The Army in a Post Communist Party Cuba

The Cuba I wish for (4)

By Repatriado

“What is military service? The State exercizing an act of property over its citizens.” Pierre Joseph Proudhon


HAVANA TIMES — Compulsory Military Service is a social arrogance, a democratic perversion and there is no rational justification for society, as a whole, to decide to force someone to spend a period of time serving as a soldier, even when the majority decide that its right. A real democracy has limits, it isn’t a dictatorship of the majority.

Freedom is an innate human quality which comes before the creation of States, even though people do give up a part of their freedom for the sake of living together as a society. However, military service should be voluntary because the State has no right to take away what it hasn’t given, just as individual citizens have no right to exercize their freedom if it restricts another person’s freedom. My freedom ends where my neighbor’s begins.

Anyone will agree that national sovereignty is the only justification for having and upholding an army. But, national sovereignty isn’t an absolute, ensuring people’s rights isn’t a natural imperative, it’s a social convention and, therefore, as a convention, it will always be open to discussion and reconsiderations.

The fact that both sovereignty and State are both symbolic constructs which there are many debates about, including differences in approach, just goes to prove that they are both relative concepts.

Let’s explore some of these views.

Some people prefer “to sink at sea”(1) before losing sovereignty and they are terrified to see our flag flying next to another and ask “our dead to raise their arms”(2) to defend it and are willing to kill to hold onto power, because this is what sovereignty is, power, or rather the place where power is exercized.

Other people would put other religious principles before this, such as “thou shalt not kill” and will refuse to defend national sovereignty at the expense of human life.

Others will be pragmatic and sit down and do a cost-benefit analysis to decide whether it’s better to protect sovereignty or not or whether it’s in their best interests to take over another sovereignty.

It’s important to place completely inalienable values on this ladder of priorities, such as life and freedom, and those “useful” constructs, which people love but have been socially conceived, which can’t be implemented if these violate the abovementioned, such as equality, democracy or nationality for example.

Thus, defending national sovereignty by the use of an army is a legitimate option, but it isn’t the only one: not defending it or annexing it are just as legitimate.

Personally-speaking, I would like a Cuba without an Army, not because I’m a pacifist (which I happen to be), but rather because the Cuban army will be absolutely useless in the face of a US attack, which is where the attack would come from in theory (I don’t think anyone is expecting Panama to invade).

If we spent the next hundred years dedicating our national budget exclusively to buying and developing military technology, we would still be insignificant when compared to the US Army, so why bother? Wouldn’t it be much better to dedicate these efforts and resources to achieving objectives which are really helpful?

How much do all the Army’s weapons, military facilities and resources amount to, today? Wouldn’t it be better to sell all of that and dedicate those resources, as well as what the National Budget allocates to it, to something productive?

Even so, I respect the choice people have to keep an army, however, I would propose that they are consistent with their decision and uphold it by enlisting themselves for a Voluntary Military Service and pay a special tax which would be the only money the Government would have to keep this militia going.

Of course, contributing to this force wouldn’t imply any legal privilege and contributions made won’t be deduced from general tax charges. The army these people contribute to, voluntarily, will always be State property, while it exists.

I believe that this is the way we can protect the freedom of those people who want an army, while they are able to finance it themselves, and also the freedom of those who don’t ever want to form a part of this machine because of different reasons.

In any case, every Cuban citizen’s right to freedom needs to come first in the Cuba I wish for, which might resemble the Cuba you wish for.

1 from a Pablo Milanes song

2 from a Bonifacio Byrne poem

12 thoughts on “The Army in a Post Communist Party Cuba

  • a very fine and accurate description of the Cuban reality

  • Cubans don have the dilemma you outline between freedom or death, what we could say here is something like “give me totalitarianism or give me death”, maybe some Americans can say that because they feel they are free, many of we don´t feel that.

    In any case political freedom is not enough reason to make me desire to go to war, I don’t care if the president of Cuba rules from Plaza de la Revolución, the White House, Kremlin or La Zarzuela, it is not a good reason to kill or to die.

    I agree that the main defence to stop an invasion of Cuba is international response, more reason to get rid of the army.

  • Despite the meddling history of the US in the Americas from the Monroe Doctrine of 1823 onwards, I don’t think that the independence of Cuba is under any threat – unless it be economic by China.
    The possibility of some form of insurrection from within is almost less than minimal. Few weapons other than machetes are available to the populace and the regime has the power of the military, MININT and the police.
    The only hope for political change lies within that communist weakness – dictatorship. Only one person can have that ultimate power. Under the Castro brothers who that was was not questionable, but following the death of Raul – which despite his apparently good health is likely to occur within five or six years, there is potential for an internal battle for that ultimate position of power.
    On the surface it would appear that Diaz-Canel as Presidential appointee by Raul Castro is a shoe-in, but there are others with the thirst for power and control and they may well create internal confusion within the PCC which could lead to political change.
    As an addendum Ken, yes, China did have hundreds of thousands of troops in Korea. China has by far the largest number of troops of any nation, with North Korea itself having well over a million – some 400,000 more than Russia.
    Repatriado is I think correct in addressing the psyche of the Cuban population. Almost sixty years of censorship, repression and indoctrination have affected the thinking of the average Cuban. There is a creeping sense of resignation with only a vague underlying hope for some kind of change. Hence that teacher (with a doctorate in education) and teaching at a pre-university school, saying to me that there was only hope for change in those students who manage to leave Cuba.

  • First, let me respond to your last point. You present us with a stark choice. Fight for independence, but lose 25% of your population. I expect some Cubans will agree with you and others will agree with the American patriot who said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”
    I’ll grant your point that Cuba is closer and less of a logistical challenge. And I’ll grant your point that China and the USSR gave some support to North Vietnam. (And China actually had troops in Korea).
    But I do recall hearing that the arms the USSR gave to North Vietnam were less sophisticated and powerful than the arms they gave to Egypt. American warplanes were able to fly over North Vietnam with comparatively few losses.
    In the end, it is a question of international solidarity. An invasion of Cuba would be met with a fierce response internationally leading to high political costs for the US. This factor must enter their calculations.

  • Moses we are saying the same, my point is that Cuban regime is so totalitarian that it controls Cubans with low violent force, they don´t need a massive repression because they perfected the system to a point that they introduced a police in every Cuban, we all have a guardian inside, a sixth sense almost unconsent but always alert telling you where is the limit to your freedom, that is why nobody scream here in Plaza de la Revolución because nobody think about it, you instinctively stop thinking before having such idea.

    This do not means that Cuban regime is nice, I am afraid because I write here directly about Castros, I know someday they can knock my door, but I am not afraid of being killed or lost like happens in many others places with dictators or dysfunctional democracies, they will send me jail for some time and they can take all my things, but so far that’s it, but that is not what stops to the people.

  • Ken, those examples do not apply to Cuba

    1 Cuba is far more close to US than Vietnam or Korea
    2 they had a lot of help from China and USSR, none of them will move a finger now if Cuba is attacked
    3 find a reason to believe than Cuba will be attacked in the next 100 years

    US has had lot of chances for the annexation of Cuba and they didn´t, even when a high percent of Cubans wanted, territorial expansion has no meaning in todays world.

    By the other hand, if the price to keep Cuban independence is a quarter of our population I don´t want it, I don´t want to die or to kill for an idea, what if the idea is wrong?

  • The high percentage of prison population can indicate, but it not necessarily means repression.

    The political prisoners are a fraction of the thousands of Cuban prisoners, I think that the high incarceration level denotes the absolute failure of the educational politicians in Cuba, there are a lot of delinquency, a lot of insalubrity and a lot of violence, but as there is not freedom press it is not visualized.

    The lack of civic education is a great problem, the coexistence it is very difficult, the authority is not respected because the Castros has opted to be permissive with the social indiscipline to concentrate the repression on the civil freedoms.

    When I speak of repression I refer to murders and disappearances, that in Cuba today doesn’t occur, it doesn’t occur because the government doesn’t need to do it, but when they needed it they did a lot, that memory doesn’t forget.

    The example that I used from a single ruler to 50 doesn’t mean that Raúl has not been a dictator, he is a disgusting dictator as much as his brother, but the country requires another type of leadership to maintain the control of an economy fewer centralized that the one that had Fidel, for that reason has had to share the power, undoubtedly the last word is still in Raúl and that power will probably stay in the family after his death.

    I see them like a monarchic family with two parts, Raúl’s descendants on one hand and those of Fidel on the other hand, they hated each other.

    Diaz-Canel at the moment is an incognito, one that I summarize in two characters, Adolfo Suarez and Joaquín Balaguer. Who will be?

  • Despite your valid criticisms, you continue to give the Castro dictatorship too much credit. I deplore the Trump administration in my country, the US. If I chose to go to the front steps of San Francisco City Hall and scream at the top of my lungs how I feel about Trump, the worst thing that would likely happen is someone might call Social Services and complain that a crazy man was disturbing the peace. But if you went to the Plaza de la Revolucion in Havana and screamed about your President? Repression is real in Cuba. It’s just that Cubans are so beat down that the Castros don’t have to flex their repression muscles.

  • “…the Cuban army will be absolutely useless in the face of a US attack, which is where the attack would come from in theory (I don’t think anyone is expecting Panama to invade).”
    While it is true that the US has a powerful military, we have seen more than one instance of a small country mounting an effective military defence. Vietnam and Korea come to mind.

  • The figures for incarceration in Cuba (fourth highest in the world) repatriado do not support your view. Cuba has a long history of locking up dissidents. If jailing parents for 3 years for teaching their children in their own home, anything that is contrary to communism isn’t repression, please explain what it is. The defined purpose of the CDR is repression. What happens in Villa Mariska – isn’t that repression?
    You speak of “maybe 50 almighty men” replacing “one almighty man”. Can you record any instance of those 50 men opposing any decision by the one almighty man? Each of the Castro brothers in turn has met the dictionary definition of a dictator. I am genuinely interested whether you think that Diaz-Canel will impose any conditions that do not have the prior approval of Raul Castro?

  • MINIM, interior minister, and FAR, army forces, have being tools for the Castro regime, but Castro´s control in Cuba is not based in repression, I am not saying that there is not repression in Cuba, physical repression I mean, there is some, but it is not significant compare with other totalitarian regimes.

    Control is based in the monopoly of press, education, culture and in the economy along with a total suppression of civil initiative. Physical repression is more a constant threat, but government has so many ways to harm a parson inside and even outside the island that they haven’t needed a big repression.

    Castro family has had to allow a more “democratic” distribution of power, some years ago just the few people close to Fidel had real power, including some generals, that changes when they needed to modernize economy, Castros decided to do it using their more trustable and connected people, the military were the clear option. Now as you say they control the country through a breed of military unknown for the people.

    Now we are more democratic, from one all mighty man, to maybe 50 almighty men, big advance jejeje

  • The Cuban regime is dependent upon the military both to protect their position of power and control and to sustain their economy such as it is.
    Note the percentage of Generals in Executive positions.
    There is nothing that the communist regime fears more than freedom of expression and action. They need the military and the MININT goons to ensure retention of power and control.
    It was Nikita Khrushev who achieved a guarantee from the US that it would not attack Cuba, and the US has complied.
    The military holding company GAESA headed by Raul Castro’s son-in-law, General Luis Alberto Rodriguez Callejas, controls over 80% of Cuba’s economy. How many unwitting tourists realize that if flying on a Cuban airline, they are being flown on a military owned aircraft being flown by a military trained pilot, to land in Cuba at a military controlled airport, transfer to a military owned hotel on a military owned coach, smoke cigars and drink rum produced by military owned companies, purchase souvenirs from military owned shops. If renting a car they do so from military owned agencies and when purchasing gasoline, do so from military owned gas stations.
    The military is absolutely essential for the Castro communist regime. That along with MININT is what has held them in power and enabled repression of the Cuban people.

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