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.