Yenisel Rodriguez Perez

Merchandise. Photo: Juan Suárez

HAVAN TIMES — Here’s yet another example of the absurd demagogy that characterizes Cuba’s current government: the official eighth grade Contemporary History textbook still contains the messianic phrase that crowned the introduction of its 1990 edition.

It is a quote by Lenin, which reads: “I am no prophet, but there is one thing that can be said with certainty: the old system [capitalism] is condemned to extinction.” Things like these are to be expected, I suppose, from a country that silences public opinion and prohibits freedom of the press.

The Cuban regime establishes its geopolitical alliances in such adventurous ways that it leaves behind a whole constellation of ideological inconsistencies in its wake, similar to the contradictions experienced by a child who sees a frequent change in step-fathers.

The government changes its political clothing from one day to next but does not feel obliged to rethink the decor of its ideological apparatus. Its power allows it to co-exist with dozens of demagogical Frankensteins. The regime contents itself with changing the drapes and leaving the rest in a dumpsite of hollow and decadent doctrines.

That is why, in 2014, Cuban teenagers still carry a textbook reeking of Cold War politics in their backpacks.

Today, when the Cuban government has approved a foreign investment law, turning to transnational capital in order to save Cuban socialism from economic collapse, Lenin’s phrase resurfaces tinted with morbid sarcasm. The Soviet leader was right to say, in the wise tone he used, that he was no prophet.

True, the capitalist system is sinking. The problem is that we (the champions of Leninist, Stalinist and 21st century socialism) are going down with it, thanks to a genetic affinity that has not allowed for many libertarian mutations.

It is important to stress that, even though the second edition of Cuba’s Contemporary History textbook was printed in 2005 and was reedited four years before, the “updating” did not incorporate any reference to the Stalinist genocide, an issue Cubans are aware of thanks to the informal distribution of TV documentaries aired by the History Channel (which has made dozens of documentaries on the subject).

Here’s yet another reason for Cuban students to disrespect their teachers even more: seeing that these conceal or disapprove of any reference to a past that has been turned into a kind of exotic legend in Cuba’s audiovisual imaginary.

This is akin to getting a bad grade for making a direct reference to the atrocities that take place in The Lord of the Rings.


Yenisel Rodriguez

Yenisel Rodriguez Perez: I have lived in Cuba my entire life, except for several months in 2013 when I was in Miami with my father. Despite the 90 miles that separate Havana and Miami, I find profound reasons in both for political and community activism. My encounter with socio-cultural anthropology eight years ago prepared me for a commitment of love for cultural diversity.

25 thoughts on “The Promiscuous Ideology of the Cuban Government

  • So your response is “whores & blow jobs”…

    Well thank you for your edifying insight.

  • I enjoyed your performance at the Venezuelan Embassy a couple of years back, during the “5 Days for the Cuban Five” events. Not only was yours a convincing portrayal of Hemingway (on the level of Emlyn Williams’ Dickens and Hal Holbrook’s Mark Twain), but also very participatory, (with the audience all chugging down the infamous Hemingway cocktails)!

  • Don’t have time to waste on answering most of your retort; in today’s Huffington Post, there is a good answer to the “straw men” which Piketty’s detractors have constructed. Comparing his stats to a passle of the establishment’s kept economists, his research continues to be valid.
    Over on C-Span yesterday one of the establishment’s whore economists actually tried to make the case that for most folks it is now better to rent–and even continue in this situation for the rest of their lives–now that buying a home is out of reach for an ever-growing % of the population! Obviously that Yale whore has never been at the mercy of either the capriciousness, or greed, of a landlord. Then again, as long a capitalism exists, there will always be ideological whores who use their talents to give blow-jobs to–and for–their masters!

  • There were indeed agents of Imperial Japan among the US and Canadian Japanese communities. From our perspective today, it looks like an excessive act to round up whole families and send them to interment camps, but at the time, there was little else to do. Spies & saboteurs were a real threat.

    You might want to compare that to the treatment of Canadian & British civilian nationals in Hong Kong when the Japanese invaded that territory. Twenty Canadian nurses were raped and murdered by the Japanese soldiers in the hospital ward where they had worked.

    And then there was the case of the Japanese-Canadian, nicknamed the Kamloops Kid, after the Canadian town he was born in, who enlisted in the Japanese Imperial Army. He worked as a guard at a POW camp which housed Canadian, British & American POWs. He used his natural Canadian accent to spy on the prisoners and took special delight in personally beating & torturing several of them. After the war, he was tried for war crimes by a British court, where his lawyers advanced the popular excuse of the time, “I was only following orders”. Later, after an appeal by sympathetic (read: gullible) Canadian leftists, the convicted war criminal was transferred to Canada where his Canadian leftist lawyers advanced the new argument that the accused was acting out in response the the racism he experienced as a child in Canada.

  • Ha! Piketty’s theories have been completely discredited. He started with a specific ideological bias in mind and then proceeded to construct an argument to support that thesis. The data he used was highly selective and manipulated to give the results he wanted. He ignored contrary data.

    A recent article in the Financial Times points out the arbitrary coefficients Piketty added to his equations without any explanation why they are there, except for the obvious inference that the equations wouldn’t “prove” his predetermined assertion otherwise. Then there were the several simple mathematical errors Piketty made. Still, the French economist does have his fans and the fraudulent nature of his work has not prevented him from making a great deal of money on a book about how it is wrong to make a great deal of money.

    On a more general note, you recommend to the Cuban authorities that they make available the work of foreign writers to their students. Not only is such an idea impractical, it runs counter to five decades of rigorous intellectual dogma established by the totalitarian Castro regime.

    The whole point to forcing students to read “tired old Marxist-Leninist tracts” is not to have them learn anything of value from them (because there isn’t), but as a means to enforce totalitarian control over the Cuban intelligentsia. The regime has the students read the mandated texts so that they don’t read anything else.

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