By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES – Everybody here already knows about Archipielago, as a unifying citizen-led platform, which was founded by Yunior Garcia Aguilera, it’s most visible face, and what happened on 15N. It would be repetitive to go into details.
The Archipielago leader decided to leave Cuba and did so on the 16th after the protest failed due to heavy militarization of Cuba’s streets, police cordons and hate rallies by pro-government forces against the protest’s main organizers. This has served as an excuse for opposition members to attack each other, for some people to lose faith and, luckily, for others to have sound judgement, which I hope more and more people have for the country’s best interests.
It shouldn’t have been like this, but it has been. Most of the Cuban government’s opposition live in exile and one understands fully why they do. But there has been an unusual attack against Yunior Garcia. Some people are frustrated and have to right to be so. Those who expected him to be what Garcia himself tirelessly said he wasn’t: a hero. Others are blinded and wrong to be so, by not at all virtuous reasons such as political envy, ideological rivalry, generational resistance and even by psychological resistance to change.
It would seem crazy, but some opposition members (not infiltrated officers, who have this in their nature) react with psychological resistance to change when they see something with potential make progress, and be successful. Something which (incredibly!) they’ve fought so hard and suffered so much for. However, that’s the way the human mind works and it also gets sick. The anthropological damage of living in a dictatorship doesn’t automatically disappear when “you open your eyes”, there are unfortunately lots of nuances and residual reactions.
After finding himself locked into his own house, threatened with prison and being taken to trial for several crimes that can easily be invented in Cuba, including allegedly being a mercenary, which can be given the maximum penalty; with his phone and Internet connections cut, as soon as the attack eased up a little, he didn’t think twice and escaped from his house, trying to seek refuge somewhere and finish sorting out everything he needed to depart, which he had planned for in the case of being sent to prison and reaching an agreement.
Was it a heroic act? No.
Was it survival instinct? Yes.
But above all else, it was a legitimate and noble reaction, as well as an individual right.
Of course, he can be criticized and doubted! Yunior Garcia is now a public figure and politician, even if he still doesn’t identify as such. He needs to get used to receiving stones and flowers at the same time, they’re part and parcel of the job. But there is a huge difference between criticism and a lynching. Lynching tarnishes the person doing it more than its victim.
Criticism is a series of opinions and judgements that derive from an analysis, and they can be positive or negative. Lynching is a public act without a trial, and in this case it’s Yunior’s image, his political or civilian actions; and his leadership too, why not.
Yunior Garcia Aguilera went to Spain and made statements and reported on the repression in Cuba before taking a shower or even shaving. The next day, he gave a press conference like no other that painted an exact and true picture of the reality of civil rights in Cuba. He could have taken his time like the majority do; he could have hung up his gloves and lived in exile peacefully; but he continued to fight in this new ring. That is praiseworthy. It’s the only thing that matters.
I can understand the system’s spokespeople, such as Humberto Lopez, and their eagerness to lynch Yunior and anyone else who rears their head for a democratic Cuba, because that’s what they do; I can understand it from political police officers dressed up as dissidents and opposition members too; but I can’t understand it when it comes from the real opposition.
Razing the ground of another Cuban who fights for a Better Cuba because they didn’t do X or Y as you expected them to do, or because they made a mistake, or because they don’t share your ideology, is to imitate infiltrated officers and the political police, but with the aggravating circumstance that it is “friendly fire”, which is always a lot more harmful and painful than that from the enemy. Worse still, it is political ineptitude, immaturity, scam, faux pas and any other adjective that means doing the exact opposite of what you want to achieve; goofing up, making a mistake.
In fact, the case of Yunior Garcia Aguilera has become a “blow” to the Cuban opposition and the result isn’t promising. It’s not only a matter of defending somebody, it’s about what these actions prove. We still have many “bad cells” acting and reacting.
It would be a good if we could show the world that we are part of the “civil avant-garde”, with better political training and democratic ideas of tolerance for having broken with the tyranny’s influence; but no, this is not the message we are sending with what is happening right now.
Within this context, the Communist Party Government’s victory wasn’t stopping the 15N protest, as so much repression handed out in time turned it into a Pyrrhic victory. It was too costly. Nor was Yunior Garcia’s voluntary departure the victory, because he is even more useful outside of Cuba. The only “real” victory was pushing and pushing until this river of awful and degrading attacks, suspicions and depreciation came bursting out; thereby diverting some of the attention to the mistakes and flaws of its enemies. They are still better strategists.
But even so, we have to admit that it’s made some ground. The opposition’s problems aren’t bigger than what they were before, I’m sure they are less, but they have become more visible thanks to social media. What’s new is that the civil activism of Cubans both on and off the island has grown and this is an irreversible process, that will inevitably lead us to a political democracy with economic freedom and full human rights. In short, a Better Cuba. There’s no doubt about that.