14ymedio, Havana, 28 September 2019 — On Friday, Cuban president Diaz-Canel, published a column in the official newspaper Granma where he describes the Cubans who criticize his management as like the “Biblical Cain,” while defending the use of the term “coyuntural” — temporary situation* — to name the return of he economic crisis in the country.
In the best style of a text for catechesis, Díaz-Canel begins his column by dividing “men” into good and bad. He and his Government are on the side of “the good guys” and are fighting a fight of “good against evil” in which “the best of Cuba rises,” while “others traffic with discomfort and shortcomings.”
The president calls for dusting off the “saving and efficiency practices” of the Special Period, “thinking of everything that then contributed the collective intelligence and that we mistakenly discarded.”
In Cuba, the Special Period is known as the economic crisis of the first half of the 1990s, when the country ran out of subsidies from the Soviet Union. The economist Carmelo Mesa-Lago has calculated that the former USSR gave Havana more than 65 billion dollars until 1991 in exchange for its loyalty.
“We are convinced that this search has to take into account new contexts, technological advances, the contributions of knowledge in one of the most dynamic periods of human civilization, and not only in terms of what we have advanced as a species, but also as for what we have lost under the consumerist and predatory thrust of the capitalist system,” added Diaz-Canel.
The governor justified the use of the term “coyuntural*,” which has received intense criticism in social networks, to define a new period of scarcity on the Island, a product of the economic collapse of Venezuela, the already chronic bad management of the Government and the tightening of the embargo on the part of the United States.
“In the uncertain conditions in which the international fuel market operates and under the sick financial persecution of the blockade which Cuba suffers under, coyuntural may suggest excessive optimism, but not setting limits to that situation would have been unnecessarily pessimistic and irresponsible,” he said.
In academic circles Diaz-Canel’s use of the term coyuntural has not been well received, nor has it been so in social networks, where thousands of people have devised memes and mockery around this concept.
“The blockade, the hostility of the United States, is something that we have to assume. In this country that is no longer temporary (coyuntural),” said Dean of the Faculty of Economics at the University of Havana, Antonio Romero, on state television.
The economist made reference in that appearance to various actions that could be undertaken to destabilize the economy of the Island and free the productive forces, a long frustrated longing for the reforms undertaken by Raúl Castro after he came to power in 2008.
Díaz-Canel lashed out again against the United States, whom he blames for all the ills of Cuba.
“Men and women, young people, children and the elderly, who follow the news, analyze contexts, condemn the abuse and offer their ideas, efforts and even jokes, to face the undisputed bad time that the new twist of the high-handed and abusive empire imposes,” the president wrote. The president also reserved hateful words for Cubans who oppose his management.
“Full of rage at the popular response, they cry out because the ships do not arrive, because the lights go out, because the siege is closed, because independent and dignified Cuba surrenders or dies. They are glad of each new measure aimed at strengthening the Blockade. They dream of the invasion of Cuba,” he wrote.
“Like the Biblical Cain, there are those who write, speak and even shriek on social networks, for some coins of the millionaire loot destined for subversion against Cuba. Every minute of our resistance allows them to sell themselves,” the president added.
It is not the first time that a text by Díaz-Canel has raised a fuss. At the end of 2018, the president posted an unfortunate message on the Twitter social network saying that there are people who were born in Cuba by mistake.
In a tweet alluding to the film Innocence, a film directed by Cuban filmmaker Alejandro Gil about the shooting of medical students in 1871, the president said that “there is no shortage of those born by mistake in Cuba, who may be worse than the enemy that he attacks her.”
The phrase generated intense criticism and he tried to reduce its impact in March of this year when he said Cuba should avoid international isolation and increasingly bring Cuban emigrants closer with a migration policy that spans that differences.
*Translator’s note: The government’s use of “coyuntural,” the ’hot word’ in Cuba, has been interpreted as various versions of “temporary” and “situation” (but never as “crisis” — one of the accepted meanings in English). Its specific English equivalent is “conjunctural.”
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