Dissection of a Tyranny (Part VI)

[The results of a “Revolutionary Sleep”. Photo taken from the web]

by Jose Luis Garcia Paneque

In their attempt to sustain themselves, dictatorships cannot allow certain slips, and much less can they trust in anyone, whether they are friends or followers.  That is why today I am sharing another one of the postulates by Saint Thomas of Aquinas which applies to the current historic circumstances which the Cuban people have had to live through:

“Kingdoms are maintained in power by mediation of friends, but the tyrant should not trust in anyone to conserve the tyranny”.

The mask of changes has been a method constantly used by the Castro regime throughout these years, in addition to the flirtation with Americans.  They have imposed a culture of “befriending whoever benefits us at the moment” on us Cubans.  First, a friend of the Soviets and the Socialist bloc until the clay-foot giant was knocked down, and when the iron curtain was torn down, which ignited heated discourses about the “disfigured political system” as Fidel Castro referred to it numerous times.

Then came the Chinese, with which the island has had many stages of relationships with- sometimes as friends and others as adversaries, just to wind up now in an intermediate relationship which is not clearly defined.  And recently, there appeared a rich nephew: Venezuela.  The South American country is the new chosen one of an opportunistic totalitarian regime which never lacks lifelines when it comes to receiving aid to sustain its cracked structures which are inevitably crumbling to pieces.  The Venezuelan neo-dictatorship needs to consolidate itself in a society which knows the values of democracy in order to have freedoms.  There is no doubt that both regimes need each other in a globalized world where dictatorships no longer have the capacity to stand up straight, and are therefore falling.

There are more than enough examples within the island to illustrate a process which has been marked by typical cases of mistrust and dismissal of “loyal subjects” who at one point believed they were carrying out the will of the leader and that they would achieve his eternal trust.

We would be unfair if we did not point out the examples of men who fought against the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and gave their all to achieve freedom for our Nation and who fell for the lies of an egotistical man who did not seek their same goal, but who instead, with his populist language, usurped power to enthrone himself as the new dictator with the facade of the people’s benefactor.

Commander Huber Matos and his 20 years of imprisonment, Mario Chanes de Arma and his 28 years of harsh imprisonment, were perhaps the first, but not the only ones, that can be used as examples to prove that a dictator never trusts in anyone, and that they much less ever forgive anyone who assumes a civic posture.  It’s possible that they now regret not having assassinated them while they were in prison, as has occurred with many others who have been lucky enough to get away alive.

Camilo Cienfuegos was a stone in the road that they never forgave, and one day we will know the truth about this man’s fate, who at one point declared, “Against Fidel? Not even in baseball”.  But not even that could protect him from the destiny they prepared for him, and today, 52 years later, his death continues to be a mystery.  I recall my years of youth when I heard adults say, “if Camilo were alive, then these things would not be happening”.  But Camilo could not be alive.

Very few people believed that Cause Number One of ’89 was truly -as they declared- enacted to “clean the honor”, because it is very odd for a regime that is so closed and controlled like the Cuban one to not know what exactly it is that their acolytes are doing, and that General Arnaldo Ochoa and other accused soldiers did not act on their own behalf.  They were the victims of one of the dictatorship’s moments of crisis, when they were suffering huge blows when changes took place in the countries which represented “Real Socialism”.  It was necessary for them to demonstrate that they still wielded control and they did not hesitate for a moment to sacrifice the “General who Fought a Thousand Battles” and others who had lower ranks but who served in many dark missions.  If you don’t believe me, you can ask Chileans about the twin “La Guardia” brothers.

The 90’s era really challenged the capacity of the regime to adapt and it was expected that reformists were to emerge from their ideological camp.  But these reformists did a very poor job at calculating the risks, because dictatorships adapt themselves but do not reform themselves, and much less do they ever transform.

Carlos Aldana Palomino, from his position as the Ideologist of the Communist Party of Cuba, believed he had actual power to carry out reforms and was thus automatically transferred to the group of dismissed ones.  Once again, he was not the only one but he was the one who kick-started all the purges of high ranking officials who made up the new generation, the generation that did not come down from the Sierra Maestra Mountains, and who had passed on to new lives, though unclear if to heaven or to purgatory.

He would be followed by Roberto Robaina, the man who filled Cuba with signs and slogans in favor of the Revolution and who mobilized the “Revolutionary Morale” of the youth in the harshest part of the Special Period, which won him the resplendent rank of Minister of Exterior Relations.  But he “believed himself to be more than what he really was”, as we Cubans say, and he started playing a game of democracy, or at least he started to think about it.  This cost him being classified as disloyal to the maximum figure, or “god on earth”, and I write this in lowercase because there is only one God, though some may try to assume the title.

More recently, others who thought that the old guard, which was decrepit and decadent, would allow substitutes before their time had come, suffered the same fates.  Carlos Lage Davila and Felipe Perez Roque were two others who were gullible enough to imagine that they would be the ones to lead the reforms in Cuba.  But, as always, they were mistaken and passed on to be those condemned to the “Pajama Plan”.  Mythology reminds us that “Saturn devoured his children” and dictatorships do the same exact thing.

They also do not trust in anyone.  This is confirmed by the words of the new chosen one of the Cuban dynasty in his closing discourse during the VI Communist Party Congress, which was just another farce set up by the “banana-castro monarchy” of the Castro brothers, as my friend Juan Morote Sarrion refers to it in an article written for Digital Freedom, during a moment when the regime was going through one of its worst crisis.

In that Congress, Raul Castro said, “Despite the fact that we have not ceased in our attempts to promote youths to principal charges, life has demonstrated that our selections were not always the right ones.  Today, we confront the consequences of not having a group of substitutes that are prepared with sufficient maturity to assume the new and complex tasks of heading the the Party, the State, and the Government.  This is something we must solve slowly in a period of 5 years, without improvisations or pressures, but we must start as soon as this Congress finalizes”.

After these words, what can we expect?

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