By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES – Flicking through the unattractive options on our TV channels on Tuesday September 18th, I stumbled across an interview with Cuban President Miguel Mario Diaz-Canel Bermudez. I didn’t catch the beginning, but you only needed a few minutes to get more of an idea of Cuba’s official leader’s way of thinking.
The journalist, Patricia Villegas, appeared very professional but because she was with TeleSur, she was “thoughtful” about her questions. Sure enough, her journalism streak came out at certain points, which were sadly censored, but she did try and get him to explain his answers. She was more or less half-way between a CNN and Cubavision journalist. She didn’t bare her teeth the whole way through with a tilted head like Randy Alonso does, but she didn’t take advantage of more difficult issues.
The new Constitution was the focus of the interview and it was hard to get Diaz-Canel to give his personal opinion about anything in particular. He always kept his “collective” stance and his answers could have been taken, word for word, from a textbook by “Nico Lopez” or a Communist Party document. It was this rigid discourse throughout the entire interview, which he had dogmatically learned, like a robot and without any coherent thoughts about Cuban reality.
He didn’t give a very good personal impression as he didn’t show us a sharp, independent mind, with his own fresh ideas. However, he did give a good impression to party leaders who have promoted him. He knows by heart, down to the T, every argument that is used to justify the Communist Party’s super structural power, he even told a very interesting story about why it is unique and why he believes it to be Marti-like.
According to the interviewee, it is “Marti-like and unique” because Marti didn’t start two or three parties on April 10th 1982, he only founded one. Could an argument be any hollower? He means to say that politicians who believe in political freedom and a multiparty system need to found several parties at the same time to prove it. Incredible “logic” or, better yet, “lack of logic”. And poor Marti has already been slandered a great deal, but these claims must be making him turn in his magnificent grave in the Santa Ifigenia cemetery.
Another argument used about why there is only one legal party in Cuba is: “It doesn’t have an electoral purpose and it isn’t an electoral party, it is a revolutionary party that works for the Revolution.” There’s no point in even arguing.
The journalist asked the following about young people and their expectations: Will new generations expect greater political freedom, more plurality? To which Diaz-Canel responded: “We know their expectations. Young people who haven’t known what capitalism is or lived in the early stages of the revolution, like we did, want improvements, they want greater access to new technologies, but they don’t want to lose the Revolution’s achievements, they don’t want to lose the unity we have as a party.”
It’s a shame that the journalist didn’t ask the questions that prevail: why are our youth emigrating en masse risking their lives and burning all of their boats in Cuba, that’s to say lose the “Revolution’s kindness”? If our young people appreciate the single party we have and they detest democracy with direct and plural elections and capitalism, why are they leaving Cuba at the first chance they get and only want to come back to visit? These questions needed to be asked, but they would have surely caused problems for the journalist who works for this very biased TV station.
According to the president, everything is fine in Cuba, the blockade is the root cause of all our problems and our people don’t need democracy or freedom, just economic prosperity which they feel they can still give us after 60 years of failure, “if the blockade is lifted”. There isn’t any real political opposition either, “just a mercenary project which serves Imperialism.” And he thinks the draft Constitution is perfect.
I would have liked to have been the interviewer just so that I could ask him: Do you believe that you would have become Cuba’s president if there had been free and direct elections where you and your opponents were to explain your program of government to the people? And if he answered “yes”, I would have asked him another question: Why don’t you give it a shot?