The Problem with the Left

Verónica Vega

Galiano St. in Havana.  Photo: Juan Suarez
Galiano St. in Havana. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – Every time I see a group of people concerned about Cuba’s future, I feel a breath of hope. Every time that debate reaches the point of “are you a leftist…or just the opposite?” the conversation becomes tainted, and my hopes for Cuba trickle down the drain of exalted egos.

Reading “The exodus from Cuba as a response to the ‘reform process’”, a post by my colleague Pedro Campos, I note his reference to a past, a sacrifice and an ideology, all of which from his point of view establishes his hierarchical right to have his demand heard.

First, as if the Cuban government has ever listened to any citizen demand. Second, as if the demand were doubly legitimate since it was not launched “from within the ranks of those who have historically opposed socialist ideas,” but by a generation that today is “60 or 70 years old” and shares the same miseries as everyday Cubans, although they “did not hesitate to step forward during the Bay of Pigs invasion, the struggle against counterrevolutionaries in the Escambray Mountains, the literacy campaign and popular militias…”

This distinction makes me sad, because it deepens the fragmentation that we Cubans have suffered for decades. This fragmentation has kept us not only from articulating a solid proposal for change, but also from even defining what we want to change although basically we all see the same things: the economic uncertainty of millions of citizens; a country in shambles; a society that offers ever worsening displays of incivility; an aging and apathetic population; a youth that is growing up rootless, that feels no responsibility for their country and that places its bets on exile.

I can’t believe that after half a century of ideological pressure, of divisions and confrontations that have only harmed us (“from the bottom of the pyramid, among the dispossessed”), that at this late hour ideological definitions continue to keep us from reaching agreement about how to react in the face of that which batters us (even squashes us), events that don’t belong in a swamp of subjectivity.

Years ago I read a wise saying: “To have faith in your own path, you don’t need to demonstrate that someone else’s path is wrong.”

In the end, we’re all victims: those who unconditionally gave “thousands of hours of voluntary work in the sugarcane, coffee and tobacco plantations,”; those of us who were born with the revolution and believed in the communist paradise where there would be no social differences and where money would not exist and each of us would take from the store only what we needed; those who emigrated legally or illegally leaving behind everything that they loved.

I believe that when a demand is made in the name of those affected by a revolution that has demonstrated its failure in every sense, we all have the right, because we are speaking of a reality that is directly in our face, of a time that cannot be recuperated, of wasted lives. Likewise, because we are speaking of the country where all of us were born.

What hinders us – all of us with a stake in Cuba – from coming to an agreement regarding what we can do to try to change even some part of everything that “has to be changed.”? Not even the misinformation, fear, or the hackneyed strategy of political stigmatization could keep those who are not indifferent about Cuba from managing to develop networks where civil grievances are combined with support for those most in need.

More than ideological differences or priorities allocated according to sacrifice, we could simplify the matter to a minimum and state that we are facing problems and need solutions. No one who really aspires to the betterment of their society will put any “ism”s ahead of consensus and collective action, unless they have intentions of dominating. If the priority is the common good, the will to reach understanding and unity has to be the first premise.

Great catastrophes demonstrate how in tragic situations, differences in thinking are outweighed by the urgency of actions.

6 thoughts on “The Problem with the Left


    Take it easy on ol’ Johnny. He had a sad childhood. His daddy never loved him and he’s been acting out that drama all his life, hence his anarchist anti-daddy politics.

  • What exactly do you have against families ‘dominated’ by people with penises? Are you anti-penis?

  • An excellent essay, Verónica!

    There has been a long history of exclusion in Cuban
    political; life. During the Spanish colonial era, the Cuban born “Criolos” were banned from holding political office. All political positions were held by Peninsular Spaniards appointed to the position in the colony.

    Since the Revolution, those who are not members of the Party have been excluded from the political process. The Castro regime physically excluded undesirable Cubans from the island. Today, there are those who argue that one group or another must be excluded from any role in building a new Cuba.

    It seems clear that only when all Cubans are allowed to freely participate in the political process will there ever be a new Cuba.

  • Where do “democracy-loving Americans” like you stand with regards to the Castro dictatorship? What is your opinion regarding the absence of open and free democratic elections in Cuba for the last 55 years? Finally, do you take issue with the lack of freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Cuba?

  • The people of the United States are overwhelmingly center-right and will vote for either a center-right Romney/Bush or a center-right Hillary with hardly a thought to voting for a third party much, much, much less someone who truly is a small d democrat.
    The reality is that there is not a dime’s worth of difference between a Barak Obama and a Mitt Romney ; both support imperialism, capitalism, oligarchy and particularly Romney (a BISHOP in the bizarre Mormon church ) the male-dominated nuclear family .
    ( Mormons believe amongst other absurdities that people of color are marked by God with their skin color to mark them as descendants of Cain ( the fratricide) and inherently marked with a form of original sin ; an absurd and ignorant belief )
    The overwhelming majority of people in the U.S. support :
    1. U.S. imperialism ( our boys in uniform, the flag, the permanent war OF terror )
    2. the oligarchic government
    3. capitalism
    4. religion
    5. a male-dominated nuclear family especially in fundamentalist religious sects
    You can say that Americans love democracy but that thought is not supported by the facts when it comes to a huge majority of the people.

  • Veronica Vega is an excellent writer and, beyond doubt, she has a stake in Cuba’s future. But so do democracy-loving Americans who, each day since the 1950s, have been adversely affected by what Ms. Vega calls “a revolution.” It all started in 1952 when, incredibly, the U. S., the world’s greatest democracy, teamed with the Mafia to support the revival of the vile Batista dictatorship on the nearby island of Cuba. More than six decades later, Americans and their democracy are suffering mightily from the remnants of that ousted regime. Aligning with subsequent right-wing stalwarts (Nixon, the Bushes, Torricelli, Helms, Burton, etc.) in strategic political positions, the offspring of the ousted Batista-Mafia rule in Cuba can overrule Presidential checks-and-balances with a stranglehold on the U. S. Congress that results in official U. S. laws that benefit the revenge, economic, and political motives of Cuban exiles/immigrants at the expense of everyone else, including citizens and companies in other sovereign U.S.-friendly countries. The democracy lovers in America, for example, are not supposed to be embarrassed by the UN vote regarding Cuba each October; Americans are not supposed to be embarrassed when they read about hundreds of millions of dollars being awarded in Florida courtrooms to the families or associates of people who attacked Cuba and lost; etc. The uniqueness of the Cuban Revolution that chased the leaders of a Banana Republic dictatorship to U. S. soil is one tangent. But an even more significant one is the revival, almost instantly, of that situation in America, stronger than ever because of the vast economic superiority of the U. S. as compared to Cuba. Yes, Ms. Vega, you have “a stake” in Cuba’s present and future. And so do I, a democracy-loving American.

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