HAVANA TIMES — Cuba’s opposition seems tragically destined to cling to the skirts of the United States, in the hopes the latter’s strength will legitimate them in the eyes of their compatriots. It is a poor strategy that has earned them isolation at home, something even Washington has acknowledged.
They were kept out of negotiations between Obama and Castro – one could even say they were the last to find out about them. Now, following the new state of affairs that came into being on December 17, 2014, they feel as disoriented as a Swede in Burundi.
As Washington and Havana begin to change their language and ways of relating, the opposition continues to use the same discourse from 10, 20 and even 30 years ago. They’ve been resorting to the same strategy since 1959, to seek shelter under the umbrella of “the Americans.”
First, they dreamed of an invasion by the marines, then with a blockade that would bring their compatriots to their knees through hunger, later they tried terrorist bombings and, finally, they put together a “peaceful opposition,” financed by Washington with US $20,000,000 a year.
Now, they are pressuring Obama to make his visit to Cuba conditional on Raul Castro’s acceptance of “a formal gathering with representatives of the opposition.” They insist that, without this, the trip “will only serve to consolidate the totalitarian regime and not to empower pro-democracy actors.”
It’s surprising they haven’t noticed the Cuban revolution became consolidated in the 1960s, to such an extent that it did not even collapse when it lost the support of the Soviet Union. To lose touch with reality can prove catastrophic in politics.
They add that the visit “would strengthen the determination of the Castro regime to maintain its current position.” What could strengthen Raul Castro’s position more than the acknowledgement that the greatest world power failed in its attempts to overthrow his government by force?
To sit at the negotiations table with the government, one need be a real political force, be it military (such as the FARC in Colombia), taken to power via elections (such as the Venezuelan opposition) or in terms of an ability to mobilize the masses (such as Solidarity in Poland).
The Cuban opposition, however, seems to be looking for the limelight by going against the wishes of the majority of Cuban and US citizens. They continue to spark off confrontation and to try to impose on Havana conditions it has rejected for more than half a century.
Cuban dissidents say that the “US government should not give up its leadership and commitment to democracy and its defenders.” This phrase summarizes the true relationship between Washington and Cuba’s opposition like no other.
The leadership they’ve handed the United States in Cuba’s internal affairs has been their worst curse, for it has made them prioritize Washington’s political and human rights agenda, over and above the concrete, daily economic demands of their compatriots.
To make matters worse, the Cuban government lifted restrictions on travel and the opposition spends so much time abroad that, in Miami, they are referred to as “the traveling dissidents.” Perhaps, if they spent this money in political work with Cubans, they would have a much greater impact on the population.
President Obama may meet with a number of dissidents, many others before him have done so, but a long, long road separates this from trying to insist on the presence of Cuba’s opposition at the negotiations table.
It is healthy for a government to have critics, but, in order to play that role, dissidents need to “update” their strategies. As it is, with each day that passes, the opposition languishes, to the point of getting dangerously close to brain death.