By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES – To many Cuba appears to be in dire straits as if there was no solution to its chronic problems but at the same time it doesn’t die.
What we know as the “Revolution” was an armed victory in Cuba in 1959, with irrefutable popular support based on the promise of reinstating the 1940 Constitution. This would have meant democracy and rule of law, something we still need today because the work remains unfinished and instead improvement the country appears destroyed 60 years later.
Let’s accept, hypothetically, that it was history that inevitably led Cuba to a rapprochement with the USSR and establishing Russian radical socialism on the island, taking refuge somewhat from the injured power (US), which didn’t accept the loss of a nearby area of important political and economic influence in the middle of the Cold War.
However, (if we are to follow this questionable line of reasoning), after more than half a century, it has become very clear that this decision blocked the path towards democracy and prosperity to one towards totalitarianism, political repression, economic disaster, hardship, migration, an ideological apartheid and cutting itself off from the world. Continuing on this same path has become a crime against humanity.
Today, we can definitely say that the situation in Cuba is a lot worse than it was in 1959. The country is in ruins and the system doesn’t even work to provide basic services. While the government that says it hates capitalism is the biggest capitalist in Cuban history, and doesn’t allow citizens to legally engage in free enterprise, not even to a small extent.
The Cuban people are at their wits’ end without transport, food shortages and without any hope of things getting better. From line to line and commotion to commotion, where people fight and even come to blows over a liter of cooking oil, a packet of detergent or a kilo of chicken.
What hope is there?
There is a political opposition movement that is advocating for democratic change, with different stripes depending on the position each group has. But divided and stigmatized, criminalized and repressed by the government. The worst thing is that the idea of winning and “wiping” out the Communists no matter what, prevails amongst them. They won’t accept any middle ground, or a negotiation, or dialogue, because there is so much bad blood after so much repression and forced exile.
Meanwhile, the government has absolutely no chance of getting the country back up off the ground. They have exhausted their ability to create hope about improvements (which have always been false), but they cheered people up for a short while.
The so-called “Guidelines” were the icing on the cake, the result of a national debate. A real let down, something which we could even laugh about if the consequences of this disgrace didn’t hurt so much. The system really is only surviving by clinging onto power and blaming the US embargo (which they call a blockade) and the opposition (which they call mercenaries) for their own incompetence.
For a long time now, all they have done is impede the change that Cuba needs, delaying our progress and trampling over our freedom. It seems that they will do this until our people manage to free themselves from the fierce social control they have on us via hardship and dependence.
The other thing that needs to happen is the Cuban people need to overcome the mental barriers, by some miracle, that stop them from advocating for the change Cuba needs, which is the best path forward. There’s no doubt about that. However, the reality is that nothing indicates that they will do this, even though this would in fact be achieving the Revolution’s own objective, with the Marti-style longing for a Cuba “with everyone and for everybody’s wellbeing. In short, the solution to our national crisis.
The divided political opposition can’t have a joint plan that is objective and it doesn’t look like they will be able to do this in the near future. Even though it plays an important and praiseworthy role as a display of resistance, it is very difficult that they will lead us to win a democracy in this current situation. Even more so if there is a strong sector that supports the embargo’s sanctions and a hypothetical military liberation intervention.
If we are to be realistic, there is only one possibility: that the peaceful opposition organizes with a plan that is in keeping with our reality, putting pressure on the government with the international community’s much-needed support; and is able to become a real option for the majority of Cubans and not just for a small radical group. In that way they could stir hope for success; and as a first option, it should always be willing to work with the government to map out the road towards democratic change, together.
I believe that a plan like this would be devastating for the official discourse and they would find themselves forced to negotiate and open democratic channels with immediate and exponential liberating results. However, the opposition needs to mature, put objectivity above passion and then, use their strength to pressure Diaz-Canel’s government to put his own slogan into practice: “think like a country”.