The Slow Death of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) / Orlando Delgado

cdr270913The Cuban Government is ready to celebrate another congress of one of its most sui generis organizations: the so-called Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR). This organization, in theory, brings together more than 8 million people and was created to monitor and inform on individuals or groups who from early on showed their disagreements with the Castro regime and its Marxist ideology. Castro himself had no shame in declaring (in the excitement of those early years) that these committees arose to “see what people do and what they are dedicated to.”

His words legitimated and protected the snitching and opportunistic denouncing of others, and the grossest violations of people’s privacy. The CDRs became the primary link in the chain of control that the Government exercises over its citizens, still reflected in the slogan of the repeated Castro conclaves: “United, vigilant and combative.”

These words call on what the ordinary Cuban now has the least inclination to do, because whom are they going to spy on and combat? Will it be the neighbor who has a better standard of living thanks to the fact that he now works in a warehouse where he can “find things.” Or the neighbor who feeds her children through prostitution or selling what falls into her hands? And so we could list thousands of activities considered illegal by the Government that are a part of daily life on the island.

Last September 27th (the evening of the day before is chosen to anticipate the 28th, the day of its creation), in many Havana neighborhoods there was not the traditional bonfire and stew that usually “celebrates” the   such a negative organization. Not even in the most critical years of the regime, in the 1990s, did the neighbors fail to get together a little soup pot and fill the block with flags. But if there is something relentless it is the passage of time and although the Castro clan resists challenging it, the CDRs (the whole system) shows a prolonged wear.

Proof of this is that long before the regime filled with city with yellow ribbons to divert attention from the pressing problems of Cuban society, they were gradually pasting a new sticker on the doors of the presidents of the CDR to reaffirm that here lives the maximum leader of the block and the organization is working, or seems to be working, although many of the residents of the place do not know that person and show their apathy towards the sporadic calls to activities.

In the dreamed of transition, this organization would be the first to be dismantled to make way for full respect for the most elemental individual freedoms and a legitimate Rule of Law, which itself would lead (stripped of authoritarian or vertical elements) to an effective community life.

Orlando Delgado | Havana

From Diario de Cuba

|27 September 2013