Cuba’s Opposition With or Without Obama

Communist regimes are a form of latent civil war between the government and the people. Milovan Djilas, The New Class, 1957.

By Vicente Morin Aguado

Cuba Photo by Luk Tuen Mong
Cuba Photo by Luk Tuen Mong

HAVANA TIMES — We are still hearing the echoes of the veritable political blows dealt the Cuban leadership by Obama in their own ring, but these are not the only blows dealt the system, from behind bars, by those who would challenge the island’s current authoritarianism on a daily basis.

Cuba’s official media have not ceased in their efforts to minimize the repercussions of the US president’s brilliant speech. Even Fidel Castro stepped in on behalf of his younger brother, publishing a long “reflection” in which, after a laundry list of complaints spanning decades, he concluded:

“We are also capable of producing the food and material resources we need, on the basis of the effort and intelligence of our people alone.”

Could it be the Comandante, now a devoted agricultural researcher, has a miracle in store for us? Let us hope it is not at all in the style of the F-4 super-cows, the Havana coffee plantations or the 10-million-ton sugar harvest.

It remains to be seen what the current Cuban president will do with the political prisoners he promised to release immediately upon being notified of their names. In the meantime, we are left to deal with temporary arrests. We would have to ask the Ladies in White the total number of hours in prison they endured last year. They would likely constitute a new Guinness World Record.

Even before Obama had boarded his plane out of Cuba, the Cuban Forum for Rights and Liberties had declared:

In the course of the first years of the revolution, after all initial and violent resistance had been crushed, the country’s repressive mechanisms were perfected as the communist system became consolidated.

“We demand that the repression of all Cubans who defend their fundamental rights and freedoms cease immediately, amnesty for all political prisoners and the ratification and monitoring of the implementation of UN Human Rights Conventions.”

The forum also stated that “if these preliminary suggestions are ignored, the US president’s visit will serve only to consolidate the totalitarian regime and will not help empower pro-democracy activists.”

The contradictions in this morally justified demand come to the fore when its proponents demand it be included in the direct negotiations between the two governments. When the tenth US administration since the revolution has decided to put aside its policy of pressures and offer Marti’s white rose to its adversary, it is out of place to turn to a political method that has yielded no results in the country for over half a century.

Obama was very clear during his address at Havana’s Gran Teatro: “I’ve made it clear that the United States has neither the capacity, nor the intention to impose change on Cuba.  What changes come will depend upon the Cuban people.”

The essential aspects of Cuba’s current situation have to do with the origins of the prevailing totalitarian system. This premise helps us understand the failure of previous US policies.

Cuba’s bearded rebels defeated Batista under the legitimate call to restore the island’s 1940 constitution. Quickly, Fidel Castro was to use the power he’d secured to set up a State apparatus that ultimately became institutionalized as a single, supposedly socialist party.

In the course of the first years of the revolution, after all initial and violent resistance had been crushed, the country’s repressive mechanisms were perfected as the communist system became consolidated. Its operations then began to take on a selective nature.

Through propaganda and other means, fear was instilled in people, who, to this day, believe that the police organs are infallible and still harbor feelings of impotence that lead to evasion, the only imaginable way out for them. The end result is that people chose to leave at any cost. Fear is paralyzing. In private, dissidents are admired for their courage. Publicly, they are denigrated.

There was applause, but Obama isn’t president of Cuba. It would be naïve to ask him for protection against the excesses of local authorities.

The Cuban government does not employ mass mechanisms of violent repression. The totalitarian system managed to install even more efficient mechanisms: a total monopoly over the educational system, the media, art distribution, employment, wages and even travel by individuals inside the country and abroad.

It would be a question of undermining these monopolies, eroding them, if the needed step towards the realization of the fought-four liberties is to be taken.

This past March 22, the US president exclaimed before his Cuban counterpart: “the rule of law should not include arbitrary detentions of people who exercise those rights.”

There was applause, but Obama isn’t president of Cuba. It would be naïve to ask him for protection against the excesses of local authorities. We are left only with the legacy of Antonio Maceo, who, 120 years ago, wrote: “To beg for one’s right is the mark of cowards unable to exercise such rights.”

Those who dare exercise their rights without asking for permission are showing us the way, because the latent civil war between the people and the government will continue.

In connection with complacency and fear, I leave you with the champion of non-violence Martin Luther King:

“(…) time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, in the knowledge that the time is always ripe to do right.”
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Vicente Morin Aguado: [email protected]              


16 thoughts on “Cuba’s Opposition With or Without Obama

  • April 9, 2016 at 3:55 pm
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    C’mon. Cuba was a immigrant receptor before 1959, plus Cuba is the is the only country in Latin America which made a communist revolution in 1959. If it is now in the same situation as the others then , What was the point of the Revolution? Your reasoning is faulty.

  • April 9, 2016 at 8:45 am
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    Seduce them? Really? We Cubans go back and forth between Cuba and the US, or have communicated with our relatives since the earliest days of the revolution. If by seduced you mean that my Cuban brothers want the same opportunity afforded me here in the US then yes, you are correct. Why would I have wanted to stay in 1970s Cuba where it was illegal to travel, where I could not express myself freely, where I had no say in the government and where news and information from the outside world was scarce. Even our very culture was compromised and warped with the introduction of Soviet culture and products.

  • April 9, 2016 at 8:35 am
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    As a Cuban, I can say that you are full of it. Cubans have been leaving en masse to the US, in many cases risking there lives, since the Castro’s took power. Just recently a group of rafters were intercepted in which two migrants, one of them pregnant, had to be treated for wounds in a US hospital. The wounds are suspected to have been self inflicted. How desperate must they have been to reach our “mirage”. Another more telling point is that before Castro came to power Cuba had a net positive migration rate, with people coming from all over the world. Not so after the revolution. I think that says it all.

    …Why is it that the biggest defenders of the Castro system are not Cuban and don’t live in Cuba?

  • April 9, 2016 at 5:39 am
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    So, more than an estimated 40,000 Cubans left Cuba for a better life in 2015 and a number less than a 1000 returned (according to the Castros) in the same period and you want to bring it up to defend the failed regime? Hahahahaha!

  • April 8, 2016 at 12:47 pm
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    C’mon, look at all the refugees from Latin America attempting to migrate through all sorts of hell to get across the US border. There are thousands of economic refugees from all those countries. Why should Cuba be any different? All of them see the glitz and $$$ represented on US tv and they want a chance to attain a small piece of it. I also know there are many Cubans that love their country and would never want to abandon it to move to the US. Poverty is motivating them in all of those countries. I met Cubans who had reached the US, decided they didn’t like the mirage that had attracted them, and risked imprisonment by RETURNING to their beloved country.

  • April 7, 2016 at 11:45 am
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    It is really curious that ordinary Cubans, after 50 years continue to risk their lives trying to leave the Cuban Paradise and getting into the infernal US, and then , they do not go back. Are they mad? Masochists? The proof is in the pudding.

  • April 7, 2016 at 10:43 am
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    Your anti-US biases cloud your judgment. You would rather that Cuba remains locked in a downward economic spiral instead of accepting the good and the bad from a new relationship with the US? The fact is that the US is Cuba’s last hope. It’s either our “bed” or continue sleeping on an unstable, uncomfortable, and unclean floor.

  • April 7, 2016 at 10:17 am
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    Do you really believe “the tenth US administration since the revolution has decided to put
    aside its policy of pressures and offer Marti’s white rose to its
    adversary”? You are extremely naive to think the US govt, in it current imperialist form, will ever give up its “democracy building” efforts providing a comfortable living ($$$) to its paid Cuban provocateurs to overthrow their government, disband any socialist forms of social services and turn the economy and your natural resources over to corporate greed, to the detriment of all your citizens. That has been its intention all along since the 19th century.
    Do you think the US doesn’t arbitrarily detain its citizens if they are peacefully protesting in a place “inconvenient” to the powers that be? You don’t think we have political prisoners? You don’t think we have illegal detentions, especially of minorities, but also of other persons working to change our oppressive corporate-run governmental structures? You’re looking for assistance to increase your freedoms from a country that has the largest incarcerated population in the history of the world, a country that sees its prisoners “mysteriously” die while locked up in its jails? I question either your integrity and sincerity or your depth of knowledge. Either you should clarify who pays you, or you should study up a little on the background and history of the country you look to for help. You’re either intentionally or ignorantly hopping into bed with the devil.

  • April 7, 2016 at 6:57 am
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    Lets see Cuba actually have an election first, an actual honest election not the sham where we know the outcome beforehand, and then worry about the acceptance.

  • April 6, 2016 at 11:55 pm
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    I don’t think you understand what the word cowardice means. If criticizing Cubans is “gutless”, than NOT criticizing Cubans is brave? Makes no sense, does it? As an African-American who grew up in the sixties with a mom who marched with Dr. King, I know what brave looks like. I had a great-uncle who was lynched by the KKK. I don’t know any Cuban Dr. Kings. I haven’t met a Cuban version of my mom who faced police dogs and firehoses. All 110 lbs. of her. By the way, I have no throne. But if I did, I paid for it myself.

  • April 6, 2016 at 11:46 pm
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    My proof? George W. Bush.

  • April 6, 2016 at 8:48 pm
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    Yeah, Moses!! Pretending that you would accept the outcome of an election that displeased you is a joke.

  • April 6, 2016 at 8:47 pm
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    The “cowardice,” Moses, IS NOT WITH THE CUBAN PEOPLE. It is with the outsiders who seek to seduce or otherwise overwhelm them to acquire revenge against Castro or for the usual desires related to money and power. To sanctimoniously sit atop your throne and criticise the Cuban people is gutless. Considering what has confronted them for so long, they should be applauded, not vilified. Shame even on you, Moses!!

  • April 6, 2016 at 4:44 pm
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    You are wrong again. EVEN if Cubans choose to continue along a socialist path, my point is simply they must be the ones who choose. I don’t think that they will choose socialism in the extreme form they currently have forced upon them however. If you are such a big Castro fan and genuinely support socialism in Cuba, why not hold open, independent elections. Let the people choose. What are you afraid of?

  • April 6, 2016 at 2:00 pm
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    There you have it. Perfect cognitive dissonance. Discount entirely the possibility that not every Cuban is anxious for a change of systems and attribute it instead to the cowardice of the Cuban people. And some cowardice it must indeed be.After all, look what the Iranians, Vietnamese, Nicaraguans, Romanians, ect, ect, faced in rebelling against their immensely more violent dictatorships. Well, if that argument doesn’t hold up, there’s always that old bromide – brainwashing.

  • April 6, 2016 at 12:35 pm
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    “In private, dissidents are admired for their courage. Publicly, they are denigrated.” This cowardice on the part of the Cuban people must be overcome before Cubans will truly be free.

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