Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES – In Cuba, the word “counter-revolutionary” means the same thing as “heresy”. For nearly six decades now, people who haven’t supported or fought against the political system that the Fidelista revolution imposed have been labeled “counter-revolutionaries”. It means being a “worm”, “enemy of the people”, “mercenary serving Imperialism” or “stateless”.
It was a very dangerous stigma during the Cold War and could destroy anyone. After the ‘90s, use of this term has been quite hypocritical but it is still used when somebody’s reputation needs to be tarnished or considered hostile.
I have recently been thinking about this derogatory term because State Security agents have labeled my actions “counter-revolutionary” both the times I was arbitrarily imprisoned for being an independent journalist.
However, I consider myself to be a “revolutionary”, not conservative in the slightest. I am always willing to change for the better and to accept new paradigms if they resolve our most important problems. I am also a socialist in the sense that I seek the most equality and social justice possible and viable. I say this proudly even though I know that my movement doesn’t have a good image within the region nowadays.
So if I am a revolutionary and a socialist, why am I not a soldier serving the Cuban Revolution unconditionally?
First of all, because I don’t believe that the “Cuban Revolution” has been revolutionary for a long time now. To be honest, I find it too conservative. Instead of changing everything that needs to be changed, they are only trying to conserve what can be conserved, even though this hasn’t worked properly for decades.
That’s why they struggle with economic and social projects time and time again, which are the same as the ones that failed in the past but with a few small tweaks but they still doesn’t work. And the country is sinking further and further into crisis every year, which they can’t fix. However, there’s no way that they can admit that real change needs to take place.
Secondly, because I am a determined and convinced democrat and the “Cuban Revolution’s” political formula is inevitably quasidemocratic. I am using the “quasi” prefix in referring back to what I learned studying my Biology degree which is that “almost” is something that isn’t right now but can become this while “quasi” is something that isn’t right now and has no way of ever becoming.
God, I wish I was wrong! I’m being serious.
Just imagine that during this constitutional reform process, Raul decided to lead a truly democratic reform, which could even be considered socialist, as a last-minute legacy to all of us. That he hands the single-party’s power over to national institutions which then take on a truly democratic character.
That social achievements that are sacred to our people (which we can’t really enjoy in these conditions of extreme poverty we’re experiencing) can be protected by a Constitution which gives the working class “real power” to defend their rights, as well as every social class. For it to be the beginning of a New Cuba, of national reconciliation in times of social peace and economic progress.
We are told that the reality we are experiencing and suffering today is the result of a war to the death with the Imperialist US enemy that wants to devour us, but that isn’t true. This hasn’t been true for a long time. It’s a Cold War between Cubans and we need to resolve this between civilized Cubans.
However, if the government doesn’t accept or recognize the rights of Cubans who aren’t communists, there will never be social peace in Cuba. And this expression “Cuba” doesn’t boil down to our national geographics in this case, but also includes every Cuban no matter where they are. We need to interiorize the wise words of America’s distinguished figure, Benito Juarez: “Respect for the rights of others means peace”.
However, nothing indicates change, not even in the slightest. There isn’t a single ray of light at the end of the tunnel. They continue with the same extremist rhetoric they used in the past and with an “iron hand” to stay in power, crushing any sign of social protest.
As if the world hadn’t given us so many lessons in history, democracy and freedom since 1917; as if humanity hadn’t significantly changed since then as well as a group of concepts and beliefs that seemed to be eternal and sacred truths.
It’s so aberrant that they label those of us who really want “to change everything that needs to be changed” “counter-revolutionaries”. Even journalists, while we are imprisoned or being watched over so that we don’t have a different voice or the opportunity to travel abroad.
And it’s the conservatives who are doing this today, who are only still in power because they use repressive forces and suppress basic human rights. It pains me much to see extremist Cubans with so much power to hurt their brothers and sisters, just because they think about a different Cuba. It pains me to see my country so twisted.