14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 14 December 2020 — In the middle of this week, the prominent Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López said, during a press conference in Bogotá: “What we cannot allow is for Venezuelan society to become Cubanized in the sense that it stops dreaming, of having hope.”
My first reaction was to answer Leopoldo that we Cubans have not stopped dreaming nor have we lost hope. Later I amended the claim clarifying that this is true for “not all of us” and I ended up concluding that there are still some Cubans who dream, who have hope, although ultimately, I did not send the message to the Venezuelan opposition figure.
Until now we could feel happy, proud, that somewhere in the world composers are Cubanizing their music; restaurants, their food; bars, their cocktails; dancers, their movements; and any other manifestation of life where the seal of this identity is appreciated (or imagined) to the pride of our incurable nationalism.
But that Cubanized can be understood as a despicable qualifier is, at the very least, painful; and Leopoldo López is not the culprit for a powerful reason: everyone who heard him understood what he meant. He didn’t have to explain it.
Already in social networks it is common for some Cubans who live in other countries to denigrate the residents of the island by calling them eunuchs, sheep, pushovers, chickens and other expletives alluding to cowardice.
After the massive parades for May 1, these insults are renewed every year. This also happened after the referendum that approved the Constitution of the Republic and it is the case right now when the so many calls for a social uprising are not productive and instead we see a multiplying of the regime’s repudiation rallies against the nonconformists, along with the acts of “revolutionary reaffirmation.”
The meekness with which a good part of the population accepts price increases, stores in which they cannot pay for things with the currency they earn from their work, the information secrecy, the absence of political rights and the restrictions on economic initiatives, can only be explained in two ways: either the regime is doing the right thing and there are no reasons to speak out against it, or fear is winning the battle.
If I wanted to send any message in response to Leopoldo López, it would be to express my optimism with regards to how close Venezuelans seem to be to shaking off their unpresentable president and beginning a process of national healing. Hopefully soon. Hopefully, contaminated by example, Cubans will Venezuelanize.
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