Cuba: Revolution or Resistance?

By Repatriado

“You will win because you have enough brute force. But you will not convince.” Miguel de Unamuno

On the corner. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – Those of us who believe that Cuba is suffering at the hands of a perverse and corrupted totalitarian government, commonly say that the Cuban people have been too indifferent… In fact, I have dealt with the root cause of this passive attitude in other articles, suggesting that it is due to a concentration of power and civil society’s inability to objectively articulate and organize itself independently from the State and socialist ideology, the island’s only legal political doctrine.

However, this seemingly social indifference might actually be covering an attitude of individual resistance, which is what I want to talk about today: if it really is indifference or rather a resistance tailored to the very specific conditions that have been created here in Cuba by the Castro regime.

Just like I believe we are living under a totalitarian State, I believe that it has failed, not only because of the widespread unhappiness and misery inherent to every tyranny, but it has also failed at its main objective, its own ability to remain in power. There are overwhelming signs that this system is on the brink of collapse and it isn’t absurd to expect variations to this Soviet-type economic planning, which is the beginning of the end of political and social totalitarianism.

The failure of this model wasn’t predestined, it could have worked if a real majority had adopted and defended it, and this is the most essential point here: The system imposed by the Castros fails because it has fought against a minority’s active resistance, a minority who are consciously against a totalitarian attack on civil rights, as well as a vast majority who have unconsciously resisted any implication with a project which they haven’t felt is theirs for a long time now.

Therefore, it’s wrong to claim that the Communist Party has remained in power thanks to the population. It has rather remained in power in spite of popular resistance and this system’s greatest sign of weakness is their need to control individual freedoms, which have been violated in every possible way for the past 60 years.

Symptoms of this underground resistance, practiced by an entire population who have been isolated from political power and economic decisions are those actions, which wouldn’t transcend more than a few antisocials, if the socialist ideology enacted by the Castros had made an impression on the Cuban people.

The perverseness of vandalism (which Miguel Arias wrote about here on HT), which would be inexplicable from a socialist perspective where we would all share social property, suddenly starts making sense when we understand that nearly nobody feels like anything belonging to the government is theirs, because the government is the first thing they don’t feel is theirs.

Constant small thefts here and there which are bleeding an economy “meant to serve the people” is another suicidal activity from a socialist perspective. It only starts making sense when we understand that relations of production under the Castro system are just capitalism exacerbated by the existence of a single and absolute owner who is opposed to millions of alienated workers.

Indifferent work attitudes shouldn’t also be solely understood to be the response to miserable wages. Everyone is capable of sacrificing themselves a little so that an investment gives results later, as long as they believe that they are investing in something of interest to them. However, we stopped believing this when we discovered that we were the only ones constantly making sacrifices, the government wasn’t and their families weren’t either and we lost interest when we finally understood that our future would never arrive under this dictatorship.

The government’s resounding failure is then mostly the result of the Cuban people’s resistance, an inarticulate resistance of a people who are unconcious of this a lot of the time, a people who have been stripped of the information and education they need to be able to think for themselves, but still resistance at the end of the day.

This model and its particular strain of socialism never left a mark beyond the surface on the population, who turn up at hysterical anti-US protests, where they come together to then go home and try and put a meal together.

Even so, I don’t foresee any changes in our popular resistance. The government has used its symbolic power for too long to instill a fear of freedom and servile attitudes based on prefabricated historic acknowledgements, as well as using its monopoly of political, legal and repressive force to establish a network of interests and fears.

For a long time now the ruling elite’s greatest ambition isn’t prosperity for the nation, but to manage internal pressures. Their greatest and nearly only means of ensuring this was to colonize the Venezuelan government, receiving large resources from them without which the island would have economically imploded a long time ago or structural changes would have had to be made and the inevitable path towards changing our government would have begun.

This elite is playing a game of hot potato in order to keep their status, distributing power (which was concentrated in a single and bearded head before) among a group of bureaucrats made up of the still living historic revolutionary figures and those who have known how to latch onto them and hold important positions in the military/bureaucratic framework that rules the country.

This group doesn’t have the capacity to hold out another “Special Period” like we experienced in the ‘90s, and they know this. The only thing that is keeping us from this situation is the influx of resources from Venezuela. If this disappears, then we will see a deepening of Cuba’s financial collapse and then there definitely will be a considerable change in our forms of resistance.

26 thoughts on “Cuba: Revolution or Resistance?

  • My friend, I care nothing about western culture, but democracy and its continuity are something that do preoccupies me, democracy needs the active participation of people, good people, culture is a result of what we as western people are, democracy is the result of what we as people do.

    I am missing a comment from you in my post about the cuban new man

  • about Trump envy, great argument by the way, can you imagine what would have happend if Fidel was born in a big country and not in this small Island. The idea give me panic jejejeje

  • Repatriado, don’t worry too much about the western culture. Democracy has its undoubted faults, but it also has inherent strengths. Despite all the nonsensical behaviour of Donald J. Trump, his period in office is limited – democracy will survive in the US despite the barrage of attacks that he has launched against it. That was demonstrated yesterday when the US announced increased sanctions against Russia – that was not decided by Trump, but by Congress. Although his envy of dictators is obvious, his powers are limited.
    The main concern has continue to be for those people who are denied the freedoms enjoyed in democratic societies, denied human rights as defined by the UN and held in bondage by totalitarian regimes. This obviously includes Cuba and the Cuban people.

  • USA, BC, Western Europe and israel have to change a lot to avoid becoming a failed society.

  • Captain, it is true that western culture (including japan) is in trouble, for me the biggest problem is the inequality, it is quickly approaching to levels never seen before and that is extremely dangerous for democracy. Now with Trump fucking around the world it is normal to foresee an increase of lack of faith or confidence in democracy, with the concentration of media power of course freedom of speech is under attack, bottom-line, it is not a good moment for humankind, but, there is hope, internet is a great distributor of information, there are social movements, and I am not talking about Foro do Sao Paulo, social movements demanding a better distribution of wealth, Obama something did on did, but too little and less of what he could I think, Europe is moving to a unity, with more or less speed but moving, one they manage to have a continental taxation organism Europe will improve a lot and social states will prevail there, China is growing and they still have to grow a lot to reach Europe or united states level of life, that is great for many many people there that were very poor, I don´t talk about the Chinese political system because I do think Chinese culture is different to ours.

    We people need to change a lot, we need to stop watching consume and constant economic growing as a goal, and we have to stop reproduction, we are not too many, but we can perfectly manage to keep the population we already have without growing, emigrations will help to balance humans situations, I love to see Africans and middle east people going to Europe and Latin Americans going to US, but there is needed some better politics to do that without people dying.

    Cuba have not the big problems that Guatemala, el Salvador, Nicaragua, Haiti, or many others have, but we never had those problems so compare Cuba with those nations is not correct, but we have deep problems, the biggest, for me, to be in the hands of a corrupt elite that violate humans rights constantly, that is not only very unmoral, that is a brake, an stop in our development as nation.

    When you talk with Cubans, you have to think that the most of us have being disconnected from the world, and that our perspective of life is conditions by the state monopoly of disinformation.

    Thank you very much for care about Cubans.

  • Carlyle, I am sincerely sorry if I offended you. It is never my intention. But truth is truth undeniable, and apologies don’t change that. It may be said that Spanish is widely spoken in the countries of the Americas with the worst poverty, and failure governments, and socio-economics, and cultures in the western hemisphere. And the people’s will do anything, break any law, to get into an English speaking nation, and then try to impose thier language and failed culture on us. Wake-up, smell the coffee, the rest of the world is speaking and learning to speak English, and so do you! You want the freedom and prosperity of the USA, BC, Western Europe, and Israel? Then abandon your failed society, government, culture, and language, and join in the systems, morals, and work-ethics of success. Or just keep rambling on and complaining, and blame-shifting the failures on the Castro brothers.

  • The obvious difference between you and I Michael Davis Sr/Captain Deufuss, is that whereas you obviously swallowed the Raul line of deception about “many of the changes he wanted to make” I address the reality of the consequences for the people of Cuba over whom he holds absolute power and control and perceive little change in their lives under his repression.
    But pray, do enlighten us about those changes – and the “risk to his life” if he pursued them.
    Raul Modesto Castro Ruz is a communist dictator as was his brother Fidel before him. He personally condemned fellow Cubans to execution by firing squad without trial. He is a killer.
    With regard to your linguistic comment, more than half the peoples of the Americas speak Spanish, a language which I understand is spoken widely even in the USA.
    You also speak of “three currrencies of Cuba, I know of two, which is the third?

  • Circles, I don’t speak or read Spanish language. If it were the “world language”, I would learn. But English is the international language of politics, science, and math, so I try to master the universal language, though I am not naturally English. For Cubans to be able to join the international community, they will need to master the English language.

  • Carlyle, please refrain demeaning any person for thier opinions, expressed from thier perspective in life. I have spent time in Cuba, talking with working and struggling Cuban folks, and I risked my freedom and my life in the process. It is true, I have much greater freedom of all sorts than most good Cuban folks, but I’m watching as my freedoms of thought and speech are being violently whittled away by an ignorant sub-culture, who would turn my country into socialist oppression and poverty, if they are not defeated. And we have a dim-witted, so-called “free-press/media” leading the charge into destruction and despair. I’m familiar with the three currencies of Cuba, also the “right-hand” and “left-hand” economies. And then I had a surprise, and unexpected meeting with Raul Castro. He spoke of many of the changes that he wanted to make, but also the risk to his life if he tried to move too fast. This was in 2004, and I have watched, read, listened, and learned. I risk not in saying more. Those who are weilding the power of life and death, while dwelling in mostly hidden and secret wealth, will not yeild voluntarily. But my hope and prayer is that it can come to pass for the good Cuban people’s, and without violence and death. A silly dream? Maybe, but I’ll continue to hope and pray.

  • The other factor is that most Cubans understandibly prefer to comment on the Spanish side of Havana Times.

  • In case you had not noticed Michael Davis Sr/Captain Deufuss (some title), there are very few Cubans ever participating in the discussions on these pages. Repatriado being an exception! If you want to know what Cubans think, then you have to go and talk with them face to face in Cuba. Don’t try to talk to a group, because the walls have ears and the CDR and MININT lurk. Remember that for dissidents Villa Marista and jail following inevitable confession await.
    Here in these pages the discussion is predominantly between people who are privileged to have freedom of speech – in capitalist countries like yours.
    You may deceive yourself with your uninformed talk about “healthy exchange and debate among the good folks of Cuba”. but not anyone with knowledge of the reality of a level of repression under the Castro regime of which you obviously know naught!
    As one with my home in Cuba, I can only contribute when not in Cuba – whether it be when in the UK, or in North America as you have the good fortune to be!
    The discussion that you are “loving” is not between Cubans living in Cuba!

  • I’m loving this healthy exchange and debate among the good folks of Cuba. In my country a great evil of ignorance prevails, and a peaceful intellectual debate is impossible. Freedom of speech is eroding by the day, while vandalism, hatred, intolerance, and violence, all in the name of “resistance” rules the dialogue. Have you guesed my country? It’s the USA!!

  • Repatriado, Cuba is an anachronism for under the Castro’s it has adhered totally to the Stalinist form of communism. Other communist countries have turned to capitalism – with consequential improvements in the standards of living of the population at large. Cuba along with North Korea remains straining with communist constipation.
    The current position with Daiz-Canel supposedly in control as President, but with Raul remaining in control is similar to the method by which Putin was supposedly followed as President by Dmitry Medvedev in Russia. The reality is that Raul Modesta Castro Ruz remains the Ayatollah of Cuba. It isn’t really surprising as both men had instruction from Nikolai S. Leonov of the KGB. Another similarity is that both are small in stature – with Raul “el-pulguita” (the flea) being even smaller than Putin.
    How many people today recall Raul saying that: “My dream is to drop three atom bombs on New York.”? (July, 1960).

  • The fascinating is to read this history, thank you, I hope to know much more about this.

    And yes, I totally agree with the idea of Cuban communism rotting from within, this kind of totalitarian system can´t be defeated by force, but the good thing is that they start to rot the very same day they come to power.

    Of course it is easy for me to say this now, 60 years ago it was too mucho to say

  • You are right, we are close, the difference may be, using your metaphor, that you centre the problem in the pie, for me the problem is the Chef, whom don´t care about the diners.

    Is a fact that economy was better in the Soviet Union that under Putin? I think Putin is a dictator, but I watched some days ago the interview Oliver Stone did to him and Oli said Russia have improved a lot under his admired Putin (disgusting)

    I subscribe your penultimate paragraph totally

  • Fascinating discussion Bob and Repatriado. Quite a long time ago, I revealed here. part of my own history and in particular that of my late father (Head of Station in Vienna for MI6 – SIS from May 1945 onwards). I did so, because few had the knowledge and experience which he had of communism, having been in France with the Resistance (which was communist) for a period during the Second World War and then as a cover, being Allied Military Government (AMGOT) Governor of a chunk of Northern Italy based in Monfalcone (Italy’s ship building centre) where there was very nasty strife between the Unions and the Fascists – I saw photographs of Fascists who prior to being shot and thrown down a well, had been castrated by their fellow Italians.
    Vienna was quadro-partite with each of the four powers having a sector and the city itself being surrounded by the Russian zone. So I have experienced having a sub-machine gun stuck in my gut by a Mongolian looking Russian. and the reality of communist repression upon the people of Austria. I saw the Iron Curtain that stretched across Europe from the Baltic to the Black Sea
    My father’s expressed view to me, was that the allies were in reality doing a holding operation, as: “Eventually the USSR will rot from within.” As all the British agents in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Rumania and points east, reported to him, so his view was more than mere opinion. I am happy to say that he lived to see that forecast rot occur, dying in Vienna in 1992.
    I should add that with the cover of a Diplomat, he had 147 meetings with the Russians (who never knew that he spoke Russian), at the end of which Austria gained freedom as a neutral country, the only territory that the USSR ever gave up – they didn’t make the same mistake in Germany where my father’s former deputy became Head of Station and was involved in the “tunnel” incident. We still have within my family a picture by a prominent Austrian artist with the inscription being to my father by name “in exchange for the Burgenland”
    I say all this because between the two of you, you appear to be approaching a similar view that eventually the Cuban communist regime will rot from within. The rot of the USSR was not a consequence of bloodshed or military action and one can only hope that the same will apply in Cuba.

  • The difficulty Michael Davis Sr/Captain Deufuss, is that the Cuban people themselves are unable to abandon and reject Communism (which poses as being socialist), I think they would if they could. I am very interested in the discussion between Bob Michaels and Repatriado. See my comments.

  • repatriado: I think we really have no general disagreement but are looking at the same problem from two different views.

    While politics is the cause of Cuba’s basic economic problem, what Cubans directly see and think about is the poor economics. Many think that if the economic problems could be fixed, they could live with the politics. How loud were the complaints about politics before the collapse of the former Soviet Union when the economy was better than it is now?

    I do see the economic problem as simply not have enough to divide up among all the people. It is not a control issue where the problem could be solved by giving less to some so that others could have more. It is like dividing up a small fruit pie between a large family. No matter how much one decides to give to each family member, they cannot escape the problem of not having enough pie.

    I don’t see the Cuban government voluntarily giving up the socialist centralized economy. I see the government slowly being forced to do so because the economics of growing private business will deprive the government of having the money to be able to continue. This is a situation that builds upon itself. As the government centralized economy shrinks, more and more people turn to private business which then causes the centralized economy to shrink even more. This is beginning to happen in Cuba now. The government’s only other option is the follow the path that Maduro is taking in Venezuela which is the express elevator down to economic disaster.

    All other Communist governments have failed for inherent economic reasons. No government or group of leaders is strong enough to remain in power without economic resources. It just becomes a matter of how long it takes.

  • Bob, I have to disagree, Cuba biggest problem is politic, it is the lack of democracy. That lack of democracy make us a cripple country, inert, without the capacity to improve because we depend on what a little group of person decide to do, and they always decide having their own interest in first place, their own interest in to keep control over population.

    They cannot abandon the socialist structure because that is the way they have to keep the power, even when they know that that socialist centralized economy do not works, but they don’t care, that not working economy keeps the people poor and that is great.

    Bob, their battle is not with economic inefficiency, is with the control efficacy.

  • agree in general, but the inequality in Cuba is so extreme that the most of the people don´t know or see how live that 0.00000001 % of the population that own the power and the law so own eveything in Cuba.

    on the contrary to the rest of the world, a reduction in inequality will cause, and it is causing, the rise of a class in a middle between those superpowerful people and the vast majority of the population, that improvement of a reduced part of the population will cause the visibility of the inequality.

    Are you talking about an armed revolution? there i don´t agree nothing at all

    I don´t agree in economy collapse unify, that just happened if the leader can convince to the people that the guilt is outside, no actual leader in Cuba can do that.

  • I see the Cuban government losing its grip on the people at a slow but accelerating pace. Cuba’s biggest problem by far is economic. The government simply does not have the strength to win a battle against the economic law of supply and demand. Cuban people continuously see friends and neighbors who are benefiting from foreign remittances since now one of ten Cuban families receive such. They ask why are the Cuban people doing so poorly compared to other countries. Private business continues to grow at an accelerating rate. Simply look at the size of the “street economy” compared to the official economy. More and more Cubans are engaged in some form of private business, a bit of which is legal but much otherwise. The government has not been proactive in permitting such but merely reactive legalizing it when it become all too obvious that they cannot stop it. The government is battling a foe they cannot defeat on a long term basis.

    As more and more Cubans separate their income from the communist government policies, they simply cut out the government from sharing in the fruits of the labor as there can be no taxes on an underground economy. Yet, the government remains liable for providing all the social services including but not limited to medical, educational, subsidized food and housing. Consider the long term prospects of any organization with a commitment to pay and pay while income continues to shrink. Their only option is to abandon those support commitments which will entail abandoning their previously inviolate socialist structure and letting Cuban citizens be individually responsible. A good current example of that is reducing what is available via the libreta.

    While this dilution of government control is happening slowly, it is happening now and the rate is accelerating. I see it as only a matter of time before the power of the Cuban government crumbles due to its economic inefficiency. This is a battle that every communist government has lost.

  • What Cuba needs is another revolution. Revolutions, historically, have not occurred as a result of a collapse of a nation but instead as a result of a limited and exclusive recovery of a nation. That is too say, the next revolution in Cuba is more likely to happen when only 5 percent of the country continues to do very well while 95 percent continue to suffer. This 95% will then rise up. Economic collapse tends to unify a country. Gross inequality tends to provoke change.

  • It is sad to see that so many folks in Cuba, still place their hope in socialism. The failure of Cuba, the USSR, Venezuela, and all other pure socialist experiments, has been socialism as a socioeconomic system. Cuban people’s, you will not experience prosperity for the masses, until you abandon and reject socialism, period. Then you can start a new day, toward the socioeconomic success that you can achieve. The starting line, is on the other side of the ash heap of socialism.

  • Bravo! Your article is true for other countries like exUSSR and modern Russia.

  • It is really sad what happened to Venezuela, Chavez had a wonderful opportunity to turn the history of that country, he had a great democratic legitimacy and a lot of cash, it is a shame he decided to take the path of confrontation with the US, the path of demagogic movements to have short term results that anyone with some economic knowledge knew that that was the recipe to a disaster.

    It is a great lost opportunity for Venezuela, and the cherry was his loyalty to Castro, loyalty that became dependency after the coupe he suffered with the acquiescence of Bush junior, Aznar and others.

    Maduro is even worst, he is absolutely incompetent and depend on Cuban advises to rule, at least that is what I think. People is suffering in Venezuela like never before, and knowing a little of that country political history that is a lot to say.

    A question for you and for any other

    I say in my post that only the financial collapse that would put the Cuban population once more in the worst moment of the 90s will cause a social movement against the government or maybe a real structural change in the model. But that means a lot of suffering for the people.

    Even so, do you justify or desire that collapse?

  • Wonderful article Repatriado, I particularly admired the description of the Cuban regime managing to:
    “colonize the Venezuelan government”.
    Without a “Sugar Daddy” Cuba would indeed be in dire straits as illustrated following the implosion of the USSR and the ensuing “special period”. Fortunately for the Castro regime, they succeeded in that “colonization” of Venezuela with initially Hugo Chavez and then Nicholas Maduro paying obeisance at the knee of Fidel Castro, foolishly believing that he knew about economics, rather than realizing that it was as a consequence of his economic ignorance that Cuba was mired in a morass of incompetence.

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