Dissection of a Tyranny (Part IV)
By Jose Luis Garcia Paneque
Once everything the people had worked for through much work and sacrifice had been taken away and turned into State property, the destruction of all that was left was slow and devastating. Consecutive revolutionary offenses, campaigns, and overall long populist discourses began to mold society until it reached its current state.
It wasn’t something spontaneous as some of the dictatorships’ ideologists claim. The entire process was carefully planned and studied. This leaves one thing very clear: for them, a spiritually and economically poor country lacks the capacity to defend itself and change its surroundings. The following postulate by Saint Thomas of Aquinas was applied with complete and utter malice by he who claimed to bring freedom, prosperity, and well-being.
“It will be necessary to establish subsidies, or elevated and substantial taxes, for it is the quickest way to quickly impoverish the subjects”.
Taking advantage of the national euphoria inspired by the fall of Fulgencio Batista’s dictatorship, and knowing that the cause had very little time to execute, the regime began to implement one draconian social control measure after another, which led to the annulment of ample civil society sectors and which tied the people to a paternal system of government which persists to this day.
Seven months after entering Havana, Fidel Castro and his followers carried out one of their magisterial raids. On August 4th of 1961 they passed Law Number 963 which established that each bill in circulation at that moment must be replaced by “other new designs” and it was quickly implemented during the very next day. The operation was simple: any citizen could exchange 200 pesos, while the rest (up to 10,000 pesos) would be kept in bank accounts which only allowed the withdrawal of 100 pesos per month (known as The Cuban Playpen). Those with bank accounts only had a limit of 10,000 pesos. The rest was confiscated, once again only allowing the monthly withdrawal of 100 pesos, and that was that. The main objective of the bearded rebel and the recently appointed President Minister of the National Bank of Cuba, “Che” Guevera, was not only to convert the rich into poor and the poor into even more miserable beings, with the goal of harming Cuban society. The main objective was to strip the internal opposition (which organized itself to confront the measures being taken by the newly implanted regime) from any economic assistance.
Afterwards, amid many populist and fear-infused discourses, he asked the people for Silver and Gold in order to purchase weapons and aircrafts to “defend the Revolution” from foreign aggressors. It was yet another step in the destruction of the patrimony of the entire country. In fact, this was not enough for him. He then asked the people for 4% of their salaries for the same purpose, promising to pay them back through interests, but none of it was ever returned.
Similar measures were applied to the salary deducted for social security and assistance, which he erased from the payrolls in order to create the mentality that in Cuba, Education, Health, and other services were entirely free- the grand lie of a “Revolution”- without letting the people know that it was they, with their own work and sacrifice, who were sustaining these services. They were being robbed of their autonomy and possibility of being able to decide over the patrimony which rightfully belonged to them.
But it did not end there. Four decades later, and amid one of the cyclical crisis of the system, when the proceeding subsidies were lost during the fall of real socialism, the people were forced to exchange the little bit of valor they had left for imitated jewelry after being deprived from the minimum necessities needed in order to live. So many jewels belonging to our grandmas ended up in the Exchange Shops being traded for ham, deodorant, or the most dissimilar small bag of goods!
It has all been a continuous process of dictatorial domination with the clear objective of annulling any sign of rebellion displayed by subjects that not only no longer own their properties (which could once be sold or left as inheritances) but who have also lost control of their own lives.