Dead People Talking, Living People Babbling

Armando Pérez Roura, dec., former director of Radio Mambi, seaking during a ceremony to commemorate the 144th birth anniversary of Jose Marti. Next to him from left to right: the now retired congresswoman Ileana Ros-Letihnen, Martha Flores (dec.) and Juan Amador Rodriguez (dec.).

The key to the problem lies in the tendency to push the issue to the extreme, both in Cuba and in the exile community.

By Alejandro Armengol (Cubaencuentro)

HAVANA TIMES – The original sin of some anti-Castro emigres is that they aren’t really democrats. They find their greatest meaning in their opposition to the Cuban government, thanks to the similarities that they sometimes share with their rivals. It happens in Miami and other places too. In addition to an autocratic vocation that they’ve never lost, they cling to outdated tactics and points of view. In an ideal world, they would monopolize opposition thought and they live in a world where the Cold War has not yet come to an end.

Being stuck in time might fill them with hope – from an existential standpoint -, but it means that their vision has very little following: a house, a block, Miami’s Calle Ocho, some comments between acquaintances or nostalgic and warlike reminiscing over cakes, cups of Cuban coffee and, in the best of cases, a cigar which is in fact Dominican.

This eagerness to hold onto the past means that they are the only heirs of US policy from the time of Eisenhower and the Dulles brothers, when an anti-Communist tyrant was preferred to a progressive government. A period in time that favored the existence of Odria, Rojas Pinilla, Perez Jimenez, Trujillo, Somoza, Stroessner and Batista. A mindset that then led them to support Pinochet and Fujimori, not forgetting other military dictatorships in a more recent past and a fervent melancholy for Francisco Franco’s Spain.

This 1950s strategy has gone hand-in-hand with some emigres’ paranoia, who went into exile over the decades, While they identify with the thinking of their old enemies, they are unable to free themselves of the Party’s logic: dedicated now to applying it in the opposite direction.

There is a clear shift towards totalitarianism which can be seen in their interest to crush any opposing view and censoring libraries, schools, newspapers, magazines and websites; it can also be seen in their inability to recognize separation of powers and a fierce determination to impose their own beliefs. There’s no way democratic ideas will be safe among those who aren’t themselves democrats.

Totalitarian anti-Castrismo would dream every day of Fidel Castro’s death. They imagined it just like Cubans on the island imagined Batista leaving. The dictator dies and the clock winds back at a dizzying pace. Crippled for the future and a prisoner in the present, it could only look to the past. This didn’t happen, but the illusion endures. Now they don’t even contemplate Raul Castro’s disappearing It’s just waiting.

It’s foolish not to see that that reality is changing. How and when? Nor in the way that many people hoped it would, or as quickly as they wanted it to. But there’s no fear in recognizing that the country isn’t the same country it was a few years back. Not because its rulers want it to change, but because time, biology and this slack and uncertain progress, which is sometimes called History and Destiny other times, have imposed their will. However, some people prefer to seek refuge in the fantasy, given the lack of exact or pleasant answers.

Those who are only interested in casting aside any opposing view and turning a blind eye to a country that has been transforming over the years, for better or worse, don’t have any serious problems in Miami. The little that remains of the exile community’s radio and TV shows continue to fuel rumors and dedicating their airwaves to feeding the hate, vengeance and pipe-dreams of those who entertain their lives with stupid fables and dreams.

This entrenchment is justified by lots of frustration and years of waiting, but has contributed to painting a picture that doesn’t correspond with this city’s reality. For decades, a group from Miami’s exile community has identified itself with the cause of the most reactionary governments in Latin America. Having the media and power at their disposal to highlight these positions, not only have they expressed their support for the bloodiest military dictatorships, but they have defended and glorified those who collaborate with these regimes, including the terrorists who have been prosecuted by this country’s laws.

Exchanging recriminations and stereotypical views, the US press has limited itself to exposing extreme situations and highlighting actions of the figures who are far-removed from the civic values of this country. At the same time, emigres have received this vision with rage and rejection, but also with a feeling of reaffirmation.

Miami isn’t just the extremists

Miami isn’t as pigheaded as it’s made out to be, nor is it as tolerant as it sometimes should be. Forgetting that it’s a generous city with emigres from a diverse array of countries, is an injustice.

Maybe the key to the problem lies in this tendency to push the issue to the extreme, both in Cuba and in the exile community, where the line from Castrismo to anti-Castrismo doesn’t exist or is very blurred, words that only take on a circumstantial value.

Following this logic, being Leftist in this city means being a Castro supporter, while right-wingers enjoy the “advantages” of seeing themselves free of any suspicion.

The thousands of right-wingers, reactionaries and even the ultra-Right, in Latin America, Europe and the rest of the world, who have supported and collaborated with the Cuban government, doesn’t matter. People don’t think about these distinctions in Miami.

Just like any neutral or central position is seen with equal reservation. It’s interesting that while Cuba has lost some of its ideological rhetoric – not in the official press but in everyday opinions and non-governmental points of view, although these aren’t opposition views either – here in Miami we are firmly rooted in our “anti-Castro” fervor.

The problem with these patterns of thought is that they aren’t very useful when it comes to contemplating Cuba’s future. It doesn’t matter how diluted “Castrismo” is as an ideology, it acts as a mirror and still reflects our actions and attitudes. It’s a projection, in reality.

We Cubans have stood out for continuing to ignore debate, thanks to the easy to fall into disregard for those with different ideas. We reject each other mutually, as if we only knew how to look in a mirror and boast.

The meeting of different opinions has been postponed. The wager has been reduced to all or nothing. Before discussing or accepting differences, they advocate uniformity. In the meantime – and thanks to many US administrations, both democratic and republican ones, who are far-removed from Cuba’s real problems and have very little desire to find real solutions -, the closed doors remain in place.

After the fleeting parenthesis in the last years of the Obama administration, the siege policy has returned to feed discourse in Havana, Miami and Madrid, indulging the frustrations of many emigres, who cling onto emotionally supporting a community that continues to spin around this worn-out rhetoric, even though the guises of clowns and actors change.

Read more from Cuba here on Havana Times.

9 thoughts on “Dead People Talking, Living People Babbling

  • To be fair to Nick, he pointed out that “there is much middle ground between the two orthodoxies.” That appears to be a moderate view, until one considers which orthodoxies are in his mind? Could they possibly be communism and fascism? If so, there is very extensive middle ground. in which even Nick’s virulent anti-capitalist, far left views could be considered to be within the “middle ground” I am always amused by his declared favourable view of the USA, rather like that of the executioner prior to bringing down the axe.

  • Cuba is an unelected dictatorship now for eons literally.

    That’s your type of government Nick face the facts you don’t want democracy and freedom of choice.

  • Two things Brad:
    Firstly you avoid answering my question yet again.
    Secondly I most definitely do not despise the USA.
    Cuba and the USA, for all their problems and flaws, are two of my favourite countries in the world.

  • Democracies have market economies which allows freedom something you apparently don’t like Nick.
    Why are you so infatuated with unelected tyrannies?
    Because you despise the US?

    Deflection seems to be all you have on the subject.
    Fact is you are for tyranny.

  • Hey Brad
    Yet again you interject with your mini tirades.
    I have asked you on multiple occasions.
    If your beloved capitalism is so perfect, then why are there so many failing capitalist states??
    Why are there so many millions of desperate and impoverished people living in capitalist countries???
    You thought up an answer yet?
    I doubt it. Coz you never do.

  • Can’t say i agree that another totalitarian government will automatically form from Miami.
    That’s pure conjecture.

    The Republican party is an issue, but they have not tried to outlaw other political parties like the communist dictatorship has in Cuba.
    Curt and Nick support the unelected dictatorship and likely the Venezuelan and Nicaraguan ones as well.
    Not even sure what their point is, they prefer communism.

  • Totalitarian regimes are evil, be they of extreme left or extreme right. To those who suffer under either, it makes little difference which it is that is in control. Political moderation, where all accept the differences and support democracy has lots of faults and problems, but the key to its success is tolerance. Without tolerance, democracy falls.
    One of the evident indications of the degree of tolerance in a society, is the number of political parties. It is self evident that in the US, the two-party system has bred marked intolerance – to a level of hatred which bodes ill for democracy and encourages pursuit of totalitarian rule.
    Cuba has historically gone through a succession of imposed totalitarian political systems. There is within the US, what may be described as the Miami miasma. It seeks a system in Cuba akin to that being pursued by Trump in the US. If adopted, it would yet again impose a totalitarian form of rule. That is a danger and failure to recognize it would be folly.
    The eventual internal rot of the current Communist rule in Cuba, may lead to an opportunity to introduce a different form of democratic government. But should that occur, it would be wise to ensure that a transitional administration pursues the European type of multi-party democracy, and keep the sticky fingers where they belong – in Miami!
    During WWII, the Allies established AMGOT (Allied Military Government), the purpose of which was to ensure that as parts of enemy territory fell, local government was established. Most of those who were recruited to AMGOT had previous experience administration of local government in their own countries. In general, the system proved effective. The formation of a similar but civilian version under the UN, would be advisable in Cuba.
    The US obviously failed to build upon the experiences of AMGOT when occupying other countries post WWII. The chaos which inevitably ensued being self-evident.

  • One of the best articles that HT has ever published. The author acknowledges that Miami Cubans have made the city the most repressive in the country for free speech. They come to the US claiming to seeking freedom, but they practice intolerance to those who disagree with them. If Miami was a country controlled by the exile leadership, it would be just as bad, if not worse than Cuba.

  • This is a very perceptive piece. It illustrates the fact that there is much middle ground between the two opposing orthodoxies.
    It always strikes me as ironic when you see a bunch of these people in Miami who claim to be in favour of ‘democracy’ in Cuba but support trump, a man who clearly wishes to end ‘democracy’ in the USA.
    As this piece states, not everyone in Miami shares this hypocritical stance.

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