Protest Time

If arrogant and contemptuous do not take urgent measures, and just sit around waiting for the protests, the next thing to arrive will be nothing other than Armageddon.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ariel Hildalgo, Miami, 6 November 2019 —  On Cuban tables the plates are almost empty, at the bus stops there are swells of people on the hunt for crowded transports, many homes on the verge of collapse are overcrowded with three and even four generations, and the blackouts and so-called “energy savings” increase the exhaustion and despair.

In Cuba, the current president of the United States, Donald Trump, is blamed for the calamities, his restrictive economic measures providing huge help to the leaders of the Palace of the Revolution by granting them a great alibi, despite the fact that the so-called período coyuntural (temporary period/crisis) was announced long before. But what does the latter matter? Is it not well known that people have little memory?

But they cannot deceive the academics, artists, journalists, professionals, civic activists and students, among others. That many today do not speak openly, or say otherwise, does not mean that they do not know. What they do is one thing, what they think another, and what they say something else, so far.

But everything has a limit. Despair and outrage can reach a point where they overcome prudence and fear, and empty pans can become musical instruments* of a national concert. This would not be all, because that symphony could be only the prelude to a storm. Any spark can light a fire.

A complaint on a corner can turn into a neighborhood protest and, from there, growing to a tsunami that sweeps the whole city is a matter of the blink of an eye.

Then there will be no mobs of repudiation or quick-response detachments that can stop crowds ravaging the stores, nor raging concentrations in the Plaza of the Revolution. What will the party leadership do then? Take to the streets in tanks? Repeat another Tiannanmen Square massacre? Cuba is not China, nor are we on the other side of the world, far from the West.

Then it will not be the fault of those who only sinned out of despair, or of the dissenters, or of imperialism, but of those who have not wanted to hear the voice of the people in time.

No one in their right mind who really loves their homeland wants this. Such a scenario can be avoided, and not through threats, arrests, or states of siege, because there will not be enough prisons to lock up so many people.

So far, only reforms have been made, but reform really means changing the structure. What needs to be done now is more than that. They can call it or interpret it as they wish, perhaps as a “revolution in the revolution,” but if they don’t make radical constructive changes from above, there will come changes, also radical, but destructive and from below.

What, then, should leadership do to avoid the latter? The keyword is called freedom. Proceed according to the advice of Abraham Lincoln, who said he destroyed his enemies by making them friends. Convert the self-employed into allies by lowering taxes and licensing costs.

Issue permits for many other professions and provide them with means of work, as well as permits to acquire microcredits from abroad, and you will see how in the midst of tribulations, miracles will be present everywhere, with people solving their problems on all sides.

The treasury coffers will be filled with money, because a swell of small informal producers will leave the black market to integrate into the formal economy. And if they want more productivity in state industries, share the profits with the workers who produce them and grant them the right to have a voice and vote in the affairs of their workplaces or companies.

Grant small agricultural producers freedom to sell their products at the market price to the population. Then many others will want to and give them land, because the State has enough to give and we will see how in a very short time the markets will be filled with fruits, vegetables, grains, and many other foods.

And if they want to get rid of the alleged “internal” enemies, allow human rights activists, those who have more credibility among the critics, to form a National Committee with access to all prisons on condition that reports of violations are delivered to them, which would be very advantageous.

First because they will have the opportunity to correct these evils without the need for international organizations to condemn them, and secondly because constructive criticisms would allow them to provide detailed information on what happens in the multiple instances and sectors, in order to correct them and prevent corrupt and abusive officials who might encourage anti-government animosities. Don’t kill the messenger!

Allow dissidents to run as candidates with the possibility of obtaining seats in the National Assembly, which will have, as an advantage, broadening the horizon of views in conflict resolution, and the framework of ideas that allow a greater variety of proposals for the prosperity of all the people.

I know that making these recommendations or similar ones is almost like demanding pears from the elm tree. But if only a small group of that leadership had the courage to ignore the warnings of the so-called “hard core” (those who are filled with dread even on hearing someone say “democracy”) and begin to take the steps that circumstances demand, they would not be alone, because the entire people would support them.

But if they ignore those who propose things like these and cross their arms, if they do not listen to the warnings of those who only wish to avoid greater evils to the country, if they continue to be arrogant and contemptuous ad do not take urgent measures, and wait for the time of the cacerolazos* — the protests — next will come nothing but Armageddon.

*Translator’s note: The original title of this post is “La hora de cacerolazos”: commonly in Latin American countries people protest by beating on empty pots and pans (cacerolas).


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