A Night with Telesur in Cuba

Vicente Morin Aguado

Father Solalinde.  Photo: democracynow.org
Father Solalinde. Photo: democracynow.org

HAVANA TIMES — Bored, I again tuned in to Telesur last night. The first bit of news I saw were about Ayotzinapa, the courageous father Solalinde, worthy representative of the moral integrity of Latin American Catholic priests (Cuba excluded). Then I watched Uruguay decide (“Uruguay’s Choice”). The people of Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua and even Venezuela also seem to be making free choices. Again, Cuba cannot be included in the list. I ended up looking up an article on the student protesters from Mexico’s state of Guerrero on Wikipedia.

The news about Ayotzinapa reminded me of Cuba’s civic and self-denying teachers, whose greatest legacy were the thousands of young revolutionaries that fought Batista’s dictatorship, loaded to the brim with the sincere ideas of Jose Marti, who accompanied them everywhere – an icon expertly rendered by the renowned Jorge Arche.

Mexico brings to mind a similar, albeit longer history of violence that has extended to the present day. I was shocked to hear of the 43 students who were kidnapped – by none other than the police – in a country that calls itself modern, constitutional and democratic. The very president, Peña Nieto, should resign. How is it possible that no one knows the whereabouts of these kids?

If we look back in history, we find that Ayotzinapa’s Rodrigo Burgos Pedagogical School is a breeding ground for rebels and disaffected people, unsatisfied with the many injustices in the country and particularly their own state, one of the poorest according to the UN Human Development Index. Even teachers became armed revolutionaries in this small town that has made history. It is very revealing that these rebels were convicted by Mexican courts as violators of the country’s legal structures.

Difficult situations tend to have a simple explanation: the police, the governor and the country’s president himself have lost their way with respect to the Constitution. And just as the army is used to intervening when drug cartels, Zapatistas and guerrilla teachers are involved, it must now disarm the local police, take control of the situation and rescue those kidnapped – if, by the “grace of God”, as the courageous father Solalinde says, they are still alive.

At least in Havana, our priests ought to be praying for the life of their brother in Ayotzinapa, who has received several death threats.

Of course, law enforcement agents, who flagrantly violate their obligations and oaths, must be tried to the full force of the law, the same law that has been used against their victims to this day.

Granma, the official newspaper of Cuban communists, provided us with a wealth of information about the terrorist attack on the Canadian parliament, where a guard was killed and the two aggressors were put down by gunfire.

Nothing has been published in our country about the humble students from Guerrero to date. Our journalists are silent on this matter because Mexico did not follow Washington when the latter chose to exclude Cuba from the inter-American system and they must wait for instructions, for Cuba’s official press and any friction could affect relations with the “bothers” in the PRI, PDR and even PAN.

As I try to control my anger, hoping for a favorable development (it cannot be happy at this stage, not when we recall the seven killed and fourteen wounded during the police raid – images we saw in Cuba thanks to Telesur, the Venezuelan broadcaster that takes me all the way down to Uruguay), an interview with another guerrilla activist, Tabare Vazquez, manages to calm me down some and inspires admiration in me.

Uruguay decide, TV announcements repeatedly tell us as I recall a wonderful reflection by the former Tupamaro urban guerrilla member who endured prison and was Uruguay’s constitutional president from 2004 to 2010 (today aspiring to a new term in office): “freedom is probably the most powerful and beautiful of human aspirations. Without it, life has no meaning, and it is worth our while to fight for it. In today’s world, being strong doesn’t mean being in the right, being rich doesn’t mean being prosperous, and being different does not mean we have to be unequal.”

The economic figures in the country are indeed impressive: minimum wage has been doubled, unemployment has been reduced, the GDP is growing steadily, inflation is dropping, social programs with profound social repercussions abound (Gol al future, linking the national sport to school assignments, La clinica de los ojos, giving people back their sight free of charge, and the renowned Ceibal, which provides all children from low-income families with a laptop).

A citizen interviewed on the street says: “There’s always something we have to ask for, demand. We have to continue combating poverty, improving security. We have little to complain about, we have made much progress with Frente Amplio.”

I switch off Telesur as it begins to broadcast images of the final meetings prior to election day. Lacalle, Bordaberry Jr. and Tabare Vazquez: Uruguyans will soon decide. As for me, I will “vote” for the Frente Amplio, while I wait for the possibility of voting here in my country, in Cuba.
Vicente Morín Aguado   [email protected]