By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — Between October 14th and 22nd, the 19th edition of the World Festival of Youth and Students will be held in the Russian city of Sochi. Cuba can’t miss such an important meeting of reaffirming the global Left and will send quite a large delegation of over 250 delegates and officials.
You could come to the conclusion that after a devastating hurricane leaving the country in ruins, Cuban participation might have been canceled.
More so, if we know that the Cuban State’s coffers have been wiped out by the built-up crisis that radical Socialism’s political-economic model, which doesn’t lead to the progress that the government wants or targets.
Funding for this event comes from the “State central fund”, because only the “State” has resources in Cuba, not the false “Civil Society” that is subordinated to the Communist Party (PCC).
In other countries, organizations manage their own finances and allocate budgets. We know that in Cuba worker salaries are in regular pesos (CUP) and you need hard currency (euros or dollars) to get passports, tickets and travel expenses.
How much will it cost to participate? How many roofs of damaged homes could be bought with this money? Who benefits from such a government expense at such a critical time? These are questions that we must ask.
The Cuban delegation could have made an altruistic gesture and “voluntarily donated” this allocated budget for repair projects. However, it’s impossible to ask political officials (most of the representatives are these officials) to be spontaneous. They act like soldiers and see this trip as a prize for so many years of service in favor of the system.
If this were an idea or directive from the Politburo, they would do this smiling, even though they’d be crying on the inside, because of the frustrated desire to at least take one puff of capitalism. However, anyway, this isn’t an option that they would consider in Havana.
For Cuban foreign policy, this youth event is as important as a CELAC or NAM summit. It’s the system’s propaganda meeting and a way to capture and reaffirm sympathies. Its pure proselytism and they always have a political campaign directed at the world outside.
They don’t have any problems nationally, all of their threads of power are secure and the Cuban people don’t vote or nominate for their decision-making leaders. Their fight is abroad because the world is globalized and it doesn’t have North Korea’s nuclear weapons or its popular fanaticism, to become as firmly entrenched as they can.
That’s why the system needs a strong and “very expensive” foreign policy, which allows its dependent survival. Whoever doesn’t like them, at least tolerates them. It would be interesting to break down the real cost, going beyond the Foreign Ministry’s expenses. The Festival in Sochi falls into this strategy and that’s why it’s a priority, the same as or greater even than repairing homes destroyed by Hurricane Irma.
A dozen “figures” and celebrities of every kind will be “motivated” with this trip to Russia and used as a shop window at the event for the Cuban system’s alleged success.
Arnaldo Tamyo, the former cosmonaut; Jorge Gonzalez, who would lead the search for Che’s remains; Jorge Berlanga, a scientist with important findings; Elian Gonzalez, the famous rafter boy; Fernando Gonzalez, former agent and “Cuban Hero” (Cuban Five); Margarita Morales, the daughter of a victim of the plane sabotage crime in Barbados; Enmanuel Vigil, the internationalist doctor; Elier Ramirez, government historian and essayist; Iroel Sanchez, government journalist and blogger; Raul Capote, former “Daniel” agent from Cuba’s counterintelligence forces; Omara Durand and Suslaidys Giralt, award-winning athletes with disabilities.
It’s worth pointing out that the World Festival of Youth and Students in Russia is an event that belongs to the political Left essentially, where its radical wing dominates. Even though truly democratic organizations aren’t banned, the majority abstain from participating. Founded in 1947, it was originally a multilateral event, focused solely on peace and democracy, but the Cold War ended up polarizing it towards the Communist ideal and its associated tendencies.
The just cause of those of us who fight for “a democratic and inclusive Cuba for all Cubans” has never been exposed or debated at this global meeting. There, we are labeled “stateless”, “mercenaries”, “Imperialism’s lackeys”, although we pay no attention to any of that.
Cuba’s democratic Left hasn’t even participated, nor has any organization from the wide opposing spectrum, where its youth come first a lot of the time. The only representation of our country is from the Young Communist League.
That organization doesn’t exactly represent the interests of young people from our sovereign country, but rather those of the Communist Party: the force which it is an appendix to. We could ask ourselves whether this is a good strategy or not, to keep excluding ourselves from this and a great deal of other meetings where still today the Cuban government carries the voice of Cuba alone.
Maybe it would be a lot more productive to expose everywhere the reasons of our struggle, with respect and solid arguments. For now, the Cuban opposition doesn’t seem to be ready for an intensive ideological battle in all cases, without prejudice. When this day comes around, we will have grown a lot more and maybe we will (finally!) have the satisfactory result we’re after. We really need it!