By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban system is well thought out, that doesn’t mean to say that it is flawless though. It works; it holds itself up and manages to keep afloat in spite of shortages and its lack of success. How do they do it? In many ways; but it comes down to three essential factors: the first, a social policy that displays a popular goal, even though it doesn’t work very well; secondly, manipulation of the masses by exercising absolute control over the media and education; and thirdly, social control. I will deal with the latter in this article.
Fidel was a great architect of social structures. It’s a shame that he didn’t fall in love with real democracy, he would have made great contributions with that brilliant mind of his, there’s no doubt about it. However, he “entered into holy union” with socialist extremism and used his genius to strengthen it. He was the father of the Cuban institutions which now protect this populist tyranny disguised as socialism with more force than the USSR or Eastern Europe used, according to historic reality.
The neighborhood CDRs controlling people; government trade unions controlling workers; the MTT compromising everyone with a place in their war, which was always on the horizon; the ACRC, which unites those who have fought, which were many, under the hope that they will be dealt a better hand in the future which never comes; the FEU and the FEEM, which control students and neutralize their revolutionary spirit which is innate to their being; the OPJM and the OPJM, which indoctrinates and uses children for their own interests; the ANAP, to control farmers; the FMC to control women; the UJC, which scouts young people who stand out in any way and obligates them to be the PCC’s fresh blood.
[See below for what all the abbreviations stand for]
Lastly, the PCC itself and its repressive organizations. The first unites both honest people who stand out for their work or in their communities, as well as management and technical teams which almost have to have a military background if they want to be promoted as well as opportunists which climb the ladder in politics and the system as a way to live comfortably in Cuba. They clap and cooperate, repeating what those at the top want to hear for the sake of a promotion. The second includes the MININT and the FARs.
The MININT calls the shots in social control. Apart from the regular police officers, there are two technical intelligence bodies: one for economic and social crimes; the other for political and foreign crimes, known as State Security. Both have a wide network of collaborators and salaried agents, committed on different fronts, who put pressure on people in order to get information. Not much gets past their control.
Another not less important factor is the effect that manipulation has on the human mind, mainly the media. Almost all of the messages we hear that come from the government have been intelligently put together to make us believe exactly what benefits the government or at least makes us doubt. Fear of the unknown, the ghosts of Imperialism and Capitalism and crises outside of Cuba dominate the media, or the “mafia-mercenaries, Cubans in Miami” which want to destroy “the glory Cuba has experienced” and hand over the country “to the greedy Empire”, call it Posada Carriles, Mas-Santos, Orlando Bosch, la wild wolf, etc.
It might seem Machiavellian but that’s how the Cuban system has been designed. That’s why the State-Party still holds great control over a people who don’t believe they are avant-garde or anything of the sort but that they attached by very strong ties. It’s unfair for them to be judged without analyzing the situation; it’s unfair to blame the victim of the accomplice.
A recent example: I’ve explained, on several occasions, that the famous “Weekly Package” of audio/visual materials is restricted from spreading national political information from the opposition due to the level of illegality that is tolerated. It’s a kind of pact: the Government allows the business which comes from plagiarizing and illegally reproducing TV and film material to function while it doesn’t harm their politics.
On February 10th, the MININT in Mayari, Holguin, where I live, held a meeting with everyone who has a “CD buyer-seller” license in the municipality; the objective: to ban a series from being included in the Package: “Hugo Chávez, El comandante”.
According to what they were told, these self-employed workers have it written in their regulations that they are not allowed to involve their activities with the country’s politics, economics or social situation, nor act against its interests; and this TV series has been labeled “subversive”. The series was produced by Teleset, Sony Pictures Television.
It seems that the story doesn’t fit in with the vision about the late Comandante Chavez that the government is interested in spreading in Cuba and so they decided to pressure these “buyer-sellers” from spreading it among the population. They all know by now that if their computers are checked and they have the series then their license can be suspended and they can be fined. Not to mention that the license they have doesn’t include copying the Package to customers, just selling second-hand Cds. They can penalize this activity whenever they want; it’s just being tolerated for now.
Can the private sector, under these conditions of subjugation, be the starting point for a more active and leading civil participation of our people in favor of democracy? Those who harshly judge Cubans for “not taking real action to save their freedom” should first answer this question. The reason some people don’t understand them is because they haven’t understood how social control works in Cuba. In order for a “prisoner” to flee or fight against his or her jailers, they have to first throw off their ties: and it isn’t that simple.
Note: CDR: Comité de Defensa de la Revolución; MTT: Milicia de Tropas Territoriales; ACRC: Asociación de Combatientes de la República de Cuba; FEU: Federación de Estudiantes Universitarios; FEEM: Federación de Estudiantes de la Enseñanza Media; OPJM: Organización de Poneros José Martí; FMC: Federación de Mujeres Cubanas; ANAP: Asociación Nacional de Agricultores Pequeños; UJC: Unión de Jóvenes Comunistas; PCC: Partido Comunista de Cuba.