Trumpa’s “Pressure Cooker” Policy

Caption: Cuban demonstrators in the spontaneous protest known as the maleconazo in 1994. (Karl Poort)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ariel Hidalgo, Miami, May 4, 2019 — The comings and goings of Trump officials in Florida lately to meet with exiled Cubans and Venezuelans, and the measures taken against the Maduro dictatorship and Castroism, clearly have an electoral interest, which is very common.

All politicians, Republicans and Democrats, have always done the same thing. What is new is the application of Titles III and IV of the Helms-Burton Law, which no president, since Clinton and Obama, has dared to apply before now, because it would affect the interests of many allies—above all, in Europe.

Now this extreme step has the tinge of a last resort, because the possibilty of presidential reelection seems less clear, especially because the Democrats now have a majority in the House. And Florida, as we know, will determine whether Trump gets a second term.

Limitations on trips and remittances were added, supposedly to reduce what reputedly is the principal source of the Havana Regime”s hard currency. And, as if this weren’t enough, Trump threatens a “total embargo,” all part of a repressive policy that has failed for more than half a century.

The theory of many defenders of the hard line is based on thinking it will work this time, because the measures would be added to the profound economic crisis that, according to clear indications, will give rise to a new Special Period of calamities in what was once called the Pearl of the Antilles, and that the country would not be able to withstand a sequel.

And maybe they’re right, not only because “sequels are never good” but also because since that time the citizens have advanced in many ways, as much in frustration at so many false expectations and unfulfilled promises as at lack of access to new communication technologies. The final objective of this policy has always been to do whatever explodes the pressure cooker, so that the multitudes throw themselves into the streets against the dictatorship until it bursts.

As it is offered—like many other times—on a silver platter to the octogenerarian leaders as an opportunity to make “the Empire” responsibile for all of Cuba’s economic problems, they repeat the illusion that the main problem of Cubans is the contradiction between a great power and the small, heroic country that it wants to subdue. By this logic, it’s possible that people might actually take to the streets, but I don’t know if many would do it to demonstrate against the dictatorship or to curse Trump and imperialism. And although this reaction might seem logical, I suspect that the result would be worse than the illness.

A maleconazo multiplied by ten or twenty not only would provoke a devastating destruction but also would be accompanied this time by an incalcuable number of wounded and dead. Examples, although perhaps on a minor scale, can be seen in the demonstrations in recent years in Venezuela and Nicaragua.

Did anything good come of them? The only good thing has been the experience of what shouldn’t be done. It appears that the Venezuelan opposition has assimilated this very well, and Juan Guaidó’s message has been clear: no violence, although it can’t be avoided that there are those on the periphery of the movement who didn’t get the message.

Furthermore, the main people affected will be employees, private entrepreneurs, retirees, everyone. But none of these people have the right to vote in elections in Florida.

One day, someone asked Manuel Moreno Fraginal why such a rebellious and heroic people as the Cubans weren‘t rebelling against the dictatorship, and the prestigious author of El Ingenio answered: “Because in Cuba for some time there has been no middle class, which has always been the leader in these events.” It’s true. The middle class has nothing to lose, nor any economic strings attached.

This class has begun to emerge in Cuba for some years with private entrepreneurs, the black market, artists, bloggers and independent journalists who don’t have ties to the State. They could lead a broad, peaceful movement in favor of change, like the pre-revolutionary Third Republic in France. But now, with the Trump administration’s policy, this process might come to a halt.

If the President is removed by a political trial because of his blunders or loses the election, since many voted for him only to oppose the “Establishment” and, in particular, the politicians, these measures probably won’t last, but if he wins, we’ll have them for a long time.

But with or without Trump, the historic leadership of Cuba will be involved in the dilemma of having to make major concessions like what has happened up to now, if it wants to avoid grave dangers and the headaches that follow. Cuba could rise and thrive in very little time.

It would be enough to liberate and stimulate the creative forces of Cubans. But that would mean renouncing the monopolistic control of the rich. If the leaders don’t do it, others will have to, and those others won’t be just the dissidents but all of civil society: academics, professionals, students, independent journalists, bloggers, writers, film makers and other artists, agreeing to draw up a joint, agreed-upon program of necessary changes and raising their voices high.

This is not a wish or a whim but an emergency and a duty for all Cubans if they want to avoid the tragedy that is approaching.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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