It’s Time For Politics To Stop Separating Families And Friends / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos

People leaving Cuba during the Mariel Boatlift.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Havana, 29 December 2016 — The model imposed in Cuba in the name of a socialism that never existed had, among its worst results, the politicization of everything. Families fought over politics. Friends became enemies. This was one of the most disastrous consequences of the “revolutionary intransigence” in which several generations of Cubans were (badly) educated.

This intransigence, generated by the group in power, facilitated the development of others.

The phenomenon affected practically every family and friendship, which according to tradition had always remained very united. The divisions began in 1959, when the provisional government that was intended to give way to the restoration of institutionalized democracy, failed to do so and turned itself into a permanent revolutionary government that began to apply justice in its own way.

Immediately, more than a few began to see how to advance the centralized and anti-democratic policies, traditionally identified with communism, that had done so much damage in Europe and which, in the island’s past, had been linked to Batista, the tyrant who was expelled from power.

Disagreement in democracy is normal, but when there is none and dissent is considered treason and is not accepted, as in Cuba in the early days after the triumph of the Revolution, thinking differently is identified as “counterrevolutionary.”

With the first “counterrevolutionaries” began the first great exodus and many families stopped seeing each other or even communicating for many years. Then came other waves. In the early 80’s, some of those who had gone into exile began to return to visit and that began to break the ice.

It was not easy for families to welcome “worms” and “traitors” who now returned with gifts and greater incomes, from a country with another language, culture, climate and traditions. People were afraid that they could lose their membership in the Communist Party or a government job.

Some of those who remained in Cuba would not receive their relatives at that time. Or old friends would not visit with them.

With time and new waves of migration, many of those who had refused to receive their relatives or friends also went into exile. During the Mariel Boatlift, some had participated in the repudiation rallies and shouted, “Let the scum go.” They threw eggs. And later, more than a few them took the same path.

The intransigents insist on continuing to confront families and friends over politics, and they still reject friendships between people who think differently, but there are also people who feel individuals are separate from their ideas and they leave them alone, considering them friends. Pope Francis comes to mind when he talked about “social friendship.”

In Miami, on the other side, there are also intransigents. Both sides make it all the more difficult.

Now, in the aftermath of the former leader’s death, we hear again about “revolutionaries” who did not make friendships carry the weight of politics and did not accept judgments about the consequences of their imprint on democracy and socialism. Intolerance is necessary for nothing to change.

There are many people who do not lend themselves to politics destroying families and friendships. They are fundamental pillars of the future Cuba.

Today, because of the wide exchanges among all Cubans, despite the intolerance expressed from the rulers, there is more tolerance. This is part of the preparation necessary to live in a democracy, which will come sooner rather than later.

It is time for politics to stop separating families and friends. We are in a good moment for it. Cuba, to advance, needs to leave behind so much confrontation, so much stubbornness, so much stupidity. Perhaps all that, on both sides, reached the highest possible point in recent days, and now, like all that rises, it must descend.

It must be understood that, regardless of the political differences, we Cubans will one day have to talk to each other and sit together in a democratic parliament leaving behind grudges and the difficult and dramatic moments of our history, leading with the future and looking for a way to accept ourselves in our diversity.

There will have to be apologies and pardons, difficult encounters. If not men, history will punish crimes and abuses. There will have to be changes in political power, it will have to be peaceful and democratic, but blood must be avoided in order not to resume the cycle of violence, if we really want to see Cuba as a great nation with its international economic and political weight. Politics will have to give way to family and friendship. A divided country is easily made a victim of national and global hegemonies.