By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – The end of the dictatorship in Cuba was “around the corner” every since the beginning. The first emigres believed the US wouldn’t allow a Soviet satellite just ninety miles away from their coastline in the middle of the Cold War.
However, months passed by and between crisis, scuffles and other forays, Castroism consolidated itself until the Soviet Bloc collapsed and the USSR dissolved, which meant the Cuban economy lost over 80% of its market, thereby giving way in the ‘90s to what was known as the Special Period, the greatest economic crisis in Cuban history, which led to widespread and extreme poverty.
The US Congress passed the Helms-Burton Act to make matters worse, making the embargo’s legal framework even tighter. Why? To exarcebate the socio-economic disaster on the island, which was mainly the result of an incompetent state-led economic model, and to get the Cuban people to be so desperate they’d fight to overthrow this Government. As we know, the end justifies the means when it comes to politics.
Now, the pessimists on the other side of the shore are prophesizing the end of the Communist dictatorship and they’ve got it wrong again. I remember that beautiful song by Willy Chirino called “Nuestro dia ya viene llegando” (Our day is coming).
However, the economy gradually started to get some oxygen into its lungs with greater investments in the tourism industry, exporting doctors and a new supplier appeared on the scene: Venezuela’s Chavism.
Then, analyses began to focus on a post-Castro Cuba, the biological solution, in other words, the Comandante en Jefe’s death would lead to a transition towards democracy. They thought the same thing that happened in Franco’s Spain would happen here.
Once again, Time proved that they were wrong and today we are up against a military oligarchy inherited from Fidel Castro, who has a loyal governor in Diaz-Canel.
Today, most Cubans are forced to wage a savage war to survive another day, just like they had to in the past. They don’t have the resources they need to think and fight for more divine realities such as freedom and democracy.
No, Cubans are saving their energy just to get their daily bread or to find a way to escape this damned island that is stuck in time.
The regime is well-aware of this and that’s why they are blocking all freedom that allows the country to make social and economic progress, going beyond their victim and demogagic discourse. In order to hold onto their oligarch privileges, they need to maintain controlled poverty.
Not too much of it will lead to social uprisings such as the one on August 5th 1994, or the most recent and mass uprising on July 11th last year.
However, as long as they can keep the Cuban people just about alive, we can’t expect them to take to the streets to demand their rights. This has been the Government’s strategy since 1959, which has gone hand-in-hand with tactics of propaganda and repression.
On July 11th, as hundreds of people were dying every day because of COVID-19, and brutal blackouts and a food situation on the verge of famine, Cubans were driven to protest. They didn’t do this because they were suddenly overcome with a patriotic spirit, it was out of desperation.
Therefore, in addition to the repressive measures we’re familiar with, the regime employed a series of populist measures to soothe popular discontent, as well as loosening restrictions on some goods entering the country, giving attention to marginal neighborhoods and a few crumbs to a hungry people with no dignity left.
This was followed by its mass vaccination program and slight improvements that were only enough to keep Cubans in conditions of hardship they have learnt to live with.
But one tree won’t make a forest, or even four. Nobody abroad will bring us the freedom we’ve been incapable of fighting for either.
Like I’ve said time and time again, I think we’re going to have a dictatorship in Cuba for a good while yet.