Cuba’s Tepid Stance Towards Developments in Mexico

We Are (Not) All Ayotnizapa

Haroldo Dilla Alfonso

We are all Ayotzinapa poster. Grafic:

HAVANA TIMES — Mexico’s terribly critical situation – corruption, impunity, de facto powers, a spiral of criminal activities perpetrated by government agencies, repression – speaks to us an economic and political model that has set its sights on the US market with excessive enthusiasm.

So much enthusiasm, in fact, that it has ended up supplying it with two elements that are key to capitalist accumulation today (an unprotected workforce and drugs), assuming all of the costs of this subordinate relationship without compensation. The latest lashing-out of this State (which many are beginning to call a “failed State”) has to do with the second of these two factors, drugs.

Despite the fact that it is nearly impossible to defend the Mexican government or its president, who has added much fuel to the fire after revealing he owns multi-million-dollar properties and his step-daughter made highly offensive declarations, the Cuban government has still kept to the script of its long-standing camaraderie with the Revolutionary Independence Party (PRI).

It has always maintained this posture, something which has led it to treat the Mexican Left as a rather uncomfortable political ally and even to legitimate the fraudulent electoral triumph of Salina de Gortari in 1988, among other things that could fill entire volumes dealing with secret meetings, political favors and mutual opportunism. In this case, Cuba’s Granma newspaper offers us biased information, where the protesters border on incivility, the crimes are the villainous work of the drug cartel and President Peña Nieto is a high-spirited knight errand ready to right the wrong.

It is truly depressing to see that a country like Cuba, with long-standing, historical ties to Mexican society beyond the intrigues between the PRI and Communist Party – does anyone have any idea as to how many thousand Cuban professionals and intellectuals have studied and worked in Mexico? – has staged only two public demonstrations in response to the grave situation faced by Mexican society, at least as of the moment when these lines are being written.

One was a very low-profile press note published by Juventud Rebelde, under the title of Declaration of Cuban Students in Solidarity with Mexican Students,” which did not specify which organization is issuing the declaration. The note, supposedly inspired by Fidel Castro, “(…) condemns violence and drug trafficking, the result of years of exploitation, extreme poverty and policies subordinated to the interests of US imperialism” – a statement that could well have been written by some regional committee of young PRI supporters.

A simple press note – confusing, imprecise and nearly invisible – on an issue that has prompted protests, support campaigns, and large banners posted in frequented campus sites across Latin America expressly supporting Mexican students, but not one of them is Cuban.

The other action was a call to participate in a demonstration in support of the Mexican students, made by three NGOs belonging to Cuba’s authorized civil society (two with religious affiliations), under the slogan that has crowned intense campaigns across the continent: “We Are All Ayotzinapa.” But the demonstration was far from epic.

The gathering took place on G street, where a bust of Benito Juarez served as a metaphor for Mexico, and not in front of the Mexican embassy, as was the case everywhere else in the continent, in order to clearly address the authorities and identify who are part of the problem. It gathered a mere 23 people, a ridiculous number of participants which reveals how little these institutions that have been operating for many years in Cuba’s official civil society are able to mobilize people.

The poor quality of a video shown to the people gathered under an intense shower, and someone counting to 43 (the number of students massacred) were the highlights. Then someone with a foreign accent called on those present to “make the struggle international”, without realizing that it hadn’t even made national in Cuba.

Let us not forget that, ultimately, we have a restricted democratic agenda which our official civil society can invoke only timidly, and it would be good if, at one point, we asked ourselves whether it is not worthwhile to return to the issue of the 13 de Marzo (a hijacked tugboat with dozens of passengers which Cuban civilians say was deliberately sunk by authorities), and those responsible for what was our own, neglected Ayotzinapa.

To sum up, I believe that, beyond their good intentions, what those who gathered at Avenida de los Presidentes under the rain staged was a political performance that had more of an impact on those involved and the international organizations that supported them, than on Cuban society, which didn’t even find out the gathering took place.

Nor has the opposition said anything – not even 14 y medio, a publication which typically scans the horizon with a broad lens, has said anything about Mexico, save to report on the problem some time ago and to regret the raised finger of the Tae Kwon Do fighter.

These are all regrettable omissions. What’s happening in Mexico doesn’t only concern Mexicans with whom we sympathize. It concerns all of us.