Yoel Diaz Barzaga*

Cuban students. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Some Havana Times commentators and regular contributors have made a habit of inciting Cubans living on the island to express their true feelings about the country’s situation with more sincerity.

Some go as far as offending others, prophesizing and declaring what we should or should not do to change Cuba’s current state of affairs – or, in the best of cases, how to defeat and oust its communist dictatorship. Plenty of formulas are thrown around, but nothing concrete is ultimately said.

These commentators don’t understand why a vast majority of people passively accept decisions, whims and idiotic policies that are turned into laws and decrees and which, many a time, rather than lighten the load we carry, only make getting by in our nation more and more difficult.

In my very personal opinion, we Cubans are not so resigned. Nearly 150 years of historical struggles should suffice to dispel any doubts in this connection. The Cuban people have demonstrated that they know how to cast off any government, system or tyranny which doesn’t bring them any objective benefits, the easy or the hard way.

What’s happening to us, then? Have we grown old? Do we really have no bones to pick? Are we actually all in favor of the current system and government? I believe the answer to all three questions is no.

Young people, the unstoppable locomotive of any revolutionary process or change, whose impetus, courage and rebelliousness are a motive force to be reckoned with everywhere, are practically what they were in earlier generations.

However, these young people, most of who identify with their student leaders, do not feel the need to take to streets to make political demands on the government, as people are doing in Venezuela or the Ukraine.

The Cuban government has known how to cleverly channel the adrenaline of the country’s youth, so that it will not become the source of rebelliousness of times past, nor the raw material for the numerous media campaigns and violent plans against Cuba.

Study and more study. Opportunities for professional advancement that are unthinkable in other countries. Young people today are entirely absorbed by Cuba’s current academic system, whose schedules leave very little free time for extra-curricular activities other than sports and recreation. The State regulates and monitors the education received by all children and young people and make parents responsible for ensuring their kids remain in school.

Many young Cubans are apolitical. They may be in favor or against the government, but their main concern today is to have fun while they’re still young – as much as they can, of course. Despite the opening up of Cuban media, there isn’t much information about the outside world at hand. Representatives of the Young Communists League (UJC), tasked with organizing recreational activities for the young, have created spaces for healthy forms of entertainment where prices are relatively low when compared to other places.

The Universtity of Havana. Photo: Ernesto Gonzalez Diaz

That said, it is still common for young people to emigrate to other nations on completing their studies (there are no clear-cut statistics on this phenomenon, as has been written in this site).

The new generations continue to like the idea of getting ahead through their own efforts, having their own money, living without restrictions – traveling, getting to know the world and new cultures. They want to do things that are considered normal in other countries and return to the place of their birth. Few are those who imagine a future far from Cuba, its people and its culture.

When all is said and done, these young people don’t have to worry about food or clothing – their parents take care of all that, in most cases.

Cases of violence in Cuba are isolated and restrained. There are no organized groups of young people working to undermine the system violently. Neither the dissidents nor the US government have managed to organize such groups, and I don’t believe they will ever manage it. It is true some people participate in counterrevolutionary actions, but the majority of students and workers do not.

We all have problems. Our salaries aren’t enough to live on and neither are the rationed products we get. A civil war, however, would be a bigger problem – unrest, pillaging, robbery, death, chaos. Cubans today are family-loving people and unprepared to suffer the loss of their loved ones. Seen from the outside, everything seems easy enough. Inside, however, very few would actually dare take on any violent action.

If Cubans have managed to endure just about everything so far, it is also thanks to those Cubans living abroad. Though there are no official economic statistics for this, the remittances sent by Cubans abroad constitute an important pillar of the domestic economy – hypocritical in its dying monetary duality and triumphalist in its projections for the future.

We cannot say that the revolutionary leadership enjoys a great deal of popularity today. Nor can we say, however, that it is wholly unpopular. We must acknowledge that it has known how to skirt obstacles skillfully, maintain its prestige and helpful international relations and alliances.

What has kept this leadership in power, in my humble opinion, is the civil tranquility that prevails on the island, as well as government aid for society’s vulnerable sectors (such as children and the elderly).

It is also owed to the constant internal vigilance that many call repression, and to a well-structured system for the training of cadres and leaders who may think differently but whose interests are those of the revolution right now, people who are the essential components of the current system and its way of life.

That is why I believe we will be seeing more of the same for the time being.
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(*) Yoel Diaz Barzaga, 45, lives in Havana and is the chief financial officer of a research center.

(*) Yoel Diaz Barzaga, 45, vive en La Habana, y es Director Contable Financiero de un Centro de Investigaciones. – See more at: http://havanatimes.org/sp/?p=95352#sthash.R8xvaO3x.dpuf

25 thoughts on “On the Alleged Resignation of Cubans

  • John wrote:

    “The WF-DF clause of the Cuban Adjustment Act was put in place to embarrass/denigrate the Cuban revolution by making it appear that things are so bad in Cuba that people will risk their lives in flimsy craft to escape Cuban tyranny and oppression.”

    Cubans have been fleeing Cuba ever since Castro seized power in 1959. Two later periods of major exodus were the Mariel Boatlift of 1980 and the Balsero Rafter Crisis occurred in 1994.

    The Wet Foot Dry Foot policy was implemented in 1995. How was it possible for a new law to travel backwards in time and motivate Cubans into leaving the island?

  • The end of the Venezuelan gravy train is in sight. The Cuban leadership is already preparing for a transition to alternative sources of hard currency based on trade relations with Brazil and China. If Maduro can hang on a little longer, the Cuba’s expect to survive the end of the Maduro regime. Freer travel, new investment laws and small private sector expansion are all preparations for the transition.

  • I don’t think he’ll be responding this time

  • Hahaha! Excellent counterpoint. But US national debt is only relevant if the US were in a position where, without help, we could not, in the foreseeable future, repay that debt. However, given the increasing pace of the growth of the US economy, national debt has been halved in the last five years and is on pace to be reduced by half again, in less than 3 years. Keep in mind, borrowing money is no sin. Not paying it back is. To this I would draw your attention to the Paris Club, Russia, Mexico and Fidel Castro. Finally, since most of our allies continue to choose to purchase US debt instruments as the world’s most secure investment, it would appear that they have more faith in the US economy than your pithy comment would imply. One more thing, as I am too lazy to do the math as I type this, I would direct you to compare US per person debt to per person average net worth. Then use the same calculation for Cubans. I am guessing that the “debt profile as a percent of net worth” is worse in Cuba. Wha’dya think?

  • …perhaps that also explains his daddy issues

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