Another Idea on How to Promote Change in Cuba

Photo: Margareta Turos

By Francisco Acevedo

HAVANA TIMES – There have been many proposals on how to push for political change in Cuba, and they almost always involve the same premise: Mobilize the masses.

A popular uprising is the only thing that could lead to the downfall of the Communist regime that has been imposed here for more than 60 years, and that is still in power by nothing but a miracle.

However, the answer we need won’t come from any other country, as last year proved, and everything needs to spring from within our own island, and the only peaceful way to do this is to take to the streets.

That said, this did in fact happen in July last year, and it is now just a story, in the sense it didn’t have much of an aftershock in the months that followed. Don’t let anybody be fooled though, it had a crushing effect on Cubans’ mindsets, and July 11th marks a before and after for many Cubans, or a That’s enough!, but it didn’t achieve its main objective.

Fierce repression came swiftly at the hands of the dictatorship, with sentences up to decades-long for some protestors, which stopped the people’s impetus quite a bit, recently stirred again by people being fed up with blackouts.

So, how can we repeat that uprising and, more importantly, keep it going?

My idea has to do with supporting protestors. It isn’t a matter of getting the US Department of State to make a statement or ask for the release of political prisoners. This has been repeated to death, and the Cuban Government has never made a move.

Nor does have to do with a social uprising of YouTubers online or with initiatives such as 15-N.

I believe we must support those who take to the streets, but not with words. The main concern of people who decide to protest despite the great risks they face from an almost perfect repressive apparatus, isn’t receiving a beating or going to jail, which are intimidating enough consequences as it is.

No, the worse thing is that these people in jail are no longer able to provide for their families and, worse yet, they become a burden, because those left behind normally end up spending most of their income on getting food, personal hygiene items, cigarettes, and anything else these protestors can use or negotiate in a prison.

With prices of basic essentials through the roof, feeding anyone who is left behind and supporting the person behind bars is a burden too heavy for any family.

That’s why my proposal is to create a fund to help all of these people financially. I believe that instead of investing money in looking for a violent way forward, or trying to find ways to make it easy for the thousands of people who have crossed the border, the focus needs to be on those who have directly suffered the consequences of asking for freedom on the island.

Of course, the rest is also important, but you have to eliminate the root cause, and we can only do this on the island.

Organizations such as Justicia 11J and Cubalex, to give you just two examples, have lists of real prisoners, whose families have to make enormous sacrifices to survive and support their loved ones in prison.

With a fund like the one I’m proposing, we won’t only be helping those who have sacrificed their personal freedom for asking for Cuba’s Freedom, but it would encourage others to do the same, because they know that nobody would be abandoned.

I know that if this were to happen, Humbertico would come on national TV and say that these are funds coming from the opposition abroad, but that’s enough of following the alleged “rules” that the dictatorship is constantly violating, because we continue to wait for a miracle.

This fund doesn’t need to be governmental, as Cuban emigres can make personal donations, as long as there is total transparency, that’s why I follow the lists already published and recognized by human rights organizations.

People who take to the streets in the future and suffer repression would be added to these well-documented lists.

There are many ways to get money or products to these families, and the amount to be sent should also be determined in the future. For starters, I think that 50 USD per month is a good figure and bearing in mind the fact that the number of prisoners on public lists since July 11th up until now, isn’t more than 1000 people, we could promote change in Cuba in this way with a very modest fund.

According to figures from the Cuban press, in 2020 alone, the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) distributed over 5 million USD in Cuba, via anti-government organizations that have been able to do very little and mostly using it in poorly implemented subversive actions. Instead of winning popular support, it has led to rejection because it insults patriotic symbols or implies sabotaging key points, which can be easily manipulated by the propaganda machine to stop the Cuban people approving of it.

With this sum alone, we could have guaranteed more than a year’s worth of support for those who are paying a very high price for taking to the street, and I’m sure that it would encourage many more to follow this path, which has been proven to be the only way to bring about the downfall of this Communist regime.

If a solid fund was raised by NED or USAID – just to mention the most well-known agencies – and they were to be joined by other organizations and groups of Cubans based in exile, this would help to reduce fear among the Cuban population, as there are still thousands of people who don’t have the financial means needed to leave the country via Nicaragua or another country.

If they could all see that they and their families would be looked after if they took to the streets, I’m sure the July 11th protests would multiply, and sooner or later, Cuba would change once and for all.

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8 thoughts on “Another Idea on How to Promote Change in Cuba

  • It only gets worse and more repressive in archaic Cuba.
    The peso is falling again no surprise, endless blackouts, a failed state at this point.

    And there isn’t much Cubans can do about it outside a mass revolt across the entire country simultaneously.
    But with what their broomsticks?
    Doesn’t look good for Cuba so they are fleeing in ever increasing droves for good reason.

  • Curt, I simply don’t think the USA should be trying to overthrow the government of Cuba. Anymore than the Russians should be trying to overthrow the government of Ukraine. But I do most certainly agree with Stephen when he states that Cuba is in a pretty serious predicament.
    If I understand correctly, Olga seems to think the predicament may be resolved by an availability of some sort of weaponry. I don’t get that viewpoint at all.
    Bloodshed isn’t the answer. It’s just bloodshed.

  • I agree with Francisco that any significant change in Cuba must come from the island’s citizens. It is the Cuban people residing on their home turf who have the authority and the compunction to do something significant to ameliorate the present intolerable living conditions.

    Francisco has the best interests of his compatriots at heart. He is to be commended for his forthright courage to go on print and make bold pronouncements which could imperil his existence if he presently resides on the island. Is there not a law in the Cuban Constitution that punishes any Cuban inciting and/or participating in a possible insurrection? Don’t know.

    I agree with the posters that setting up a monetary “fund” to aid those potential protesters is not a good idea and could potentially backfire. Number one, if such a monetary fund was set up to aid any street protester caught and convicted, this action would be perceived as a direct insurrection and eagerly propagandized by the Cuban authorities to “prove” that enemies residing outside Cuba’s borders (usually the USA) are instigating regime change and any Cuban participants protesting on the streets, and their families contributing “funds” to aid the protesters, would be duly prosecuted.

    We have witnessed the July 11th aftermath to what extent the Cuban totalitarian authorities will go to severely punish those directly involved. Through their very professional propaganda machine they can very easily manipulate the broadcast airwaves and convince the general population that any further attempt and/or even a semblance of insurrection by any direct Cuban participant, or indirect family funding, will be duly punished, and moreover, will be brazenly pronounced as anti-Revolution.

    Francisco writes: “ That’s why my proposal is to create a fund to help all of these people financially.” What Francisco is stating is that those families who will lose a protester to severe prison punishment will be helped financially so that the family is not financially stressed. Sounds nice and noble.

    Again, one needs to go back to the revised Cuban Constitution that explicitly says anyone who participates in an insurrection or even abets in such – and families receiving money from a foreign source, according to the Cuban communists, are abetting – will be severely admonished.

    So, in fact, not only will the direct protester be thrown in jail, but also the family receiving money will be severely punished. The totalitarian state feels no compunction to punish the majority of their citizens if the requirement arises. A totalitarian state has ruthless leaders who will sacrifice whomever needs to be sacrificed in order to maintain power and country control. History has clearly shown this to be a fact.

    Again, I commend Francisco in trying to do his best to find a solution to the current crisis in Cuba. He, together with the majority of poor, exhausted, struggling Cubans, are at a wits end trying to figure out how and when this daily struggle, this constant misery, this intolerable living hell, will come to an end. Let Cubans put all possible solutions on the table to be severely scrutinized. It’s a start.

    So, if Francisco’s solution attempt will not fly, what will? I have no answer to Cuba’s present dire predicament. I only hope that whatever the solution is that Cuban lives are not lost and Cuban suffering minimized. Nicely said for someone not a resident nor participant of the island.

  • Nick, I couldn’t have said it better myself. Great posting!

  • So. Nick the peon Cuba do not have the freedom to buy arms. ( like the Castro movement had when Cuba was a free country) WHAT YOU RECOMMEND TO OVERTHROW A GOVERNMENT THAT NOBODY HAD ELECTED. Please.tell me Nick. Because you may hadas senior citizens the solution

  • Is this guy for real?
    Is this guy openly calling for U.S. taxpayers’ money to be used to overthrow governments in sovereign countries (in this case Cuba)..
    This is the kind of activity that might give the USA a bad name.
    I think this guy needs to recommend that the Disunited States of America spend all funds they may have available to patch up their own failing democratic model.
    Maybe once they establish a sturdy democratic system within their own borders, they can then go on to start making recommendations regarding other sovereign countries.

  • Francisco Acevedo says. Communist regime that has been imposed here for more than 60 years, and that is still in power by nothing but a miracle
    A miracle no. Still in power by practicing government terrorism on its citizens the worst and longer dictatorship in the wester hemisphere.

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