An Exile in Your Own Country

By Abraham

Communist Party leaders like economy czar Marino Murillo live a fat cat life while the general population suffers in long lines to survive.

HAVANA TIMES – No exile is worse than being in your Homeland and feeling like you’ve been kicked out. It’s heartbreaking to see how we just don’t matter to those in power. Jose Marti’s “with everyone and for everyone’s wellbeing” is now a thing of the past. What happened?

Sugar cane is no longer the same; our coffee has lost its aroma; our smiles have turned into grimaces. Our children are just about surviving in poverty. All we do is watch with our mouths shut and our hearts bleeding.

Our Cuba has suffered Kafka’s “metamorphosis”. How? The well-off that the regime said it was going to “get rid of”, has only changed their name: leaders. They make decisions, selling themselves off as men of the people, while living a life worthy of emperors. They have no idea what it’s like to live off an average Cuban wage for 30 days a month. Nor do they know what a never-ending line is to buy a bar of soap.

A profile of our “leaders”

The “leaders” travel around in cars with blackout windows, and we will never see them walking down these streets that have become a jungle. They are restoring a provincial government building in Cienfuegos (the city where I live). They have allocated all kinds of resources to “touch up” this iconic building.

But why are they using resources for this?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to repair the city’s streets, full of potholes, sewage and garbage? The 21st century well-to-do control everything and have everything at their disposal. They have endless resources for repairing and/or building whatever they want to. While those of us at the bottom of the social ladder, can only watch and keep quiet. It’s sad to watch your city fall to pieces. Projects that begin, only to end up unfinished and become part of the city’s ugly landscape.

Cuba is in survival mode. Where you go out like a hunter looking for food. Watching people insult each other in long lines outside stores is embarrassing. People who sleep for days outside supermarket entrances is perhaps one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen.

However, something makes the heart ache a little more: anonymity. In Cuba, there is persecution of “those who think differently”, and it’s very well-disguised. The people who don’t exactly think differently, but tell the truth. The worst of ordeals awaits them if they are “detected”.

They are kicked out of their jobs, no matter what they do. Likewise, any office paperwork they need is made impossible for them. From getting ahead in their profession, to building a home or leaving the country. Recently, a doctor spoke up on social media and was kicked out of his job.

It’s dangerous to be right

This situation fits in with a phrase by Voltaire: “It’s dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.” They think that we will lower our heads in the face of threats and injustice. That will never happen, not in my case anyway.        

I am writing this article so that you can know what is really going on here on the island. I run the risk of being discovered, losing my job and God knows what else…

No exile is worse than being in your country and feeling like you’ve been kicked out. Moreover, that you don’t count for anything, and that only a small minority are favored. If we keep quiet and really pay close attention, we can hear sobbing. It’s our Homeland, it’s grieving. 

Read more from Cuba here.

11 thoughts on “An Exile in Your Own Country

  • I agree with Carlyle. Cubans don’t even imagine the same freedoms anymore. The right to speak freely to my Cuban friends and family is less important than the right to earn a living. The right to vote is viewed as a burden while the right to own your own car is a dream. Three generations of Castro dictatorship have distorted Cuban priorities.

  • In a brief response to Stephen. Can he refer to a single incidence of any of the Cuban TV or radio stations mentioning Guido? Secondly as one who has Cuban friends on social media – including not only relatives and friends in the medical, legal and educational professions, but a couple of fairly sound intellectual ability who sometimes write in these pages, I have yet to see any discussion about or mention of Guido. I would add that when not in Cuba I am in daily contact through Facebook Messenger.

    Stephen is correct in saying that I do not know those to whom he refers, nor have I observed any similar. My observations regarding the effects upon Cuban processes of thought as a consequence of of life-long indoctrination remain.

    In response to the suggestion that I do not comprehend that others have different views that do not align with my own about Cuba, ask Nick, dani, Curt et al.

  • “The ordinary Cubans to whom Stephen refers know little if anything of Guido, how would they?”

    How do you know that for a fact, Carlyle? How would they? How about social media. The social media my Cuban friends access gives them enough information for them to make very intelligent discussions about what is transpiring in Venezuela, and they do refer to Guido. Perhaps that is a complete revelation to you.

    Again, Carlyle, you interpret what I write from your Cuban perspective. Other regular visitors to the island occasionally have Cuban perspectives that don’t necessarily align with your views, nor analysis.

    I write from the knowledge I acquire from my interaction with Cubans that obviously you do not know. The Cubans I interact with have access to information to the outside world from social media that is available to all Cubans. Now, they don’t have access to sophisticated Internet connection, I know that, they know that, and you know that. But it is sufficient available access to give them some degree of political perspective when synthesized with other news media, like Cuban news reports.

    Cubans do have access to some Internet information and it is not hard for the intellectually savvy to piece together what is going on in Venezuela including the key participant players, including Guido. How about Cuban nightly news information? Do the nightly news reports not mention how Guido has failed and that Maduro continues to be in power. Every nightly Cuban news report has a segment about what is transpiring in Venezuela. The ordinary Cubans I know watch and listen and make up their own minds.

    Any knowledgeable and astute Cuban who is interested in Venezuelan politics and watches the censored and bias Cuban news media knows that Guido is an opposition leader. These are the Cuban “ordinary” intellectuals I speak with and interact with and base my writing. So, in fact, they know more about Guido than you give them credit. Moreover, they would probably be insulted in your insinuation about your claim to their perceived political ignorance.

    It is surprising as someone like you who professes to know so much about Cuba and Cubans that you fail to understand how sophisticated some ordinary Cubans can be in obtaining information, synthesizing information and reaching a coherent conclusion from social media, and thereafter be able to carry on intellectually stimulating conversations about world politics based on their limited social media exposure.

    Yes, Carlyle, it does happen in Cuba, perhaps not in your Cuban sphere.

  • Stephen still appears to assume that Cubans think as we in the free outside world think. They don’t, for the reasons I described.

    Although attending a discussion group of so-described intellectuals in Cuba – they meet bi-weekly, I have yet to hear any mention there of the conundrum facing Guido in Venezuela. The ordinary Cubans to whom Stephen refers know little if anything of Guido, how would they? In relationship to Venezuela, Cubans think only of Maduro, for it is Maduro who as a disciple of Fidel Castro, is promoted by that ceaseless propaganda of the PCC.

    For any who perhaps failed to understand my reference to Robert Burns, he sought that others should see the world as he and his fellow Scots saw it. The perspective is different!

  • “Why do Cubans not rise up ?” Because, historically that was tried. Cubans did rise up against tyranny. The – Castros and Che – team saw the humiliation, the poverty, the alienation ordinary Cubans were suffering prior to 1959 under the American puppet, Battista regime, some calling it Mafia mania at the time, and decided enough was enough. Time for change.

    Many Cubans were killed, tortured, maimed for a Revolution that was suppose to bring beneficial economic and social change to all Cubans on the island. Well, sixty plus years later here we are. It is no fault of the ordinary Cuban on the street; the ordinary Cuban farmer; the ordinary Cuban professional whether they be doctors, engineers, professors or teachers, the ordinary Cuban government employee, all now living under the tyranny of a failed historical Revolution. Cubans did rise up seeking beneficial change, but the Communist ingrained ideology of a few overtook common sense.

    Cubans today, I am sure, do not want the same unmitigated disaster repeated. They absolutely want change, they absolutely want to live like other decent human beings, but not at the expense of unnecessary Cuban bloodshed. To them spilling blood is not worth it despite the tremendous hardships they are presently enduring.

    The fault lies with the upper echelons of the Communist Party who have taken control of power and will not relent one inch for the benefit of the citizenry. Yes, the Propaganda Machine is always there to expose the “wonderful work” done by the Party in making a few economic changes around the edges of the economy but not enough to make significant changes that would see ordinary Cubans not have to suffer needlessly for the most essential sustenance in life: food.

    Ambivalent, Cubans do want significant change but do not want to rise up. There is no unified group or individuals who can muster any sort of significant resistance because there are secret police in every neighborhood watching and listening to what the population is doing. The Communist system survives in having neighbor snitch on neighbor and this is the modus operandi of how Communists stay in power.

    One need only look at beleaguered Venezuela to see what a “rise up” will accomplish or more appropriately not accomplish. Did Guido, the proclaimed democratic Venezuelan President try to encourage citizens to rise up with him and pleaded with the armed forces to abandon Maduro and stand with him? No outside force helped him except a few platitudes from a few politicians in Western countries. Well, that reversed coup d’etat went nowhere. Maduro is still in power and Guido, is still making noise but very diminished.

    Ordinary Cubans see this. They will say Guido with the support and encouragement of the United States President and his Administration at the time, achieved nothing in changing the dire economic situation in Venezuela how is a brave and courageous Cuban with no help or very little aid suppose to accomplish a successful transfer of political power.

    Paul, I agree with your sentiments and like you there are many inside Cuba and outside the island who just want to see the current Cuban political administration gone and for Cubans to take control of their magnificent homeland and help make it prosper for all Cubans. The potential is certainly there. How? I do not have an answer.

  • There is an assumption by well-meaning contributors who have spent their lives in the freedom of the democratic capitalist world, that Cubans think as they do. Unlike Cubans, they have not been subjected to ceaseless, indoctrination since birth, to communist teachings from the creche, through school and university, throughout adulthood both at work, when walking in their communities and when at home through both state controlled radio, TV and press. There is no relief from the propaganda which dominates.!

    A short couple of weeks as a tourist or even longer visits, do not allow full experience of that never relenting reality. Cubans mental reactions have been directed and affected by the system to which they have been subjected for over sixty years.

    Perhaps a zoo provides a suitable comparison. The animals born, raised and entrapped there, do not react as those who live in the unknown wild. George Orwell as mentioned by Stephen, made comparison by using agriculture, which similarly controls and directs the lives of domesticated animals, paul harrigan and Gareth Butler question why Cubans do not rise up as no doubt they would do, having known freedom and not having been subjected to the system I briefly described.

    In democratic countries, groups of similar interests would form to discuss ways and means of overcoming non-acceptable political decisions. But doing so in Cuba is criminal and the internal spying system of the CDR coupled with children being encouraged to report any political activities they observe in their homes and the law that parents instructing their own children in their own homes, anything that is counter to communism, means being jailed for three years, is effective in keeping that iron grip, which is beyond the ken of most if not all of we contributors.

    Although much admired in some countries and especially in his native Scotland, Robert Burns apart from being cause for having celebratory parties once per year, is little understood by the English speaking world at large. But he encapsulated the world in which Cubans exist when he wrote: “Would the Lord the gift ha’e gi’e us, tae see the world as ithers see us.”

    The Cubans prism is different from ours, they know they want change, they know that there is a better life elsewhere, they have only a concept of the freedom that they have never experienced and they long for it. The question which looms ever larger, is HOW?

  • Why do Cubans not rise up ? they can be no worse off, they are a brave people and as we know people power works eventually if you are prepared to go the distance. If they did I am sure outside support would not be shortcoming.
    Just my thoughts. Enough is enough children are starving, economy is targeted solely at the rich, buildings are falling down and people are living in third world conditions. Cubans deserve better living than they have currently.

  • How much longer before the (civil / peaceful ) revolution!!

  • Thank you Abraham for your courage in speaking out. The “fat cats” seek only to retain their life styles, power and control with no concern for the people of Cuba, who as you prove, they have failed to mold into a malleable mass. In 1884, Jose Marti said:

    “Being good is the only way to be free. Being cultivated is the only way to be free. With human nature in general however. to be good one has to be prosperous.”

    The Castro regime ensures that the people of Cuba are denied prosperity, retaining it solely for themselves – demonstrating the greed of hogs at the trough

  • “I am writing this article so that you can know what is really going on here on the island. I run the risk of being discovered, losing my job and God knows what else…”

    I can think of two very appropriate words to encapsulate what Abraham has just written: bravery and courageous. He knows from the bottom of his heart that there are a multitude of Cubans like him experiencing the same shameful fate having to be humiliated in a long lines on a daily basis hoping to purchase some food for the family. Or, simply expressing a dissenting opinion.

    Abraham knows that the political power of those in charge is so immense that to try and even detract from the current political ideology is a major risk to self and family. A dissentient Cuban has to be very cognizant of what one does and says in the current climate because as Abraham clearly states: “The worst of ordeals awaits them if they are “detected”.”

    One knows one lives in a totalitarian state when even the expressed thought can be judged as counter revolutionary and can land one in very deep trouble. The economic situation in Cuba now is so desperate, and the communist elite know it, that no one can risk losing their economic sustenance by being a dissenter or encouraging others to speak their minds freely.

    “They make decisions, selling themselves off as men of the people, while living a life worthy of emperors.” Abraham is espousing the lives of the ruling Communist elite.

    Were they (the Communist elite presently in power) not the ones who wanted to rid the Cuban capitalist prior to 1959 who were exploiting the people, keeping the citizenry in chains too poor to afford the ability to go to school, to feed themselves and become literate. The Revolution was to make everyone equal economically so that no one person exploited another.

    George Orwell in Animal Farm captures very eloquently the situation Abraham is describing. One of the initial Seven Commandments on the Farm stated very clearly: “All animals are equal”. The metaphorical Revolution started out with all good intentions.

    Well, after the Communists (metaphorically animals) had their way those Seven Commandments became just one incorporating the one just quoted:

    “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” Exactly what is transpiring in Cuba today.

    If George Orwell was alive today and reviewed the trajectory of Cuban autocratic politics from 1959 to today, he would just say: “I told you so.”

    It is an absolute crime to see dedicated, hardworking Cubans so enamored about their country having to put up with so much daily suffering all because a very few elites exploit the majority of the population solely because of political power.

    The present blatant injustices the majority of Cubans must contend with is disgusting. Just north of Cuba a similar autocratic leader was voted out of office and a more humane, democratic leader voted in.

    Hopefully, his future political policies will be more hospitable to the Cuban people and they can take some solace if not on the island then from outside the island.

    After all, Obama brought some hope and concrete material sustenance to the island so that his then Vice-President, now President, hopefully may do the same.

  • While the country is starving it is truly ironic that the government, including “Hero of the Revolution,” Raul Castro, is seeking to return Cuba to the days of Fulgencio Batista in its effort to restore the economy and thereby avoid another revolution.
    The PCC wants desperately to bring in Yanqui dollars through any means necessary– including returning to Batista’s sale of the country to U.S. corporations and the U.S. mafia.
    You will see the return of casinos, prostitution and the further construction of massive hotels catering to U.S. tastes. Fidel is rolling in his rock at Santa Ifigenia at the sale of his country as well as his people.
    This must all be done in haste, before Cubans begin dying of starvation in the streets.
    Shame on you, Raul. Some “Hero,”

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