The Stalemate of Antiquated Attitudes in Cuba and Miami

Street scene in Havana. Photo: Cubaencuentro

By Alejandro Armengol (Cubaencuentro)

HAVANA TIMES – Although Cubans continue succeeding in business, attaining high positions in the public and private organizations in the countries they’ve emigrated to, and excelling in the most diverse professions, they have still not achieved the democratic transformation of their country, not even the adoption of a more tolerant attitude towards others’ opinions.

Excellent administrators and businesspeople. Terrible political fighters. Magnificent professionals, but incapable of sustaining a democratic direction for their country.

The existence of dozens of years of the Castro dictatorship has offered a greater justification: extending a compassionate cloak over the different periods during which they tried time and again to reestablish the republic, restart the process and begin nearly from scratch to construct institutional order. It’s not a question of postulating a static society, but of emphasizing the need for a stability that Cuba has always been far from achieving.

More than an interest in a slow and systematic advance, Cubans are typically eager to sweep everything away in order to remake it differently. A clean slate. The myth of the Phoenix rising from the ashes. A vocation for heroism and mythic ideals. Cubans are revolutionary by nature. However, since the most stable societies aren’t built by heroes’ blows, the problem of getting only halfway is always there.

In jumping over the wall with exaltation and wanting to bring ideals into practice, we Cubans limit ourselves to programs that are removed from reality. We surround ourselves with erroneous schemes, justified only by sonorous phrases. We end up locked in by the daily limitations.

Then it’s the hour for the unscrupulous climbers and demagogues, who by repeating an empty discourse take advantage of our virtues and weaknesses.

All these idealizations and sublime intentions are then countered by attitudes much closer tied to reality, that are imposed in practice. In Cuban politics, this has meant that the crafty, or even the villains, always triumph.

The roots of the exaggerated value we put on what is ours and our a priori justification of our defects go back to the Hispanic inheritance and the late rise of free enterprise capitalism in Spain and Latin America.

The overvaluing of our identity has become an effective resource in difficult times, but it’s also an enormous limitation when it’s time to know and analyze our capacities.

Our nationality holds within it not only positive and creative expressions, but also destructive values and emotions, ready to flower when circumstances allow. We carry the devil in our body.

Fidel Castro wasted billions of dollars and years of Cubans’ lives in agricultural and industrial plans, wars, and guerrilla fights. Projects that yielded no results at all – nothing positive came out of them.

Along with fanaticism, there are always small resentments. Behind the heroic eagerness, pettiness and prejudices lurk. These elements have facilitated the work of the wicked.

Hand in hand with the political leaders, generals and members of the repressive bodies are the officials and opportunists, the little beings who didn’t obtain great benefits and privileges, except for the pleasure of satisfying their grudges and envy.

Some of them marched off into exile one day, and perhaps they’ve never questioned the fact that they did their little evil deeds gratuitously and with no justification.

Many have continued that opportunistic path in exile, sheltered by their acquaintance with the “rules of the game,” and always ready to avoid risking their small positions, loyal to what they learned in the meetings of the Communist Youth, the labor union and the party, and held hostage by fear of losing the privileges they’ve achieved through their servility.

If yesterday they proclaimed themselves loyal followers of the ideas of the Commander in Chief, today they praise the “leaders in exile” and proclaim themselves fans of free enterprise, Christians at heart, and born anticommunists. They forget words, deeds and birthplace with the same persistence they formerly used to go after their fellows.

Inheritors of a caricature of a revolutionary tradition, they themselves are also a caricature. Not as an expressive form, but as a tacky vulgarity. Badly drawn sketches, deformed beings, vain existences.

We speak of the need to judge, condemn, or pardon all those who at some defined moment exercised a more or less significant role during those long years of the Castro regime, which despite everything haven’t ended yet. It’s equally important to analyze the human misery that impelled them or directed them to commit those small disgraceful acts.

Exiles, if they go on too long, are never free, not from nostalgia but from a possible exercise of masochism. Any exile, in itself, is an excess. Because of that, these occurrences are an integral part of the same thing. Some of the demands that arise with the passing of time, or are brought into exile, conserve their emotional value, but at the same time their political effectiveness tends to become diluted, and alters with the years.

Miami, just like Havana, insists on the survival of a mode of behavior that by now should be on the road to extinction, if not completely gone. However, the behaviors resist the passing of time, even beyond the generational changes.

In both countries, be it through the passing on of functions from fathers to children, or the maintenance of identical codes in those who integrate the political work, paradoxically we witness the rebirth of the same antiquated concepts; the passing of a stalemate that leaves no hope whatsoever.

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2 thoughts on “The Stalemate of Antiquated Attitudes in Cuba and Miami

  • Do any Cuban Nationals feel that there is any benefit to their Nations Sovereignty ? Will they be willing to accept any benefits if so… after some unforeseen as of yet change…
    Ruling out the underclass…. such as in other third world countries… such as Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Jamaica to name but a few….. Cuba is an environmental Gem is it not?… due to its isolation. Perhaps a price to be paid.. for it… Your neighbors and Sister City of Key West has become for Elitist only…. Tell me about you homelessness in Havana please… and people laying in the street as they cannot afford a simple bed to sleep in as in Key West…. as they say a mere 90 miles away… from your shores… are you certain you want to bridge the chasm…? at what cost ultimately?

  • I think that this is an excellent article. It highlights the folly of leaving debate to the current socialist leaders of Cuba and the dated attitudes of Cuban exiles.
    We have to move beyond partisan fighting about ideologies and focus on the well-being of the people. Extreme adherence to ideology has failed in the US with excessive inequalities and failed in Cuba as productivity suffers with central planning and the stifling of the innovation for which Cubans are so capable.

    So let’s step back and extract from all philosophies for the good of the people. They bad conduct of the US cannot be used as an excuse to avoid considering the parts that could work for Cuba.

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