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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • I do so hope the Griffin’s you danced with in your “street theater” have you a good walup! Knowing how you and your ilk supported and assisted in the continued destruction of my Cuban homeland.

  • “vigilante violence”? Hardly, although hyperbole is your stock and trade, Griffin! Perhaps a bit of “Fight Club” or sublimation and an update on gladiatorial contests, theatre of the absurd division. After all, if it was good enough for St. Augustine (see his Confessions….) it should be good enough for contemporary Habaneras. Back in the 1960’s I engaged in such “street theatre” myself (between us lefties and righty fascists such as yourself). At that time the police seldom intervened, and then only if us lefties seemed to be winning!

  • When it comes to understanding why people like you are afraid of middle-aged women dressed in white marching with gladiolas or in this case, a single microphone set up in a public plaza, you are spot on. I am totally clueless. Explain your cowardice please.

  • Lots you don’t “get” Moses……LOTS

  • emagicmtman wrote:

    “Why not have a little gladiatorial exhibition betwixt the “rapid response” brigades and Bruguera’s “vapid response” brigade?!”

    That statement suggests he endorses the use of the mobs of pro-regime thugs …the so-called “rapid response brigades”, which the Castro regime routinely uses to harass, assault and intimidate dissidents.

  • You lumped four very different people together as “anti-Castro golden-exile zealots”. That is a weak rhetorical device for dismissing your intellectual opponents by avoiding having to deal with the substance of their arguments. When you do that, you lose the debate.

    Humberto & Cubaqus are Cuban-American, but I doubt either of them are “golden nugget” exiles. Moses is African-American, not of Cuban heritage at all, although his wife is Cuban. I am Canadian, of British, Scandinavian & Native American heritage. Not Cuban, not an exile, and not a “golden nugget” either.

    Who we are is irrelevant. Now go back and deal with our arguments.

  • Say what?

  • To the previous commenters, you are missing the whole point here. The so-called artist was offered a different location….but, as a typical American, she wanter her way, with no respect for her hosts…..She was just looking and hoping for a confrontation……

  • Wow! The accuracy and brilliance of this article by Jose Jason Nieves Cardenas is proven by the sheer fact that it quickly spawned propagandist comments by some of the usual anti-Castro golden-exile zealots — “Moses Patterson,” “Griffin,” “CUBAQUS,” and, of course, “Humberto Capiro.” As Mr. Nieves and any fair-minded, unbiased observer readily understands, Ms. Bruguera’s latest visit to Cuba was merely the opening salvo in what will surely be an unending series of provocative acts designed to solicit a reaction from Cuba that will derail President Obama’s normalization plans. As Mr. Nieves indicates, that tactic will most likely work, just as it worked in the past concerning, especially, President Kennedy and President Clinton. Navarro, Claver-Carone, etc., will control the narrative along with congressional benefactors. But I believe Moses Patterson is a tad fairer and even once acknowledged that the Batista-Mafia dictatorship was not exactly the way Mother Teresa would have ruled Cuba in the 1950s; Moses even once admitted, under questioning, that the bombing of Cubana Flight 455 on Oct. 6, 1976, was neither a kind act nor “the biggest blow yet against Castro.” For his courage and insight, Mr. Nieves is to be congratulated. However, I believe his comment about Cuba seeking “governability and sovereignty” against imposing odds as represented by determined zealots hiding behind the skirts of the world’s superpower is quite ominous. Fidel Castro is 88 years old and more unwell this week than last week; the revolution is 56 years old. Neither will last forever. In the 1950s and in 2015 the luscious island of Cuba has been viewed as a piggy-bank, a cash-cow, and a punching bag. That, I believe, is the gist of what Mr. Nieves was saying.

  • So you endorse the use of vigilante violence against artists? Your inner thug is revealed.

  • So an act of free speech and artistic expression is seen as a “trick” to undermine the normalization of Cub-US relations? The totalitarian Stalinist mentality lives on in Cuba.

    The dissident Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation said more than 50 Cubans were detained and that about 10 of them were still being held on Wednesday night.

    “At the same time the Cuban government is normalizing its relations with the U.S. government, it has not decided to normalize relations with the people of Cuba,” said Elizardo Sanchez, who heads the commission.

    “We don’t think there will be a cause-and-effect relationship between renewing diplomatic relations with the United States and an improvement of human rights in Cuba.”

  • More proof that nothing has changed in Cuba and that the regime does not want any real change. Obama exposed as the naive dupe he is.

  • Since Bruguera touts herself as a “performance artists,” I think the government should have allowed this event to go forward. If anyone could walk up and speak at the microphone, it would have been interesting to see supporters and detractors mix things up. Why not have a little gladiatorial exhibition betwixt the “rapid response” brigades and Bruguera’s “vapid response” brigade?!

  • Having grown up in a country where free speech is a birthright, I struggle to understand the obvious fear that the Castros must feel to motivate them to these ends. If what the Castros are selling is really all that they say it is, a little public criticism should be like water on a duck’s back. The Castro sycophants who frequent this blog never seem to have an explanation for this. Rather than explain, they will likely bring up the unrest in Ferguson or New York. They fail to see that they make my argument for me. In the US, we can peacefully air our grievances with our government. Sometimes it pisses the government off but it is our right. When the local or state government gets pissed off at protesters, we rely on our federal cops to protect us. In Cuba, all cops work for the Castros so when you piss off the Castros, you got nobody to protect you. This is the part I don’t get. How do you defend scum like this? OK, Obama says we should at least talk to them. Not my plan, but I support my President. A handful of people were going to pitch a bitch for awhile. What harm to the Revolution could come of that? I just don’t get it.

  • Why they are so scared? Why the Castros are so afraid of 13 or 10 people expressing polical view in a artistic performance? Another crack in the wall?

  • WOW! All this drama for an open microphone! Only an idiot Castro Oligarchy Apologist would dub this “a trick”! Typical Leftists Boberias!

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