Continuity or a Dismantling? / Reinaldo Escobar #Cuba

images-machaditoOnce again Mr. Jose Ramon Machado Ventura addressed the issue of the speed of “the transformations” driven by Raul Castro, warning that these processes are distorted from the outside by voices “paid by the empire” who demand more rapid progress naively believing that they are going to lead to capitalism.

On this occasion Cuba’s first vice president had the audacity to add that Cubans enjoy freedom of expression because “the people are constantly stating their views and opinions without any type of coercion.” According to the version published in the newspaper Granma, “Cubans talk on the street, on the block, at the meetings of the CDR [Committee for the Defense of the Revolution] and the FMC [Cuban Women’s Federation]; and if they are students they freely express themselves in the systematic interchanges in the student organizations, and everyone is heard.”

The second Secretary of the Cuban Communist Party forgot the detail that the freedom of expression of a nation is not measured by the examples he mentions, but by the access people have to the media. On the other hand, to affirm that there is no type of coercion for offering views and opinions is to deny the existence of the repudiation rallies, of State Security’s taking note of who on the block and in the workplace dares to push the limits of what can be openly criticized.

It is true that people are increasingly less afraid, but that is not a credit to the executioners but rather to the victims. To say that people express themselves freely is like saying that the number of people who drink milk at breakfast is three times the number who receive it on the ration book, or that in Cuba no one is barefoot, or that the number of people with cellphones is already equal to those with land lines, data that may be true but that are not the results of the achievements of the system, but rather a victory of the citizens who find alternative paths to earn a living and better their standard of living.

The so-called measures of perfecting or updating the model are not steps towards capitalism although they do, indeed, deviate substantially from what we once described as Socialism. In proportion to their ceasing to resemble that deceiving egalitarian utopia, people feel better. The aged leaders can disguise as continuity what is clearly a dismantling, but life will have the last word. Perhaps by then “they” will no longer be among us, or no longer occupy their current positions; and then the blame for the final collapse will fall on the new wolves of their own litter, who today applaud them and who tomorrow will tear them to pieces without pity.

21 January 2013