Clarifications about Change in Cuba

By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez  (Photos: Antonio Busqueta)

HAVANA TIMES — The need for change in Cuba is widely accepted by everyone. The Communists in power and their followers believe that this should just be a shift of tactics, a superficial revision so as to improve the same path. The opposition to this believes that it should be a more profound process, working towards democracy and a freer market.

However, there are also differences among those of us who want real change, not just patching the damage with a quick-fix. Democracy, Rule of law, respect for all human rights, a real opening to the international market, nation reunification and compensation to those who have been affected are the common denominators in this equation.

Now: Who should guide and lead this process for change? Where is the point that we need to break away from what has been created by the Revolution? How radical should this process be? When and how will those who have been harmed by the Revolution be compensated? This is where the differences lie.

I have no doubt that the best option we have would be for the Revolution’s leaders themselves to rectify their mistakes; recognizing that the path they have chosen has failed and caused irreparable harm with its benefits. They should have a serious plan, not to convert mud into gold like the Communist Party Guidelines aim to do, but to democraticize the country and really make it a fair society for all. However, this is a dream that’ll be almost impossible to make reality: they are chained to their own dogma and the vices of power, which are intoxicating and addictive when taken in extremely high and unlimited doses.

Removing them from power and all of their institutions with them is what many people would like to do; and that change will only come from the regime’s opposition, who supposedly ensure “democratic purity” or of being free from setbacks and petty slowdowns.

However, we can forget some very important things sometimes:

1) among the opposition, there are patriotic and sincere people but there are also unpatriotic and hypocritical people too, disguised as well-doers who can do more damage to the New Cuba than the ones who are maintaining the current tyranny.

2) the Cuban people don’t know who the opposition are and have only received a distorted image of them, whether it’s been true or false, and therefore they don’t trust them. How can they lead a population who thinks like this? How can they create radical change in their name?

3) the Revolution did the same thing in 1959, it destroyed all of the old and created everything from scratch in a short time period, really short!; it’s become clear that this isn’t a good idea because they ended up creating more problems than solutions and they will end up just like the people who made the same mistake back then.

If this is the path which we will continue to follow, it will be difficult to prevent a vacuum in power which will last just long enough for trafficking and organized crime mafia to infiltrate the country; and for the corrupt and opportunists to make large fortunes. This has happened in many countries which have had a similar transition phase and Cuba is an unrealized breeding ground, just waiting for us to give them the chance.

Change ideologists in Cuba only focus on the romantic idea of instititional renewal and believe that it will be like minimal-access surgery: what a tremendous mistake!  When they shake the foundations of the country like what they aim to do, its skin will crack a little where social parasites will nest and breed; and they turn into cysts which seem to be irreversible a lot of the time.

This is why the road map for change needs to be well thought out so as not to make any mistakes. I was able to watch some opposition videos by chance recently where they were speaking about their current agenda and their vision for change. Progress and greater recognition of what the Cuban people on the island believe and want were evident; they are making progess in unity of action across the board. These are positive steps which prelude a better outcome where there are such wide-ranging intentions involved.

Personally, I think that this road map should be pragmatic, not aggressive, discriminatory or radical; when today’s official political players are denied participation in national politics, the opposition will fall into the same mistake that the aforementioned have committed up until the present day.

We have to open to the idea that they will rectify their mistakes, even though they might not actually ever do this. The objective of our struggle isn’t to punish the Communists with future limitations, because we aren’t driven by vendetta but by justice. In our New Cuba, there should be a space for everyone, even for the current Communist Party.

Negotiating is always better than fighting; negotiation is giving in; giving in is only advisable while our principles and objectives, which are our driving force, aren’t being damaged or denied. When social, political and economic pressure forces us to take others into account, to respect and recognize one another, we should be ready to turn a new leaf and show our civil values: our Homeland demands this bravery and men and women to shed the “respect of many” which we carry on our backs in this hostile environment.



15 thoughts on “Clarifications about Change in Cuba

  • I am only just beginning to learn about Cuba and I am trying to read all that I can to understand. I have planned for a visit to Cuba in February of this year and would like to be the best guest I can be, by trying to understand my host’s Country and it’s people. I watched today with great interest and respect your 60th Anniversary Parade and celebration. I was very impressed by many things, the beautiful Music by an impressive Band of Musicians, the Children in their School Uniforms, the precision and fine looking Military display, but most of all by the amazing, and endless sea of people that followed.

    As I read and study what I find on the internet, I see a Country and a people that suffer great loss, when it comes to Accommodation, food supply and the many material things that much of the world enjoys. If I am correct, is mainly due to a long lasting embargo on your Country.

    On the other hand I see something that you have gained that many of us on the outside have not. I see an incredibly strong willed people, who have the ability to laugh, be kind, love and enjoy life regardless of these hardships. You say it with your music, your dance and your smiles.

    My wish and sadly it is only a wish, that you find a way to obtain what you have lost, without losing any of what you have gained. If you can accomplish this, with success, then I would ask that you please share it with the rest of the world, for you would be the country that we would most desire to be.

    Please take time to plan your future, so you get it right and never ever lose the incredible strength,will,and character of your people.

    Reply
    • The embargo is not the greatest problem Cubans face or have done faced. Their shortcomings are largely self-imposed.

      Reply
    • The suffering the Cuban people experience is almost entirely due to the Castro dictatorship. The insane and inefficient economic policies, the political repression, the social fragmentation and the isolation from the world are all direct policies of the Castro regime.

      The US embargo bans the purchase of Cuban products by US businesses & citizens. Cuba can purchase many goods & products from the US, but they are required to pay in cash, not on credit. That’s it. To claim such a limited embargo has caused deep harm on the Cuban nation and the Cuban people is to ignore reality. Cuba has been free to sell their products to the rest of the world. When they lost the US market for their sugar, the USSR bought it all.

      The Cuba resorts and hotels are all owned by the Cuban military, through their holding companies Gaviota and GAESA. If you want to visit Cuba and help the Cuban people, please avoid staying at these hotels which serve to funnel money into the pockets of the dictatorship. Don’t take the propaganda tours offered by the state owned tour-guide companies.

      Instead, I recommend you stay at a Casa Particular (the Cuban version of a bed & breakfast home). You will have a chance to meet ordinary Cubans and not just the other tourists and a few bartenders & maids you will see at the hotels. Go out and explore Havana on your own, in most areas it’s quite safe to walk around during the day. Hop in a co-operativo cab, chat with the driver, ask him for a good place to see and where to eat. Eat at a paladar, a privately run restaurant.

      Go off the beaten paths out of the tourist zones and see how ordinary Cubans live.

      Reply
      • I believe it was Buddha who said “life is suffering”, he also predicted the coming of Christ who apparently died after only six hours on the cross when usually it takes two days. Perhaps you are an atheist, an ancient philosophy revived in the 19th Century by Communists and Humanists, you are certainly not Christian. The best thing U.S.Americans can do to help Cubans is change there own country. The British Labour Party who triumphed on the 26th of July 1945, inspired the world with their creation of universal health care. Only Fidel was able to emulate such a feat. It took the threat of nuclear annihilation and the Middle East calling 911 in 2001 to convince the U.S. people to recognise the change they needed to make. Yet Obama was not able to implement the idea either, the un-free media of the United States turned his dream of universal health care into a nightmare giving even more power to the private insurance agencies, raising fees, and selling it as the result of voting Democrat. As I said the best thing U.S.Americans can do to help Cubans is change there own country and that means liberating their media from Shaytan and the ego. A media run by self-serving interests whether it be the corporations or the journalists pursuing their careers is of no help to anyone. The Prophet (pbuh) said “watch your words and put them in order”. U.S. media is irresponsible and the biggest threat to the integrity of the United States. I have to ask you Griffin, why do you relentlessly attack “the Castros”? Is it because you want all the power to rub off on you without any of the responsibility that an elected President carries? What has Cuba ever done to you, I may ask.

        Reply
        • Your comment makes sense Jeremy.
          When President Obama was trying to introduce some kind of healthcare reforms I heard some propaganda from the USA saying that if these changes took place then they would end up with the ‘socialist’ healthcare system we have in my country here in the UK. According to the propaganda there are committees of ‘socialists’ in our NHS that have meetings to decide if individual patients will get to live or die !
          I am afraid that there are many over there who actually believe this very weird propaganda !!
          Totally weird.

          Jeremy, I also fail to see quite why Griffin and others relentlessly attack ‘the Castros’ whilst constantly trying willfully to play down the actions of the USA.
          They seem to put forward this oddball viewpoint that the embargo is just a little bit of a game. They keep invoking this big ‘democracy’ ideal, but seem to downplay the fact the embargo is democratically voted against time after time after time at the UN.

          Griffin mentions the suffering of Cuban People and then gives some nice helpful travel tips.
          He mentions on how safe it is in Cuba.
          It seems most odd to mention the suffering and the safety in the very same comment.
          Many would assume suffering and safety might even be mutually exclusive.
          Make your mind up Griffin.
          Do you feel safe amongst suffering?
          Or is there not quite as much suffering as you like to make out??
          Or are you just not quite sure???

          Reply
          • For tourists, the risks of crime in Cuba are relatively low. That’s one of the benefits of a police state. For Cubans, the crime rates are rising.

            I relentlessly attack the Castro’s because they are tyrants who brutalized the Cuban nation for 57 years. I have also criticized various aspects of the US foreign policy toward Cuba, including past support for dictators like Machado & Batista, and for the armed intervention of the Bay of Pigs. I happen to believe the US embargo is entirely within the legal rights of the US gov’t. Cuba is free to trade with anybody else they like. Cuba still buys a great deal of food, medicines & other products from the US, but they have to pay in cash, not credit.

            I do not believe the UN is a democratic institution with any legal authority over the US or any other member nation. The current UN Human Rights Commission includes members like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Venezuela, China, Burundi & Cuba: all of them gross violators of human rights. This fact makes a mockery of the UN.

          • I am afraid this this comes across as another example of the double standards displayed by the more one-sided contributors here.
            When it comes to democracy it seems you certainly like to pick and choose.
            Surely the only way the embargo is related to ‘democracy’ is the link to Floridian Electoral College Votes.

            Whereas although imperfect, the UN is the only vehicle of global democracy we have.
            The US chooses to ignore it whenever it feels like it. As it chooses to ignore other achievements of global democracy and diplomacy such as the Geneva Convention.
            Isn’t it odd how some of your list of ‘human rights violator’ nations are described by the US as allied nations and the others have been arbitrarily described as ‘rogue states’?

            And regarding human rights violations:
            So far in this century Cuba hasn’t even committed the worst human rights violations in Cuba.
            That prize must surely go th the Geneva Convention busting activities carried out by US agencies at Camp X Ray.

            As I have said before, taking into all that has gone down over these 57 years, the USA is definitely not on the moral high ground in comparison to Cuba.

          • The UN is not a vehicle of global democracy. It is a forum for diplomacy among member states. There can be no “global democracy” at the UN when many member states are dictatorships.

            The tortures & execution of political prisoners committed in Castro’s prisons have been far worse and far greater in numbers than anything that the Americans have done at Gitmo. The total number of prisoners held at Gitmo is 775. There are 45 remaining. There have been tens of thousands of political prisoners held in Castro’s prisons, subjected to terrible abuse, tortures and miserable conditions. Not once did the Cuban government allowed the Red Cross to visit these prisoners.

            http://www.christusrex.org/www2/fcf/estoria.presidio.html

            http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1989/07/20/cubas-prisoners/

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_in_Cuba

        • I completely agree with your comment about the media here in U.S. They have gone over in the deep end. They no longer report the news but a modified version of the truth. The media is constantly “stirring” the pot, bot nationally and internationally, in order to MANIPULATE public opinion.

          Self serving politicians and other upper echelon leadership of various government agencies and large private sector corporations are too cowardly to stand up to the media moguls.
          The media is destroying this country.

          Reply
      • Yes Griffin, my plan is to spend time with the ordinary people of Havana and I will be staying in a Particular, and dining where the locals do as much as possible.

        Reply
        • Good plan! Bring useful gifts (soap, razors, toothpaste & brushes, medicines, USB thumb drives,) to use as tips. These items are more useful than money, which must be spent in gov’t run stores charging exorbitant prices.

          Reply
          • Thank you Griffin for the advice. We are also bringing an extra suitcase full of school supplies to give to an elementary school, which our contact at the Particular is giving us. We hope to be in contact with the school before we leave, so they can inform us of what is best to bring.

  • I can’t believe some people insist to call the Castro’s regime Revolution. Revolutions don’t last over five decades, beside the Revolution and its leadership lied to the Cuban people when they promised democratic changes, respect for the 1940’s constitution, and reinstall multiple parties elections. As soon the Castro’s monarchy took power they dismantled free press, free association, they sent to exile 20% of Cuba’s population, called any opposition contra revolutionary or mercenaries, working camps for homosexuals, (UMAP) prohibited Cubans to travel abroad, made illegal for men to have long hair or wearing short, (a least until I left in 1980) divided families, took over private property. And destroyed the four powerful economic in the Western Hemisphere ( USA, CANADA, BRAZIL, CUBA ) UN DATABASE 1958. There you have.

    Reply
  • ” However, this is a dream that’ll be almost impossible to make reality: they are chained to their own dogma and the vices of power, which are intoxicating and addictive when taken in extremely high and unlimited doses.” How well stated. This is the core of the problem time and time again. Those in power even as they fail do not want to give way to others.

    Reply
  • Many questions in this article pose two options: the government with its faults and success and an opposition few people knows.

    It would be good for the writer and other knowledgeable people, to present a hypothetical list of qualified individuals, who could lead the opposition and eventually govern the nation out of problems and setbacks they have described.

    As a kid, I remember many of my peers joining the rebel army because they about some of its leaders and their platform. After the triumph of the revolution, the Cuban people knew everyone that was in command of each area of government.

    A similar understanding of today’s opposition would certainly be helpful preview of a new Cuba.

    Reply

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