Applying the Same Scalpel / Fernando Dámaso

When I read articles, essays and books published in Cuba by historians and other specialists dedicated to the analysis of the different governments that existed in the Republican era (between 1902 and 1958),I find that the majority of them assert that the election promises made by those elected were not met. They forget, I don’t know if it’s consciously, that these governments served terms of four, or at most eight, years. Although the brevity of the terms during which they governed doesn’t justify what they left undone or should have done, we shouldn’t forget what they did, because without them the country never would have reached the level of development that it achieved by the end of that period.

It strikes me that these same historians and scholars have not applied the same sharp knife to the analysis of the last fifty years, where only one government has wielded absolute power and, therefore, has had abundant time to do and undo everything that has happened. It is that they have decided to let time pass before undertaking the task of evaluating the successes and failures? Is that not a rather conservative attitude, and even overly cautious? I think that precisely because of the lack of critical studies of the different situations that have arisen, and also for the lack of studies of long periods of time, apart from other factors that are also important, our social landscape is fading to the point of today’s darkness were, soon, we will realize all the mistakes committed.

It is true that the existing secrecy, which makes it difficult to access official documents, and the fact that these also have never been declassified — normal practice in many countries — has complicated access to this information. But it is also true that other historians and Cubans in particular, whether they are in the country or abroad, have not published their work, much less within the country, have dedicated time and effort to undertaking this analysis, which should constitute valuable sources for consultation, if they weren’t so exclusive.

This does not absolve them, though, if they ethically value their professions, of passing the ball with the intention of not looking for trouble while continuing to float in the tempestuous seas in which we live. Our society, in recent years, has lacked these necessary critical assessments, and needs them more than ever as we live in a terrible mess, which we are not going find easy to overcome, despite all good intentions.

It is time for this complicated past half-century of the Cuban nation, where it has abused social experiments, using the country as a great laboratory and the population as guinea pig, is put under the microscope and analyzed deeply, first to extract what has been positive, but also all the negative, with the objective of never again repeating it. As has been done, perhaps too much, with the half century previous to the Revolution, must also be done with the more recent half century.

When writing a critical history of a country, black holes can not be left at the convenience of those in power at any given time. It should all be written, hurting who it hurts, and every act and character should not escape objective analysis. Only in this way can historical memory be respected as it deserves and serve as a basis to advance the nation.

March 11 2011