Not Naive or Blind: Reasons for Change in Cuba

By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez   (Photos: Gabor Farkas)

HAVANA TIMES — Elio Delgado’s article titled “We Can’t be Naive in the Face of a Neoliberal Attack”, published here on Havana Times on February 13th, encouraged me to write these lines; especially if the author refuses to enter into a dialogue with those who don’t share his extremist ideology disguised as populism and socialism.

Owner of the absolute truth, Communist to his last breath, Fidelista!, not denying his lineage and believing that “his truth” doesn’t need to be enriched by discussion. In other words, Elio doesn’t believe in his own dialectics, in the fact that contradictions create progress.

It’s a shame because I see a sincere patriot and a man who loves justice in Elio. However, like Marti said to Maximo Gomez when he saw him stand alongside the Bronze Titan in wanting to resort to tyranny so as to cure democracy’s contradictions: “But the worst mistakes can be committed with the greatest sincerity…” (1). If we analyze extremist arguments maybe we can deduce that they are fair; but the path they have chosen to achieve it is, without a doubt, wrong.

Of course, Communists aren’t the only ones who are extremists, neoliberals can also be extremist; at least those who excessively believe in the Chicago School of Economics’ radical institutional reforms. Some commentators here on this forum have presented arguments and also defend this kind of viewpoint, the other extreme to Elio. However, it is wrong to judge and think that capitalists or believing in Capitalism is to be a neoliberal. Just like judging everyone who is a socialist to be a lover of Communist tyranny; or that every Muslim agrees with Jihad and terrorism.

It’s sad to see just how many “Elios” there are in the world, people who don’t know what diversity is. Fortunately, common sense dominates society. Now, according to Mr. Elio, those of us who belong to the center and leftist positions of the spectrum who believe in democracy and not laissez-faire capitalism are spokespeople for “Imperialism” and we do this “disguised as progressives.” According to him, there is only Communism and Imperialism. If he holds the same views he has about sex issues like he does with politics, he is surely a homophobe.

Now, it turns out that the economy is entering a recession in the middle of a 10-year development plan and the disastrous global economy is the one to blame. How strange is it that Cubans are emigrating en masse when, in Elio’s words, the rest of the world is worse off and the matriz of the crisis? And the most shocking thing of all, Cuba produces hardly any sugar because of the US blockade and adverse climate conditions.

According to the author of this post, the inefficient economic system we have in place here has nothing to do with it, a system which doesn’t have a sense of relevance, flexibility or autonomy, tied to failure because of excessive bureaucracy, politicization, a rigid and centrally planned economy. Nor is it the government’s fault by decree, when personal decisions are being made by a power which can’t be contested. What expert, what economist would have advised Fidel to have gone ahead with his flamboyant idea of destroying the sugar industry, if they had been consulted? I doubt any of them.

Now, it seems that the Revolution is changing “everything which needs to be changed,” since it began, and whose changes are discredited because they annoy capitalists, who see that their interests are being affected. Where does Elio stand on the absence of democracy, the need to respect human rights? If a slave-master teaches his slaves to read and to keep them healthy, is that all they have to do to respect them as humans?

Of course not! It’s essential to recognize their freedom, their right to freedom and their right to make decisions. The Revolution doesn’t respect fundamental human rights; the Revolution hasn’t done anything and won’t do anything in the future to make up for this great need, which is a great injustice, a crime. And one crime is enough to turn you into a criminal. And we can’t say that “everything that needs to be changed will be changed” when its greatest problem, its greatest mistake, its greatest crime still hasn’t been changed.

Can we include Cuba’s problems relating to this already worn-out subterfuge which Elio defends by saying “mistakes were made because the Revolution was created by human beings and nothing man-made is perfect”? With such a sweeping statement, we could also forgive a murderer, using the argument that he is a human being and that no human beings are perfect. Stealing a people’s freedom and their sovereignty; manipulating, isolating and taking advantage of their pain “to dish out personal hopes of glory or power” (1), is a horrible crime, and nothing can ever justify it, not even being human… It’s perverse!

But, Elio was right about one thing: we can’t be naive, and we can’t be blind; especially Cubans who have been wanting to get out of this predicament for half a century. In the face of sugar-coated extremist messagers (from both sides), we have to be on the alert, so as not to fall into this mental pothole, this ideological trap, this alleyway which is so hard to get out of.

Whether they are Communists like him, Jihadists, supremacists, homophobes or neoliberals, everybody has a right to think how they want to. The problem lies in the sad fact that the government ends up looking for violent means to impose its ideas, because it can’t promote its ideas with the people’s general consensus. That’s where the danger lies!

The New Cuba needs to be born immune to these malignant viruses and that is only possible in a true democracy. We still have to work very hard to achieve this and overcome the many “Elios”, of all persuasions.

(*) Letter to Maximo Gomez NY, October 20th 1884. Jose Marti. OE pp459.

5 thoughts on “Not Naive or Blind: Reasons for Change in Cuba

  • There’s nothing like having a discussion with opposite viewpoints. Cuba is extreme, as so many I know, and now family members, are still livid that Castro turned his country into a communist society. Elio appears sincere but amazing how he never comments on this site and is given free reign to write what he pleases. Sadly, that’s not permitted in Cuba. Cuban’s from both sides of the straits should get together to discuss how to reconcile and move forward. The person who seems like he knows the deal is Tony Castro. He doesn’t appear to have that “thousand mile stare!” If Ireland can reconcile with Britain, Cuba can deal with those who are still Cuban but live a hundred or so miles from home.

  • The economic system reforms are more urgent than the political reforms. A functional economy is only possible with a market economy. The market economy will in time empower the people. They will recognize the false choices they have been forced into. Education, Healthcare and self rule all possible without an elite dictatorship of the few.

  • Elio and Mr P have differing views.
    But are either of them driven by fear?
    Probably not.

  • I am not a communist myself.
    But I know various communists who are thoroughly fine and decent people.
    To bracket such people together with homophobes, jihadists etc is just crass and naive.
    It would surely be perfectly possible for Osmel to put across his views without such cheap comments.
    There may well be a certain amount of validity in some of the points expressed in the article.
    But to make those points stand up, you gotta do better than this attempted grouping of all those who you don’t happen to agree with.
    The result is that your points just fall flat.

  • Cubans who share Elio’s ideology are driven by fear. They avoid debate because they realize that their beliefs would wilt under the sunshine of truth. These “true believers” fear democracy because they understand better than most that a majority of Cubans are not Communists. Along with their fear of democracy is the fear of a free press. The open exchange of information and ideas is an anathema to the survival of the Castro dictatorship. The good news is that their failed ideology will die as they die.

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