the former Soviet Union at this time, as we received subsidies from the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) (which Chavists have copied when creating ALBA), Cuba was unable to develop its economy. It didn’t do this during the Venezuelan era either.

This Soviet aid lasted approximately 30 years. That’s to say, in three decades, Fidel Castro only developed espionage and propaganda, two things geared to staying in power and proving to the world that socialism did in fact work. These are the things that really work in Cuba today.

The so-called “achievements” in Health and Education are nothing more but fuel for this fire. If a doctor is receiving approximately 1 USD in wages per day, in a country where a bottle of cooking oil costs 2.40 USD, and a pair of low quality shoes costs at least 10 USD, then it should come as no surprise that doctors today need to be paid on the side in hard currency, which is what we call the Convertible Peso, or with in-kind gifts.

Meanwhile, education only works because you take your kids to school for free, but then you end up paying a private tutor, a figure that has appeared within the island’s low budget capitalism on the rise. This tutor makes up for what the deficient public-school teacher misses, that is to say, you go to a private tutor on the side.

Denouncing such things in Cuba today makes you a target, subject to interrogation, threats, and unemployment if you have some kind of connection to the Government, and if you work for a private business owner, then they can receive part of the damages. They end up being pressured by the authorities and let you go, telling you that you are putting them at risk.

And, I’ll end this post with this food for thought: all of these years of collective annihilation have only served to create individualism, a State without rights, which turned from our protector into our oppressor. Standing up to the Cuban Government today, being an active citizen within society, is like standing up the US government on a bankrupt island.

I can write this as I have also been wiped out from society thanks to my criticism, just like the island was disconnected from the rest of the world because of its disobedience.

Lynn Cruz

It's not art that imitates life, its life that imitates art," said Oscar Wilde. And art always goes a step further. I am an actress and writer. For me, art, especially writing, is a way of exorcising demons. It is something intimate. However, I decided to write journalism because I realized that I did not exist. In Cuba, only the people authorized by the government have the right to express themselves publicly. Havana Times is an example of coexistence within a democracy and since I consider myself a democrat, my dream is to integrate this publication’s philosophy into the reality of my country.

3 thoughts on “Cuba and Fidel Castro’s Decision

  • Report Regarding My Long-Postponed Trip to Havana

    In early March 2019, I finally built up the courage to visit Havana, Cuba. I spent one week there, staying at the charming old Spanish three star Hotel Sevilla, located in the middle of Old Havana.

    I remember following Cuban events while a student at Milford Academy, Connecticut, from 1957 to 1959. I remember listening to Radio Rebelde and other short-wave radio stations on my faithful transistor radio. Radio Rebelde was Fidel Castro’s guerilla radio station in the remote Sierra Maestre mountains, reporting on his effort to oust dictator Fulgencio Batista from power. He succeeded, and his revolutionary regime has endured for nearly sixty years so far, and has survived Castro’s departure from government.

    Once Castro was in power, President Eisenhower sought to strong-arm the new Cuban regime into preserving the American-owned businesses in Cuba, including the gangster-owned casinos, but to no avail. This resulted in a retaliatory American economic blockade of Cuba, which has lasted for nearly 60 years.

    Based on United Nations statistics, and on my impressions during this March visit, Cuba has since moved in two directions. It has now risen to having the highest health and education standards throughout Latin America. Conversely, due to the sustained American blockade, and perhaps also due to the Cuban government’s anti-capitalist policy, the Cuban people’s standard of living has fallen to one of the lowest in Latin America.

    Also, in contrast to sporadic physical expression of America’s imperialistic Monroe Doctrine, Cuba itself has projected its revolutionary fervor in unsuccessful military adventures in Bolivia, Grenada, Nicaragua, Angola, and elsewhere, with many deaths among young Cuban soldiers. Most recently, Cuba has opposed U.S. intervention in the rapidly disintegrating situation in Venezuela, yet reportedly has contributed several thousands of security personnel in Venezuela to shore up dictator Maduro’s highly corrupt regime. (There is no comparison between Cuba’s disciplined society and Venezuela’s, a failed state.)

    Notwithstanding, I loved my trip to Havana. Avoiding the beach life, I remained mostly in Old Havana, walking an average of four hours a day on bumpy cobble stone streets and broken sidewalks, exploring many beautiful museums, government buildings, many Spanish-era castles, delightful public and private sector restaurants, and highly scenic neighbourhoods. At my wonderful historic Hotel Sevilla, I met many sociable hotel staff with whom I could practice my Spanish, and many European and other tourists from Germany, France, Austria, Greece, Britain, and other Hispanic countries.

    What reassured me is the variable reaction to the successful referendum to pass Cuba’s new reformed Constitution. Cubans with whom I spoke were quite relaxed about the new reforms and the evolving governmental structure under new president Miguel Canel, who has succeeded president Raul Castro. I felt very comfortable in the evolving Cuba, and felt safe under the disciplined security situation. Some Cubans report visiting family members in the U.S., as do U.S.-based Cubans who now travel to Cuba.

    I would like to return to Old Havana and the comfortable Hotel Sevilla, next time with my wife in tow, realizing that I might have to make more room for visits to the beaches and shops with my precious African princess bride at my side. I would especially like her to meet my friend, professional revolutionary caricaturist, Francisco Blanco, the friend of my old Cuban revolutionary journalist friend, Àngel Boàn (now departed), who claimed that I was his favorite capitalist.

    Viva Cuba!

    Kind regards,

    Michael Saykaly
    [email protected]

  • The goverment is hired by the people, not viceversa. So, the question is simple, why the activities that allow people to produce food and services for the people are prohibited for more than 50 years? For example, if people were allowed to grow food and sell it to anyone freely then the scarcity of food will be resolved in a few years, as well as the price of food will go down. Why not letting anyone to import cars from the exterior? The cuban streets are contaminated with the smoke of 50 years old cars that are also priced 30k-40k. If the goverment gives people and private companies the freedom to do business and import cars then the prices will go down to normality, and the smoke will disapear soon (that affects tourism which is an important revenue of the island). So why and for how long will the goverment reject to work for their own people needs?

  • Ouch Lynn. You are dissatisfied with what is possible for you to do in Cuba. I know it happens. Yet to compare Cuba and Castro with the evils of Spain and the US as capitalist, imperialist and colonialist states that have invaded and intervened against their own peoples and many others in the world in all ways is perfidy. It is untrue and wrong to do so.
    The US demands of everyone in the world to follow its course for greats profits for a few or else be “intervened”, “meddled” with or downright destroyed. The only intervention Cuba has down since the revolution is on the side of peoples greatly oppressed by real brutal dictators and foreign countries (like apartheid South Africa and racist US), and the governments (such as Angola) have asked for help. Vietnam, Libya, Syria, Iraq…..did not ask for US’s “aide”.

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