Cuba and the Blind Spot Theory

By Gaby Rabassa

Conversation. Foto: Juan Suarez
Conversation. Foto: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — In our field of vision, we have a blind point. It’s also known as a blind spot or optic disc. Medically speaking, it’s down to the lack of light-detecting photoreceptor cells at the back of the eye. A lot of the time, our brain doesn’t allow us to realize this as it makes up for this visual information with our other eye. However, the truth is that “there is a part of this world that we are literally blind to.”

This oddity urges me to make a comparison with modern Cuban society. It just so happens that “this blind spot” protects us from things that we shouldn’t be ignoring and lets us live, maybe, distanced from reality, immersed in our own affairs, which we do see, however, because we have no other choice. I also associate this with the brain’s ability to block whatever hurts us and which we ignore, not so unconsciously.

Everyday, we come across employees, who even with their inefficient food service, abuse us further with their sorrows. However, here “my blind spot theory” plays out, when we block out the image of a friend who distracts the waitor/waitress from their work in working hours, or of a phone which draws their attention away so they don’t look us in the eye or the image of a few coins that they forget to give us back. At the end of the day, they have to earn their living too – we think.

How many times do we not “turn a blind eye” when they charge us double in taxis because “oil is scarce”, when a deficient bureaucrat puts more obstacles in our way to get the documents we need, when a new law comes into effect and we resign ourselves to it, even though it doesn’t help us to do so in any way?

How many times do we pay out of our joke of a salary for a labor union which is only such in name, something which our institution or institutions “above”, should pay for? How many times have our footsteps left a mark in an irregular and unfinished pot hole because they had to fix a pipe, but that was all they had to do, somebody else has to come to fix the street.

How many times have we remained silent out of fear? How many times have we not done something so that we’re not labeled as counter-revolutionaries? How many times have we used the “blind spot theory” to our advantage?

In this way, we’ve converted such a beautiful history into simple resignation, with not a trace of rebellion, losing all of our values as we focus on getting by day to day which converts us into perfect antisocial beings, mocking Marxist theory in every way.

At the barber shop. Photo: Juan Suarez
At the barber shop. Photo: Juan Suarez

We can’t remain lifeless in the face of the problems we have to live through, in this society or in any other. Yes, we are social beings. Yes, we are affected by political, economic, environmental problems, etc. Even though we use “the blind spot theory” and we block out our situation, skirting around the “rock” (read here problem or unfavorable situation), the rock will always stay there. We can convert our anatomy into an invertebrate figure that drags itself around looking for a way to not touch this rock, but it will still remain there.

Freud contemplated the idea that our brain could block out these unpleasant situations or memories, however, they would always be present, subconsciously, in our attitudes and relationships.

So, it’s worth stopping to think about this: will we take this rock and skirt around it or will we forever use the “blind spot theory” as an excuse?

8 thoughts on “Cuba and the Blind Spot Theory

  • The condescending opinions are those who in pursuit of their theories are at best either ignorant of the realities of life for Cubans in Cuba or alternatively have no concern for those suffering under a communist dictatorship. As my home is in Cuba and as I am related to almost seventy Cubans, have numerous friends and in the course of daily life meet many others, I know of what I speak.

    Having the privilege of knowing Cuba and its people my prime concern is for their future. For many years they have tenaciously clung on to that faint hope that the younger generations may yet know freedom and opportunity to live in their beautiful country free of repression, with freedom of expression, freedom of the media and freedom to vote for political parties of choice. Under the yoke of a Communist family dictatorship these rights are denied.

    The US is only one of many countries having Cuban communities. I know of a city with a population of under 1 million and not in the US, which has a Cuban Society which participates in multi-racial events. The President not surprisingly is named Jose!

    I regret you are retreating.

  • Who died and made you arbiter of all things Cuban? Your condescending opinion of those you call “theoreticians” and their objective in contrast to the “realists” discourages those of us who are curious about the situation and in fact are quite powerless to effect the outcome. I’m well aware of the distinctions between the US and Cuban politics. But, you win, I will, from now on, only observe from a far and leave the browbeating to “experts” like you.

  • Thank you for the clarification, Circles. I was mistaken.

    I’m glad to hear that HT is not blocked, although the lack of internet access places a severe limit on the number of Cubans who read your website.

    It’s interesting to learn that HT is also distributed via email, and I would suppose that the text-only articles are copied onto thumb drives and CDROMS for further distribution.

    If I may ask, have you ever been harassed of questioned by the Cuban authorities over your work at HT? Have any of your contributing writers experienced trouble with the authorities over what they write for HT?

  • Just for the record… Havana Times has never been blocked in Cuba as some other sites like Cubaencuentro and Cubanet. However, HT, and many other sites can get you into trouble if you visit them at many State workplaces where what sites people visit is monitored. At the pay for Wi-Fi hotspots it is available as well as at hotels and for the Cubans who have accounts at home with certain journalist and cultural institutions. So in the end it is very limited because of limited or nil access for most Cubans, but is not blocked. We also have a large list of people who receive the articles text only in their email accounts.

  • Havana Times is published on the internet by an American born editor, Circles Robinson, based in Nicaragua, who travels to Cuba from time to time. Most of the Cuban writers who contribute articles are based in Cuba, although some are fortunate enough to travel abroad. A few Americans & Canadians who visit Cuba contribute articles here from time to time.

    Keep in mind, Havana Times is not accessible in Cuba, where the government controlled internet blocks it. So the number of Cuban readers is very small. Not many Cubans have access to the internet anyway.

    I encourage you to browse the extensive catalogue of articles available here, stretching back several years. There is no other website anywhere with a larger and more diverse collection of articles on Cuban life, culture, politics, economy, sports and people.

  • Welcome to Havana Times. There is a wider world out there and the constant comparisons with whatever is wrong in the US are of minimal value. The alternative in Cuba to the current communist dictatorship is not confined to copying the US which has an unenviable historical record in Cuba. and in much of South America. You are correct in saying that the US has plenty of blind spots.
    Havana Times is one of the few places where you can read articles about Cuba written by Cubans. Of those of us who respond with comment many of whom are not US citizens, there is a divide between the realists and the theoreticians. Some know the reality of Cuba having either lived or currently live there and others have either visited the country as short term tourists or in the case of the theoreticians have never been there but either are interested in learning or are ardent supporters of communism and dictatorship, seeking it for others but not for themselves.
    Any similarity between the US and Cuba is minor. One is a democracy pursuing freedom of the individual – admittedly with imperfections in doing so and the other is a tyrannical dictatorship where the power and control of the Castro family communist regime is absolute with individual freedoms and human rights as defined by the UN banned. Criticism within Cuba of the regime is a criminal offence, but in the US and the rest of the Western World, citizens are allowed to criticize whichever political party is in power without let or hindrance.
    In saying the above, I am not seeking to influence your own views, but merely to provide you with a brief analysis of that which you will recognize in due course. Welcome again!

  • Lifting the embargo is far from the magic pill to cure all that ails Cuba. The Castros have effectively used the embargo as the whipping boy to take the blame away from their failed socialist policies. Cubans who live in Cuba often say it is the internal, self-imposed embargo that has affected the daily lives of regular Cubans far more dramatically. As a new reader to HT, I welcome your input and hope you can avoid the temptation to excuse toilet paper shortages in Havana by commenting that during your hotel stay in Vermont, they also ran out of toilet paper. Problems in the US should not be justifications for a failed government in Cuba. No need to apologize for getting “political”. Nothing in Cuba is unaffected by politics.

  • I have just begun to follow HT and appreciate your insightful (incite-full?) articles. While you are talking about Cuba, many times they seem universal and applicable to us in the US as well. In the US
    we usually refer to a “blind spot” as in not seeing something or someone in our rear view mirror while driving. Which usually means a collision ensues. So “blind spot” isn’t just a passive obstacle but rather something that is about to impact us suddenly, profoundly and in some cases tragically.
    Americans have plenty of blind spots. Just look at our pending election or our foreign policies, drones,
    etc. Sorry to get all political. Actually, I’m surprised at your ability to be so outspoken. Just hope the embargo is lifted soon and that it will improve the Cuban people’s lives.

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