The Morality of the Survivor / Dimas Castellanos

What is taken here is for the PEOPLE.

In the expanded meeting of the Council of Ministers held on Friday May 13, the head of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment reported on the irregularities in the operation of businesses with foreign capital and international contracts; the Minister of Economy and Planning spoke about the irregularities and criminal activity in the marketing of fuels; while the Comptroller General of the Republic recognized that although there are improvements in the evaluations with respect to previous reviews, serious problems and vulnerabilities persist.

An objective analysis on the subject should begin to banish the use of euphemisms to sugarcoat reality. It is not about irregularities, but rather a marked deterioration of ethics, of corruption, which if it didn’t begin in 1959, it was after that date that it expanded from the political-administrative sphere to all social relations to become a culture and to act as a brake on government projects themselves.

This phenomenon, which starts in the economy and even reaches the spirituality of Cubans, is one of the factors that shows the structural character of the current crisis and explains the failures in the attempts to overcome it with limited changes to the economy.

Among the factors that condition this reality is the disappearance of the tens of thousands of proprietors who were replaced by “bosses,” the total implementation of the “property of the whole people” and the failure of wages and pensions; it was a combination of harmful agents that have led to robbery, theft, bribery and deception in order to survive. It is also because the moral standard is a collection of socially accepted norms, that change depending on purposes, interests and social conditions, such that survival is a form of morality that emerged from the profound structural crisis we’re immersed in.

The changes that are being implemented in Cuba under the label of the Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Communist Party, are faced with the worst situation in respect to moral conduct that our history has ever known. Survival, reflected in multiple frustrations, has generated disinterest, hopelessness and escapism reflected in a morality that employs a patriotic vocabulary with a distinct content. Now the struggle, is not designed for the purpose of abolishing slavery, achieving independence and overthrowing tyranny, but rather to survive; nor is it about “Freedom or Death” or “Fatherland or Death,” but about “Life or Death” which is the slogan of the survivor.

The explanation of the former lies in that the first human morality is the preservation of life and when social conditions close every possibility of realization, people have only two paths: renounce life or survive. Thus, in the face of inadequate wages, Cubans respond with activities at the margin of the law; to the impossibility of being entrepreneurs, through the State track, that is, government expenditures and utilities in particular; the shortages, theft from the State, which is ultimately the property of “all the people”; the shutting down of all possibilities to escape to exile; the so-called ideologies, with the apathy; meanwhile the verbs escape, struggle and resolve, designate the actions to acquire the necessary “extras,” that is, to survive.

Official journalism does not seek the causes

Given this stubborn reality, the State limits itself to repression: more police, surveillance, restrictions and inspectors; all actions about the effects without taking into account the causes, among them the shift toward totalitarianism that erases the citizen from the Cuban scene. But what strongly draws our attention, as we see in the following and small sample of articles, is the insistence over the years on the effects and the ignorance of the causes:

The May 22, 200 issue of the newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth) published “The Hunter of Deceptions,” referring to a popular inspector charged with detecting violations in quality, weight, price and the selling items of outside the unit. According to this inspector when the evidence of the crime was placed before the the offender, some consumers are bothered and defending their own victimizer. That is, the “victims” defended their victimizers, a fact demonstrative of the social acceptance of the morality of the survivor.

On Saturday November 28, 2003, the newspaper Granma published “Violations of Prices and the Never-ending Battle,” in which an official of the Department of Price Supervision of the Ministry of Finance, said that in the first eight months of this year, in 36% of establishments inspected they found irregularities; in the case of markets, fairs, plazas and agricultural outlets, the index was above 47%, and in food it reached 50%.

On Saturday December 24, 2005, Granma reported that at the regular session of the National Assembly of People’s Power, Pedro Ross, then Secretary General of the CTC, said: “There are workers who react, but others don’t and continue to justify the theft and other misconduct.”

On Monday, February 16, 2007, Granma’s article “Cannibals in the Towers,” addressed the theft of the structures that support the high voltage electric transmission network. In 2004, 1,648 of the structures disappeared on the 220 thousand volt network, and 545 in the 100 thousand volt network; in 2005 they stole 532 and 544 respectively; in 2006, after strengthening surveillance, technical measures and sanctions, 267 and 1,827 disappeared. There was a decrease in 220,000 network only because the bolts were welded up to 6 yards high, but then the daring fighters climbed above that height. Similarly the conductor cables were stolen, to sell the aluminum and copper contained in them.

On Friday, October 26, 2010 Granma published “The Price of Indolence.” It turns out in the commune of Corralillo, in Villa Clara, more than 300 homes were built with stolen materials and resources. In 240 of the homes inspected over 10,000 feet of rail tracks had been used, and in 82% railroad tracks from the Ministry of the Sugar had been used, which came from the dismantling of over 15 miles of railway lines, and pieces from over 59 high voltage towers were also used.

More recently, in Juventud Rebelde of February 19 and 26, 2012, the Comptroller of the Republic said in an interview: “In our experience, the causes of corruption range from the fact that there was no control of the contracts, because those whose job it was didn’t do it, and those who had to audit it either didn’t audit it or didn’t do so in depth.”

And to all this must be added the constant diversion of resources, countless lawsuits, including against senior government officials.

What neither Granma nor Juventud Rebelde have established, as journalists, is the relationship between, corruption on the one side and  on the other absolute state ownership, poverty wages and the inability to be entrepreneurs. What they have done is demonstrated the futility of repression, if not accompanied by measures to address the causes, then, surveillance, police, simple inspectors, comprehensive inspectors, or inspectors of the inspectors, are Cubans with the same needs as the rest of the population and therefore practitioners of the  predominant morality.

To change the course of events they will have to extend, although quite late, the economic changes to other social spheres, which means returning civil liberties, without which the formation and the predominance of the civic behavior required by present and future Cuba will be impossible.

From Diario de Cuba

23 May 2013