Ciudadano Cero, Jeovany Jimenez Vega, 7 June 2021 [Readers, note date, this is a delayed translation] — In a memorable scene from Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather”, the old Corleone hands over the family command to Michael, while warning him of the imminent danger of betrayal. The Don is a profound connoisseur of human nature, which is why his intuition takes on a degree of certainty; he knows that in every war the enemy obeys the relentless and simple logic of destroying you, an inescapable instinct that will persist even when he pretends to want conciliation. Hence Corleone’s stony sentence when he warns his son: “…whoever tells you about the Barzini meeting is the traitor.”
I recall this scene as a result of the debate in fashion today that focuses the attention of the Cuban opposition on the widespread suspicion that the late Castro regime is plotting to stage a scene to simulate an alleged dialogue with the dissidents, which would be nothing more than a bluff aimed at the Biden administration and a sullen Europe that do not compromise on the issue of Human Rights. Considering the modus operandi of the regime, we can assume that this would be one of its planned tactics, since it would represent nothing new in its strategy of generating a controlled dissent – a familiar tactic of similar regimes since the last century.
The controversial response of Tania Bruguera, one of the most prominent voices of the emerging 27N Movement, to a question by Eliecer Avila on the hypothetical way she would address the current visible face of the dictatorship, may have generated suspicion. That Miguel Díaz-Canel does not decide anything in Cuba is an open secret: nothing has changed under a handpicked president who does not disguise his loyalty to the Castros; the visible puppet of that oligarchy which behind the scenes wields real power has done nothing but boast of his unconditional adherence to the stalest kind of continuity.
That is why when this new Tania, whom nobody has appointed – although, to be fair, she does not declare herself an “official” interlocutor either- now addresses Díaz-Canel calling him Mr. President in a tone too honeyed for the Creole palate, and almost begs him for that reconciliation that the blunt Castroism has always denied us, alarm bells go off within the Cuban opposition, not by chance more radicalized. As almost always, it is usually that group which is most vehemently opposed to the upstart proponents of dialog, not because of wounded pride or gratuitous rancor, but because a greater maturity has given it the healthy habit of objectively analyzing situations without sweetening them, and holding on to the protection of the confrontational logic to which the reiterated waves of repression have forced it.
This opposition with its feet on the ground does not rule out the possibility that the regime has planned to set up a controlled stage on which to play out its own theater and thus evade real questions. Hence, when Tania arrives hand in hand with Eliecer Avila in this hushed kind of way, it cannot help sounding to many people like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Let’s remember that Eliecer, the “boy from the ICU”,( University of Information Sciences) rose to stardom with a famous video that went viral in a Cuba without Internet, which gave him unusual visibility, where he questioned several government policies before Ricardo Alarcón. That video, which was not recorded surreptitiously but with several professional cameras on sturdy tripods – something clear from the correct framing, the stable posture and several shooting angles- somehow mysteriously circumvented the infallible censorship of the political police, and the rest is known history.
Here I am saying nothing and proving nothing, but perhaps that inexplicable event still reverberates in our imaginary subconscious and emerges now, just when we get, by way of Eliecer, this “reformed” Bruguera, so candid, hinting at rapprochements with a counterpart which has never been inclined to abandon its intransigence, and that, on the contrary, continues to break records of house arrests, detentions, acts of repudiation, and vandalistic raids. This is happening at a time when it is essential to have an overall perception in order to avoid costly distractions. Let us not expect obvious evidence; there never was and there never will be under Castroism, which is why all reading here must be done between the lines, from a panoramic perspective that guides us in the midst of a complex context always subordinated, don’t forget, to the enormous work of penetration of the Cuban opposition., maintained for more than half a century, by the State Security.
My introduction to this post is not gratuitous. Let us keep hold of the certainty that the Cuban State has always maintained a mafia-like approach in its relationship with its people: this bunch of no-goods commit crimes, break their own laws, steal with full hands and profits from our misery, extorts us inside and outside Cuba when we pay unjustified and expensive extensions, when it monopolizes exorbitant prices in its network of commerce; it makes use of force if you complain to it, it abuses its power when it makes generalisations about its lousy management, it traffics in influences in its public functions and restricts the division of powers when it sets itself up as judge and jury; it blackmails millions of Cubans when it denies them entry or exit to their own country because of political biases, in short, pure Mafia in the strictest sense of the term, and it is with these people that the dialogue partners hope to reach agreements.
If the prediction comes true and the regime agrees to “dialogue”, the most consistent opponents will never be invited to its assembly: Antonio Rodiles on behalf of Estado de Sats, José Daniel Ferrer on behalf of UNPACU, Coco Fariñas speaking for FANTU, Berta Soler for the Ladies in White, and the Cuban Observatory for Human Rights, will be among those not invited. Nor would the most vocal voices of the Cuban Independent Press be invited, from Yoani Sanchez to the dozens of activists inside and outside Cuba who would deserve to be there for having exercised, against all the odds, their legitimate right to disseminate truthful information, and have been the nail in the regime’s shoe.
No, this would not be the opposition they would invite to “dialogue”. Castroism has a different plan that would not expose it to real dangers: it would set it up according to its prepared pre-established script, and that is why it plants and equips its agents with credible profiles, to keep the door ajar and for everything to flow smoothly when the time comes. At that table, they would play a rigged deck, Castroism would bet on its cards and would invite only lightweight interlocutors and the occasional small-time voice so it could impose its usual monologue. And it wouldn’t matter that at that precise minute its repressive apparatus would be continuing in the streets doing its business. Another dirty trick, comparable to the tomfoolery when Fidel Castro used to call “cordial” meetings in Havana to “normalize” his relationship with the emigrants.
What would happen next is obvious. the diplomatic and publicity offensive would follow, where he would employ his media figureheads, collect outstanding favors, pressure his extensive network of international accomplices,,squeeze the balls of his blackmail victims, and activate his agents in the US and Europe to pave the way for reopening the door to this Biden who until yesterday was trying to reactivate Obama’s freebies. That would be the ultimate purpose of the trap. With all this, Castroism would try to calm tempers while silencing the most critical voices and demoralizing the most radical opposition, but above all, it would gain precious time in the midst of this chaos generated by its absolute lack of cash flow and its pathetic political isolation, sinking every day deeper into an irreversible crisis that is leading it to a potential social upheaval.
A completely different scenario, however much it may resemble it, would result from an authentic step-by-step negotiation, in the style proposed in ADN. In that case, clearly, each step forward would be dependent on previous concrete measures, leading to real and progressive openings -you give me, I give you; you don’t give me, I don’t give you- that is to say, verifiable changes would be demanded a priori, which is, in essence, exactly what the opposition is demanding. This could lead to the irreversible implementation of democratic mechanisms that would lead to a negotiated exit from the abyss. A utopia? Definitely yes, in light of current events, but also a door that we should leave ajar to avoid bloodshed in the future. It would be a supreme folly to refuse a negotiated solution that would lead us to real freedom and full democracy.
The danger exposed here does not come from the kind of negotiation I have outlined above, no. Processes of this type have previously resulted in the liberation of peoples in South Africa and India and were even decisive in the Spanish transition, among other happy examples, but the prevailing conditions in Cuba at the moment are very different: in our case the opposition has not managed to cohere and show enough muscle to put pressure on its counterpart. As long as this essential condition is not met, such a negotiation will be impossible in the Cuban context, and the dictatorship knows it, that is why it is now preparing a new trap to offer us, once again, its cup of hemlock.
Listen to me, Cubans! If Castroism succeeds in pulling off such a trick, it would be able to reposition itself on its throne and then we could live under terror for another 62,000 years. From these facts an undeniable evidence emerges: whoever accepts a “dialogue” under such rules of the despotic government of Diaz-Canel would actually negotiate with the hidden power behind him, would be an accomplice and participant in the dictatorship’s game and would be guilty of an unforgivable act of betrayal of the homeland. At that moment, Corleone’s premonition would be valid: if that day comes, we will see who participates in the deception and we will know who is the traitor.
Translated by GH