The Catechism According to Mujica / Yoani Sanchez

Socialism or Death

Socialism or Death

The language of diplomacy, although distant and calculated, gives us a glimpse of changing times. I remember that for years I could predict every word foreign presidents would utter once they arrived in Cuba. Never lacking, in the script of their speeches, was the phrase “the unbreakable friendship between our peoples…”. Nor was a commitment to total harmony between the political projects of the visiting leader and his counterpart on the Island. There was one path and fellow travelers could not deviate an inch from it, and so they made it clear in their statements. Those were times, seemingly, of complete agreement, no nuances, no differences.

In recent years, however, the expressions of the official guests who arrive have been transformed. We hear them say, “although there are points that divide us, it’s best to look for those that unite us.” The new expressions also include the declaration that “we represent a diversity,” and that “we come together in working together, maintaining our plurality.” Clearly, bilateral relations in the 21st century are no longer conceived with a monochromatic and unanimous discourse. They exhibit the variety that has become fashionable, although in practice there is a strategy of exclusion and denial of diversity.

José Mujica, president of Uruguay, has added a new twist to the discourse of presidents received at the Palace of the Revolution. He stressed that “before, we had to recite the same catechism to come together, and now despite our differences, we manage to be united.” Incredulous spectators on national television, we immediately asked ourselves if the doctrine to which the Uruguayan dignitary referred to was Marxism or Communism. According to today’s evidence, two presidents can shake hands, cooperate, pose together for a smiling photo, even though they have dissimilar or opposing ideologies. A lesson in maturity, no doubt. The problem — the serious problem — is that these words are said and published in a nation where we, the citizens, can have no other “catechism” than that of the party in power. A country that systematically divides its population between the “revolutionaries” and the “unpatriotic,” based purely on ideological considerations. An Island whose leaders stoke political hatreds among people without taking responsibility for these seeds of intolerance they consciously sow, water and fertilize.

This is Cuban diplomacy. Accept hearing from a foreign visitor what you would never allow someone born on this island to say.