From Cuba: A Single Candidate / Eliecer Avila

From Diario de Cuba

Yesterday was an exhausting day. From very early I was awaiting messages from anywhere at all regarding the electoral process in Venezuela. Cuban television and radio didn’t do me any good, because all they broadcast all day was slogans and this that and the other detail about the movements and statements of Chavez, along with guests and observers from the left.

The ability to constantly be updated and compare information possessed by the whole world continues to be a key indicator measuring the degree of the ever greater isolation of the Cuban people. For our neighbors, people always presented as examples of those who are worse off, it’s now normal for them to follow on the internet, through the social networks and millions of websites, blogs etc., all the relevant events on the planet.

It’s useless for Cuba to have an immense number of professionals, intellectuals, students and a generally “cultured” people, if the leadership of the State considers that “we are not prepared to access the free flow of information that is enjoyed by the civilized and democratic world of today.” Although it is not the people who are not ready, it is them.

With great disappointment, as usual, I watched how they interrupted the live broadcast from TeleSur (for the “Special Review” following the Venezuelan elections from Cuba) when it was announced that Capriles was going to speak. With nothing planned, the two Cuban commentators, like grotesque puppets, had to fill the time with clumsy words and rebroadcasts of the same material several times throughout the day, because someone had to be assured ahead of time that everything was perfect before airing a tiny edited piece of the words of the candidate who opposed the candidate favored by Havana.

It is extremely disrespectful, to say nothing of journalistic ethics which don’t exist, that throughout this campaign the Cuban people never heard a single word directly from the mouth of Chavez’s contender. It would seem that for the press of this country there were not several presidential candidates in Venezuela, but only one, just like here.

The people of Venezuela themselves heard both of them, in Cuba we saw, heard and read only one. And the worst of it is that this happens with absolutely everything, and no one in the structure of the State says a single word.

Is that honesty? Is this what they invite me to believe in when they say the future? I know that nobody in this country likes to be treated as stupid, as a moron, but they will never treat us differently if we are not respected.

The case of Venezuela itself is a lesson for Cubans. There is no doubt that Chavez has influenced many sectors of the population of this country, especially in the lowest strata, but it is also evident that the people of Venezuela have influenced — with their YES and above all with their NO — Chavez.

A Chavez who recently spoke of combatting, crushing, now talks of dialog and building the future of the country together. And there are no longer changes in the Constitution to monopolize power, silence opposing voices, and remain in power forever. Although it is possible that deep down he desires it, he learned that if he continued down the road of faithful imitation of the Cuban model, he was fried.

This people, my people, has no more excuses. We cannot be simple spectators to what happens around us, we are frozen in time, asleep, and if we don’t wake up soon we are going to be dead, because our small flame of hope is extinguished every day in the young people who leave.

In the film Juan of the Dead there is a speech where Juan’s young daughter, who lives in Spain, says, “I left because I didn’t know anyone it was worth staying for.” This phrase is a tremendous truth, especially for those of us who earn nothing, want nothing, in exchange for resisting, and who, like all human beings, need to feel that the effort and problems we confront are worth it.

Many want to find a treasure, a very big one that will make them happy for their whole lives. I dream of finding the soul of this country and shaking it very hard to make it wake up from the profound lethargy in which it has been mired for several decades.

This nation cannot die as the men who have led or dominated it died, for that is to serve the new generations, but today Cuba seems more like a bitter aftertaste. It is slow, stubborn, thinks it knows everything and spends its time telling its stories so often told before.

We, the Cubans of today, we have to make Cuba look more like us, as we appear inevitability of our own time. We have the moral obligation to try, and we will try. Here, politics will come alive again, here there will be democracy and hope again. And the military, who have stolen a political role that does not belong to them, I say to them: better that you prepare to live with and respect this democratic scenario, and not to avoid it, prevent it and delay it. Because this way, with the attitude you maintain today, I don’t know who you are helping, who you are protecting, because it is not the people.

And the people are now realizing that.

Translated from Diario de Cuba.

8 October 2012