They…the dissidents / Miriam Celaya

Photo taken from the Internet

If it were possible to classify years the same way winemakers catalogue wine, I would say that 2011 has been a good harvest, good for those Cubans who aspire to a future of civility and of transformations in Cuba, who have seen a gradual but sustained approach among different groups of the alternative civil society, mutual recognition of places and rights common to all, but not so for the government.

I don’t want to be at fault for any unfair or unintended omission, so I will avoid making a list of the ever-growing list of people with different tendencies, generations, professions and backgrounds, who are breaking the isolation of a society long contorted by fear or mistrust between this or that group or individual. Suffice to note that in the course of this year that network of free spaces has emerged spontaneously and freely, and one might surmise that many hopes and aspirations are pinned to that social fabric of an inevitably different and better Cuba.

In fact, I would say that, this year, the very one-party government is the one that has gone to the opposition; not because I say it, but because of the methods and procedures that it employs in its belated intent to resurrect, and in its obvious fear of the unstoppable process to weaken both new and old generations’ faith in the “revolution.” An example of this was the conspiracy orchestrated to… celebrate? the Sixth Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, based on some guidelines developed in secrecy. An event that was unexpectedly and surprisingly announced, even for the members of the single party, with the additional constraint of an agenda limited to purely economic issues. This gave the high leadership of the party an image of weakness and insecurity, and projected a climate of mistrust and reservation among grassroots activism, while it exhibited the paradox of trying to promote a campaign against “secrecy” from the standpoint of a conspiracy.

In stark contrast, sectors of the alternative civil society have been launching programs and open proposals, have held meetings and events prior to public announcement –even under the harassment and hounding of the political police- unvarnished and without dissimulation or exclusions, and they have been attracting support and good will, especially of those young people who are not attracted by the “new” official promises. The fatuous fires that loosen the frayed olive green epaulets don’t have the appeal of the future that they dream of realizing by themselves, without masters, without dogmas.

Let’s look at today’s Cuba, the one where we have lived this year 2011, and let’s recap: who hides in order to devise compromises, conferences and alliances without consultation? who denies information to the people? who maintains the monopoly of the press and media and seeks to monopolize access to the Internet? who insists on distributing and managing, enforcing the limits and the pace of the transformations they are urging to apply? who harasses free citizens? who offers resistance to the multiparty and the full participation of all Cubans in the search for solutions? who opposes democratic change? does the power of the government legitimize retaining authority by force? Why, then do they say we are “the opposition”?

Translated by Norma Whiting

December 12, 2011