Cuba’s Youth and the Original Sin of the Opposition

Vicente Morín Aguado

Raul Castro affirmed: “This continues to be a revolution of the young.” Photo 26-7-2013. cubadebate.cu

HAVANA TIMES — On July 26, Raul Castro affirmed: “This continues to be a revolution of the young.” Today, when so-called Castroism lives on in his leadership, I feel that a debate on the origins of this political principle is worthwhile.

Without entering the domain of philosophy, Castroism can be understood as a political practice whose essential premise is that of achieving victory under any circumstance, particularly when confronting the most powerful of enemies. Faced with momentary defeat, one must “turn a setback into a victory.”

The speeches of Fidelistas aren’t very philosophical. Turning to the Soviet Union as an ally was simply a logical response to the fact Cuba was suddenly trading blows with a heavyweight called the United States.

I must stress that, in 1959, it was the Cuban people who won the war against Batista’s military. This isn’t propaganda, it’s a fact.

From a military perspective, that a handful of armed rebels should be able to take a city like Santa Clara seems an impossible feat. The fact of the matter was, quite simply, that all Cubans were sick and tired of Batista, and even his soldiers helped Che Guevara in his efforts.

Fidel Castro entered Havana followed by a sea of people, with Camilo Cienfuegos as his “banner.” The country become more and more polarized politically as the new, rebel leader started to put his ideas into practice.

Nixon, then the vice-president of the United States, labeled Havana’s new strong man as “a threat to the security of the United States.”

Claiming to be “non-aligned”, the young politician, surprisingly skillful at the young age of thirty-three, would begin to align himself rather clearly with the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

The speeches of Fidelistas aren’t very philosophical. Turning to the Soviet Union as an ally was simply a logical response to the fact Cuba was suddenly trading blows with a heavyweight called the United States.

Fidel Castro had no shortage of opponents, some of whom had fought beside him, heroically, to topple the previous dictatorship: Chanes de Armas (who had participated in the attack on the Moncada Barracks), and Comandantes Hubert Matos and Gutierrez Menoyo. These and other political adversaries would grow old in Cuban prisons.

The so called “smart classes”, dead to me forever, set their hopes on the bayonets of the US Army and sat back to drink Bacardi rum in Miami and wait for the end of Castro. They never did manage to arrive at a consensus that would have united them, whose logical foundation would have been those prestigious dissidents within Cuba.

We saw acts of terrorism throughout the Escambray mountain range, disguised as an anti-communist resistance. In Florida, exiles continue to set their hopes on the Americans, giving form, this way, to what would become Cuba’s “original sin.”

After fifty years, they ended up calling themselves “Cuban-Americans.”

In my view, you’re either Cuban or American. If you swore allegiance to the star-spangled flag, then you don’t represent me, you’re a Yankee, even when you speak Spanish to conceal this fact, ever ready to reply in English if it’s to answer a question at the House of Representatives.

To make matters worse, following the Missile Crisis, Kennedy and his successors played the card of internal subversive operations, putting aside all plans of a direct invasion (in adherence to the promises made to the Soviets).

Such a decision would prove fatal for Castro’s opponents. Schemes to overthrow the revolutionary government had no more real repercussions than securing some air time in high-ranking US programs such as Florida’s Cristina talk-show.

It’s hot in Havana, where we hear the refrain of a popular song that tells us of a woman who parties here, with money earned over there, in the United States. Pure intellectual shamelessness.

Half a century means several generations of people. Many like me, born after the revolution, have no properties to inherit. Neither do our children or grandchildren. Those who continue to claim their properties live across the Gulf of Mexico and think their old titles mean something in a country that has experienced so many changes in the course of so many years.

Young Cubans, the bastion of the changes now underway and those that will inevitably come in Cuba, comprise a generation that has no ties to those who did not entrench themselves to fight the handful of rebels who attacked Santa Clara.

Young Cubans, the bastion of the changes now underway and those that will inevitably come in Cuba, comprise a generation that has no ties to those who did not entrench themselves to fight the handful of rebels who attacked Santa Clara.

These young Cubans struggle for a pair of Nike shoes, but they are deaf to the absurd demands of Ileana Ross Lehtinen. Not many of them, I should add, read the official Granma newspaper either.

We have a debt with history, so much in Cuba as abroad, and I see that many political pronouncements these days lack maturity.

Freedom of expression is a good means of preventing anyone from feeling they have impunity to act as they wish, regardless of the other’s opinions. But we mustn’t forget that wise, biblical expression that says “as you love, so shall you be loved,” that is, that we will be measured with the same yardstick we use to measure others.

If we set out to judge the forgers of the Cuban nation, looking to uncover the wrongs they did, we might end up changing all of the faces printed on our currency, suddenly ashamed at their shortcomings, which are either concealed or divulged very little. The same holds for the United States.

General Grant, leader of Union armies during the American Civil War, couldn’t hold his wine. On one occasion, some officials lashed at President Lincoln because of the conduct of this high-ranking military officer, to which Lincoln more or less replied: find out what kind of wine Grant drinks, it might help you become as good a general as he is.

If we were to judge the general for his drinking habits, Ulysses Simpson Grant would disappear from the 50 dollar bill. Americans, however, prefer to focus on his brilliant military victories during the Civil War, which put an end to the opprobrious system of slavery in the USA.

We Cubans must begin to reflect on our lot. It is time to reach agreements, to build bridges and roads, to put aside what is not important, without thereby renouncing our right to question one another. Even the great Jose Marti could be evicted from our parks, schools and even the Cuban peso, if we began to look for and judge him for his all-too-human shortcomings.

The opponents of Castroism are paying for their original sin, the debt with history they do not want to settle, stubbornly clinging to bygone times, oblivious to reality.

In Cuba, young people have distanced themselves completely from their past. Though they have not inherited the original sin, they are duty-bound to find answers to Cuba’s current problems, an effort which requires them to look back on the hard times we’ve gone through, and to the very origins of the Cuban nation.

Vicente Morín Aguado: [email protected]

 


20 thoughts on “Cuba’s Youth and the Original Sin of the Opposition

  • August 3, 2013 at 10:50 am
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    No, Moses, I’m right again. Machado, and Batista and their “business and professional class” supporters, for example, tortured and murdered, all together, tens of thousands, some just selected at random. Accusing the revolutionary government of abuses on that scale is just fabrication.

  • August 3, 2013 at 10:50 am
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    The study of compensation paid to first-wave Cuban immigrants to the US, for abandoned residential and nationalized businesses is an interesting one: turns out there was lots:
    Cuban government bonds: for the reasons noted above (property owners valuing property far too low), many exiles did not condescend to accept them, but some did.
    Insurance: most of the Cuban market had, by 1959, been bought up by US firms. Although, presumably, residential claims for property simply abandoned would not be satisfied, many US- owned firms claimed and received payment, which was, for once, for the full value.
    Tax write-off: most of the sugar mills, all the petroleum, refineries, and most other larger enterprises were owned by foreigners, who wrote off their losses against taxable income at home (US mostly, but The Netherlands for the Royal Dutch Shell refinery).
    Compensation by US government: the US government put the liquidated value of all of the Cuban state property in funds that are paid out to Cuban exile claimants, the total of which is now billions. In 2012 alone, the US government reports that it seized $250 million of Cuban state property.
    In addition, Cuban immigrants enjoy immediate residency and expedited citizenship in the US, entitlements which are not available to any other Latin American.
    Altogether, and given their notoriously situational ethics, the Cuban “business and professional classes” like made claims every which way, and maybe even made a profit on the transaction! On the other hand, they will certainly need the cash if they want any medical care in the US.
    As for Bacardi, given their hostility to paying taxes, they relocated their “headquarters” to The Bahamas.

  • August 2, 2013 at 9:40 am
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    You certainly have a “glass half full” perspective! To sing the praises of Castro’s agriculture by extolling its ‘organic’ characteristics is like saying Hitler was good for Germany because he got the trains to run on time. Yes, despite the increasing inequities in the Cuban economy, it is true that Cuban social classes are far more closely bound than in the US or worse, other Latin American countries. But this is due to the fact that they are mostly ALL poor! Make no mistake, there are Cuban millionaires but their wealth is held in European banks and away from official reports. The ‘galicians’ in Cuba are just as racists as their Miami counterparts. The only difference is that they don’t have a NAACP in Cuba to challenge them publicly.

  • August 2, 2013 at 9:29 am
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    Wrong again. The Castro dictatorship has tortured, murdered, ‘disappeared’, incarcerated and harassed far more Cubans than all other governments during the republic period by a significant factor. This ‘violence’ should not be ignored. Your attempts to paint Castros’ Cuba as a better Cuba is not supported by the facts. The success that Castro has enjoyed in suppressing dissent, what you see as a lack of violence, has come at the price of personal freedoms and social dignity.

  • August 2, 2013 at 8:53 am
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    talk about Bold face lies; homicidal indeed! My God man, you are really full of it! Why not just go pull the UN statistics on pre castro Cuba, successful and quite advanced when compared to any Country you wish to name in the 1950’s, in spite of Batista and compare them with present day Cuba which has trouble feeding it’s own people. Whatever happened to Castro’s promise of a glass of milk on every table? …50 + years later Cuba has 1/2 as many head of cattle as they did in 1959 and Cuba’s agriculture can be considered “organic” only in the sense that the regimes incompetence still has fields plowed and harvested using mules! It’s healthcare “achievements” requires me to provide my family in Cuba with the basics, everything from aspirin to sanitary pads.. And it’s NOT free, someone has to pay for it. As Griffin quite correctly points out, with an effective tax rate exceeding 95% every Cuban pays dearly for their sub standard care! All these figures are freely available as UN figures and not easily set aside.

    But there is a silver lining to all this. All Cuban’s share the same economic inequality…they are all poor (except the ones who received remittances and assistance in setting up business’ in Cuba) You have nowhere to go but up! So stop talking down to the Cubans in Miami, we are after all the ones bankrolling the Cuban economy, you wouldn’t want to stop the generous flow of the almighty American dollar now would you 😉

  • August 2, 2013 at 8:29 am
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    No need to be sorry, Alicia, but you could be better informed. Prior to 1959, large numbers of Cuban emigrated (and were driven, by vicious dictatorships) to such places as New York, Tampa and Key West. Yup, the US exerted a terrible influence (not just Batista) on Cuban politics–you were responsible for Machado, too–and the succession of changes were never peaceful. The period since the revolution, and because of it, has been the most peaceful in Cuban history. Actually, the “professional classes” came from “Informed Consent”, above, and while they are not all dead, they have a terrible legacy that must not be dumped back on Cuba, what a good thing they don’t want to go back!

  • August 1, 2013 at 1:48 pm
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    What you say is simply not true. The revolutionary government took over many businesses, in many cases at gun point.

    For example, on October 14th 1960, Castro sent soldiers to seize the property of the Bacardi family, occupying the Bacardi Building in Havana and their distillery in Santiago. No compensation was offered for the seized property. This was despite the fact the Bacardi family had supported the rebels financially. It was only after the revolution had seized their property that the members of the family left for Puerto Rico. There were thousands of other similar cases, from cigar factories to barbershops.

    Usufruct is not property ownership. It is the right of a given peasant family to work a piece of land. The ownership of these lands in Cuba were transferred from the old private landowners to the government. Under the usufruct system the lands became the property of the government of Cuba, not of the people who worked the lands.

    Finally, when will you give up the ridiculous “free healthcare and education” fairy tale? There’s no such thing as “free” government services anywhere. Somebody pays for it. In Cuba, the workers are paid a measly $20 per month, which effectively amounts to 95% income tax rate. That’s how the Cuban people pay for their “free” healthcare and education

  • August 1, 2013 at 1:02 pm
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    No, (anonymous, predictably) “Informed Consent”, “6 million +” is not “hyperbole”; it is an outright, barefaced lie, and so typical–are you capable of anything else?. The “business class” that left has been replaced by individuals who differ in not being dedicated to homicide (voluntarios, ABC, and eager support for the murderous secret police of Machado and Batista), tax evasion, bitter racism, and bottomless corruption. Cuba’s economy has been spared the US-produced disaster of massive frauds by US banks who have sought to beggar the rest of us, it’s educational and healthcare achievements are better than yours, and, unlike the USA, it is not keeping a significant fraction of its population in prison. Cuba’s agriculture is now all organic, while you continue to poison yourselves. Your economic inequality grows ever more rapidly, increasing both the tiny numbers of fabulously wealthy and the massive numbers of desperately poor.

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