Post-Castro Democracy? / Regina Coyula

Will a change bring us democracy? Change is a process, although some people don’t even see a leaf move. But where that change will take us is unknown, and when I see our General-President visiting Vietnam, China and Russia, I feel an involuntary shudder.

The only thing left of socialist Asians is the name. There’s a lot of rough capitalism, you never hear about the dictatorship of the proletariat there; the dictatorship is of the only party, quite pragmatic, that tells its citizens: Enrich yourself if you can, let me take care of politics. They reprimand their dissidents in a low profile way and everyone’s content.

The Russians “took off the mask” a while ago, but as they are now anxious to regain hegemony and oppose the United States and, commonly, the enemies of my enemies are my friends. Or my allies, but perhaps it’s best not to exaggerate.

And meanwhile, what’s happening at home? It’s like The Silent Comedy: the Keystone Cops watch the front door while the thieves slip away with the loot out the back. Here Marino Murillo with his economy of stunting the bonsai of private enterprise so it doesn’t grow, while the managers, directors and all the diverse fauna collect all the wealth for the “day after,” and the most impatient for right now, but they keep it elsewhere.

“Our working people” as the official propaganda loves to say, are conditioned by the manipulation of information. They’ve been inculcated with a fear of change, in that their situation always worsens. Lately when I travel by bus, in taxis, hitchhiking, I’ve talked with doctors, nurses, technicians, patients and their attendants, legal and illegal vendors; I’ve felt the exhaustion before an emergency situation that for most of them is their whole life, but I have also felt a caution bordering on fear to name who is responsible, or to verbalize the desire for change. No one had what used to be known as “a combative attitude,” nor did I ever stumble on some believer in Raul’s reforms, those who would, with the enthusiasm of the first days, say the same things now.

It seems I’m getting away from the theme of democracy, but democracy is not created by spontaneous generation. People will not have the capacity to make a spontaneous social demand their own, people who will believe any mobilization to be sterile, people who will feel disposed to break the law for economic advantages but not for political improvements.

I don’t like it but that’s what I see. Therefore, the stronghold of values that may exist in the family, in civil society, in certain schools or work places, is frankly a disadvantage with this morality of survival more suitable for the postwar period, than for building a better society.

I return to my original preoccupation. In China or Russia there will be change, but not democracy. But there’s always the imponderable.

July 16 2012