Post-Totalitarianism and Self-Imposed Political Correctness in Cuba

Lynn Cruz

Miguel Coyula in front of a building in ruins. Shooting Corazon Azul.

HAVANA TIMES – Not too long ago, a friend of mine ran into a Cuban filmmaker at a market. She knew because they struck up a friendly conversation, and before finishing, my friend asked the filmmaker if she knew Miguel Coyula. The filmmaker paused and pulled a slightly funny face. A few seconds later, she answered: “You know I’m pro-government.” That reaction really disturbed me. 

According to Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, “political correctness is the most dangerous form of totalitarianism.” He considers it to be a form of control that does not understand the underlying reasons for the problem it wants to deal with. Zizek sees the system for what it is: totalitarianism. However, instead of an authority ordering citizens “to do this or that…”, alarm bells are ringing for political correctness, which forces you to change your behavior to the tune of “be better than yourself, which is what you really want.”

This mature filmmaker’s reaction displays the ambiguity that comes from fear. On the one hand, the threat of Coyula’s independent filmmaking.  Fear of the “Big Other” too (my friend who asked her the question has nothing to do with the world of cinema or the government). It could even have been her own fear of change. The latter is a sign of the external move away from totalitarianism, which comes from a lack of authority. However, her self-imposed political correctness, which was out of place in this context, is a phenomenon that disturbs me greatly. 

The silencing and disappearance of critical artists’ public lives has ended up becoming common practice in Cuba. It has become a trivial action. So much so that colleagues run a mile away from them as if they had an infectious disease. It used to make sense before, because the Revolution was established as a creed, but after a long time of faith, it is now time for doubts. Only people’s fear of authority remains instilled in them like a malign tumor inside the body. I am beginning to think that Cuba is going through a post-totalitarian phase when it comes to authority but is arbitrary when it comes to individual behavior.

The crisis that institutions are suffering in Cuba today, has led to the existence of a movement by independent artists. The State neglects buildings, homes and schools. Artists have taken over their ruins. The existence of this art born on the fringes of society, forces officials and the government to be more endearing within institutions, so that they have no other choice but to deal with the non-compliance of their supporters. It puts out internal fires and then crushes external (independent) ones in a heartless way, because they are the minority.

A new measure put into force by the exile community opens up another Pandora’s box: the prohibition of pro-government artists in Florida’s media and cultural spaces. Just like I have posted on my Facebook wall, I am not a supporter of hate politics, but this decision to punish anyone who follows the party-line is a way of demanding justice.

Miami isn’t any old city, it is to Cuba what Crete was to Ancient Greece. Marginalized in this case by intellectuals and artists the world over. For a long time, people who left the island were stigmatized, considered to be pro-Imperialism. So that before leaving the country, people who went into exile had experienced a political apartheid in Cuba, realizing that the same solitude and lack of understanding was lying in wait for them in a foreign country. 

This is the story of the artists, intellectuals who left in the ‘60s and the first wave of Cuban emigres from the middle and upper class, known as the Cuban bourgeoisie. Many aren’t allowed to return. Others can’t see their closest relatives in their final moments.

Getting there is like going into a battlefield because the Cuban government continues to be ruled by the same family that created the division. A simpler take on this? While power doesn’t change in Cuba, the Cuban people will be condemned to death by suffocation.

Being an artist or intellectual nowadays implies being responsible with this reality. Therefore, until they apologize and make amends with the exile community, there won’t be a legitimate handing down of power, which is why tensions are growing against Miguel Diaz-Canel’s presidency, because the Cuban people don’t recognize his authority. With Fidel Castro, the genetic engineer of this system, dead, the cracks can be seen, and people are finally beginning to understand.

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.

4 thoughts on “Post-Totalitarianism and Self-Imposed Political Correctness in Cuba

  • Manuel E. Gutierrez in Cuba we’ve been awakening since Fidel’s death because in my case I didn’t realize how totalitarian the Cuban Recolution actually was and still is. The Revolutionary apartheid with the critics is quite overwhelming.

  • Calling the Cuban’s dictatorship socialism is an insult to socialism. The longer most criminal dictatorship in the Western Hemisphere. But very photogenic and full with mojitos.

  • Socialism is not going away soon and neither is capitalism. The struggle between Capital and Labor seems like a ‘ forever ‘ thing. It’s almost like they need each other to survive. You got winners and losers in both systems.

  • An excellent article, well articulated and with correct conclusions in the final two paragraphs.

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