14ymedio, Pedro Corzo, Miami, 13 May 2023 — Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, considered France’s most able politician by some historians, once told the emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte, “Sir, you can do almost anything with bayonets except sit on them,” a reality that Cuban dictator Miguel Díaz-Canel and his entourage are living in the present like no other despot of his lineage.
Last Sunday’s protests, along with those of July 21, 2021 and numerous others which have take place in the interim, confirm better than any opinion poll that the Cubans have grown increasingly dissatisfied. Miguel Díaz-Canel, the Castros’ faithful servant, is capable of shredding his victims as cruelly as his predecessors did. What he does not do is inspire terror. People are simply fed up with all the wrongdoing and government inefficiency.
On January 1, 1959 — the day after their victory — the Castros and their henchmen sat on their bayonets. No one told me this; I experienced it firsthand. Even their supporters felt pressured to act without stopping to consider the reasons or the legality.
That was the period described by the unforgettable José Pepe Illan as a time of both fear and hope. The horrors of the moment did not matter — they were even considered justifiable — because there was the expectation of a bright future. At least that was the belief of the future servants of Fidel, Raúl and their many accomplices, who turned Cuba into their own giant ranch.
Fidel misgoverned the country with impunity for forty-nine years. And like other dictators such as Francisco Franco, Joseph Stalin and Augusto Pinochet, he died in his bed without being brought to justice by the people whose lives he devastated. It must be acknowledged, however, that, in addition to committing many crimes, he was a masterful liar. He not only managed to deceive many of his followers and a large segment of the island’s population, but also third parties such politicians and foreign governments, who allowed themselves to be manipulated, never stopping to call him out for his dirty tricks.
Thanks to his talent for lying, obfuscation and manipulation, he was able to turn his multiple failures into victories, an achievement made possible in no small part by his submissiveness to the now defunct Soviet Union. Castro was a consummate con artist who turned Cuba into a totalitarian state, brought about its material destruction and caused lasting damage to its civic values.
Though the hand-picked successor, his brother Raúl, never had the melodramatic flair of a Latin American strongman, he was no less criminal and no less able to guide the country in a direction that suited his interests. Having already acquired an extensive criminal record, he assumed the leadership at a time when the state was in full decline.
The public’s level of frustration was very high. Though people could no longer be fooled by promises of a better future, the strong-arm tactics were still effective. And the Castro surname still gave him some clout.
Raul, old and tired, was perhaps more convinced than Fidel, who once admitted and later denied, that the revolution was a failed proposition. Looking for a quick fix within the framework of the Cuban Communist Party, he decided to refresh the makeup of the top leadership, just as had been done with the Chinese Communist Party, which appeared to be in decline judging by a recent decision from Xi Jing Ping, the latest emperor of the Asian monolith.
Raúl held onto the presidency for ten years while at the same time directing the farce that is the Communist Party, whose real name should be the Party of the Castros. He left power to enjoy the remainder of his life, which had been dedicated to serving his brother in their common aim of destroying the republic and the nation.
The new comandante, as inmates who run certain areas of a prison called him, was sadly the all-too-well-known Miguel Díaz-Canel. Though he has demonstrated that he knows how to obey, this shadowless figure does not have the public’s respect. So far, he has not fallen on the bayonets on which he is sitting, a position that must be extremely uncomfortable.
I am certain that Cubans are fed up and willing to find freedom at whatever price the dictatorship demands. Onward!
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.