Silence Is Consent

By Rosa Martinez

Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, April 25 – Some time ago, Dr. Calviño dedicated his regular Friday television program to the theme of the scant participation of some people in their workplaces.

The popular psychologist gave two examples that I found very telling.  The first was that of a department head who believed that everyone agreed with him, since each time that he met with his subordinates they spoke very little or said nothing in opposition.

However, in a meeting with other personnel outside of his area, this person in charge discovered how mistaken he was: his workers had muddied his name.

The other example was of a group of young people who participated massively in all the meetings, but in a very passive way. They limited themselves to listening to instructions and information without commenting or participating in the debate.

You don’t have to be a psychologist to know why many Cuban workers behave this way these days.

Photo: Elio Delgado

It’s enough to listen to yourself or to your own workmates discussing some topic that you think will provoke serious problems if you express your mind with honesty.

When I heard the report that Raul Castro presented to the delegates of the VI Congress of the Cuban Communist Party I remembered what some of my workmates told me when I asked them why they didn’t express their opinions at that time, regarding the party lines that would determine the direction of the country.

Marlene told me, “But, what am I going to say about something that I don’t agree with?”

“You can say just that, Marlene, that you don’t agree,” I said.

“But why would I want to do that, if they’re just going to do what seems convenient to them, even though all of the workers in Cuba are against it,” she replied. “When the retirement age was extended, almost all of us Cubans disagreed, but most everyone kept their mouths shut; at any rate they were going to extend it whether we protested or not.”

“And you, Luis, aren’t you going to say anything?” I asked a professor.

“If I say what I think, that’s not going to leave me in a very good place, as they say. I’m not afraid, but what’s the point of saying what I think if I can’t solve anything that way?”

Photo: Caridad

Those who did speak did so to express their unconditional support for the economic project and to call on the rest of the workers for understanding.

I can recall that only one guard had the audacity to say something interesting. I can still hear his words as if he had just now spoken them. He said, “It’s very well everything that has been said up until now. I understand that the country has to reduce its payroll, that it can’t spend more than what comes in, but – What about me? How will this work for me? No one can ask me to understand how after 35 years working for the State someone is going to tell me, just like that, that I’m out. This is something I’m not going to understand now, or ever, no matter what reasons they give me.”

They told Joaquin that no one would be left abandoned, that you have to trust the Revolution, but he didn’t believe anyone and kept insisting, without listening to anyone: “Nobody has the right to take my family’s support away, and I won’t accept it.”

The majority of those present remained silent, the same way that we now wait in silence, thousands of us Cubans, to see what will happen with our economy. I wonder how Calviño will interpret this latter silence.


4 thoughts on “Silence Is Consent

  • May 15, 2011 at 7:24 am
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    Speaking out takes courage but does not need to be loud, just constant – a gently consistent message. One of my friends once told me, “There are no sleeping Ghandis in Cuba.” I think there are, and they are waking up!

  • April 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm
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    Democracy in the workplace can only come through direct ownership of the workplace–either cooperatively or independently–by those who work there.

  • April 27, 2011 at 7:07 am
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    Rosa this is very good!
    You need to speak up and loud until they listen to you!
    Tell the same to all your friends.
    Yes, unfortunately Silent is taken as consent. But is understandable that people will be in silence when they have constructed such a repressive machinery that will get you either in prison or exile for voicing your opinions and dissent.
    I wonder if everyone have voted No, if they would have still continue.
    I know at the beginning of the revolution not many wanted a socialist revolution.
    People just wanted democracy. They never ask the people of Cuba if we wanted this.
    People never wanted a regime dictating them what to do but a government of equals that will listen to us.
    A democracy. Not tyrants for life.

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