Cuba and the Scars of Fidelismo

Veronica Vega

Fidel Castro.  Foto/archivo:
Fidel Castro. Foto/archivo:

HAVANA TIMES — Watching a film whose plot unfolds in Nazi Germany, I noticed how similar all autocracies are, how they are all grounded in a (distorted) sense of the good and, in order to establish themselves, manipulate the common substance of human dreams (the aspirations for justice and equality), setting in motion the most basic of egotistical drives (the self-preservation instinct, physical needs, the longing for comfort, vanity, and other proclivities).

I also noticed how we all share the impulse to correct others but dislike being corrected and how, while things are going well for us, it is very easy to assume that the underprivileged are guilty of their own misfortunes.

I must admit I continue to be surprised by how some Cubans are able to see the inhumanity inherent to fascism with absolute clarity, while at the same time defending Fidelismo (which is what actually developed in Cuba under the false name of “socialism”) with sincere devotion.

They refuse to accept the fact that they are defending a system whose aim was never the freedom of Cubans but the control of their will, the annulment of the individual rather than their empowerment. I know many will not agree with me, but even the first, altruistic gestures, unfurled with a great song and dance, contained high doses of hysteria, manipulation and extortion. They were performances of goodness, staged by a revolution that would demand unquestioning servility in return.

Ignorance, lack of objectivity and judgment, a blinkered mindset, skepticism and even the fear of what’s different, all of them engendered by a one-idea system, isolation, the absence of other references, political stigmatization and its tangible consequences, are the remnants of a phenomenon we witnessed here and actively participated in for more than half a century. Like actors under a massive spell, we have slowly awakened each one of us at our own, individual pace.

Despite the decadence that surrounds us, the anxiety of our daily struggle for survival, the lack of proportion between wages and prices, television programs that always shy away from the tough reality Cubans face and the evident failure of this long experiment (to which some have already devoted their entire lives), I can understand how, out of shame or sheer obtuseness, there are still those who adhere to what they defended for many years.

What I find incoherent and ultimately frightening is that people who dissent from the position of a Left that claims to be truly committed to the common good and to democracy, a Left that has turned the demands of some marginalized minorities into a personal cause, should react with verbal violence and use insulting language to respond to anyone who, faced with a given aspect of reality (political and not) thinks differently than they do.

That is when I start to question what concept of humanity these activists have, and whether they translate their defense of some minorities into the right to discriminate against other minorities (and even majorities). That is when I see the shadow of the authoritarianism that has been hammered into us, its counterpart, and I wonder what would become of Cuba if, by a twist of fate, they ever had access to power.

It would basically amount to replacing one tyrant with another. I’ve seen it in articles and comments published in Havana Times: remarks that resemble vomit more than arguments, and it is terrifying that so many years of political fanaticism, intolerance and injustice could become the cause of more disguised injustice.

It has been said that one only gets to know someone well when one fights against them, for it is only in the midst of conflict, fueled by the longing to be understood or to prevail, of conciliating or subjugating, the true nature of people is revealed.

Just as respecting other people’s rights is a means to ensure peace and those rights include the ability to express differing opinions, the respect with which such differences are expressed and considered reveals the intentions of those who debate them. It determines the possibilities of arriving at a consensus and guarantees that new proposals serve to establish a truly plural society.

Respect is the main premise we need in order not to reproduce a version of the Fidelismo that has torn Cuba apart and from which we are now only beginning to recover.


Veronica Vega

Veronica Vega: I believe that truth has power and the word can and should be an extension of the truth. I think that is also the role of Art and the media. I consider myself an artist, but above all, a seeker and defender of the Truth as an essential element of what sustains human existence and consciousness. I believe that Cuba can and must change and that websites like Havana Times contribute to that necessary change.

38 thoughts on “Cuba and the Scars of Fidelismo

  • March 10, 2015 at 5:56 am

    The Castro regime survived with repression.
    The Cuban people survived by stealing from the government and by receiving aid from abroad.

  • March 9, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    The author seems to have a fundamental misconception about her place in the world. We are all equally powerful because we are all unique. Our reality is our own. The world is our imagination, not in our imagination but actually our imagination. We imagine people above us and below us in order to have things to aim for and things to avoid. This will always be the case so long as we seek to order our world. Order is necessarily a hierarchy if it is infinite, or else circular and finite, but a finite world offers nothing but more of the same. Both are illusions. I am reminded of a line from the Yi Jing: “One who is in a low position should look above for an example; one who is in a high position should not only look within, but should also survey his/her surroundings in order to better understand the situation.” Everyday Muslims pray for a King, a Sultan, the shadow of Allah on Earth, to look after their needs. Nothing is seen as better than this. Western democracy that promotes ego over responsibility is seen as the worst of all systems, as bad as tyranny. The author is looking at her Sultan and finding him wanting. She is internally imagining herself as above him, which doesn’t match the external reality. This is the definition of tyranny, the world upside down. I do not presume to say who is a better Sultan, Fidel or the author, as I said we are all Sultans in our own right being equally powerful as we are all unique, but I would ask the author to consider what qualities she has that mark her out as better. Then perhaps, momentarily accepting the finiteness of the world, in a circular fashion, there can be an exchange of energy.

  • March 9, 2015 at 8:24 am

    How has Castro regime managed to survive for 56 years?

    First, they lived off the accumulated wealth of the nation which the State seized in the 1960’s. Then they received billions of dollars in subsidies from the USSR, equivalent to ten Marshall Plans.

    When the USSR collapsed and subsidies were cut off, the Cuban economy collapsed into the Special Period. Castro responded by turning to tourism. European & Canadian hotel operators (Capitalists, egads!) invested billions to develop the Cuban tourism market. As a side deal, the Canadian mining company Sherritt International took over operating the Moa nickel mine when the Russians left, who had taken over from the expropriated American firm who developed the mine in the first place.

    Then along came Hugo Chavez who agreed to provide Castro with billions of dollars worth of oil, and to pay for thousands of Cuba medical workers and “security advisors”.

    You see? For 56 years, the castor’s have always found a sucker to bail them out. Today, it seems they found a new one in the White House. That is how they managed to survive.

  • March 8, 2015 at 2:51 am

    Communist regime have both created mass starvation as a result of mismanagement of the economies and – as you correctly point out – have deliberately created it using it as a weapon against the people. The famine in Stalin’s genocide against the Ukrainian people is one example. Mao’s “great leap forward” and “cultural revolution” resulted in years of famine. North Koerea is in a permanent state of famine.

  • March 8, 2015 at 2:47 am

    Well, John. The 35% of GDP subsidies from the Soviet Union kept them alive though rationing and scarcity always was always present due to the mismanagement of the economy (see the “10 million ton zafra” for example). Didn’t you know that?

    The remittances go directly to the people. They bypass the dictatorship. Trading with Cuba has only benefited the dictatorship. Cuba spends more on the military then on food for the people. It is the Castro regime that has impoverished the country. Within two years of the Castro coup Cuba lost 50% of its rice production. Your attempt to blame the food shortages on the sanctions is easily exposed a a lie with Raul Castro’s own words:

    “Castro took a few swipes at the U.S. trade embargo that has been in
    place since 1962, but made it clear Cubans have only themselves to
    blame for agriculture shortages.”
    Castro calls for tight finances in Cuba – (26 July 2009)

  • March 8, 2015 at 1:57 am

    All Latin American nations have had problems with colonial powers and corrupt dictators. Most of them have some form of more or less effective democracy. Only Cuba remains an entrenched in a dictatorship. That is the responsibility of the Castro regime.
    The Castros can in no way claim any “high ground” on Batista. They installed a more repressive dictatorship, killed more people than Batista, destroyed the relative prosperity of Cuba, … Corruption and prostitution are also back. The only thing that hasn’t come back yet are the casinos, though the “bolita” still exists.
    The destruction of Cuba can be squarely blamed on the Castro regime.

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