Life has shown me that the future is unpredictable and what lies ahead in Cuba is difficult to predict.
The regime in Havana tries to oxygenate itself any way it can. Raul Castro is more pragmatic than his older brother, he knows that system they built is unsustainable and that any moment it could collapse under its own weight.
The elite in power announces more access to the “Internet,” (which will really be an Intranet), controls politics in Venezuela, allows dissidents to leave a return to the island, calls for more foreign investment and under the table tries to approach its eternal enemy, the USA.
Three years outside the island have helped me to mature politically, professionally, and above all, to learn to live as a human being.
From my point of view, those who will rule on Cuba’s future will not be those who have been persecuted, abused, imprisoned and beaten for years. Perhaps one will come to fill an important position in a democratic government, perhaps.
I don’t doubt that some exiled could manage to take the reins of the Cuban nation and that is legitimate, because one never ceases to be Cuban. Also, the exiles have the greatest advantage because in freedom they can study and prepare, unlike those still on the island.
The children, grandchildren and other descendants of those in power in Cuba have studied abroad and that’s not by choice. But the topics studied by a peaceful opponent are the prison bars, hunger and repression, a great deal of repression.
In the Cuba of the future there must be room for the whole world, but if we rest on our laurels, tomorrow our island will be governed by those who today are encroaching upon the rights of Cubans, ordered the beatings, spying on opponents and other atrocities. Those who are pushing for change will be swallowed up by history, not for the first time, I see it coming.
Five decades of repression is a long time to implant fear and erode the values of a people, five decades change the mindset of people and destroy their own capacity to govern. Hopefully, hopefully, I am wrong.
Pablo Pacheco Avila
30 May 2013
Recently in Havana it was announced that foreign and domestic journalists would visit “some prisons.” Something is being plotted or planned those in power on the island.
It’s normal that the regime’s spokesmen defend the indefensible, this is what they live for; having wedded themselves to the lie, it is impossible to divorce her. If the Nomenklatura of power ordered them to say it, all is well, they say: everything is perfect.
The incredible thing about the news or the government farce is that foreign agencies join in on the lie.
Could EFE or another foreign agency EFE freely visit Castro’s prisons? Or interview a prisoner chosen randomly?
The worst thing about this theatrical work is that it insults the intelligence and the pain of a people; I dare to predict that over 50% of Cuban families have had a family member arrested and I am being cautious with the figure; each affected family knows the inhuman conditions of Cuban prisons.
The beatings, overcrowding, lack of medical care, self-harm to demand rights, violence, the company of rodents and insects in the cells, the prisoners’ lack of rights of and the jailers’ impunity are the stark reality of what the Cuban military wants to hide. Now with the support of foreign news agencies and the complicity of the national press.
In a survey we did in early 2010 of the political prisoners in Canaletas Prison in Ciego de Avila, 85% of inmates were repeat offenders in prison and a great number assured that the penitentiary was a university for criminal behavior.
To talk about food in Cuban prisons is synonymous with pain. God and the criminals know the food eaten in these places and the amount is so ephemeral that most prisoners are weakened.
Health care is a topic for another paper, but to cite just one example, Alfredo Felipe Fuentes, a former political prisoner of the Group of 75, was always told by the doctors that he was fine despite his ailments; when he was finally exiled abroad he was diagnosed with cancer. I should note that to destroy the political prisoners is a goal in each prison carried out in cahoots with the political police.
Today I read on the skewed news about Cuban prison system, and I remember with sadness the day Reineiro Diaz Betancourt told a common inmate 19 years old, who had committed a minor indiscipline in Cell Block 43 Detachment 3: “Today we can not beat you up because they’re going to accuse at the United Nations of being counterrevolutionaries.” I looked at him and said. “Guard, you should be ashamed of your words, to be an abuser is an option but not the only option.”
12 April 2013
I remember one of my last telephone calls from the National Hospital for prisoners in the Cuban capital when I was about to head to Spain. I spoke on the phone with Yoani Sanchez two hours before my exile to Spain. She was at Jose Marti airport to meet me in person and say goodbye, but she wasn’t allowed to do it: in the capital of hatred and intolerance this hug was postponed.
Yesterday the Radio Marti reporter Jose Luis Ramos asked me to call him early in the morning: he knew of the missed meeting. “If you come right now to the station you will see Yoani,” he told me. I left immediately. While the blogger gave an interview, I greeted several friends at the station.
Half an hour after my arrival at Radio Marti, Yoani appeared, accompanied by reporters and Jose Luis himself, who introduced me. The hug was like a tattoo in the mind, repeated over and over. We recalled our work together; she and her husband were always ready to record every one of my articles, which I read over the phone from prison. They made it a priority and other colleagues also helped me.
Yoani at first glance isn’t impressive, but two minutes of conversation are enough to see the intelligence and bravery of this girl. She offers arguments, not attacks on others, and does not vary her discourse in an attempt to please. We planned a later meeting, more private and working.
I think Yoani Sanchez still doesn’t understand the weight that destiny has put in her path and it’s better this way, it helps her not to waver. I was happy and excited, we shared that embrace that was delayed for so many years by bars and distance; a distance that hurts more if you are an exile.
3 April 2013
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.