“Patriots” / Fernando Damaso

Elpidio Valdez, a character created by J. Padrón representing Cuban patriotism

When I repeatedly hear the principal authorities of the country — and also the not so principal, in an echoing chorus — say that the cadres (functionaries), of the State as well of political and mass organizations, should be patriots, and that the workers, professionals, students, peasants and all components of society should be as well, I feel a great concern for the Fatherland: divided among so many patriots, very little of it remains for the common citizen.

One of the great problems of Cuba has, in fact, been its patriots, especially when they accede to any level of power. They consider themselves to be genetic patriots, and understand that those who don’t share their ideas or who question them are unpatriotic, criminals, annexationists, corrupt lackeys, mercenaries, immoral, indecent and a whole litany of insults they seem to have a good supply of. If their power is total, they exercise it as if the nation were their personal fiefdom, doing what they please, without respecting existing laws or accommodating them to their interests. Being patriots seems to be give them a carte blanche before the rest of society.

Some of our patriots, and it is easy to verify historically, in the presidency of the country, generally have become autocrats, suppressing any manifestation of opposition, persecuting and imprisoning its representatives (sometimes liquidating them), and in the best of cases forcing them into exile or, if they decide to stay in the country, converting them into non-persons to society. I prefer a thousand times a president economist, lawyer, scientist, intellectual, doctor, teacher, worker, peasant or another, both man and woman, over a patriot. What the patriots have cost this country is too expensive!

There are, among our patriots, who seem to have cloned the little word and reproduce it by the thousands, using it continuously in their public speeches, to the annoyance and boredom of their forced listeners. The have turned it into a wild card, without which they can not exist. It would have been better to not have so many patriots and to increase the number of responsible citizens able to do their duty and to demand and defend their rights.

Civility has disappeared in many citizens, and it has been replaced by the double standard, which ultimately is just lack of morals to be able to survive under the Patriots. The nation has been dismembered, its identity lost, its values overturned, the culture is flawed and immorality and corruption rampant while no one, despite their speeches, rants and laws, can do anything to curb them. That is our current reality, even though some people prefer to close their eyes so as not to see it. To reverse it could be the most difficult task of our future leaders.

September 23 2012