What’s to Learn in Cuba from Poland’s Example

By Pedro Pablo Morejon

Bread line in Poland in the 1980s. Photo: historycollection.com

HAVANA TIMES – It’s something I see pretty much every day. Crowds of people in different places, waiting to get food or other basic essentials.

It’s something that’s always existed, to a lesser extent in the past, but ever since mid-2019, it’s got a whole lot worse. It’s so obvious that you don’t need to be a good observer to see it. People transpire stress, uneasiness and frustration in the face of situations that are out of their control.

The year 2021 has kicked off with a rough start. The so-called Tarea Ordenamiento (economic reforms) has done nothing but make Cubans even more uneasy. Wages have gone up, but so have the prices of electricity, medicine, transport, food, and a long list of etcs., which expose the awful reality of our failed economy.

We are living in a vicious cycle, with no way out it seems. The only hope Cubans have left is that the COVID-19 pandemic will end and that there will be a change in US-Cuba policy, after the upcoming administration takes office in the US. A false hope that doesn’t guarantee our future.

The 1980s were extremely hard years in Poland

I recently watched a documentary about the decline of socialism in Poland. The 1980s were hell for this country. The interesting thing is that pictures from that time are very similar to what we see today in 21st century Cuba.

They were experiencing a great socio-economic crisis, like we are now. I could see the familiar image of poverty and huge lines to get food, which confirms that we aren’t experiencing anything new. That this is a constant in every country where a Leftist totalitarian regime has enjoyed power.

The only difference is that they reached a point where Communist leaders sat down to negotiate with the Polish people. They put their Homeland first, thereby initiating a transition process to democracy, accompanied by a package of reforms that has converted this country into one of Europe’s strongest, economically-speaking. They didn’t even suffer a recession during the 2008 financial crisis, and its GDP continues to grow even amidst the current COVID-19 pandemic.

However, what’s sad for us is that our hardline ruling class isn’t willing to give up its privileges. So, they try to perpetuate “continuity”, more of the same old, a proven cancer for our country. To do this, they have turned to the same resources they always have: propaganda and repression. Recent events linked to the San Isidro Movement are proof of this.

On the other hand, there was a movement in Poland that was widely supported by the population. Workers’ strikes and people’s protests became a daily occurrence. Although it’s true that totalitarianism there didn’t hold the same iron-fist control the Cuban version has.

Opposition unity is key

All in all, the lack of unity between Cuban democrats is crystal clear. Suspicions and internal divisions have meant that the so-called “opposition” hasn’t been able to articulate a movement like Poland’s old Solidarity movement, forcing the regime to modify its conservative politics at the very least.

However, in spite of all this, if there’s one thing Poland teaches us, it’s that we can attain a democracy, no matter how hard it might seem.

Let’s take a look at some statements from Solidarity’s leader Lech Walesa.

 “It wasn’t until 1980 that we managed to unite the shipyard strikes to every social movement in Poland, and we even received displays of solidarity from abroad. We were able to tell the Communists: You always lied to us, we are the majority, we don’t want you here anymore! After that blow, they couldn’t do anything else.


“It was worth it. If I could choose, I’d do it all again. In the past, I never thought that Poland would be a free country and that I would be alive to see it, that we were going to recover what previous generations had lost, and that we were going to free ourselves from the yoke of slavery and Soviet power.”

If only we are able to become the Poland of the Americas, in the short or medium-term, with a peaceful transition to democracy, without trauma and hate.

The good people of Cuba deserve this.

Read more from Pedro Pablo Morejon’s diary here.

Pedro Morejón

I am a man who fights for his goals, who assumes the consequences of his actions, who does not stop at obstacles. I could say that adversity has always been an inseparable companion, I have never had anything easy, but in some sense, it has benefited my character. I value what is in disuse, such as honesty, justice, honor. For a long time, I was tied to ideas and false paradigms that suffocated me, but little by little I managed to free myself and grow by myself. Today I am the one who dictates my morale, and I defend my freedom against wind and tide. I also build that freedom by writing, because being a writer defines me.

20 thoughts on “What’s to Learn in Cuba from Poland’s Example

  • January 25, 2021 at 1:49 am

    Poland is propped up by EU funding.
    It is a matter of 100% fact that Poland is the biggest financial beneficiary of any EU country. These facts are easily verifiable.
    The EU is generally speaking shocked at the overt right wing nationalism of the Polish regime. This right wing regime is right on the very fringes of being acceptable in modern European terms. It is more frighteningly right wing than at any time since the end of WW2. If this were to result in EU funds to Poland being stopped, then Poland would crash.
    It would become a failed state. Its infrastructure cannot survive without EU hand outs.
    Some people in Poland think that the whole issue is caused not by the overt right wing regime, but by a big old Jewish banking plot.
    Some things never change.

  • January 24, 2021 at 7:10 pm

    I’m Polish. I was working in Gdansk during 1980 and was participating in support of Solidarity. All movement was supported by working people and money from US,so thats mean Luxemburg. People of Poland had enough of Russias dictatorship. During that changes of power, I emigrated to Canada. I never believed that going be any better. What happened all got changed, yes ,but now we under influence of EU. We paying to Brussels lobbiests foreeever . And now cost of living is so high ,government is Brussels poppet, you have all country on strikes. By the way ,Poland had chance to get money from EU , ONLY because our country is a buffer between Russia and West . Thats the only reason. Now Poland is working for Rothschild Bank. How is that changed?

  • January 24, 2021 at 5:23 pm

    As stated, Poland is on the fringes of the EU in terms of acceptability.
    It has an overtly right wing, xenophobic, Christian fundamentalist, trumpesque regime.
    Some people will think that it would be a good idea for Cuba to emulate places such as Poland. That’s because they think overtly right wing, xenophobic, Christian fundamentalist, trumpesque regimes are a good idea.
    Such overtly right wing regimes have their overtly right wing apologists and supporters. Hopefully now that the narcissistic man child trump is yesterday’s news and the enemy of the rainforest, bolsonaro, appears to be on borrowed time the world can perhaps move on from this unfortunate phase.
    Cuba should aim to go much higher than it currently is.
    It would be a shame if it went lower.

  • January 24, 2021 at 8:20 am

    “If only we are able to become the Poland of the Americas, in the short or medium-term, with a peaceful transition to democracy, without trauma and hate.

    The good people of Cuba deserve this.”

    Well said.

  • January 23, 2021 at 6:36 pm

    Does anyone actually trust Cuba’s reporting of Covid stats? Or reporting of anything else?

  • January 21, 2021 at 5:21 am

    Cuba has it’s bad points.
    It also definitely has it’s good points.

    Covid-19 death rates per 100,000 of population:
    USA – 122.79
    Poland – 88.73
    Cuba – 1.54

    These differences are dramatic.

    Being alive is definitely a good point isn’t it??

  • January 20, 2021 at 9:25 am

    Today must be a sad day for you as trump-the-loser leaves Washington.
    You claim to support democracy but support a man who tries to overturn democracy. There is no consistency.
    I hope President Biden will restore a rational policy regarding Cuba as soon as possible.
    It may not be immediate because they have a long list of damage to repair.

  • January 19, 2021 at 11:08 pm

    I Wouk like to see those good pint in Cuba according to Nick. In a country that nothing absolutely nothing works. Only police repression

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