14ymedio, Luis Zuñiga, Miami, August 16, 2021 – The Castro dictatorship was not thrilled with a proposal by businessman Sergio Pino to build houses for the military in a effort to encourage democratic change in Cuba. The issue is not the material aspect of the proposal. What bothers them is the implied message: a Cuban exile is extending his hand to the military, encouraging its leaders to take sides in the current crisis and play a role in bringing about the changes the Cuban people are demanding.
The message carries an important acknowledgement: the military has not participated in the regime’s repression against the people; their hands have not been stained with blood nor have they participated in the mistreatment and torture of political prisoners.
For this reason, most Cuban exiles would welcome a decision by the military to take the democratic path. Here is evidence of the exile community opening its arms to those military officers who have chosen to distance themselves from the dictatorship.
Clearly, the regime’s days are numbered, with or without the participation of the military. The July 11 protests in Cuba are echoes of those that occurred in Eastern European countries just before their communist governments fell. In those instances, the military prevented state security forces from attacking crowds and forced top government officials to resign. Military officers were allowed to retain their commands, both after transitional governments took over and after democracy was established. This is how it should be in Cuba too.
Answering the call would be within the line of duty. Soldiers pledge allegiance to the nation, not to communist ideology. And the people are the nation. On July 11 the nation spoke clearly: “We want no more of this communist regime.”
We realize this system creates uncertainty for everyone, including military officers. The fear that expressing an honest opinion could be interpreted as an act of treason is real. Therefore, senior officers should use their personal relationships, not their professional ones, as a vehicle to speak privately and honestly about the situation as it truly exists in Cuba. The responsibility they carry on their shoulders is crucial.
This decision is not difficult if one honestly and objectively evaluates what the Castro regime has done to Cuba: a nation ruined and indebted, with a dilapidated infrastructure, widespread poverty, abandoned farmland overrun with marabou weed, rampant prostitution, jails filled to capacity, corrupt police, huge inequalities between the people and its leaders, and — worse still — no future.
Faced with this undeniable reality, should military commanders continue to support a regime that does not know how to govern, that only generates poverty and that hangs onto power through repression and imprisonment?
Editor’s note: The author is a political analyst and a former Cuban political prisoner.
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