Change of Scenery / Fernando Damaso

Clearly, though we have not been aware of it until its recent announcement, there has been a change of scenery in Cuban policy, at least in regards to differences between the two governments.

This shift requires a repositioning of the forces in play as well as a tactical and strategic revision. To simply accept or reject it based on preconceived notions is not enough, nor does it demonstrate intelligence or responsibility. A serious and profound evaluation of what this represents and of the possibilities it offers or precludes is necessary. All human actions — especially those involving politics — present both positives and negatives. Taking advantage of and advancing the former while minimizing the latter is not easy but it is certainly possible.

After more than fifty years of maintaining intransigent positions, a major hurdle has been overcome through the will of the governments of Cuba and the United States. This is good for both the Cuban and American people.

It it is now the turn of  Cuban civil society, both on the island and overseas, to help consolidate this initial change and advance other political, economic and social policies. Therefore, the government and civil society must set aside years of confrontation and rejection, and put Cuba first.

What has been achieved externally must be repeated internally. This constitutes the best path towards achieving a peaceful transition to a democratic, inclusive and peaceful regime in which there is equal opportunity for all Cubans with all their differences.

The repetitive, triumphalist rhetoric — exemplified just a few days after the announcement of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in the phrase, “With a people like the Cubans, the Revolution can last for 570 years” — should not be a cause for concern; it is simply more of the same.

Incidentally, it reminds me of Hitler’s claim that the Third Reich would endure for 1,000 years. Fortunately, history does not take verbal overstatements seriously. Nevertheless, one should be cautious; the best-laid plans are sometimes destroyed on the ground. Let us hope that is not the case here.

One truly worrisome aspect is the suggestion that only a few Cubans are opposed to the system — and this because they receive material and moral support from outside Cuba.

In reality, there are hundreds of thousands who disagree with the regime, although only a few hundred say it out loud. It would be a terrible error for the authorities to believe their own myth about the unity of all Cubans with regard to the Revolution.

23 December 2014