A People Without Representation / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damas, 7 February 2015 — The great tragedy of the Cuban people at the present time is that it lacks true representation. I speak of the average Cuban citizen, who constitutes the majority of the nearly 12-million inhabitants of this Island.

The government, which during the first years of the 1960s signified hope for a better life in a democracy for Cubans, very soon (with the imposition of socialism and its later institutionalization and bureaucratization) began to abandon its representation of the people’s interests and separated itself from them — being preoccupied instead with establishing and consolidating the institutions, organizations and mechanism to perpetuate itself in power indefinitely. Today the regime finds itself separated by light years from the average Cuban, besides being alienated from the hopes and dreams he has for his life.

Neither does the opposition represent the average Cuban because, besides being unknown by the greater part of the citizenry, its platforms are more along philosophical and intellectual lines than practical solutions to the problems related to low wages, the housing shortage, terrible services, nutritional needs, the high cost of living, and other daily issues, which occupy the time and minds of those who struggle day-to-day to survive with their families.

This situation is easy to perceive on the street.

At this moment, although it is painful to admit, the majority of Cubans care little if their government is a dictatorship or a democracy: what matters to them is the opportunity to work, to earn enough money and solve their immediate material problems, thus raising their wellbeing and that of their families.

This means the ability to acquire what is needed to feed and dress themselves, and live in a decent home. In addition, they want to enjoy good services, even if they have to pay for them, and have disposable income for recreation.

Too many have been the years of limitations and shortages while pursuing false chimeras. The speeches and promises, come from where they might, have lost their effectiveness and are no longer of interest.

Whoever can ensure a solution will have the support of the majority of citizens and, whoever does not, will have their full rejection. It is that simple.

This necessitates, from both those who govern as well as their opponents, a serious revision of tactics and strategies, if they desire to reach the hearts and minds of the inhabitants of this country.

These are not times for walking in the clouds, visualizing pleasant projects for a virtual future, but rather for having one’s feet on the ground and mobilizing average Cubans to resolve the present problems. All else will come later.

 Translated by: Alicia Barraqué Ellison