Killing the Castro We Carry Inside Us

“WE ARE FIDEL” Photo: Cuban State TV Roundtable program)

The greatest challenge that we Cubans face is not only to overthrow a despicable dictatorship, but to know how to build a democratic country tomorrow, truly free, without dogmas.

By Yunior García Aguilera (14ymedio)

HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban dictatorship has practiced for decades the exclusion and extermination of anyone who thinks differently. They shot and put thousands of adversaries behind bars, locked others in concentration camps, ostracized hundreds of artists and intellectuals, and pushed almost a quarter of the population into forced exile.

To raise the flags of intolerance, they always used the excuse of the besieged fortress. Anyone who dared to depart from the dogma was accused of being an “accomplice” of the historical enemy, a CIA agent or a mercenary in the service of the empire.

The worst thing that could happen to those of us who oppose fundamentalism would be to end up reproducing their methods. The playwright René Ariza closes the documentary Improper Conduct  by saying: “You have to watch out for the Castro that everyone has inside.” The greatest challenge that we Cubans face is not only to overthrow a despicable dictatorship, but to know how to build tomorrow a democratic country, truly free, without dogmas.

Every cause runs the risk of being absorbed by its most radical wing. And that radicalism is sometimes the result of legitimate pain, but at other times only a symptom of opportunism. Some need to be purer than the rest, more upright. In the time of Christ, the Pharisees were the Jewish sect that appeared to be more rigorous and attached to the law. Hitler counted on the fanaticism of the Brown Shirts. Mao mobilized an army of students, with his red book under his arm, to carry out his Cultural Revolution. Díaz-Canel embraces his Red Scarves, the young militia that shouts with devout pathos: “I am Fidel.”

However, in exile we did not escape the jihadist temptation either. Anger is a product that sells well, especially on social networks. And some have exploited the market of anger to the fullest. State Security uses thousands of whisperers to feed distractions. They push us to waste arrows against the periphery and even against ourselves.

In recent days, while the dictatorship was indoctrinating 300 Americans, part of the exile was entertained by putting Ana de Armas against the wall. And what was the capital sin of the actress who played Marilyn Monroe? Did she shout “Homeland or Death” or take a selfie with the dome of the Capitol? Did she defend the regime or applaud the repression? No, she just went to spend her birthday in the country where she was born, with her friends. The actress, after being nominated for the most important award in the film industry, decided to celebrate with her classmates from her first years as an acting student.

I am not saying, with this, that we should give up debating about the human and the divine. Debates are essential to build a critical society. But the line that separates the expression of opinion from an act of repudiation is usually very thin. Cabrera Infante said that, in those convulsive first years, Fidel Castro called Nicolás Guillén a “slacker” at a university rally. “The bearded one” used his charisma and power to throw a mob of students against the poet’s house, shouting slogans against laziness. Whether the anecdote is true or not, Guillén would not be the only victim of the sinister influencer.

Sometimes one goes on social media wondering, who are they stoning now? Just a few weeks ago we witnessed attacks against the documentary The Padilla Case, by filmmaker Pavel Giroud. But there was not only debate about how he had access to the original files or whether he should have published them in their entirety. It went further. Some even started boycott campaigns to prevent the film from reaching certain festivals. Time showed that his work knew how to reach circuits and spaces where the original material had been Olympicly ignored. Life proved the artist right. Seeing him receive the Platinum Prize and listening to his words in front of millions of people around the world was an unquestionable victory for the cause of Cuba’s freedom.

To achieve the long-awaited democracy, it is not enough to assume the opposite discourse. It is also necessary to move away from authoritarian and totalitarian methods. To win the empathy of millions of undecided Cubans and the international community trapped in doubt, we must never look like that rabid caricature that Castroism tries to sell about us. We must put aside the temptation to pretend that everyone thinks and acts like us. We have to kill the Castro we carry inside us.

Translated by Regina Anavy for Translating Cuba


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2 thoughts on “Killing the Castro We Carry Inside Us

  • May 8, 2023 at 12:00 pm

    There is an assumption in your contribution, that the US form of government is superior to others, and that should Cubans eventually have the opportunity to form a democratic form of government, that they ought to follow the US model.

    As one who lives most of my time, in Cuba and who has written about the plight of Cubans in ‘Cuba Lifting The Veil”, I would strongly dispute your opinion.

    It is apparent that as it evolved and despite its archaic base, the now long established British form of Constitutional Monarchy with its Parliamentary system, is better than the US Constitutional Republic. In my opinion, Winston S. Churchill was correct when he observed that despite its faults, the British system was superior to the alternatives – and both the facts that whereas his father was British, but his mother American and that he was a recognised historian in addition to his political positions, provided him with exceptional opportunity to study a wide variety of concepts and there consequences in practice.

    It is my opinion that Cubans would be well advised to avoid any form of endeavor by the US to meddle in the formation of a democratic system for their country. The history of the US in relation to the Americas and Cuba in particular, demonstrates contempt for others, and endeavors to impose upon them. From the Monroe Doctrine onwards, the US has shown nothing but contempt with no regard for democracy.

    It can be argued that the US Cuban Democracy Act and with it the introduction of a second embargo upon Cuba – and upon the suffering Cubans, was intended to remove the Castro dictatorship, and to install democracy. But that following the earlier imposition of a supposedly Cuban Constitution – written by the US and providing it with the right to intervene militarily whenever it so chose – and which it did, can scarcely be regarded as trustworthy.

    Finally as a matter of information, I do not write as one with so-called leftist tendencies, but as a long-term Conservative, which is markedly different from the US Republican Party, one of only two choices for the American electorate and as one who is neither British or American but with strong Cuban connection.

  • May 7, 2023 at 8:18 am

    The original Constitution of the United States of America (USA), was a bold attempt to create a Moderated Democracy. It was described as a Constitutional Rebublic, not a purely Popular Democracy, and for the very reasons that you have so eloquently described. This experiment in self governance creation was intended to avoid the dangers of the eventual deadlock of popular democracy that is created by the radicals of two sides of every political issue. Further, the intended “Separation of Powers” created by political powers being delegated to three seperate Branches of governance powers as; Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. But then this brilliant, even genius form of governance was destroyed by Amendments to the Original Constitution, that changed the Legislative and Executive Branches of governance into Popular Democracy, that created political governance into “Rule by the Ignorant Masses”, as defined by ancient Greek Philosophers, deadlocked by the radical extremists of two sides of nearly every political debate. So therefore, please, please read, study, contemplate, and meditate with the genius political power distribution experiment of the Original Constitution of the United (now Divided), States of America. And as you build and create the New Cuba, build on the brilliant genius of this document, while changing and/or eliminating the errors and mistakes, while you build a Cuba that can be the envy of the good folks of the world. I’ll be praying for you, pheusgh!! My email address is: [email protected], and I’m eager to hear your responses and further plans. Michael Davis Sr.

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