Small-Minded Political Discourse in Cuba and Miami

The Havana malecon seawall. Photo:

Paralysis of the Cuban government’s leadership, and the most obstinate of the exile community being the only influence in US policy towards Cuba.

By Alejandro Armengol (Cubaencuentro)

HAVANA TIMES – If we think about the statement that the Cuban clock has two hands, one in Havana and the other in Miami, then we need to ask whether they are still determined to go in the direction: moving counter-clockwise with a tenacity that can embitter the most optimistic.  

For many years, it has seemed like a tacit agreement was reached on both sides of the Florida Strait to carry on in this regression. It’s as if there were a conspiracy from both political extremes to set this clock to tick depending on their own interests.

The absolute power of going back, time and time again, to repair an outdated system and opposition model and to carry on regressing. It’s the same mission on Calle Ocho in Miami and in Plaza de la Revolucion, Havana: stay in a futile struggle, without giving up a single inch of ground.

Cuba continues to be an exception. It is still the example of something never-ending. It is characterized by its vague nature, which it has undeniably held onto throughout history: coming in last or first so it is never arrives on time.

Half-hearted statements. It doesn’t fall, nor does it stand on its feet.

On the personal side of things, success has accompanied those who haven’t diverged from this old path. Paralysis of the Cuban government’s leadership vs. the most obstinate exile community being the only influence in US policy towards Cuba. Checkmate.

With Donald Trump in the White House in the US, a line of alleged confrontation has made a comeback, which only stands out for its lack of effectiveness. As well as a strategy to isolate Cuba which does nothing but complicate the lives of those who live on the island or have relatives living there.

There have also been signs of a greater hard line approach which, in spite of coming under different political stripes, are nothing but a reflection of the totalitarian ideal: it isn’t a matter of refuting an idea but crushing it.

Using the argument of respecting the opposition and exile community, and the need to not “play” the Cuban government’s “game”, certain figures have tried to impose an alleged anti-Castro course of action.

Nevertheless, no matter how much they declare themselves to be the opposition to the Cuban regime, they display a similar attitude to the one that prevails in Plaza de la Revolucion: “your either with us or against us”.

Contrary opinions and information to their views are considered an attack and not a diverging opinion. They are doing the exact same thing as those on the island who organize and participate in acts of repudiation. They don’t accept any opinion that differs from their own, but they say they aspire for a democratic Cuba.

We need to fight to overcome this business of being frightened by those who try to impose their beliefs by resorting to insults and personal attacks.

Practicing moderation and good sense in our political discussions doesn’t free us from going into exile. It doesn’t contribute, in any significant way, to the end of totalitarianism that reigns in Cuba or to improving living conditions on the island. It doesn’t help the regime stay in power either. It just helps us to understand one another better.

Intimidation, threats and coercive acts shouldn’t have any space within the exile community, whether that’s in Miami or any other part of the world. If the Cuban regime uses these methods, it should be condemned for doing so, not imitated.

In any debate about Cuba, the same resources are used over and over again: harassment as a weapon; spreading lies, which is sometimes based on some elements of truth, but paint a deceiving picture nonetheless; the narrow-minded focus, which prevents a comprehensive view and demonizes the enemy.

Many discussions, articles, opinions, and comments that appeared in exile after the Havana City Historian, Eusebio Leal, passed away, exhibited the small-minded attitude that set the tone of any positive or negative view about this public official.

In addition to using repression, the Cuban regime has also used other means to stop Cuban citizens from rebelling. With the lack of hope on the horizon for a better future, envy and resentment have grown among the population as everyday practices.

For decades now, these habits have been exported to Miami. It is very hard for us to free ourselves from them, because we are so used to having one foot in hell and the other in purgatory.

10 thoughts on “Small-Minded Political Discourse in Cuba and Miami

  • The problem will never be resolved as long as those in power in Havana (and the supporters of castrismo in the US) continue to behave as if Fidel were still alive! Time to move on!

  • The article as well as a few of the comments present the argument that the struggle between Miami and Havana is a balanced one. It is not. While the old guard in both Miami and Havana are dying off and with them, their old grievances, the younger generation in Miami is prospering. Subsequent generations in Havana are suffering more each year. As Miami debates whether or not to invest in 5G technology, Havana struggles to maintain its 2G infrastructure. Cubans in Miami must decide between living in 1500 sq. ft. apartments close to downtown or accept an hours commute from the suburbs to live in a split level with a pool. Cubans in Havana worry that their buildings may fall down on them after a drenching rain. Time is on the side of Miami. Conditions, economic, social and physical, in Havana will not sustain the old ideas from the Castros. Not for very much longer.

  • “They don’t accept any opinion that differs from their own, but say they aspire for a democratic Cuba.”

  • Stephen,
    If all Capitalist countries had the advantages and living standards as do the bounteous expanses of Canada, then planet earth would just be so goddam mf perfect.
    But unfortunately, things just haven’t panned out that way……
    The unfortunate reality is that for every capitalist winner there is a a capitalist loser……
    That is the nature of that big old Capitalism……

  • “In any debate about Cuba, the same resources are used over and over again: harassment as a weapon; spreading lies, which is sometimes based on some elements of truth, but paint a deceiving picture nonetheless; the narrow-minded focus, which prevents a comprehensive view and demonizes the enemy.”

    One can begin this paragraph very logically by stating: In any totalitarian state, like Cuba for example, “ . . . the same resources are used . . . and demonizes the enemy.”

    In a totalitarian state – Cuba – this is how things operate; this is reality. Simple as that. When citizens are born into such an oppressive state and are indoctrinated in such a system from childhood can we as outsiders looking in expect any different type of offensive treatment?

    Today, in Cuba school age children are “taught” all about how the Castro’s Revolution brought equality, human dignity, quality education, quality medical care to the island where historically, according to the revolutionaries anyway, Cuba was humiliated, Cubans suffered inequality, lacked education, lacked proper medical care. School aged children are taught how capitalism is corrupt, democracy evil, while socialism is sacred. The truth lies somewhere between these extremes.

    So, how does Cuba move forward towards a more egalitarian society with economic sustenance available to all? Demonizing the Castro’s and the present communist government is futile. The old elite are entrenched in their archaic beliefs and the young people coming up through the ranks, particularly those enthusiastically engaged in the communist Party do not want to see the basic core of totalitarianism disappear. Why would they?

    If their parents were loyal adherents to the falsity of the communist sanctity propaganda enjoying the perks that go along with Party loyalty, why would they give that up? They are ones who will control the levers of power into the future. They will stand to benefit economically, socially, and politically from that socialist system whether it is good or bad does not register with them.

    Those many youths not fortunate enough to enjoy what their communist colleagues profit from have all ready given up hope by the time they graduate from school into an economy that has no economic benefit nor hope for them. They are lost and resentful; they are the ones who need to be made an integral part of the government’s change. Cuba’s future is in peril if it cannot engage all its youth towards a common goal.

    And, that common goal cannot be more of the same.

  • In the meantime Life goes on as usual.

  • This is not the first article in HT to make these points. But it does make these points very well. The hardliners on either side of the Florida Strait go on mirroring each other and go on cancelling each other out.
    ‘with us or against us’, ‘good vs evil’……..
    We hear this in Havana, in Miami, in Washington – even in the articles and comments in Havana Times.
    This kind of stubbornness could take us on a never ending ride to a big fat nowhere.
    However, my feeling is that there will be a slow and gradual shift as Mother Nature plays her part and calls her Cold War era children in for their supper………

  • This article makes a good point that the hardline Cubans in Miami are just as intolerant of different opinions as those of the Cuban government. The far right Cubans in Miami claim they came to the US seeking freedom , but practices intolerance to those who disagree with them. If the hardliners in Miami formed their own country, it would be just as repressive as Cuba, maybe a little bit more.

  • Carlye, in that sentence the writer is referring to the Miami hardliners not the Cuban government.

  • Alejandro Armengol writes a peculiar sentence:

    “They don’t accept any opinion that differs from their own, but say they aspire for a democratic Cuba.”

    The first part is undeniable in the totalitarian dictatorship, but I know of no instance in which the Castro regime has indicated that it aspires for a democratic Cuba. Having achieved a Stalinist type of communist dictatorship, change is the last thing that they seek – and especially democratic change.

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