‘Bolos’ [Russians] and Yankees in Havana

Miguel Díaz-Canel receives a group of Russian businessmen on January 18, 2023 at the Palace of the Revolution, in Havana, Cuba. (Cuba Presidency/YouTube/Captura)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Corzo, Miami, February 4, 2023 — It’s evident that the Castro leadership, those whom they call moncadistas [the ones who took part in the attack on the Moncada barracks, celebrated every July 26], by their stubbornness in maintaining privileges and fortunes at all costs, don’t cease to reinvent themselves by resorting to any maneuver in order to preserve power, the only guarantee of their survival. Miguel Díaz-Canel has shown great talent in managing to genuflect before the Castros.

There is no denying that the Castros, the First Family on the Island, knew how to make their transition from power. They found the ideal person to run their errands, while they continue doing as they wish with the rights of Cubans, so much so that I dare to parody a song by Panchito Riset: “Fidel, the little room is the same as you left it, as you arranged it.”

Nothing has changed in Cuba, although there is no shortage of those who despair about finding developments that would indicate a new direction, or of those who continue demonizing the opponents of totalitarianism. The new governance acts under the instructions of the Castros. The nature of the regime is the same as 64 years ago. Those who sponsor a policy of coexistence are wrong, as are those who defend giving carrots to the dictatorship, which only strangles the people.

Also, those who assumed the Spanish transition as a model for the change in the Castro regime were wrong, just like those who said that when Fidel is gone, [the Revolution] “will crumble like a merengue [cake] at the door of a school” (a very Cuban expression). We have been mistaken in the predictions of how Cuban totalitarianism would end. However, I have no doubt that it will end as long as there are Cubans in prison demanding their rights, such as the young Angélica and María Cristina Garrido, Lizandra Góngora Espinosa, Félix Navarro, José Daniel Ferrer and a thousand other people, after 64 years of a doctrinal dictatorship.

A few weeks ago my friend and prison mate, Juan José Estrada, warned that the Russians, whom Cubans called bolos [from ’Bolsheviks’] in the sixties because they were crude, poorly dressed and smelled bad, would return to Cuba to the rhythm of capitalism and not in representation of a failed regime that victimized both Russians and Cubans. He suspects that this became a reality in past days.

The presence of Russian businessmen on the Island — most likely some were KGB leaders along with Vladimir Putin — should be an indication for the hitmen of Castroism, those who beat, imprisoned and condemned the young protestors of July 11, 2021, that the regime they defend is doomed to failure and that their crimes have a punishment, as Fyodor Dostoyevsky would write.

Estrada stated in his comment that the Russians would visit Cuba as predators more voracious than the mafia that they had displaced halfway around the world, not as officials ready to squander their goods, as Moscow did in the past for ideological reasons. These realities don’t worry the Island’s totalitarian leaders as long as they hold onto power.

The interesting thing was that the visit of Russian businessmen coincided with the trip of President Joe Biden’s government officials to Havana. A paradoxical truth: the Russians came to do business, while the Americans visited Cuba to “establish and increase channels for law enforcement cooperation to better address transnational threats, not at the expense of human rights.”

It’s difficult understand the stubborn desire of some politicians, businessmen and social leaders of different nationalities to negotiate with Castro totalitarianism, arguing that the precarious situation of Cubans has a solution with the supply of goods and migratory placebos. The violation of the rights of Cubans and the opportunities that are denied to them are decisions of their own Government, not of foreign powers.

The problem lies in the prevailing system and not in its environment. Cuba was not a failed state or sponsor of terrorism before the arrival of the Castros. It was far from being a paradise, but it was a viable country, just as Venezuela and Nicaragua were before the arrival of Chávez, Maduro and Ortega-Murillo.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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