By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES – The ‘classic’ Cold War that we are all familiar with, some because they experienced it firsthand and our younger generations via history books, was the clash between two opposing superpowers in the 20th century: The US and the Soviet Union. It ended alm
ost three decades ago. It had meant the end of great danger for humanity, although there are many problems that still need urgent attention.
However, in Cuba, this beautiful and agitated archipelago in the middle of the Caribbean, it would seem like Time stands still and we continue in the “Cold War” in a vicious, almost sickening, never-ending way.
In that old Socialism vs. Capitalism conflict, it looked like we were just a pawn of greater interests. Like Marti would say, “a battle of comets in the sky, which hurtle through the air engulfing whole worlds asleep.”
Later, when we no longer had any strong allies, the conflict continued like a cyst-shaped remnant of that great battle. Reason told us that it would end at some point, but it never did.
Time passes us by here, but nothing changes. However not everything is the same as it was back then. Something interesting is happening. It is shedding a light on the real nature of this conflict, or its new essence.
Today, the Caribbean “Cold War” is more of a domestic affair between Cubans. Instead of a bilateral conflict between Cuba and the US, or between Communism and Capitalism. A bilateral detente is the hostage of our own conflict, not vice-versa.
The ideological war between Cubans is the fuel that keeps the fire of discord alive. Communists vs. Democrats, it’s no longer really against capitalism. That’s because Cuban Communists introduced State capitalism a while ago, and the private sector is receiving a boost.
It’s a war between Communist pro-government political forces and the democratic opposition. The latter wants change with political and economic freedom, and a safeguard that all human rights will be respected.
This is the war that is being waged, and it is the reason for all of our chaos today. Even with regards to the US embargo. It suits the government to continue to focus on the embargo as a bilateral issue, for propaganda reasons. It prefers to sit down at the negotiation table with the US rather than the opposition. The same mistaken pride that Spain had over a century ago when it refused to negotiate with its Mambise sons in Paris.
However, there’s no doubt that if Cubans – Government and opposition – were to sit down and enter a dialogue, reach an agreement and ditch their differences, the US would lift the embargo in a blink of an eye. It would be void.
The embargo is being sustained and pushed for by Cuban politicians in this country, as part of their war. It doesn’t matter how the embargo came about anymore, because it’s secondary today.
Within this context of a national “Cold War”, many people believe that in order for the embargo to end and for social peace to reach Cuba, we first need to overcome the Communist Party and even ban it, executing many of its leaders.
But the reality is that neither the embargo, nor a detente, or the violent opposition of yesteryear and the peaceful opposition of today, both in and outside the island, has been able to topple the Communist regime, and it doesn’t look like this will happen anytime soon.
Many people believe that the “end is near” with this new avalanche of “tough” restrictions from the US. Just like a thirsty traveler seeing an oasis in the middle of a desert where there is nothing but sand.
It makes it harder for the Cuban government to do its job, but it also strengthens its politics and ideology. It can happily assume the role of a superpower’s victim. Even though it is only really crippling the Cuban people and the domestic image of the opposition. It’s the same never-ending vicious circle as always.
We’ve been in this war for six decades now. We could perfectly spend a century or more without finding a solution, if we continue on the current path. Meanwhile, our people continue to emigrate or live in absurd poverty in Cuba. The latter do so with their hands tied behind their backs and unable to get out of this fix.
But not everything is bleak right now. The only good that comes from this exhausting situation is that we exchange politely and use common sense. Something which is luckily being valued, with a lot of interest by some opposition members.
The best thing would be for Cubans to agree upon an exit strategy from this national conflict. We know the Government is arrogant and authoritarian, and doesn’t recognize the existence and legitimacy of the opposition movement. It’s an important part of its strategy. But, is it smart for the opposition to take this as an excuse not to negotiate? Of course not, because as soon as the Government agrees to sit down at his negotiation table, they’ll be leaving their politics behind.
The opposition has been hurt greatly by the Communist regime. That’s a fact, but we can’t let hate or rencor win out. It’s a dead-end street. We have to put Cuba first and I’m sure that seeing Cuba make progress will be the best healing oil. The hunger for justice should not be an obstacle in their journey for justice. We must open up roads. Our battle must be for the island first and foremost, not against the Communists.
Democracy should be our path, not destroying the Communist Party. Human rights and political and economic freedom are the real goal. Then we’ll have time for justice in all its splendor, if necessary.
Seeking a consensual democratic strategy between the Government and the opposition, that is feasible and allows us to all exist and help to build a better Cuba, is the path that looks promising in the near future. We just need to commit ourselves to it with a basic level of politeness and tolerance. The sooner we understand this, the sooner our people will have peace and be happy.