[Note: This version was posted on Luis Felipe Roja's blog. A longer version is available here.]
By Amir Valle
I’m sorry… I can’t cry victory only because (finally!) Yoani Sánchez, Eliécer Ávila, Rosa María Payá and others who, of course, will do it in the next months, now can travel without the humiliating exit permit. I read that many people are happy and sing victory and sentences abound like, “We won this battle,” and “We kicked the Castros’ ass.” “Now with freedom to enter and leave the island, the opposition can launch a strong campaign from the Exterior.” …even when all these and other “changes” are pure face makeup, more than ever, for the convenience of the regime in Havana.
I repeat, although it sounds alarmist: I don’t think that now is the time to claim victory. A dictatorship, even less so the Cuban one, never offers its arm to be twisted. A regime that rearranges itself in order to guarantee its future (that’s the only thing that has happened today on the island) does not take false steps.
I’ve learned that well. And I know that taking these steps that the world catalogues as “changes,” although they have been forced by some circumstances, already the masterminds of power in Havana must have established their national strategies, elaborated their connections with other similar powers in the rest of the world, and positioned their soldiers in the new game that they have already planned as well as possible and future plays.
One of the most recurrent mistakes that we Cubans have made during these five decades is to gloat over supposed victories against the Castro totalitarianism, which, as history has already shown, this dictatorship has not delayed in molding, demonstrating how silly we were to believe ourselves victors.
And it’s under this impact that, since they announced a couple of years ago that they were modifying the migration law, I have been poking around in certain historical sources that show the strategies used by Leftist dictatorships against the political opposition; I have been digging into, with my questions, the experience of established political analysts of the Socialist block; I have been irked with some investigative encomiendas (system of tributary labor in colonial Spain) and journalist colleagues of several countries where the “Cuban issue” still appears in the news from time to time.
“Do we Cubans want a true democratic change on the island; are we prepared to face something like that”? I wondered when I read the annotations that I made in all this time of investigation.
And the dictatorship plays cards that I already knew but which it held only to throw down so thoroughly as, I’m sure, it did on January 14, 2013, when the new migration law went into effect.
Translated by Regina Anavy
February 18 2013