14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, Havana, 11 April 2023 — Few phrases are as illustrative of Cuban voluntarism as the one that calls for “turning setbacks into victory.” Fueled by the whim of Fidel Castro, the maxim has summed up, since 1970, a way of doing politics in which boasting of victory was more important than achieving the results. It doesn’t matter if people lose their lives in the fight, if the country sinks into crisis or the economy is destroyed, but each failure must be transformed into a new, more ambitious goal to celebrate at full speed.
There was a time when that ideological compass was oriented towards delirious campaigns that presented the passage of a hurricane as a battle against nature, in which we pretended that we had the upper hand in the face of strong winds that left houses collapsed and fields devastated. After the passage of a meteor, one had to boast that the houses would be rebuilt, even more spacious and beautiful than when the cyclone knocked them down. We stuck out our tongues at the gusts and taunted the downpour with a one-finger salute.
Before each blow or setback, the response was revolutionary arrogance insisting that that misfortune was nothing compared to the “strength of a people.” Thus, we accumulated misfortunes for which we were not even allowed to mourn because we had to raise our fists and laugh from ear to ear as if we were engaged in eternal revelry. The failure of the sugar industry, the successive mass exoduses, the deterioration of the housing fund and the economic crisis received, indistinctly, the arrogant response of the ruling party and its consequent strategy to make the fiasco invisible.
Over time, this obsession with winning at all costs has led to putting makeup on the disaster in a more clumsy and ridiculous way. Thus, we have heard the Cuban leaders assure, after the explosion of the Saratoga Hotel, that the building will be rebuilt “better than before,” although from the results of the expert investigation that determines responsibilities for the death of 47 people, no one has had any more to say. Something similar to the tragedy in the Matanzas supertanker base, where the disaster has been covered with the triumphalist headlines about the reconstruction of the tanks.
The excesses of conceit came to celebrating the Team Asere players as champions, after they lost in the game against the United States in the World Baseball Classic, with a score of 14 to 2, or ensuring that the result of the recent electoral process to ratify the deputies to Parliament was a boost to the system although there was a marked abstention. Each time, the distance between what is applauded and what actually happened widens more and more. Instead of turning setbacks into victory, we are living in a time of total make-up, of crude cosmetics applied to reality. But, unlike a few decades ago, the regime no longer even wants us to believe it.
With smeared mascara and grotesque lipstick, Castroism does not want us to see it as a triumphant system, but prefers that we fear it. In the end, it is a repressive machine capable of crushing lives while pretending to save them, of sinking a country while pretending to have rescued it.
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