Consumers rather than citizens / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar

Mara Góngora, Eduardo Mora and Yisel Filiu on the set of the Buenos Dias program. (Source: Facebook)
Mara Góngora, Eduardo Mora and Yisel Filiu on the set of the Buenos Dias program. (Source: Facebook)

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 3 November 2014 – We are consumers more than citizens. That is the conclusion to be drawn after having seen the “Con sentido” segment on the Buenos Días TV program. In the introduction they announced to us that the topic would be the rights we know, our rights they violate, knowledge of and compliance with the Constitution of the Republic.

But imagine our frustration to find that, during the entire time the screen was filled with specialists, legislators and people in general, interviewed on the street and in the studio, not a single word was said about how the police treat citizens, the wrongful retention of items in Customs, the time a person can be jailed without trial, the innumerable violations that derive from the lack of freedom of expression and association and long string that doesn’t fit in this space.

Instead the commentator, in the first minutes, the commentator offered what would be a litany of what set off the subsequent “protests,” among them falsifying the weights of products, not giving the correct change, or receipts not being entered into accounts. The most serious criticism referred to the absence or scarcity of copies of our Constitution and limited disclosure that is given to the law.

Appealing to the trick of mentioning the important to later anchor it to the less important details, we could hear statements such as these: “Our fundamental problem is that we don’t know our rights or we barely know them. We aren’t brought up with a judicial culture. Now they violate our rights and we don’t know what to do; worse, they violate rights we don’t even know we have.”

Two young women, the deputy Dayama Fundora and the specialist Maidelis Riguero, both on the National Assembly of People’s Power Commission on Constitutional and Judicial Matters, concentrated on the rights enjoyed by Cubans, such as education, health care, and jobs, and alluded to the fact that at that time they were working on the creation of a Consumer Protection Law.

The man-on-the-street interviews had their most daring moment when they asked a woman if it seemed right that they search a purse in the street, and she answered that if she hadn’t committed any crime there was no need to search her. But the majority of the selected interviewees spoke about the weight of the merchandise or the quality of the products. Also prevalent was the uselessness of complaining because in most cases no reply is received.

But the jewel in the crown was the voiceover saying, “To the extent that people know the mechanisms to make complaints, encounter receptive ears, find solutions to their complaints and feel that denouncing a negative act is not creating conflict but a contribution to bettering things, then they will break some of the chains of complicity that have their origin in the failure of citizens to do their du