Cuba: A Good Time to Talk about Democracy

Yusimi Rodriguez

HAVANA TIMES, April 24 — The Cuban newspaper Granma reported recently that Miami Marlins baseball manager Ozzie Guillen said that he respected Fidel Castro – a statement that cost him a five-game suspension without pay.

The next morning on the Cuban television program “Buenos Dias,” they had on a “specialist” (I didn’t see what specialty it was) who used this example and other examples to reveal how “freedom of expression” is a part of the phony democracy in the United States.

I was glad. It’s good to know how things work in that country – it keeps our dissatisfaction with the Cuban government from leading us to prefer the US model.

It’s good that the positive things in that nation don’t blind us, though our media takes on the responsibility for filling our eyes only with the bad.

In that democratic country, a few weeks ago a young man was killed and the perpetrator was let free, protected by US law. I would like to avoid the detail that this young man was black, because it would still have been murder if he’d been a white person.

I also know there are white people among those who are seeking justice, but I don’t think the youth’s race was a casual detail. I don’t think he would have died if he hadn’t been black, nor would his murderer have walked free if he weren’t a white man.

It’s good that our media has also informed us that in Spain they’ve just criminalized calls for demonstrations over the Internet. It’s is now a crime even to promote passive resistance as a form of protest.

Just a few months ago, the current president of Spain announced measures to exploit workers even more. In his own words, if demonstrations didn’t take place the day after the measures we’re announced, he and his government would have fallen short.

Now, they’re not only inventing ways to further exploit workers, but are also denying everyone the right to protest. It reminds me of that song sung by the Cuban duo Buena Fe ten years ago: “I’m going to grab you by the throat and squeeze. The more forcefully you demand, the less you’ll be able to complain.”

And Here in Cuba

I’m pleased that our media informs us about what’s happening in the supposed world democracies. That leads me to suppose that if one of our baseball managers, or any of our artists or intellectuals, publicly expressed their admiration for dissidents like Yoani Sanchez, Reinaldo Escobar or Miriam Celaya, for example, they wouldn’t have to fear about any retaliation; they wouldn’t have to worry about this jeopardizing a chance to travel or a job opportunity.

I can now imagine that if any of our sports or cultural personalities happened to speak out in favor of a multiparty system or decided to meet with government opponents, they won’t receive a visit from our State Security agents. Nor would they be subject to any lynch-mob-like “act of repudiation” by hardcore pro-government groups in the community.

After reading in the official newspaper of the party — with a critical eye — about the anti-democratic measures taken by the Spanish government against those who are protesting budget cuts, I can assume that no citizen in our country would be imprisoned if they called for or participated in similar peaceful demonstrations. Their right to peacefully express any disagreement would be respected.

I also suppose it means that if our official media is able to put these supposed democracies under a magnifying glass, it’s because we Cubans enjoy the exercise of all our rights to free speech, even to oppose the government in power, and that no citizen has had their rights violated.

Therefore I shouldn’t expect anyone to respond to this article with examples to the contrary, because if the violation of the rights of a citizen ever occurred, our official media — the same one that exposes the false democracies of the world — would be the first to report such infringements.

I should note that I haven’t done anything except sit down here at the table set by our official media in raising the issue of democracy and freedom of expression. I only think that if we talk about democracy, this is a good time to address our own.


32 thoughts on “Cuba: A Good Time to Talk about Democracy

  • May 9, 2012 at 10:46 pm
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    “poor countries are poor because it is their fault”

    You use the term “castrofascist” often, but this is the biggest fascist assertment I’ve ever stumbled upon here on HT.

    “no one induced the Arab countries to get into religious fanatism (sic) that made them put aside many technical and scientific advances…”

    For centuries the Arab world was much more developed than the Western world. Study history first. And let us take a look at a non-Arab country, but who got itself into religious fanaticism – Iran, who’s the “boogie man” nowadays. Remember Mossadegh’s overthrow in 1953 by the CIA-supported coup which led the shah Reza Pahlavi into power. He destroyed all opposition, leaving no other political class alive – except the clerical one. So when the Revolution exploded, all that was left were the radical Islam factions. No wonder it turned out into a theocracy.

    (about Castro) “the confrontation with USA is his fault, the embargo is his fault (…)”

    The confrontation with the US was inevitable if he had higher hopes other to become just another US-puppet in the Caribbean. The embargo was his fault? That’s just laughable, I’m sorry.

  • May 9, 2012 at 5:35 pm
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    Exactly…… talking about countries it is exactly so…… poor countries are poor because it is their fault, not because they deserve it (it is your words) but because they did not worked hard enough and they did not acted with enough intelligence……. no one induced the Arab countries to get into religious fanatism that made them put aside many technical and scientific advances…… no one induced castro to destroy our country economy, he is very smart, he has a higher enough IQ as to know the political and economical policies he implemented would led Cuba to destruction, the confrontation with USA is his fault, the embargo is his fault, he chose those options because his goal was to perpetuate himself in the power and not to make Cuba a rich country……… he had the opportunity to become the greatest leader of our country, to become the father of the land but he chose to be another little tyrant more in Latin-American history and push our people to follow him in the spiral of destruction, division, and dependence we suffered the last 53 years…… he could chose another path but did not……..so…….. you did not got me in nothing, I am not here to win any argument or got you in nothing…… I am too old for such childish thing………I am here to bring up the truth and honor it who ever have it…….

  • May 9, 2012 at 12:16 pm
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    Got ya – you changed the subject. “This godless communism…”

    And it’s a lame excuse of your explanation of the wealth of nations – “hard work” and “intelligence” inducts the conclusion that the poor are poor because they deserve it.

  • May 9, 2012 at 7:57 am
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    Dear Luis, there are also millions of articles and debate about the convenience of communism but in reality communism has been a huge error that caused hundreds of millions of death around the world, caused the destruction of many countries, the misery of millions of people…… also there are millions of articles and debate about different things that are not worth a minute of attention or credibility……. this theory of colonialism and its impact and all discussion around it is just an attempt of some sleepless people to justify the bad performances of some countries in relation with others…….. only hard work, intelligence and democracy cause a country, a people to produce enough richness as to get developed and provide welfare to itself……. certainly castrofascist regime is not the best example to follow and leads to economical destruction and dependence of other countries…….

  • May 8, 2012 at 8:05 pm
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    It’s not an “empty theory”. Just google “impacts of colonialism” and you’ll see many articles and debates about it. Anyway, if you insist that colonization didn’t help the developed world become powerful, what did then?

  • May 8, 2012 at 3:14 pm
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    However Luis, this theory of developed countries being so because their colonialist past and vice versa does not hold the slightest analysis…… all other theories about transplanted and exploited countries are not other than nonsense found by some sleepless ideologist to try to justify why some countries does better that other……. specially Latin American ideologist and historians that wants to justify the bad performance of their countries with these empties theories……… Europe after losing all its colonies was complete destroyed 2 times by WWI and WWII but those countries aroused again from destruction to welfare and became the first world again TWICE!!!!!!…… while Latin-American got involved in tyrannies, “socialism”, and “class fight” and became the poor and underdeveloped area that is today with rare exceptions…… come on dude, colonialism is an historical accident that nothing has to do with countries ability to become rich….. it is historical proven in thousand ways.

  • May 7, 2012 at 4:13 pm
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    No, learn how to read first. I didn’t say that Chile, Costa Rica and Panama weren’t exploitation colonies. One thing I still don’t agree with you is either or not these countries can be considered ‘developed’. Yes, Portugal and Spain had long declined from their former glory… they used to be the largest empires of the world until England and France joined the team and took their places.

    Hong Kong and Singapore are special cases. Singapore is still a city-state within the Commonwealth, by the way.

  • May 7, 2012 at 8:25 am
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    You dares to write that Chile, Panama, Costa Rica were not exploitation colonies?????…… South Korea, Finland, Singapore, Hong Kong, the Antilleans islands were not exploitation colonies?????/……. come on Luis, we are trying here to have a serious debate……….. Tell me, please, if USA was not an exploitation colony why then the independence war they fought?????……war that was not other that a war produced by economical reasons just like the rest of the independence wars in America……… by other side……how do you match the poor ex empires like Spain, Portugal, Russia, the Arabs, Turkey or Mongolia with your theory about colonialist countries enriched by their colonialist past????

    Submitted on 2012/05/07 at 8:35 am

    Luis says:

    May 6, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    And the Scandinavian countries, just like you said, were simply lucky enough to develop themselves in peace, using a true socialist-democratic model in the last 100 years.

    And about Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, Singapore and Hong Kong… they may be a bit economically developed but nowhere near the big economies of the industrialized world.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    OK, we agree about Scandinavian countries and they are a good example of economical development through combination of democracy, capitalism and a leftist political-ideological control of capitalism…… there are also several examples of successfull countries that choosed to control capitalism using a political-ideological control way to the right in combination with democracy…… the key of success seems to be democracy.
    Chile, Costa Rica, Panama, Singapore, and Hong Kong have a much better socio-economical development than ex colonial empires like Spain, Portugal, Turkey or Mongolia in spite their colonial past……. it is undeniable.

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