Dissection of a Tyranny (XIII and Final)
By José Luis García Paneque
To conclude the series it is necessary to define some terms such as tyranny, personality cult, populism, which in essence have common roots, and are only differentiated in the historical moment in which they were proclaimed or took effect. Almost always they are terms coined by those who in some way have imposed them.
Tyranny is a term of ancient Greece, which is nothing more than a regime of absolute power, individual, inaugurated by the tyrant who had overthrown the government of the city-state, usually thanks to popular support, but also by means of a coup d’etat or civil war. Thus, the tyrant occupies power not by right but by force.
To the modern mind, tyranny is identified with abusive, cruel and usurped political power (cult of personality and populism). But among the ancient Greeks, the term was not as loaded with pejorative connotations.
For the Greeks, and today for more than a few unwary, in principal the term had a positive connotation, many tyrants were loved and were very popular among the citizens of the polis, the metropolis and the lesser organizational levels that were managed by them. Over time, the tyranny became political system associated with authoritarians, at which moment it began to be hated and is identified with modern tyranny.
Time has passed and terms have changes, but in essence they remain the same and are masked behind a supposed benefactor who protects the people from the exploiters.
Populism is characterized by a discourse of constant appeal to the people as a source of power, supposedly focused entirely on the people and the populists say they watch over them.
So now we analyze the last two postulated by Saint Thomas Aquinas, and of the three term we use that of “cult of personality” from Nikita Kruschev at the 20th Communist Party Congress of the Soviet Union in 1956, which is defined as, “Exalting a person, projecting a Superman image endowed with supernatural attributes, comparable to those of a God.”
“The tyrant must present himself in a way that he appears to his his subjects to have some eminent virtue, that in reality he lacks and for which they offer him respect.”
“Before he makes himself venerable for the excellence of some virtue, there must be every kind of respect for the virtue.”
The exaltation of the figure of Fidel Castro has been constant since the very beginning of the process known as the “Cuban Revolution,” far beyond the point wearing them out trying to hide it. The omnipresent and omnipotent presence is a reality right before our eyes. Simply look at the back of some of the bills from the official currency (the peso).
The cult of personality “Maximum Leader” started from the early days of the regime which attributed to him infinite wisdom on the law, history, livestock genetics, medicine or any branch of human experience to which he decided to devote his attention.
In more than five decades of dictatorship the life of the Cuban was marked by campaigns and their accompanying discourses (Literacy, 10 Million Ton Harvest, Draining of the Zapata Swamp, Havana Coffee Cordon, the production of White Udder, all the way to how to use a rice cooker, or make chocolate, or brew coffee), to the point where many time this cult has reached the point of the ridiculous, where only one person is capable of thinking in Cuba and his thinking is “The Order of the Day.”
But the failures are not few, are never attributed to the supreme person, but always are the fault of some subordinate for failing to follow the “instructions and guidance” from the undisputed leader.
What is more serious, criticism of his person is a crime under the Cuban penal code, “contempt for the commander. The result is damaging to society as a whole, seeing itself placed in an inferior rank to he who directs it.
Meanwhile, he feels entitled to dispose of the society and its assets in the manner he pleases, the cult, accepted or not, infects the society with a conviction of total impotence in the face of his designs.
Among his first steps was to neutralize anyone who could cast a shadow and cloud his image of “Commander in Chief.” The elimination of figures who in some way enjoyed popular support has been a constant up to today. Let’s look at history, the fate of men such as Camilo Cienfuegos, Osvaldo Dorticos, Sorí Marín, Alberto Mora, missing, eliminated or executed, others who didn’t lose their lives such as Huber Matos, Mario Chanes de Armas, but who ended up in Castro’s dungeons and much more recently at the time the cases of Carlos Aldana Palomino, Roberto Robaina, Felipe Perez Roque, Carlos Lage Davila, for lack of “loyalty.” To show that there is only one leader, able to think and decide. The others had to be executors of his work or be left on the side of the raod, all to turn Castro into a kind of demigod infallible, intangible.