Cuban Dissidents and the US Government

Vicente Morin Aguado

A day begins in Havana
A day begins in Havana.  Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — From time to time, I have a look at the reader comments published in Havana Times, comments I markedly disagree with. These are often loaded with words of praise for those who oppose the Cuban government, the sympathetic support of certain individuals in Miami who have distanced themselves definitively from the reality we face in Havana.

I do not criticize the attitude of those who have taken the road of direct opposition to the government. The crux of my disagreement with such dissidents is their attitude towards the predominant political tendencies of the power elites that govern the United States today, groups that include different leaders of the Cuban émigré community. They are referred to as “Cuban-Americans”, but they are as American as Richard Helms or Dan Burton.

That there is sufficient cause for dissent in today’s Cuba, and that many want a much better country than the one we have now, is unquestionable.

I also recognize that the government’s repressive response to those who criticize the country’s reality, proposing (inevitable) changes for the future from different perspectives, is not in step with the times.

That said, the way in which certain opponents of the government evidently abide by Washington’s dictates, which are inalterable where Cuba is concerned, is also inadmissible.

There are simple, historical truths, and one of them is the fact that, for nearly two hundred years, US policy has been openly or surreptitiously opposed to Cuba’s independence.

Today, Mr. Kerry is telling us that the United States has put the Monroe Doctrine behind it. At least at the level of discourse, they are finally acknowledging the imperial nature of a dictate declared by the US president in 1823, delimiting the country’s future spheres of influence in the face of the equally interventionist policies of European nations.

In my country, it seems there are still those who forget both the past and the present and desperately approach our northern neighbor requesting support for their cause.

For instance, while I respect Yoani Sanchez’ defiance in light of the unjustified attitude of her repressors, I also wholly reject the ambiguity inherent in raving against the blockade and later smiling at those who are the hard-line defenders of this genocidal policy that is completely out of touch with reality.

Havana Street.  Photo: Juan Suarez
Havana Street. Photo: Juan Suarez

Avoiding reality is, almost always, the means of escape of those who cannot find a coherent political path. That is the case of many Cuban dissidents, unable to secure support from their fellow citizens, precisely because they neglect the history of their own country as regards our long-standing, complicated relations with the United States.

The conflict between the two nations is characterized by differences that are as pronounced as the “forgetfulness” of those who are referred to as the “opposition” or as “dissidents”, both here and there. Incidentally, these words, as in many other places, are totally overblown by the media.

I consider myself a “dissident” and an “independent journalist” (freelancers, they are called abroad). However, should I publicly declare myself as such, I would be automatically thrown together with the likes of Bicet, Fariñas, Berta Soler and company.

The attitude of such dissidents is often justified by their need to look for money and other resources on US soil and through inappropriate comparisons, through allusions, for instance, to the admirable struggle against apartheid impelled by Mandela and his millions of followers.

Whoever makes such comparisons is, at the very least, quite ignorant. The difference is abysmal, undeserving of even a few lines within this post.

Another concrete aspect of this conflict to bear in mind is related to the issue of property, one of the nerve centers of the historical differences I have referred to above.

On the one side, we have those Cubans living in their country or abroad. On the other, we have Americans and Cubans who were deprived of their estates and have joined forces on US soil with the aim of taking back what they lost. If anyone believes the situation is any different, I challenge them to prove it.

Beyond all the high-sounding spiels about democracy and human rights (issues that are so serious they deserve an authentic debate), one of the roots of my disagreement with some dissidents has to do with the demands surrounding Cuba’s so-called nationalization process, the origin of socialism on the Caribbean isle.

To confirm the above, suffice it to have a look at the Helms-Burton Act or the reasons enumerated by Kennedy to justify the embargo. We could even go back further, to the reason why the USS Maine was present in Havana Bay that fateful night of 1895.

Havana.  Photo: Juan Suarez
Havana. Photo: Juan Suarez

The fact of the matter is that some opponents of the Cuban government scramble to get their hands on US gifts, forgetting their country’s history and without placing on the balance the profound reasons for the Cuba-US conflict, the most significant issues that characterize the difficult reality we face. Such behavior precludes all viable politics and invariably results in escapism, a surrogate of impotence.

There is one thing Yoani Sanchez, Bicet, Soler and other dissidents are right about: the current reform process, slow, incomplete, improvised or whatever else it may be, is aimed at preserving socialism.

That’s to say, the reforms do not aim to hand the country over to the United States’ voracious governing elites, which legitimately include the leaders of the Cuban émigré community, illegitimately referred to as “Cuban-Americans.”

Any reconciliation with US power groups entails returning their former properties to them. Such groups do not care at all whether this is accomplished through a fierce dictatorship or a benevolent democracy.

The only other alternative is to continue in our efforts to refashion our socialist system, continuing the revolutionary process that began in 1959.

As Shakespeare eloquently put it: “To be or not to be, that is the question.”
Vicente Morin Aguado:  [email protected]

23 thoughts on “Cuban Dissidents and the US Government

  • December 15, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    I can see that you are pissed off that, despite your best efforts — your beloved genocidal embargo, again — Cubans have not only survived the US onslaught, but they have thrived, thanks in part to inspired leadership and to countless acts of international solidarity. Despite the best efforts of your political masters to kill as many Cubans as possible and to sabotage the Cuban economy by various means, Cubans are among the healthiest in the Americas, with the best infant mortality in the region — better than both the USA and Canada. Who says so? Why, your partners in crime at the CIA! That’s gotta hurt!

  • December 15, 2013 at 4:17 am

    In Cuba nearly all people are impoverished and depend on remittances from the USA to a large extent.
    Cuba’s Stalinist system never was able to support its people. For years 35% of GDP was sponsored by the Soviet Union. Now import from indentured labor, Venezuela’s subsidies, remittances and capitalist tourism keep the regime alive while the people suffer.

  • December 12, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    If doing what is best for the US is opposed by 99% of the world, I would urge my President to do what is best for the US. The reality is that what is best for the US is usually what is best for the world.

  • December 12, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    Obama was elected by a MAJORITY of the people who voted, ergo democracy. Once again, for kids on the little bus, capitalism is APOLITICAL. Your assumptions regarding what you believe other people know speaks volumes about what you don’t know.

  • December 12, 2013 at 10:00 am

    As an unqualified supporter of the capitalism and oligarchy that is the U.S government you are hardly one to preach democracy to Cubans .
    Democracy literally means “rule of the people” ( majority rule) and the neither the U.S. oligarchy nor capitalism meet that sole criterion .
    I suspect that you do not know the meaning of the word “democracy” or rather choose to be willfully ignorant of what constitutes a democracy to write what you do.
    Please explain how an oligarchy is a democratic form.
    Please explain how capitalism is democratic and in each case remembering that democracy means MAJORITY RULE.

  • December 12, 2013 at 9:44 am

    The US is all about “winning hearts and minds”…but we’re not shy about breaking a few when needed!

  • December 11, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Such as waging a war on the Cuban people when all countries but Israel and the Marshall Islands stand and vote against that war at the U.N. ?
    Such as supporting Israel’s ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population of the Occupied West Bank when again only Israel and a few island groups in thrall to the U.S are opposed to it ?
    You are shameless in your defense of the indefensible .
    You should realize that you are talking about opposing the opinion of 99% of the world’s nations which translates into a dismissal of democracy.
    People like you who believe that the world is wrong and they are right are usually and rightly confined to mental institutions

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