The Grouchy State and the Fault of the Citizens

There is no room for self-criticism or any recognition of the scenarios conducive to Covid-19, such as long lines and shortages. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Yoani Sánchez, Generation Y, Havana, 9 September 2020 — I turn on the TV. It has been a difficult day. Several neighbors, employees of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television, are in quarantine due to the coronavirus outbreak in that institution, while a near death triggers questions. But on the screen I find no rest. The first minutes of the newscast sound like a scolding: those responsible are the citizens, our indiscipline is what has let the situation get out of control and the finger looking for a culprit is directed at us.

Authoritarian regimes are recognized not only for repression and excessive control, but also by the ways they speak to society. Imbued with the pretense of being our parents, Cuban officials do not let a moment go by without treating us as wayward children, children who, with our negligence, have caused the current rebound of Covid-19 in various areas of the country. It has been our folly, one infers from their speech, that has caused the current situation. Even the dead are reprimanded, a posteriori, in the official media.

In this oratory of scolding there is no room for self-criticism of the mistakes made by the authorities or recognition of any of the scenarios that lead to Covid-19, such as long lines, shortages and the economic crisis that was already breathing down our necks long before that the detection of the first positive case of the virus in the country. In this policy of reprimand there is only one offender and it is the individual who has not followed the ‘guidelines’The adverse context in which we move is erased at a stroke and some ill-advised decisions taken from above are also multiplied by zero.

Under the logic of the punishing father, the rulers have no responsibility whatsoever for the late closing of the borders or for the calls to international tourists to visit the Island – promised to them as a safe destination – when countless nations had already shut down tight as a drum. The delay in suspending classes, the delay in reducing the official acts of flag waving, the ideological harangues and the false step of decreeing an opening in a city that was obviously not prepared for it, “they” are not to blame for that either.

Now we must listen to them add to the harsh reality that we are experiencing an avalanche of reprimands, ear boxing and media kickings. A public discourse lacking any empathy with a very injured population, one that evokes mastiffs barking at an injured prey rather than what should be the statements of public servants who look after our well-being. With that kind of accusatory harangue, they are only adding uncertainty and discomfort to what is already a tense daily life, in addition to showing very little sensitivity to the pain of those who have lost a loved one.

After ten minutes of scolding I turn off the television. The virus of authoritarianism is also very dangerous.


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