Carlos Cabrera Perez (Café Fuerte)
HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban government is afraid, and its undeniable fear makes it react towards its opponents in excessive, unjust, inconsistent and contradictory ways.
One day, they issue passports to nearly all of them, only to harass them at the airport when they return from their trips. Another day, Raul Castro tells the world that the best policy to follow is one of debate and cooperation and, the next, we witness temporary detentions, beatings and reprisals.
What good does it do, in the 21st century, to continue to repeat the old, tired accusation that all government opponents are agents paid by US imperialism? Let those who are answer for this, but Cuba cannot continue to discredit those who do not agree with the Politburo by branding them CIA agents.
Whose idea was it to arrest two Argentinean activists in their hotel in Cuba at four in the morning, to cause a silly little fuss and later deport them to Buenos Aires? The move was counterproductive, for the two activists have spoken of their experiences, without exaggeration, unmasking the Cuban dictatorship with an anecdote about a stupid, repressive official who warned them that “Cuba is not like the rest of the world.”
Why mobilize children in primary school and have them yell Maoist slogans in unison in front of the home of dissident Antonio Rodiles, who had organized a meeting inside his house to celebrate Human Rights Day?
The Cuba of warring factions, of hatred and purges, must be replaced with a Cuba of debate, respectful co-existence, full freedom and community spirit.
What is the balance today, after 54 years of the repression of Cubans by other Cubans and of mutual hostility? Economic ruin, single-parent families, alcoholism and other psychological traumas, exile, segregation, generalized insincerity and widespread fear.
Before, many people were afraid of State Security. Today, State Security and its leadership fear that people will take to the streets as they did in Libya, in protests that ended with Gadhafi’s assassination.
Are there no capable, honest and patriotic people in the Politburo who can say: “Comrades, let’s sit down and have a respectful conversation with our opponents, including those in the exile community, to see what kind of country we can build together”?
There are good ideas across the entire spectrum of the Cuban community, and neither those who are rabidly pro-Castro or rabidly anti-Castro are entirely right. Perhaps it’s easier to look the other way and say: “Let’s play it by ear. Let the dissidents travel around the world, we’ll discredit them later and go on about our business.”
An Indispensable Exchange
There is and will continue to be no shortage of enemies of this much-needed exchange among Cubans, particularly among those who fear they will lose the perks they enjoy under the current status quo. I am not referring only to the cronies of the dictatorship, people with Saudi-like habits who are devoid of any dignity. I am also referring to the many in the exile community and on the island whose profits and lives depend on having Cuba remain the way it is.
The images of repressive actions taken in Cuba during Human Rights Day seriously discredit the Cuban government and give the figures of the opposition good press in the international arena. No one in their right mind can think it normal that a citizen should be detained and beaten because they think differently than their aggressors.
The most horrifying thing of all, however, is seeing those 9 or 10-year-olds yelling with feigned hatred and waving Venezuelan flags and photos of Hugo Chavez in front of the dissident’s home.
Cuba has given Venezuela much more than Caracas has given Havana. If Chavez was able to establish himself as a regional figure, it was thanks to the decisive support of the Castro government (secured in exchange for extremely expensive oil).
Cuba continues to keep its businesses bound hand and foot and its citizens hostage under a senseless, totalitarian system, so one has to wonder about such superficial and opportunistic displays of Chavismo.
The time of a dictatorship, however, is finite. The world has looked upon Cuba as a senseless anachronism (and not as the anti-imperialist revolution seeking social justice it once was) for many years. A repressor follows orders. But the problem isn’t to be found in the system’s thugs. The problem is the superiors, including Raul Castro, who is the most responsible, those who continue to believe that you can kill ideas.