HAVANA TIMES – Nobody, not people who support the Cuban government or those who oppose it, doubt the absence of freedom of speech, or better yet, doubt that this freedom of speech is exclusively limited to the space that the government allows, a space which varies according to the historic moment and the State’s need to control society, but it always delimits what can and can’t be said in Cuba.
This control is exercised via the State’s absolute monopoly of the media, both traditional media outlets (TV, press, radio) and Internet platforms, which the State has tried to bring to a halt however they can, and they continue to filter content which they don’t want the population to see.
This is why the current debate about the compulsory need to work that is taking place as part of the draft Constitution, which the Cuban Communist Party has written up and is being “debated” at neighborhood and workplace meetings under their supervision, is so striking.
Using their control of the media, the government easily controls and directs this debate, making any opinions that don’t suit them invisible, while it boosts and highlights those that do. One of the latter has been the Cuban people’s legal obligation to work.
The argument holds water because of questions about people without any work ties receiving “free” services, people who refuse to work for different reasons such as:
- Ridiculous state salaries which don’t cover their most basic needs.
- Public transport in constant crisis.
- Political obligations which normally go with public sector jobs.
- Very few and unskilled job offers in the small private sector.
- The inability of thousands of Cubans who have emigrated to the country’s capital to work because this migration is banned, and they can’t get their documents in order to be employed.
- Fear of not being able to emigrate if you work.
- People who receive remittances from abroad.
Highlighting this “idle” sector as one of the reasons why the country doesn’t make progress forms part of the government’s discourse, inverting cause and effect as a result. They say that this “ulcer” (which is what they call it) is one of the reasons the Cuban system is inefficient, when history has proven that the Cuban system’s inefficiency, and any other system that stifles freedom of speech and strangles the flow of true information, is that it leads to a large number of citizens choosing to live outside of the formal economy.
Goebbel’s repetition of a false discourse blaming victims of the system for the system’s own failures catches on, as there is no way to counteract it publicly or call such lies into question. People who have accepted this are the ones who are now asking for everyone who can work to be legally compelled to work. We will never know whether this is the majority or just a minority who are asking for it, all we know is that the media is giving it a lot of coverage.
The idea of forcing people to work is so absurd that it won’t be included (I hope), but the existence of the idea and the support the government is giving it is a reflection of just how desperate our economic situation is on the island, how totalitarian the mindset is of those who govern us and how effective the government’s monopoly control of the media is at every level, on an island that is sinking more and more every day.