Some Thoughts on How Cuba Can Undo the Disaster

Verónica Vega

HAVANA TIMES — The title of my post alludes to the question with which blogger Yoani Sanchez closes Devaluación (“Devaluation”), an article addressing the question of how the marked and profound damage the revolution has caused Cuban society could be fixed today.

It is not my intention to be polemical, but I believe some of the undeniable causes behind this damage are the ideological institutionalization of disrespectful behavior, the country’s “meritocracy” and the deliberate propagation of vulgarity and ignorance as a means of political manipulation. Now that we’ve acknowledged the injury, however, the crucial question isn’t so much who is to blame as how we can go about fixing the immense damage caused.

ilustration by Yasser Castellanos
ilustration by Yasser Castellanos

More than once, I’ve heard the rather categorical assertion that Cuba’s gradual moral regeneration will only begin with the complete extinction of today’s generations. This perspective, which precludes any possibility of taking part in the country’s rebirth directly, is so disheartening one loses all interest in expressing an opinion on the subject. So I began to reflect on what we could do if a legitimate will to change things existed (not only among the people, of course, but also within the government). These are the points I came up with:

Wages on a par with current prices. When citizens begin to see that they can live (not merely survive) without the need to misappropriate State goods, hustle or directly resort to crime, they will gradually regain their sense of the ethical and begin to appreciate the value of honesty once again.

Workers ought to be assessed on the basis of their skills and performance and not their political loyalty. This will restore the natural order of things and make workers feel motivated. It will help in the development of different projects and do away with mediocrity, an ill that is ubiquitous on the island.

The degrading background checks based on assessments conducted by members of Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) or the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), used to decide whether a citizen should be given a certain job, travel or anything, must be eliminated.

All acts of retaliation against citizens must be banned immediately.

All individuals who discriminate against others on the basis of race, gender or opinions must be punished with the full force of the law currently in effect (or new laws that sanction such practices must be created and approved).

Titles such as “Mr.”, “Mrs.” and “Ms.” must be officially restored.

All citizens must be treated with respect in all of the country’s institutions and by public officials and police officers.

Teachers and professors must behave respectfully and use appropriate language in front of students. Classroom inspections must not be announced beforehand. The truth must be made public in the hallways, classrooms and slogans of these learning institutions.

State establishments where young people gather to listen to reggaeton music must begin to offer other dance music alternatives.

Streets must be cleaned and those who litter roads by throwing garbage from windows or balconies must be fined.

Laws that restrict noise levels, domestic violence, sexual harassment and animal abuse must be passed and enforced. Non-smoking areas must be enforced through the application of fines.

And the list goes on and on.

Many will say it is easy to dream of such things, but I believe that expressing the truth this way can undermine institutionalized lies and the bad habits people have adopted because of a lack of options, fear or apathy.

Recently, during a CDR meeting, a neighbor of mine encouraged others to attend meetings more regularly in order to trace strategies that could benefit everyone (such as payments to individuals tasked with operating the building’s water pump and with mowing the lawn, for instance). He insisted that he wasn’t calling for meetings of a political nature, that he wasn’t interested in anyone’s politics (if they had any) – that he simply wanted to address issues that affect all of the tenants.

Reality is much more compelling than mental constructions. At this point, having clearly seen and experienced the country’s moral and economic collapse, people are hungry, if not for truth, at least for progress.

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.

6 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on How Cuba Can Undo the Disaster

  • You are right. No real economic reform is possible without political reform as the economy – and all other parts of Cuban society – are politicized by the regime.

  • Look around you, John. only capitalist economies function decently. Communist economies fail. All “socialist” economies turn Stalinist. European style (social and Christian democrat) systems are the best in creating a balance. that is what Cuba needs.

  • That is your opinion, and you are free to espouse it. One day the Cuban people will free to express their opinions on the topic. When that day comes they will endorse a variety of positions and it will be up to them to sort it out.

  • If a properly functioning economy were democratic, it could not , by definition, be capitalist.
    In the case of the U.S. it is the creation of wealth for the few that drives the government policies and this also is not democratic since an oligarchy is not , by definition, a democracy.
    A democracy is a rule of the majority.
    Neither Cuba with its state-run economy and top-down (Leninist ) government structure nor the U.S. with its totalitarian capitalism and oligarchic government are democratic .
    The economies and governments of both countries are undemocratic with none run by the will of the majority .
    The difference?
    The Cubans KNOW they live in and under totalitarian systems .
    The brainwashed U.S. citizenry think they live in and under democratic systems.

  • Quite true. But the economy cannot be properly reformed without political reform. A properly functioning economy requires a free people living in a democratic society where under the rule if law, where human rights are respected.

  • Wages on a par with current prices, the author says. She is indeed right that Cubans should get a real living wage. The problem is that what Cuban workers produce doesn’t generate what is required to pay them a good wage. In a real economy it would become very clear that most Cuban companies are working at a loss.
    Without a real reform of the economy to ensure all companies are basically making enough to pay real salaries it is all a pipe dream.

Comments are closed.