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 23, 2020 at 3:07 pm

    My Dear Fellow Contributors,
    I know that in the modern era the leaders of the Capitalist world have sought to establish a Brave New Post-Fact World, but let me mention this:
    I don’t side with the likes of Fidel Castro, with his ghost or with anyone else – I side with the straightforward facts such as they are in this case:
    President Obama reformed the USA’s policy toward Cuba. These reforms were unilateral.
    These reforms were overturned to a significant extent by trump.
    These are the facts.
    The rest is opinion and pure conjecture.
    As President Obama once said ‘If you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig’.
    Now someone can dress up their opinion and conjecture as much as they wish and smother it with all kinds of lipstick flavours, but it will always remain what it is – opinion and conjecture.

  • May 23, 2020 at 10:45 am

    Well Lynn, you most certainly got people’s blood pumping with this one. The Havana Times is blessed with some obviously intelligent, sometimes eloquent and always passionate readers and contributors. Your article drew response from the heavy hitters out there. Mr. MacDuff, Mr. Patterson, Nick and the usually quiet Mr. Robinson. Keep up the good work Lynn, I enjoy your opinion articles and FB posts.

  • May 23, 2020 at 8:35 am

    I agree with Circles. I believe that Lynn is reflecting on the fact that she was able to see her brother in the US 4 years ago who at the time had been out of Cuba 11 years. Today, 4 years later, her father still has not seen his son in 15 years. One more point: both Nick and Carlyle seem to agree that Donald Trump is bad news. Where I read the difference in their opinions is to what extent Fidel Castro is bad news as well. I have found that many extranjeros like Nick have a fealty to Fidel Castro based largely in their support of the Cuban people. That is to say, you can’t love Cuba without being at least somewhat loyal to Fidel. On this point I side with Carlyle. I love Cuba and, at the same time, hate Fidel. I realize that it sounds black and white. Harsh. Over the top. It is, quite purposefully. The Castro dictatorship has survived largely because of people like Nick. Most Cubans love their country. They have been brainwashed to believe that criticizing Cuba is unpatriotic. Funny isn’t it that Trump is shoveling the same crap. To be clear, Cuba had an opportunity, albeit brief, to leapfrog towards a better economy and more freedom during the Obama administration. But because of Fidel, they blew it. Trump came and the window closed. The current situation in Cuba, even with Trump temporarily in charge in the US, would be a lot better had Fidel not put the brakes on the economic and political reforms that Obama spoke of as a necessary response to US rapprochement. Carlyle is spot on. Nick should realize that Fidel was, and has always been, the problem in Cuba.

  • May 23, 2020 at 7:52 am

    Fidel Castro had countless followers in real life to carry out a revolution in Cuba that had a long devastating impact on all Cubans. Millennials today have countless followers in social media to participate in rapid monetization that has little or not much lasting impact in real life.

    If you really want to change things in Cuba in the real lasting way Fidel Castro did you will have to stop relying fundamentally on Millennials’ economy of attention and social media’s rapid monetization.

    True lasting changes come when we act locally and social media is just another handy tool. If you cannot call to action or influence with your ideas real ordinary Cubans in Cuba your political activism is just armchair politics for personal monetization even if that isn’t your real intent.

    Remember this, Fidel Castro did little. It was the Cuban people who were ready for changes but they were deceived by Fidel Castro’s own political agenda. Ordinary Cubans will have to be ready for the changes you would want to bring about for them but do not forget: Leave behind your own agendas. Do not give motives to your own enemy to judge you for what they would never admit Fidel Castro doing.

  • May 22, 2020 at 11:14 pm

    The sought for reciprocation was denied by the Castro regime within eight days!

    That Nick is the fact! End of story!

    Rambling on about what Trump did a year later, doesn’t change that fact.

  • May 22, 2020 at 8:37 pm

    Mr MacD,
    I entirely respect your opinions on this matter. I have a certain degree of respect for all conservative and capitalist opinions. Due to my travels and varied experiences in life I also respect the opinions of those who have contrasting opinions to yourself including those who are of Communist persuasion.
    But in my comments I don’t refer to opinion, I refer to fact. The facts are that President Obama’s reforms were liberating in respect to U.S Citizens’ freedom to travel to Cuba if they so wished and they were entirely unilateral and 100% non dependent on any official Cuban reciprocation. These are concrete facts.
    What President Obama wished for in terms of expectations or potential reciprocation is entirely a matter of opinion.
    As I have previously stated, it is important to differentiate between fact and opinion.
    My own personal opinion is that President Obama was not anticipating any sudden change but was ‘playing the long game’ and that we should hope that his sensible reforms are ‘de-iced’ (to quote Lynn Cruz who’s articles are always compelling and thought provoking).

  • May 22, 2020 at 2:57 pm

    Nick, the key word is reciprocation. That is what Barack Obama sought, and that is what Fidel Castro followed by Bruno Rodriguez Parilla denied within eight days. I recall the hope that Obama instilled in Cubans with his televised address, and the distress following Fidel and Bruno’s rejection.
    “We stand on the side of those who want to be free.”
    “In the long years to come, do not despair, do not yield.”
    Remember that was said to the people of Cuba, in the presence of Raul Castro Ruz, Bruno Rodriguez Parilla, Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez and the usual bunch of aged generals sitting on the balcony. The hopes raised obviously were anathema to the communists and had to be crushed.
    Yes, almost a year later, Trump removed the visas and proceeded to pander to the Miami exiles following his visit to meet with them in Miami and make promises (broadcast on CNN – I watched him smooching).
    But it was the Castro regime as named above, who rejected the Obama overtures.

  • May 22, 2020 at 12:54 pm

    Again thanks for your comments The de-icing of Obama is the best way to change the Cuban reality. Most people I’ve met from eastern European say it’s better to go gradually instead to change in a violent way. I can see the conscience awakening when the people take more power little by little. I don’t want another Revolution.

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