The Times Call For A United Dissent / Angel Santiesteban

The 10th of December 2013 was the most striking example of how alone the Cuban opposition is. But I do not mean that external solitude, but the internal one, the separation that exists within the dissidence itself. We are our own worst enemies, and I recognize it with infinite pain.

As we walk separated we make the work of the dictatorship’s henchmen, to beat and isolate us, easier. The day we decide to put aside personal aims and, instead, focus on the roads together, channeling our energy in unity, then our cry for freedom will be more international in scope.

Shamefully we must recognize that personal ambition, the need to be recognized as individuals, and even the posture of those who are behind the economic aid sent by different routes to the opposition, through which they try to trip up one side, are guilty of the structural earthquake in the revolutionary block that seeks a democratic opening and impedes a broader reach for the cause of freedom.

There is a case of a prisoner before he entered prison whom Amnesty International recognized by phone who was part of the list of political prisoners whom they monitor in different countries; someone inside Cuba felt ignored and torpedoed this recognition and managed to get his name off the list. This is the extreme zeal shown by the opposition.

Another case is that of someone imprisoned for political activities who was linked to a dissidence group who was cut off by adverse opinions of another group in charge of legal matters which was representing him legally and before international Human Rights groups; he was thrown overboard. They felt he was no longer their problem. And in the midst of the crossfire, without any of the parties even asking him what he thought about it all. The truth is that they forgot their words of solidarity and promises to stand by his side in bad times to come for this prisoner.

These leaders and groups of the dissidence itself are saving State Security a lot of work as they busy themselves torpedoing the initiatives that didn’t come from them. Differences of opinions cause them to become alienated when, on the contrary, it’s healthy to think differently about how to achieve the same ends.

While these differences occur, we don’t need the repressors to do the work of rejection, to weaken the forces and ideas, as if all we all not all working toward the same ideal. We ourselves are doing that work. Hopefully we will manage to repress our impulses for personal recognition and understand that the truth and the way to achieve freedom is shared among all; and understand that it is more difficult, if not impossible, to achieve it separately.

When we are capable of working through these human miseries that hinder unity and clearly alienate and make the road to democracy rougher, then we will be capable of forcing the government to sit down to talk, and the world will see is and accept us as the political force we long to be. The nation’s founding fathers, with José Martí in mind, demand this concession. When we achieve this, we will then feel ourselves to be better human beings and better Cubans.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Lawton prison settlement. December 2013