By ERASMO CALZADILLA

The antithesis of socialism isn’t capitalism but alienation (photo by Darko Perica)
The antithesis of socialism isn’t capitalism but alienation (photo by Darko Perica)

HAVANA TIMES, March 6 – With time I am more and more convinced that at least in Cuba, the relationship between ordinary citizens and politicians is more sentimental than rational.

We see them on television during difficult times alongside the population, getting drenched in hurricanes, and amid the rubble that follows. The people evaluate their words and their gestures and are aware that they speak their same language and not that of academics. They appear worthy of respect, not a facade, and look sincere and show bravery. But what the people can never judge is their true performance in their government posts.

How can we evaluate that? Where can you find the commentaries of specialists, essayists and critics that assess our representatives during a given period of time? In what paper, website or library can I find concrete data about an official’s performance?

No, it’s nowhere; we have to rely on their superiors to evaluate them. This brings to mind a difficult question. Who evaluates the superiors?

On March 2nd the midday news made public that 12 important government leaders had been dismissed, including two younger ones who were well known by the population, I’m referring to Carlos Lage Davila, the executive secretary of the Council of Ministers; and Felipe Perez Roque, our foreign minister.

The Official Note, published on March 3, states that the changes occurred in accordance with the words of President Raul Castro, who a year earlier had said, “Today we need a more compact and functional structure, with less public organizations and a better distribution of duties to be carried out.”

But contradicting the Note, on March 4, in one of his reflections titled “Healthy Changes in the Council of Ministers,” Fidel put forth a very different justification for what had happened. He stated, “The sweet nectar of power for which they hadn’t experienced any type of sacrifice awoke ambitions in them that led them to play out a disgraceful role. The enemy outside built up their hopes with them.”

The contradiction between the article by Fidel and the Press Release is evident, and that makes people feel, once again, not respected by those responsible for giving them the exact information about what occurred.

Who evaluates the superiors? photo by Darko Perica
Who evaluates the superiors? (photo by Darko Perica)

I am one more of a general public that knows little about the work of our leaders. My criterion is also supported, like theirs, in appearances.

Personally, Carlos Lage seemed to be a hardworking man, of few but accurate words, sincere and serious. I liked him because he wasn’t an ideologue, and didn’t repeat the empty phrases of those who like to fake an expression of hate when referring to the enemy, those who never stop smiling to their superiors. Carlos didn’t seem like any of that, and for that reason he had won my respect. It was just the opposite with Perez Roque, and I barely knew of the rest who were dismissed.

Despite usually paying attention to political matters, what happened was totally unexpected and incomprehensible to me. We’re not talking about private employees or people holding secret military jobs, but instead leaders holding public posts, and the public should be informed as to why such drastic decisions were made.

The antithesis of socialism isn’t capitalism but alienation, it doesn’t matter where it comes from, but I don’t believe that those that govern this country think that way.

Why so much education and so many municipal universities if when push-comes-to-shove the people are treated like illiterates that must accept the decisions made from above?

Amid this situation it occurred to me to ask some peoples’ opinions. Here’s what I jotted down:

Housewife: “I heard that they were opposed to something the government wanted to do. They weren’t in agreement. But it must have been something as a group, not individually, because they are not all going fall at the same time by coincidence for different reasons. I think that the matter lies in the country’s economy, because all of those fired had something to do with that area. It appears that the country isn’t performing the way it should, as if it we’re stagnating.”

Primary school teacher: “I heard it was discovered that they were diverting resources via the corporations, but really we have never been privy to the changes that come from above.”

Medical student: “They were changes made with justice, only for the better. Those that were replaced either weren’t doing their job or it’s because they will be given another post. It could be that they were involved in corruption or wrongful spending; or perhaps it was similar to the minister of education, who spent so much time traveling and didn’t carry out his duties. Raul has made it clear that he is going to replace those that aren’t doing their job.”


7 thoughts on “Cuba Shakeup Merits Explanation

  • You have great blog and this post is good!

    best regards, Greg

  • Too bad if Erasmo feels he has to couch his ideas ambiguously so as to avoid repercussions, which, in the end, however he expresses them, will probably result in problems. Still, I hope he pushes the envelope. Cuba has come a long way from the political and cultural repressions which characterized the 1970’s, and I feel that this is in part due to the Revolution finding its own way, rather than slavishly following the Soviet model, or any other model for that matter. It seems to be that for the past two decades the authorities have been moving in the direction of less control from above, but it is often two steps forward, one back. It is good he’s thinking on his feet, for himself, and not just taking Fidel’s and Raul’s comments at face value. I think in the end Fidel and Raul encourage this. After all, they don’t want to leave the Revolution in the hands of some second-rate synchophants. I seem to remember Fidel saying that his own father was impressed at Fidel’s rebeliousness against (the father’s) wishes. Hence, what Fidel appreciated in himself (rebeliousness) and in his father (an appreciation of his son’s rebeliousness), he cannot help but encourage in others.

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