Cuba: Demanding My Right to be a Gossip

Rogelio Manuel Díaz Moreno  (photos: Juan Suarez)

We Cubans like corners.

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban reality is slowly changing under the leadership of Raul Castro. Some people tend to deny this fact, obsessed as they are with downplaying the significance of events that contradict their perceptions, tastes or downright interests. The reforms and changes are there, and they are gradually giving shape to a society that is clearly different from the one that preceded it.

Acknowledging that these changes are taking place, of course, doesn’t mean that one ought to automatically approve them in terms of their content and origin. The least that a simple mortal who is not content with these can do is express their dissatisfaction and defend other points of view. Following the announcement that diplomatic relations would be re-established between Cuba and the United States, I have been dissatisfied with a series of issues, in addition to those I have put forth on earlier occasions.

We know that secret negotiations were held for more than a year before the announcement was made on December 17 last year. Talks between high-ranking diplomats have continued, for there are many problems to sort out and that is going to take some time to do. There is no longer much of a need to hide these conversations as such, but the content of these meetings continues under a thick veil of discretion. We are merely informed about general questions and agreements reached along the way, issues that haven’t been discussed in depth by those involved.

Waiting for a car.

I am not too concerned about what goes on in my neighbor’s house. It’s not my house, so let them do as they may. But I am justifiably concerned and upset over the possible repercussions such actions could have at this end. Let us not forget that the chief objective of the new US policy is to make the changes being implemented in Cuba more effective. Those changes, of course, are aimed at restoring capitalism, or whatever capitalist mechanisms haven’t yet been restored by our government.

So, I am concerned about the content of those talks that get such good press in Granma and the rest of our official media, and I begin to establish links between many things happening around me. For instance, the recently approved Foreign Investment Law and the new Labor Code, among other pieces of legislation that are so lax about relations of exploitation among human beings.

I am worried that the reforms that made travel regulations laxer for Cubans didn’t stem from a sovereign decision but was a means of pleasing our interlocutors in the north. I am also concerned that a possible improvement in Internet connectivity responds to similar pressures. It’s true these two measures are not bad ideas at all, but, if we act under the pressure of this foreign power, we may one day bitterly regret having opened the door to such intervention.

Another development that raises suspicions is our government’s sudden announcement that a new Electoral Law was in the works. After so many years of telling us we had the best democratic system in the world, they are now pulling an “improvement” from under their sleeves. If such a reform has been designed with true good intentions, why wasn’t it done publicly? Could it be it was cooked up to doll up the system some, faced with the demands of interlocutors who have a very specific understanding of what democracy is?

Street vendor.

There is only one way to dispel these gnawing doubts, and it consists in greater government transparency regarding the issues addressed. Let them say I’m a gossip, but I defend my conviction that I ought to have this right. Our government must take on its responsibility of giving us a clearer account of what is being negotiated. Then, it is likely to be more careful about the transactions it conducts and less prone to trading the nation’s interests for peanuts.

One of the things we know, for instance, is that the United States is very interested in addressing human rights issues in these talks. I support the idea of addressing such issues among Cubans. I want these to be addressed at public gatherings at physical and virtual squares, through respectful, democratic and horizontal exchanges that will produce solutions that are far more legitimate than any that could be arrived at in the closed circles of Cuban and US elites.

I do not in any expect this to happen in the near future, but strengthening an atmosphere of doubt and civic demands will always be profitable. We must nurture the legitimate feeling that the people must have a say on matters that affect them directly.


11 thoughts on “Cuba: Demanding My Right to be a Gossip

  • March 12, 2015 at 9:55 am
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    I agree with you completely about the cynical self-interest behind Obama’s new Cuba policy. If you have read my comments over the past few weeks, you would know that I have been sharply critical of Obama’s Cuba policy for exactly those reasons.

    The slave labour of the Cuban people is being sold to foreign corporations, in partnerships with Cuban state monopolies controlled by the Cuban army. Raul is changing Cuba from a Marxist-Leninist dictatorship to a Fascist dictatorship. He found his ally in President Obama, who has his own reasons for this new relationship. And yet, the Leftist commenters here at HT have been cheering them on!

    Obama has made this change because he wants to cement his legacy as the most progressive president ever. Lefties & liberals in America are tickled pink. But behind him and putting pressure on Congress are the US corporations hoping to make a profit in Cuba. They will determine the nature of the final agreements between the US and Cuba.

    For a few days, Obama made a big deal about the 53 political prisoners he got Raul to release from his dungeons. Within weeks, several of them have been rearrested and several hundreds more political arrests have happened since the “historic” announcements on December 17th. Nary a peep about these political prisoners have been heard since from the White House, nor from Obama’s diplomat assigned to lead the talks, Rebecca Jacobs. Clearly, the cause of human rights in Cuba is not on her to-do list.

    Ironically enough, the only people who are making noise about the abuse of human rights in Cuba and the fact that the Castro regime stands to gain money and enhanced power through Obama’s new Cuba policy are the much vilified Cuban American politicians, such as Marco Rubio, Ros-Lehtinin, Diaz-Balart, Ted Cruz and Bob Menendez. For the crime of speaking out against Obama’s Cuba policy, Menendez has been targeted with corruption charges from Obama’s attack-dogs in the Justice Department. Chicago rules.

    Obama’s new Cuba policy is a travesty. The Castro regime and US corporations will benefit, but the Cuban people? They get screwed. Again.

  • March 12, 2015 at 3:05 am
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    What should have been revealed to you is that the US is following its own agenda and national interest. They wish to get someone in power in Cuba who will give American business interests a free run (Donahue is already licking his lips at the thought of a beachfront property), someone who will sign up the country into the FTAA, someone who will initiate a massive neo-liberal austerity plan, someone who will vote for US interests in the United Nations. And I could go on.
    If you think otherwise, explain why they completely ignored the Ladies in White and other dissidents during the recent negotiations.

  • March 11, 2015 at 9:03 am
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    I don’t know what Raul’s plan for the new electoral law will be, nobody does. But it is revealing that you believe that if the electoral law does provide for free and fair democratic elections, it would be a bad thing for Cuba.

    In my opinion, democracy and freedom is in the best interest of the Cuban people. Maybe not in the best interest of the Castro regime, but the people, yes.

  • March 10, 2015 at 5:37 pm
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    There are countless speeches and published pronouncements made by even the most aggressive opponents of Castro tyranny that guide my comments. No one, at least not that I am aware of, has espoused that Cuba, once free of Castro tyranny must have a specific type of government. Helms-Burton simply states that a market economy with respect for private property rights must be established. That requirement is sufficiently vague to allow for a variety of economic models. The problem is not my propaganda, it’s yours. You have swallowed so much of the Castro Kool-Aid that you actually believe the lies they have foisted upon you. By the way, WE is the US. I am referring to Federal law. Read Helms-Burton for yourself.

  • March 10, 2015 at 5:32 pm
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    You made my point. It is vague. It does not say “Capitalist”. It can be argued that a ‘genuine’ socialist economy is both market-oriented and confers private property rights. A totalitarian government run by the Castros is a far cry from this kind of socialism. Crap or not, it is Federal law and is not simply to be “dropped”.

  • March 10, 2015 at 11:50 am
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    It is interesting to hear that a new electoral law is being proposed for 2018. I hadn’t heard about that but apparently it is true. I share the author’s concerns that Cuba is going to adopt something under duress just to appease the US rather than in Cuba’s best interests.

  • March 10, 2015 at 11:39 am
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    Not according to the Helms Burton Act. It says amongst other things that Cuba needs to adopt a market economy with private property rights. Granted this is vague, but that means that it could be enforced very strictly under a right-wing republican or not at all under a democrat admin. Ideally all this crap should be dropped in favour of a negotiated settlement.

  • March 10, 2015 at 10:39 am
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    Who is this “We” for whom you speak, and how are you privy to their motives ? Do you have inside knowledge of the drivers of US foreign policy, or are you just mindlessly parroting the propaganda and historical revisionism that Americans are fed on a daily basis from birth? I think history clearly shows the opposite of what you argue.

  • March 10, 2015 at 9:03 am
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    In a word….bullshit .
    The history is that since the joint U.S./European invasion and attempted destruction of what was supposed to be a communist Soviet Union , the U.S. has been involved in far more than 70 interventions specifically intended to prevent, overthrow or diminish any attempts at socialism in order to make the world safe for capitalism .
    As a totalitarian whose belief systems include only totalitarian forms: oligarchy, capitalism, religion and the usually male-dominated nuclear family structure , you cannot be serious when you claim to prefer democratic systems.
    Why your head does not explode under the cognitive dissonance that must be created by such a dichotomy between what you SAY you believe and how you actually prefer to live, is a wonder .

  • March 10, 2015 at 7:41 am
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    Moses, that’s probably the most intellegent and reasonalble thing you’ve ever written here. And I agree with you totally.

  • March 9, 2015 at 9:52 pm
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    To be clear, the US does not pine for the day when Cuba is CAPITALIST. Official US policy towards Cuba is designed to bring about regime change. We believe that Cubans should have the right to CHOOSE their government. We believe strongly that if given the open and independent right to choose, Cubans will elect a market-oriented hybrid government reflecting a mixture of public and private ownership. It is patently incorrect to assume that the US want Cuba to be capitalist. We simply want Cuba to be free.

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