Cuba: When Fear Changes Places

Carlos Cabrera Perez (Café Fuerte)

Images of this nature were seen at different points around Havana and Cuba’s interior on December 10, Human Rights Day.
Images of this nature were seen at different points around Havana and Cuba’s interior on December 10, Human Rights Day.

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.

Counterproductive Measures

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.

72 thoughts on “Cuba: When Fear Changes Places

  • December 21, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    What I actually said was “20% .. consider themselves Socialist” and “10% want .. a Soviet-style planned economy”. I agree with the rest of what you say.

  • December 20, 2013 at 11:06 am

    The legal and political quagmire which surrounds the remaining 160 detainees is mind-boggling. Nonetheless, the Obama administration appears to finally be in a rhythm in releasing those detainees qualified for release and setting trial dates for those whose fate has yet to be determined. There are many reasons to criticize this facility but there are real terrorists locked up there and most of them are no longer welcome in their country of origin. Obama inherited this mess and continues to try to wrestle his way out of it. A recent news story worth reading on GITMO

  • December 20, 2013 at 8:46 am

    Given this site is called HT, when you commented that 20% of Americans want to have a socialist government, I assumed that you meant like Cuba. By the way, the poll you referenced used the term “is favorable to” as opposed to “want”. There is a nuance there. The other poll you referenced said only 15%, not 20% as you claimed want a Soviet-style managed economy. I am saying that the US is more liberal on many civil libertarian areas and more conservative in many social aspects than the countries I named. Depends on the topic: from guns to gay rights, there are huge differences in both directions. You can not attach a “more conservative” label on the US without being more specific. Finally, I am not aware of any national politician who is an avowed socialist.

  • December 20, 2013 at 8:33 am

    That is debateable. What about the 100 prisoners in Guantanamo who have been there for 10 years. If they are guilty of terrorist acts or attempted to do so why haven’t they been put on trial.

  • December 20, 2013 at 4:41 am

    The polls don’t define socialism – it is left to the people questioned and here are the links you requested. I didn’t say that anyone wanted either a Cuban nor a USSR government. The question we were discussing was diversity of governance and all the countries you mention have left wing representation. If we take Germany as an example there are three left wing parties represented in parliament with around 300 seats. Are you saying that there are no socialists (of any kind) worth mentioning in the US?

  • December 19, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    I agree with you. These hard-core communists have long held out hope that Cuba would remain their socialist pin-up girl. But alas, even Cuba will succumb to the onslaught of biology and human nature.

  • December 19, 2013 at 8:14 pm

    Sorry to disappoint you again, but I don’t watch any of those people. Certainly not that creep, Pat Robertson! In fact, I rarely watch any TV news. I read history, philosophy, economics and literature.

    For example, I just finished “Koba, the Dread” by Martin Amis, a very interesting book about Stalin and the clueless Western Leftists who worshiped him. I know, I know, you will reject the label of “Stalinist”, and you have the benefit of living several decades after that monster’s death. But you exhibit every mental and psychological trait of those self-abasing Leftists, inside and outside of the USSR, who wilfully blinded themselves to the horrors of the Soviet Union.

    I have no idea what you are talking about “secret text”, except that perhaps it’s a projection of your own slavish repetition of your Marxist professors.

    I notice how you never bother to debate ideas. You prefer to engage in personal attacks, guilt by association, attempt to disqualify those how disagree with you, make related appeals to argument by authority, and a host of other cheap rhetorical fallacies.

    Consider yourself a bore.

  • December 19, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    I was gonna go into this whole response and stuff….but man, you’re just nuts! It’s not worth it.

    But I just can’t resist one last poke in the eye. ….It must kill you to know that Cuba is doing everything it can to create a China style Capitalist system. Must just stick in your craw. And you my friend? You tilt at windmills.

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