Cuba’s Political Dilemma and HT Commenters

Vincent Morin Aguado

HAVANA TIMES — One central issue characterizes the comments added to the articles published in Havana Times. Some of them (actually most of the comments, in my opinion) express the desire to do away with socialism in Cuba (though, paradoxically, some of them even claim that such a system never existed in our country, they consider that what we have is a version of state monopoly capitalism).

The details of this are revealed day after day and occupy much space below the publication’s posts. This is the background of the issue being treated here.

Cubans debate two basic ideas: to continue trying what an advanced thinker named Aurelio Alonso describes as a “socialist experiment,” or to simply return to capitalism. I don’t know of any third option to this historical dilemma.

One key element identifies the latter pro-capitalist trend: any current government action is considered, de facto, as negative. Its actions are severely attacked with various epithets; and when they cannot be argued against, they’re at least looked down upon with mistrust, suspicion or by minimizing any positive impact.

This is a philosophy that aspires for disaster in Cuba. There’s no possibility of correcting the country’s path, these critics of socialism say – it’s too late. The worst thing is they want to see the situation in the country get worse, which would justify their hopes of returning to the past.

Incidentally, they extol whatever wrong that happens on any given day, taking advantage of the resulting catharsis, which is the equivalent of relief for the impotent.

If we read these types of comments carefully, we can appreciate the lack of arguments in most of them. They don’t discuss the essential points written about in the articles on which they commenting. They simply go in to their tireless repetitions of the evils of the past, the present and of the times ahead.

One example of this involves the government headed by Raul Castro eliminating some absurd prohibitions that applied to nationals, ones that were inexplicably present for many years. Such welcomed changes included allowing Cubans to rent rooms in tourist hotels, permitting them to buy and sell cars and houses, and most recently their right to freely travel abroad.

Obviously there’s no need to “thank” the government for these measures; it simply restored rights that should never have been taken away. In any case, the measures taken clearly indicate a positive path and show both the desire for change and the recognition of past mistakes. We have consensus in Cuba around what’s really important.

The commenters that I’m referring to — those who criticize the current changes being made in Cuba — immediately ignored this issue. Instead, they started talking about how there are two currencies in the country, how wages are insufficient, and how the measures taken are worthless.

We’re searching for the path, we’re continue to look for it. But we’re having a hard time finding it from within a failed form of socialism, a failed socialist model, as we seek to move towards a viable model of socialism.

This approach is expressed almost as a rule, though with many variations, when it comes to Havana Times comments. The cause of this form of opinion-giving is simple: those commenters vehemently wish to return to capitalism.

Therefore, if any current reform is successful, this would distance them for such an aim since it would help to gain popular consensus around the real possibility of continuing the socialist experiment.

The idea of this post is linked to the “blank slate theory,” an issue I dealt with in a previous post. I can sum it up as the notion that nothing of importance has happened in Cuba over the past fifty years and now everything positive that the current government can do is too late, hypocritical and ineffective.

I fully agree with an idea expressed a few weeks ago by Alonso when he said: “Technically, the abandonment of the socialist project represents the easy way out – it doesn’t even involve the complexity of design. It’s enough to simply put the entire society at the mercy of privatization.”

Much remains to be changed in Cuba in order to realize the ubiquitous imperative expressed by Fidel Castro and repeated so often in my country: “Change whatever needs to be changed.” I recognize that fortunately there’s a place for this comment: It’s called Havana Times. Here it’s possible for it to be posted, something that’s still missing in my country (to which we could add the issue of Internet access for everyone).

When speaking with a group of young artist members of the Asociacion Hermanos Saiz, Aurelio Alonso outlined an idea that I’ve fully shared over the years: “Our political challenge is democracy. One lesson we should not forget is that our project is socialism — not capitalism — and that socialism cannot exist without democracy.”

We’re searching for the path, we’re continue to look for it. But we’re having a hard time finding it from within a failed form of socialism, a failed socialist model, as we seek to move towards a viable model of socialism.
To contact Vincent Morin Aguado, write: [email protected]


29 thoughts on “Cuba’s Political Dilemma and HT Commenters

  • January 16, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    I disagree with destructive comments, opinions and suggestions in Cuba, the US or anywhere else. I think, we hold a social responsibility towards creating a better environment for all, regardless of our personal views and interest.
    The ability for each of us to express their views openly, is a unique opportunity that HT affords all of us, to contribute something to the future and mankind.
    I have never blamed everthing wrong on the US, where I live. Disastrous government decisions have earned this country an unenviable and unmanagable amount of undeniable distrust and ill feelings around the world, with which, no country can live or survive.
    If Calixto Martinez was jailed for doing what he believe is right and for standing up for truth, while not being a salaried foreign agent, we should all commend him and be willing follow his courage and principles.
    Neither do I accept the false concept of Cuba’s failed management procedures on Griffin’s argument of “Cuba experiment subsisted on expropriated wealth and Soviet subsidies.
    Did the United States economy not evolve from billions of dollars confiscated from those citizens who fled from New England to Canada after independence and unquantifiable worldwide subsidies extracted with sweat, tears and blood by each of its transnationals enterprises from the poorest countries around the world?
    Why is if for some of us, that what is good for certain countries is a crime for others?

  • January 16, 2013 at 12:59 pm


    It’s clear the only criticisms some will accept is:

    a) Everything wrong is the fault of the USA & the Blockade
    b) Cuba needs even more socialism

    Walter wrote:

    “The issue of democracy and social(ism) politics is a worldwide challenge. At least in Cuba the “experiment” was tried and is still in play.”

    Well that is precisely the core of the problem, isn’t it? The Cuban “experiment” never did include democracy. Castro excluded democracy when he banned all parties other than the CCP, cancelled promised elections and suppressed all human rights and freedoms.

    The Cuban “experiment” subsisted on expropriated wealth and then on Soviet subsidies. The “Special Period” wasn’t special: it was normal. The recent subsidy of Venezuelan oil is keeping the experiment on life support for a while yet.

    The only thing the world can learn from the Cuban experiment is, “Don’t do it!” The experiment has ruined the country.

  • January 16, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Walter, you wrote,”Real friends and supporters are those, who are willing to advise or denounce what is wrong, not hide or cover it up what is wrong.” Yet, you seem to oppose commenters such as Griffin and me who will point out or “denounce” what we to believe is wrong with the Castro regime. So which is it? Are we real friends or professional diversionists? How do you determine who is which?

  • January 16, 2013 at 8:49 am

    We are glad to hear that you welcome a diversity of opinion. Yet you seem to lump all criticism into one pile, and to see the challenges facing Cuba as a question to be considered only in the context of a false dichotomy: forward to (corrected) Socialism or back corrupt capitalism.

    Who is to blame for the “lack of an aggressive, critical, investigative journalism in Cuba” …? The regime routinely harasses and jails any journalist who dares to step out of line from the Party dictates on what must and what must not be reported. For instance, Calixto Martinez is still in jail four months after reporting on the cholera outbreak in Santiago, which the government preferred to keep secret.

  • January 16, 2013 at 7:32 am

    Contrary to some concepts expressed in this article, I welcome comments of all colors and contents. Facts, should be the only guiding light in our expressions.

    I fear no mal-intended article, distortions or lies. Time will take care of them, as we are now seeing with the latest migratory rules, which have left hate-mongers, professional diversionists and those wishing ill to Cuba speechless and searching for possible arguments to explain the loss of their most useful anti-Cuba tool.

    Cuba’s reaction to the Embargo, Invasions, Bio terrorism,Peter Pan, Family reunion, Dry Foot/Wet Foot, Guantanamo (Gitmo) turned into a safe haven and many more aggressive actions by the US, explains in part efforts to control personal movement in and out of the country.

    Conversely, the lack of an aggressive, critical, investigative journalism in Cuba, is a major enabler of the rampant corruption pervading all areas of society. Real friends and supporters are those, who are willing to advise or denounce what is wrong, not hide or cover it up what is wrong.

    Like all transmissible diseases, the only cure is to identify, isolate and treat!

  • January 15, 2013 at 9:25 am

    With the limited and severely circumscribed economic reforms, and the so-called campaigns against corruption which always result in more enterprises being transferred to the control of GAESA, what is happening in Cuba is a transformation from a Soviet influenced “Fidelismo” to something closer to old style Fascism.

    A state-monopoly is being established under the control of the Cuban army holding company, GAESA. The director of GAESA, now by far the largest corporation on the island, is Raul Castro’s son-in-law, Colonel Luis Alberto Rodríguez Lopez- Callejas.

    All the ingredients of Fascism are present: a state-corporate monopoly economy, the domination by a powerful military/police complex, all under the political control of a totalitarian party rife with nationalism and xenophobia.

    I fear that Cuba has a short window of opportunity to secure her freedom before the new era cements it’s hold on the country.

  • January 15, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Regarding the wide ranging reader comments, it’s called free speech. Free speech is an essential pre-requisite for democratic governance.

    There are many intermediate options between socialism and capitalism combining democratic governance with a market economy and a strong social safety net. Cuba will need to define its own path but the most important thing is to do so democratically including safeguarding everyone’s rights to free opinion, expression and association.

  • January 15, 2013 at 4:23 am

    Alas, Walter said that ‘the issue of democracy and social(ims) politics is a worldwide challenge’. And they truly are. He never even remotely suggested that these things are ‘mutually exclusive’. It takes a long way inventing things he never said to come up with such a response.

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