The Cuban Revolution and Time

Lynn Cruz

From the film Memories of Development (2010).

HAVANA TIMES – Politics is fiction, according to the Cuban government. I recently read a headline in which General Ulises Rosales del Toro complained: “When we owned the news.” While many people were laughing, this phrase scared me out of my wits. Saying this meant he was publicly accepting his guilt. Confessing, but without this leading to anything either.

Maybe Rosales del Toro was thinking about that Granma headline when the people responsible for sinking the Tugboat “13 de Marzo” were called heroes. There were children among the dead. This is the most visible example as it happened in Havana and was the precursor to the mass protest known as “El Maleconazo”, in 1994.

Of course, laughter doesn’t always mean fun for Cubans. In his essay “Indagacion sobre el choteo” (Mocking Investigation), philosopher Jorge Manach said that in our culture, there are many reasons for laughter, and they don’t always relate to joy. It could be a result of nerves, uneasiness, embarrassment.

A rumor recently came to light about the implementation of penalties against independent media platforms which “disseminate information, via public data sharing networks, which go against the social interest, morale and people’s decency and integrity.” The exact opposite of the Cuban government’s real face, is what this means.  That’s to say, Cuban civil society took to cyberspace because there wasn’t a dialogue, and because critics were subject to harassment and abuse.

Now, let me tell you what happened a few months before the new President, Miguel Diaz-Canel, came into power. A video was “leaked” in which he said the following about the media: “Let them say we censor, they censor everywhere.”

Ever since April 2018, Diaz-Canel’s presidency has been like French novelist Marcel Proust’s novel: “In Search of Lost Time”. He started to fill Havana’s CDRs (neighborhood defense committees) with old people so as to relive the glorious past of revolutionary surveillance in a run-down city, where many of its inhabitants are in danger of having their roofs collapse over their heads. He visited workplaces. He traveled across the country. He did this more frequently. It reminded us of the early years of the Revolution when Fidel Castro tried to rule the island from his jeep.

Howeverf, the harder Diaz-Canel tries to make an effort, the more unpopular he becomes. It might be a perverse plan so that he ends up carrying the burden of the guilt of this great failure or maybe not. The reality is that the 80-something-year-olds who rose up against Batista, want to die like the Revolution’s leader, in a warm bed. While the president unravels looking at the mess around him, the Cuban people get the Time Machine. 

Dust is being blown off old crisis measures. War rations have made a comeback. Rosales del Toro wants to be the owner of the news, wanting to crush independent media outlets. In the arts, ICAIC (Cuban Film Institute) puts on its best dress to be a new rancid institute that responds to the monopoly RTV Comercial production company. They created Decree-Law 373 which is a scam of a Film Act, a way to control filmmakers.

The postponed decline of the old rebels has resulted in a grotesque system. A horror story with ghosts who call themselves politicians, taking center stage, when they are really depoliticized. Diaz-Canel finds himself in a limbo and knows nothing about his generation. He just repeats slogans.  His story has been imposed. His memories are fake because his reality is fiction. He continues to be a test-tube man, from Plato’s Cave. The Cuban Revolution is also totalitarian for this reason, because it took control of Time. It hijacked private spaces and the public stage. It reinvented them. 

And as part of the ideal political climate, the current US government has given Cuban leaders the perfect excuse. 30 years feeding off the Soviet Union. 20 years of Chavism in Venezuela, with collaboration programs, have proved that the US embargo isn’t the only thing responsible for the asphyxiating atmosphere the government maintains its people in.

Power in Cuba is trapped in its own rhetoric and takes whatever it deems useful from the past. Any hope vanishes, because we are living in another time, not in our present today. The rope is being pulled towards progress, but fear is throwing the system back to its beginnings. A revolution which, like Saturn, devoured its own children. However, the past is returning in a mysterious way. Truth is like water, transparent, clear and it filters into every space, no matter how much you try to stop it.

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.

8 thoughts on “The Cuban Revolution and Time

  • Carlos, obviously you have not spent much time in Cuba. The capital that gets the first and best of everything has panhandlers, beggars people sleeping on the street. Cuba exports its doctors, its the prime source of income for the failing regime, in the hospitals the toilets don’t flush and medicine is in short supply, not to mention food. It has even extended to the tourist areas and resorts, it’s made it’s way all the way to the 4 star all inclusive resorts, dirty sheets, a shortage of towels ( no detergent), poor food. green pools (shortage of chlorine) soon it will reach the five stars. Just read the travel reviews. I suggest that you spend a little a little time in the neighborhoods.

  • Ey Carlos Nunes do you live in Cuba now? I think you’re listening only to the official discourse’. In Cuba the only good thing is propaganda’ and surveillance. All the money is to protect the power. I think you’re speaking just after reading the numbers, generalizations. I’m not very proud about political prisoners and you know what is the worst thing the government’s been erasing, missing people, since the beginning of the Revolution, but now we have Internet access. That is a big deal for those in power.

  • Cuba DOES NOT “have one of the most advanced educational and medical system in the world.” This is a oft-repeated lie told by Cuban propagandists and repeated by the ignorant. The Cuban systems you should praise are highly accessible and serve basic needs. Beyond that, it’s all smoke and mirrors.

  • Carlyle McDuff, completely agree the worst enemy only tell the truth.
    Thanks for your comments.

  • Let’s face it. Fidel Castro militarized Cuban Society. All the niceties ‘ y comodidades ‘ that we here in ElNorte are used to Los Revolucionarios somewhat following the example of ancient Sparta overturned. The progress of the nation and all it’s inhabitants is their alleged priority. Only time will tell who will ultimately wins this tug of war between Socialist principles and The profits above all else Capitalists.

  • It’s true that Cuba has it’s problems but looking at the rest of so called advanced democratic countries around the world I feel that Cuba has a lot to be proud of…crime rate is very low, drug problems almost non-existent, no one sleeps rough or die of starvation on the streets and they have one of the most advanced educational and medical system in the world.
    No other country in the world has such a sustainable development.
    I would rather be poor and leave in peace…

  • Lynn, it is a wonderful article recording fact. You make reference to Plato’s cave, which caused me to recall his view that:
    “They deem him their worst enemy who only tells the truth.”
    On the other hand, the great thing Lynn about only telling the truth, is that you don’t have to remember what you said!
    Information and particularly truthful information, is the worst enemy of communism. Diaz-Canel was correct in expressing his concerns about access to the Internet posing problems for the regime which he represents as Raul Castro’s puppet. Like a barrel of apples, the rot will eventually start from within.

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