The Obstacle Course to US-Cuba Fence Mending

José Jasán Nieves Cárdenas  (Progreso Weekly)

Revolution Square on Tuesday afternoon December 30th.

HAVANA TIMES — The “artistic” performance that Tania Bruguera had planned to stage on Tuesday (Dec. 30) in Revolution Square was the first of many tricks aimed at the process of normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, announced by Washington and Havana on Dec. 17.

The time set for the event came and went and the Square remained as before, bathed in sunlight, with few visitors. In the distance, a group of the always large contingent of foreign journalists, waited for the event’s organizers, who never showed up. House detention and the detention of some of the activists who presumably would “act” in Bruguera’s performance froze a project that concealed a provocation.

Ever since the platform #Yotambienexijo announced the initiative, we could predict a scenario of confrontation and violence that could have had some very tough consequences.

Tania Bruguera, who arrived in Havana on Saturday (Dec. 27), had been asked by the National Council of Plastic Arts to move her performance into the National Museum of Fine Arts, a non-politicized space, but she did not accept that alternative.

What surrounded this “artistic act” — which attracted no ordinary people and was thwarted by the detention of dissident activists such as A. Rodiles, E. Ávila and R. Escobar — was a concentrated example of how complex political strategies will become, now that the direct confrontation between the two governments has allegedly ended and we enter the field of underhanded tactics.

To try to place a podium in one of the most symbolic spaces of the Cuban Revolution, without authorization and against the rules, and to try to make it a protest site — in the style of Tahrir Square in Egypt, Maidan Square in the Ukraine or Occupy Wall Street in New York — sounds like an attempt at slapping the faces of Cuban government officials and those leaders in Washington who are trying to change the brutal policy maintained for more than 50 years against Cuba.

The provocation sought repression, not true dialogue.

The island’s hierarchy now acts in the knowledge that the U.S. government modified the method — not the objective — of “regime change.”

Journalists setting up for the performance that never happened.

Bruguera and her sponsors have achieved a few minutes of television time and some moments of “trending topic” in these festive year-end days. While doing so, they enabled many media to reaffirm the image of the country’s authorities as people who limit freedom of expression.

That is why dissident blogger Yoani Sánchez congratulated the Bruguera this afternoon, saying that “I told her that part of her performance was accomplished by the disclosure of censorship.”

Only a few days after inaugurating this new stage in bilateral relations, the Cuban government faces the same problems: How to ensure governability and sovereignty in the face of such a powerful enemy? How to deal with the desire for and right to free expression of any Cuban?

This saga is just starting. It is very likely that skirmishes like this will recur. And we’ll have to try new kinds of responses that tend to alleviate hostility and broaden the margins of tolerance for all the participants, so long as the game is fair.

Today was a regrettable day when anger reigned. As this article is written, Tania Bruguera has not appeared. The activists are beginning to call for her. And there’s the impression that another circle of ambiguities, opacities and distortions is opening. That’s just what the Cuban people do not deserve, at the dawn of a New Year that should be a haven of peace.

21 thoughts on “The Obstacle Course to US-Cuba Fence Mending

  • January 5, 2015 at 10:37 am

    This is Havana Times, not Gaza Times.

    But if you want to defend the genocidal terrorists of Hamas, go right ahead. Rachel Corrie ran in front of a working bulldozer and attempted to climb up on the blade. She was a fanatical fool who caused her own death. She did that while attempting to defend a house which covered a tunnel entrance used by Hamas to smuggle weapons into Gaza.

  • January 5, 2015 at 9:46 am

    I do not advocate the use of street violence to sort out political disputes, as the Left does. The Tea Party rallies have been peaceful and law-abiding, in contrast to the numerous criminal acts of vandalism, robbery, assault and rape carried out by the Occupy protesters.

    However, should the Occupy mobs try to take their protests up a notch and attack a Tea Party rally (a prospect which must excite emagicmtman’s aged hippy heart), the Leftist mob will be in for one hell of a surprise. The average Tea Party member is better armed, better trained and has far better tactical combat skills than the anarchists rioters who think trashing a bank window is a brave revolutionary act.

  • January 4, 2015 at 5:44 pm

    Isn’t it curious how Moses, Griffin, Cubaqus, Humberto Capiro and the other habitual members of the counter-revolutionary brigades never seem to mention the far more deadly consequences when Americans who support the Palestinian cause face when they attempt to protest. Many are turned back at the Israeli airports, and those who do make it through to the occupied territories, such as Rachel Corrie, are often the victims of outright murder by the so-called “I.D.S.” This, of course, is not only true with such “allies” as Israel, but also any place else in the world where authoritarian and dictatorial stooges, such as in Honduras, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, etc. “disappear” their opponents in the process of serving their imperial masters.

  • January 4, 2015 at 10:44 am

    Perhaps part of her “performance art” piece was the repressive role played by the Cuban authorities? In which case, the Cuban police cluelessly helped complete the performance.

    By the way, the artist Tania Bruguera is not “a typical American”. She is Cuban.

  • January 4, 2015 at 9:55 am

    The Cuban Rapid Response Brigades routinely engage in violent repression of dissidents. You endorse their use. You admit your past participation in violent street confrontations.

    Like I said, your inner thug is revealed. As is the case with all Leftists, you cannot abide free speech, freedom of association or free thinking. You want to beat up people you disagree with.

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