Cuba: The Majority Dilemma

International Workers’ Day March in Havana (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yunior García Aguilera, Madrid, 12 April 2022 — The majority demanded Pontius Pilate crucify Christ. The majority of Germans, in the times of Hitler, acclaimed the Führer. The majority of Cubans, at some point, shouted “Firing Squad” and “Get out.”  This civic immaturity creates Peter Pan societies, which refuse to grow up and hold onto Never Never Land. The immature society sighs for the bad boy, is attracted by the charismatic lunatic who ends up becoming Batman’s Joker. The world has seen more than one Joker wear a presidential sash and fry his country’s democracy in his own vanity while the masses applaud.

In marketing (and, of course, in politics), the bandwagon effect or the drag effect are often discussed. In it, people can be observed doing and believing certain things, based on the fact that many other people believe and do the same. As more people follow something, more want to hop on the bus.

I’ve always obsessed over the word equilibrium. I resist continuing to view reality through the screen of the old Russian television I had as a child. Krim-218* Syndrome makes us see everything in black and white, without nuances. Our parents’ generation felt panic if they were out of line, in a Cuba marked by uniforms. The Revolution imposed the weight of its own opinions, forcing us to repeat the same slogans, converting civil society en masse, into a committee.

The dogma became irrevocable. Those who managed to escape to other shores soon espoused the contrarian discourse, also in a nearly unanimous way. Those who until the previous day called the dictator “Fidel,” even while flaying him (in hushed voices), now began to call him “Castro.” The sad thing is that at times, deep down, opposing positions end up resembling each other.

Majorities almost never lead real change. It is painful to discover that in the last war for our independence more Cubans fought on the side of the Spanish than the side of the Mambises [rebels]. At the end of the struggle, the Liberation Army had 40,000 members. And many of those joined in the last months, when Spain was practically defeated and the United States intervened in the conflict. In contrast, on the Spanish side, there were 80,000 creoles from the Island, including volunteers and relief soldiers. The majority who greeted Máximo Gómez, when he entered Havana, with hands raised high, had done almost nothing for independence.

The bearded men of the Castro’s Sierra Maestra didn’t receive massive support either, as described in their history books. The assault on the Moncada barracks was a chaotic failure which was met with varied criticism from the same forces that opposed Batista. They were called adventure-seekers and irresponsible. The Chilean daily El Siglo, of a communist bent, even suggested that the assault had been organized by the CIA. Nor could they count on the majority during the frustrated general strike on April 9, 1958. However, a few months later, all of Havana went out to greet the new caudillo with triumphant euphoria.

On the 11th of July 2021, it became clear that the regime has already lost popular support. They’ve had to use repression and fear to halt the protests. Social media is a hotbed of criticism against the ruling class. The apparatus does not dare conduct the “elections” that should have taken place in November to select new “delegates” and have used the pandemic as an excuse. They don’t even dare to reveal the results of the surveys conducted discretely by the Party offices. The State newspaper Granma published an article on April 8th where they recognize they are a minority and speak of “turning off the lights of El Morro”*.

Democracy is not, and should not be, a dictatorship of the majority. The democratic ideal is based on consensus, debates, real participation, transparency, freedom to be a part of or oppose something, adherence to human rights, legality, justice, representation, citizen sovereignty, respect for minorities and the individual. Populism which aspires to dominate the rest while taking advantage of the frustrations, prejudices or the vengeful spirit of the masses always ends in tyranny.

Hopefully, we Cubans will be capable of breaking the vicious cycle. Hopefully, we will overcome the anthropological damage caused by so much propaganda, so much Never Never, so much Krim-218. Hopefully we will be capable of building a plural Cuba, which won’t fall victim to the majority dilemma again.

Translator’s notes:
*Krim-218: A reference to Cuban state television, which much of the country watched on Soviet Krim-218 model black-and-white TVs.
**El Morro is the iconic lighthouse at the entrance to Havana Bay, and ’will the last one…. turn off the lights’ is an iconic phrase used around the world in similar circumstances.

Translated by: Silvia Suárez 


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