Cuba: What it Means to Take a Stand

Do you dare to think? Do you dare to be someone with the ability to analyze and rationalize your society? Maybe it’s not in your interests. 1984.  -George Orwell.

Vicente Morin Aguado

Photo: Jorge Luis Santos

HAVANA TIMES — Recent news, not only in Havana, speak about a noticeable increase in civil protests, both individual and group, in the face of different situations which regularly meet the absurdity of a widespread and chronic socio-economic and political crisis.

Crossfit indoor gym activities have been suspended in Cojimar (in Havana’s north-eastern outskirts), where hundreds of people took part by paying for a space that meets their needs at the Villa Panamericana hotel. Crossfit participants decided to take to the street and exercise, while they wait for a response to a decision they believe to be absurd.  

The majority of members at an agricultural collective in Mayari, in the Holguin province, were disappointed at the weak legal response their complaints received about fraudulent management of their collective funds.  

Actress Lynn Cruz wins her battle against the management of “Actuar” agency when they stopped her two work contracts as a result of her political opinions, which was clearly discriminate action and therefore unconstitutional.  

When commenting about the consequences of what happened for her opponent, the director of this government-led agency, and herself, Lynn clarified:

“And if we are tried, we will both be prisoners of conscience: him for blindly obeying an ideology and me for doing the opposite. This unusual and unprecedented event shows that being on either end of the spectrum is dangerous today in Cuba, which is a great thing for those who fight for their rights.”

These and other similar events relied upon the invaluable support of countless citizens on social media.

First Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, Raul Castro, has spoken about his opposition to the fake unanimity that prevails, while he accepts the fair criticism of everything in the right place at the right time. The 87 year-old leader has just been named the leading protagonist of the constitutional reforms in progress, an attempt to hand down a rule of law within his own individual socialist understanding.

Is civic protest valid? It’s about making demands in adherence to laws in effect, therefore, there is no intention to change the established political regime.

Many of the regime’s opposition believe these protests to be useless because they don’t contemplate change.

History proves the opposite, however. All of Fidel Castro’s biographies underline his brave demand in front of the so-called Urgency Court, days after Fulgencio Batista’s coup (1952), when he wrote: “logic tells me that if courts exist in Cuba, Batista should be punished, and if Batista is not punished (…) how will this court later try any citizen for sedition or contempt against this unlawful regime, the product of unpunished treachery?”

The young lawyer must have foreseen the “no” that came in response. Five years later, Manuel Urrutia Lleo, as the President of the Third Criminal Division of Oriente’s provincial court, issued a special vote in favor of the revolutionaries charged with sedition after the bloody events in Santiago de Cuba on November 30th. Urrutia was sworn in as Cuba’s provisional president when Batista was overthrown on January 2nd 1959.

The Cuban online encyclopedia (ECURED), a Cuban Communist Party creation, wrote about Urrutia’s civic responsibility: By adopting this opposition stance to Batista, he bravely denounced the violation of individual rights.

Rosa Maria Paya isn’t plowing in the sea along with her CubaDecide followers, neither are Holguin’s farmers who filed complaints, not even Lynn Cruz who is waiting for future reprisals after the tribunal’s positive response to her complaint.

However, don’t forget that the system itself has created an escape valve in this critical phase, allowing a certain level of complaints that adhere to the law, many of which are published in the state’s media monopoly. This level means not climbing up the social pyramid, where predators lurk at the top, who we should be asking, for example:

Names and penalties for those responsible for a sugar harvest which this year barely exceeded a million metric tons, which was the same as a century ago?

For Cuban calends (not Greek at all), there will be a technical report which will tell us the direct causes for the airplane crash that took place on May 18th, but who will answer for renting out the Boeing 737-200 from a small company with a shady reputation?

Paraphrasing Raul Castro, every voice in the right place, at the right time. This is true for Silvio Rodriguez, the distinguished folk singer, who was rebuked on his Internet blog:

“You were a legislator, one of society’s representatives. Why did you go quiet? If those who can talk, don’t dare to, they become accomplices of this barbarity and contribute to its existence. Those who want change need to announce this bravely.”

From the streets alongside the Villa Panamericana hotel, where Crossfit practitioners are now exercising having been evicted by the State’s absurd decision, Flavia Torrente says:

“It isn’t fair, this place is the definition of health, sacrifice, a will to fight, to live a better life and to have the strength to take on everyday challenges. A place where people from all over Havana used to gather, we need to make our voices heard.”

Vicente Morin Aguado: [email protected]

3 thoughts on “Cuba: What it Means to Take a Stand

  • It seems very doubtful whether you Paul Cleland have even visited Cuba. Ignorance of the reality oozes from your contribution. Has it not occurred to you that corruption and the Communist Party of Cuba are synonymous?
    You state with the typical arrogance of communist dictatorship supporters that it should not be challenged demonstrating that you are opposed to others having the privileges which you obviously enjoy as a resident in a capitalist country.
    Communism in Cuba has had almost sixty years to reach the “maturity” of which you speak. Like a piece of soft cheese, it started raw, then steadily deteriorated into a rotten mess.
    History has not absolved Fidel, nor will it as the reality of his actions slowly seeps out. Fidel Castro’s actual legacy (not that promoted by the propaganda Department of the Communist Party of Cuba and fellow travelers like yourself), is of multiple sexual liasons, of executions, of persecutions, of hatred, of lying, of the insatiable thirst for power and control, of the pursuit of nuclear conflict and that overwhelming arrogance and conceit demonstrated when he said that “History will absolve me.” Cubans are well aware of the history of the US in their country and the Americas, there is little chance that given the freedom which as part of humanity they merit, that they would pursue a political system modeled upon the US, and remember that they fought a succession of revolutions against the Spanish. You obviously think of them as similar to children that should do as they are told, accept being part of the proletariat and totalitarian dictatorship. Shame on you in your ignorance and conceit!

  • Well said.

  • Legitimate complaints about corruption should be pursued by the federal government, whether as a result of corrupt officials, or dishonest citizens. Cuba owes no less to those who fought and died to remove the previous non-communist government. But the primacy of the communist system within Cuba should not be challenged. Too many advances have been made to lose it all. The Americans are just drooling at a chance to plunder the country once again. I hope that all parts of the nation realize this first and foremost. History has absolved Fidel. It will not absolve those who subvert the revolution as it finally comes to maturity.

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