Cuba: Authoritarianism is Also a Popular Culture

Yenisel Rodríguez Pérez

17 St. Vedado, Havana. Photo: Juan Suárez

HAVANA TIMES – Authoritarianism encompasses everything from the most banal daily practice to the government measure with the most profound impact on society. Our social experiences in Cuba are saturated with the authoritarian culture we all complain about.

The oppression that characterizes the Cuban regime is operative in the break-up of family ties, disrespect towards consumers, the fear of defending legitimate rights, individualism, the systematic violation of people’s privacy and a long list of etcetera’s.

Over the last 50 years, for instance, Cuban educators have had no other indicator with which to guide their pedagogical efforts other than insipid indoctrination and the stereotyped status of sacrosanct authority.

How have the parents of students responded?

They have become accomplices to the injustices they face, ignoring the needs and opinions of their children and establishing an affectionate proximity to the authoritarian teachers, ultimately validating the inequalities experienced in Cuban classrooms on a daily basis.

We also have a notion of “roughing it” that confounds work with slavery and makes people avoid contemplative experiences, regarding these as mere laziness, turning the impulse to avoid knowledge about ourselves into a kind of urgent survival need.

Then there is the endless cycle of consumption: that impulse to collect, or the longing to collect objects (household appliances, for the most part), in the hopes of putting out the anguish that is coextensive with human existence. This way, we not only end up living under an authoritarian regime, we also end up being a part of it, its most solid pillar.

Being anti-authoritarian, being an opponent or critic of the Cuban regime requires daily practices that are outside – or at least try to fall outside – the domain of violence, the subtle political complicity with power and ignorance of who we are.

Anything else is gross hypocrisy, double standards and daily opportunism.

4 thoughts on “Cuba: Authoritarianism is Also a Popular Culture

  • He’s been back in Cuba for a good while now, we will make the change. Thanks

  • In his blurb (next to his photo), he says about himself: ” I lived in Cuba my entire life until March 30, 2013. I am currently a resident in the city of Miami along with my father.”

  • I do not think Yenisel would have written this post if he was still living in Cuba … Yes of course Cuba is an authoritarian regime.

    Interesting article but I wish that the author develops what he meant by “the Cuban regime is operative in the break-up of family ties”.

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