Long Live the Revolution! / Jeovany J. Vega

Photo: Orlando Luis Pardo

The year 2012 has arrived, and presents Cubans with more dilemmas about the future than the intricacies of the Mayan predictions. Our people greet the new year in a kind of stupor from which they want to wake up, but can’t, living a dizzying unreality in which there are no clear boundaries between the certain and the uncertain. I believe I am right in saying that Cuba today has entered the most complex stage of its history, and I will explain roughly what I mean.

During the first half of the 19th century, the natives arrived at a discovery, different from the Spanish version, of that which finally defined our concept of nation, handed down from thinkers like Varela, and de la Luz, and Caballero. Once this point was reached – where the colony-metropolis contradictions would only get worse – it logically raised the issue of final independence from Spain. The thirty-year period of deeds of liberty that covered the suffering of the Cuban people with glory, left history a thrilling example of greatness. North American intervention and the meanness of the Treaty of Paris – signed on the back of Cuba, ceding the ripe fruit to the United States – sealed our fate for the next 60 years. It was followed by decades of advances and setbacks, political struggles that eventually led to the accumulation of antagonisms that made us once again propose armed struggle, this time to shake off the Yankee neo-colonial yoke. The revolution led by Fidel Castro in 1959 ended the relationship of subjugation that Cuba had maintained with its “good neighbor”.

At this point is where we must elucidate an essential element that differentiates what is coming from the past: if until that moment it was always about trying to expel a foreign power, starting from then — after the fervor of the early years of genuine popular support — it resulted in a State-individual relationship ever more despotic, exercised this time by Cubans over Cubans.

The bearded ones had dismantled their camp in the Sierra Maestra and transplanted to Havana the same mechanism of operation. Thus, in the name of freedom and with the guise of social justice as a backdrop, step by step they curtailed the civil rights of the people, a political strategy intended to legitimize themselves from an extreme nationalistic discourse that presents the official alternative as the only one valid to guarantee the independence of the country.

In time, the resources of the State are directed more and more towards an iron strategy of control, hammering over decades a harangue that constantly encourages the paranoia of a people besieged.

Between the Yankee embargo and the tropical cyclones, the arguments of Fidel Castro are put forward to justify the ruin provoked by 50 years of bad governance and the necessity of stagnation that paralyzed this country in the decade of the ’60s. Then, faced with the growing discontent of the population, the only recourse left to the elite is growing repression and censorship.

Although admittedly an objective approach to this reality can not ignore another side of it. Their conviction that the centers of U.S. power, organized from Langley, were focusing on terrorist attacks, economic sabotage and assassination plans, caused the Cuban government to consolidate its political position, and they decided to reorient their strategy towards the internal opposition. Then, the whole Cuban apparatus of espionage and counterintelligence, structured and refined during 50 years of dealing with their formidable American counterparts — the largest and with the most resources in the world — having no mountain ranges to clear of rebels, nor commandos infiltrating along the coast to detain, has come to focus with more intensity than ever on the domestic scene, and in this context we come to 2012.

Now, under the guise of genuine defense, every civic initiative of any individual or group of individuals, even without the remotest connection to the United States and however spontaneous and legal it is, can be accused – and in fact almost always is – of serving the U.S.

In this way civil society in Cuba is kept disjointed, and in practice non-existent, not to mention the avowed political opposition, which is not officially recognized and which remains infiltrated to the core by State Security, maintaining the dissidence exactly where they want them, consistent with the needs of the powers-that-be, that is divided into a thousand dispersed pieces.

But despite everything the Cuban government has engineered, they manage, through subtle emotional blackmail, to convince many governments to applaud it in the international arena, to the point of naming Cuba Vice President of the United Nations Council on Human Rights, at the same time it is depriving its people en masse, before the eyes of the whole world, of their civil rights.

It is in this inconsistency between what our government says and what it does, and between what it does and what international organizations should do, where much of the complexity originates — unprecedented in our history — to which I referred earlier: we have become a people caught between demagoguery on both sides.

Thus, the new year was received by a society that has no mechanism to channel the real aspirations of the people below, whose unions are a grotesque caricature that only flirts with power; which has no autonomous press to denounce the corrupt bigwigs, or that dares to openly question the policies outlined by a single ruling party, which draws all the coordinates of the politics and economics as I understand it, and without opposition of any kind in a sterile Parliament.

In this scenario, citizens remain helpless facing an absolute power able to relegate all to assert its doctrine of submission, for it does not skimp on all the resources it deems necessary, even in the midst of a perpetual economic crisis.

Today, however, I cannot hide my pride in all the glory that preceded me. So I believe in the Revolution that was consecrated in La Demajagua — the site of the beginning of the Ten Year War in 1868 — that offered the blood of Jimaguayú, that shuddered in Dos Ríos and in the plains of San Pedro; that of the Generalisimo who saw the bodies of his dead sons sink into the ground of the fatherland, the redeeming sword shaking in his fist.

I believe in the civic Revolution of the veterans of the Republic castrated by the Platt Amendment, the people who took to the streets in the ’30s and overthrew a tyrant; I believe in the Revolution of Julio Antonio shot in the back, of the courage of Guiteras and in the salvo of Chivas. I believe in the Revolution which resumed its quest in the morning of Santa Ana, I believe in the truth that burns behind the fearless eyes of Tassende and in the eyes of Abel, inert, and yet so alive and so pure like the tears of Hayde; I believe in the transparent gaze of Frank, in the recklessness of Echavarria, in the clean smile of Camilo that evaporated in glory and of Guevara abandoned by Manila, but true to himself until death.

Once there was an authentic Revolution that was necessary and another “revolution” that betrayed, the “revolution” of pamphlets that, in the name of “freedom,” cut short the true freedom of man; that of the the “revolutionaries” without certain convictions, alienated in their lie, in their fantasy or in their attempt at power, but finally disposed of, back to life that ran its course; rhetorical “revolutionaries” of hardbound verbiage, which ceased to be an engine, flying and dreaming, to turn itself into, over the years, an obstacle, a knife, or an empty pedestal.

This “revolution” of glass, which may adorn itself with tinsel and garnish its podiums, with round tables and speeches, covering a set for staging where “revolutionary” neo-bourgeoise simulate their script, but which purports to be more convincing than ever, never ceases to be a fake and will never be genuine because on can always distinguish, under the artifice, the fool’s sheen of sequins.

Behind the facade, among the lamps tested again and again, while the genuine revolutionaries are dying of shame. As this happens, the most honest and enlightened of my people remain marginalized, because in this climate of calculations and simulations they can only enthrone the opportunists and those willing to communicate with the lies that power needs to hear, a power that does not allow questions and pays well for the irreverence, requiring absolute submission in exchange for rewards, privileges for that caste of hypocrites, who applaud him on stage and later plunder the people’s pantry. As long as this dynamic bends and genuflects, the power will be willing to look the other way: it will endure those who steal from it, endure those who defraud it — with due “prudence” of course — but it will never consent to differences of opinion.

The 53rd year of the Cuban Revolution ended, the year in which the axioms collapsed, those that some people applauded and which made some people grind their teeth and asked uncomfortable questions. But it is precisely now that we must dot the i’s and cross the t’s, because I have a fervent believe that with clear accounts, as well as with friendship and love, we can also conserve the nation; which is why today, 53 years later, January surprises me crying once again: “Viva the Revolution of the genuine! Down with the Revolution of the Fakers!”

January 1 2012