The Cuban Revolution Seen through the Eyes of a Commoner

By Lynn Cruz

HAVANA TIMES – Lately, I’ve been reading the views of different philosophers throughout History about the evolution of good and evil. According to Utilitarians such as Francis Hutcheson, “That action is best, which procures the greatest happiness for the greatest number” and he transformed this into the definition of good.

If you look at the radicalization of the Cuban Revolution from this point of view, it left minority groups out of the equation, and was the reason why it gained so many followers. Of course, when we look at this phenomenon from afar, there are great rifts between this glorious past and the disastrous path Cuba has taken. Populist measures were taken.

I’d like to talk about the concept of “citizen”, today. According to the Greeks, you couldn’t be a citizen without being politicial. The word “politics” come from the Greek word “polis” = city. Police and cosmopolitan also derive from this word. Politics is the art of citizens, social art, the art of living in society.

That said, what were the political prerogatives in Ancient Greece? These correspond to the citizens’ right to participate in political affairs.

What were the legal prerogatives? One of the citizen’s fundamental privileges was the right to property and access to courts and legal safeguards.

When did we stop aspiring to be citizens and turn into slaves? It’s important to note that very few Cubans were landowners before 1959. However, determination, the driving force of the class struggle and the important role of Cuba’s union movement, expressed these ideals. This is why Fidel Castro began with the agrarian reform process, giving out parcels of land to farmers.

That said, this intention disappears when the concept of private property was made obsolete, and replaced by the State. Our problem is still rooted in the nationalization of US companies and the expropiation of the middle and upper classes. In other words, the politics of looting or Robin Hood. 

Why don’t the Cuban people rebel? Those living abroad often think that those of are living on the island are either sheep or cowards. According to Nietzsche, there is a comfortable oblivion and a lack of historic spirit amongst his contemporaries. The concept of good breaks away from plebeians being “noble” and “evil”. Notions of “good” are established and organized into a hierarchy by aristocrats.

Why did Cuba’s upper middle class and wealthy flee in 1961? For the same reasons that the working class did in 1980, 1994 and 2015 with the crisis of Cubans stranded in Central America. Because Fidel Castro introduced an authoritarian regime. He repeated the same structure: chopping off heads and digging his heels in whenever he saw his power under threat. However, migrants gradually moved away from the landowners, who, as a result, don’t consider them citizens either.

Cubans abroad see the revolutionary government as a usurper. Meanwhile, the revolutionary government believes it is the absolute landowner, if you bear in mind the fact that we Cubans don’t have civil rights.

Our fellow Cubans in Florida respect the 1940 Constitution, in which stipulates that if a person leaves the country for over 30 years, they lose rights over their property. I have read some comments about this, whenever I have posted these questions on my Facebook wall. They argue that they didn’t leave the island out of their own free will. That the Revolution forced them to leave.

Those who conquered Miami were the first ones with legal status, which the US government granted them because they were political refugees.  They left with intangible heritage, they spoke English, others had done business with US companies from Cuba. We can deduce that it wasn’t so hard for them, especially during a time when capitalism presented other advantages, such as wealth accumulation. 

I’m not trying to minimize the tragedy. This isn’t necessarily a synonym for happiness. There is nothing more traumatic that having to suddenly leave your land and leave everything you own behind. Especially well-to-do ladies as we say here in Cuba, who had never had to work a day in their life and ended up working in factories.

However, am I to blame, 61 years later? My father is from a rural town and he enlisted in the army to get ahead. The Cuban Revolution gave him opportunities, just like it did to many other people from provincial towns, where he tells me there was great poverty.

Yet, it’s been 15 years since my father has seen his rafter son. Do you think that even those who have defended the system for their own reasons, haven’t suffered loss as a result of totalitarianism? My father was in a war that had nothing to do with him. He fought in Africa. Why is it that when we speak about the grief of the exile community, only tangible property counts?

Who will give me back the 11 years that I didn’t see my brother? He was refused entry here in Cuba in 2007, because he had left illegally. He doesn’t want to be humiliated again. I was able to see him again thanks to the visa program during Barack Obama’s term in office.

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.


27 thoughts on “The Cuban Revolution Seen through the Eyes of a Commoner

  • May 21, 2020 at 3:30 pm
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    Mr Circles R,
    Thanks for the further clarification.
    My understanding therefore, is that the five year multiple entry visa was scrapped under the trump government.
    The article you provided a link to has a comment from Bob Michaels which is a very good take on the matter.
    My clear understanding is that Obama’s reforms were intended to provoke and inspire change in Cuba. He was not naive enough to expect any immediate change but intended a change in the long term (I agreed wholeheartedly with this wise approach). The ailing Fidel Castro was largely negative in his response. But the reforms in themselves were entirely unilateral. Some of these reforms were subsequently reversed by trump. I understand this to be factual and not an opinion. I find it important to differentiate.

  • May 21, 2020 at 2:10 pm
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    Mr MacD,
    The aspects of the President Obama reforms that have been reversed, were reversed by trump. He did this after Fidel Castro died. Cuba has not ever reversed any of these reforms. It would have been impossible to do so as these reforms were unilateral. Fidel Castro’s much publicised response did not reverse one single aspect of these reforms.
    If it somehow makes you happy to try and pin the actions of trump on a dead man, then please carry on…….

  • May 21, 2020 at 2:00 pm
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    Mr Circles R,
    Thank you for the clarification.
    So do President Obama’s reforms regarding Cubans travelling to USA still stand?
    Or did this aspect of the much needed reforms get rejected and reversed within the other rejections and reversals instigated by trump ?

  • May 21, 2020 at 12:31 pm
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    Again you succumb to that Trump fixation Nick. The letter from Fidel Castro was posted in Granma and on Cuban TV on March 28, 2016. Bruno Rodriguez Parilla spoke on March 29, 2016 saying:”There will be no reciprocation.”

    Donald J Trump was sworn in as President of the USA in January 2017,

    That Nick is the chronology – and no matter hard you flog your dead horse, you cannot change it. It was the Castros who slammed the door shut.

  • May 21, 2020 at 6:47 am
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    I think Lynn was talking about the program that made it easier for Cubans to legally visit the US not the other way around.

  • May 21, 2020 at 2:31 am
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    Mr MacD,
    I described the article as ‘thoughtful’. You try to spin this around and imply that I am being critical in some way and I have no idea why. I made absolutely no reference to the article being either opinion or factual. I have just now re-read it. The article is quite clearly a mixture of opinion and fact. As is perfectly normal.
    The article referred to President Obama’s visa program. This was Lynn’s only mention of President Obama. You said ‘Note too her gratitude to Barack Obama, who to Cubans, opened the door to an all too brief chink of the light of freedom, before Fidel Castro slammed it shut.’
    This door was slammed shut by trump when he reversed the visa policy that Lynn referred to. And Mr MacD, this is where you are flailing at the same old broken drum. Your chronology is all messed up. As I said, there are surely enough grounds for criticism of Cuba’s governance without trying to pin trump’s actions on a dead man. This particular door was slammed by trump after Fidel Castro had gone to the big politburo in the sky.
    Have you heard of the proverb ‘Dead men tell no tales’ ?
    Well let’s alter it slightly: ‘ Dead men slam no doors’.

  • May 20, 2020 at 6:21 pm
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    Well now I understand why you find yourself unable to contribute to discussion about Cuba, without a tirade about Donald Trump(f), as Havana Times is predominantly about Cuba.
    My detestation of the Castro regime is unrelated in anyway, to Trump(f), the narcissistic bully. In that respect, Cuba is an exception, for in general Trump(f) has an evident admiration for dictators whether communist, autocratic or fascist.
    You can search Havana Times for all the years that i have contributed and not find a single example of anything to suggest that I could possibly be an apologist for that individual.
    I note with interest your use of the word prevailing, to describe the current US President, who has been in power for some three and one half years. I am surprised that if your use of the word is consistent, and as you have been travelling to Cuba for many years, that prior to Trump(f) even being a candidate for Presidency, Cubans always mentioned him, or was that a reflection of your fixation?
    Regarding Lynn Cruz, the simple difference between your view of her article and mine, is that you term it her opinion, and I term it as factual.
    Unlike those Cubans with whom you discuss, Lynn Cruz did not mention Trump, and neither did I.

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