Without dialogue and reconciliation, Cuba will go from bad to worse / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos

14ymedio biggerDoes the fact that Raul Castro has met and shaken hands with Obama and that both of their governments have engaged in a year and a half of secret conversations commit the general-president to the aggressive policies of the US government?

The Cuban government received billions of rubles in support and arms of every kind from the former Soviet Union and supported it through guerrilla and military actions in other countries. Does this make the Cuban government the mercenary of the USSR?

Fidel Castro received from the former president Carlos Prio, the most anti-Communist of all the presidents of the first half-century of the Republic, $50,000 to buy the yacht Granma [on which he sailed to Cuba from Mexico to start the Revolution]. Does this mean that Fidel responded to the interest of Prio and was his mercenary?

The US government suspended its military cooperation with the Batista dictatorship and that contributed to its fall. Did this make the government of United States a mercenary of Fidel Castro’s 26th of July movement and a Castro agent, or vice versa?

The 26th of July movement and the guerrillas of the Sierra Maestra received wide economic support from the national bourgeoisie and the oligarchy. Did that make the leaders of the Sierra mercenaries of the oligarchy and the national bourgeoisie?

Several governments of the continent gave military aid to the “bearded ones” of the Sierra Maestra in their struggle against the Batista tyranny. Did that make the anti-Batista movement the mercenary of those governments?

Several reports from that time assert that CIA officials were supporting in some ways the revolutionary movement against Batista. Among them is the testimony of Liman Kirkpatrick, Inspector General of the CIA who visited Havana in 1958, in his book The Real CIA. Could one, therefore, accuse CIA mercenaries of being Cuban revolutionary fighters?

The US consulate in Santiago de Cuba Santiago widely collaborated with revolutionaries who fought the dictatorship. Did that make those revolutionaries mercenaries of Washington?

It is true that more than a few opponents and government officials have lived for years off the business of confrontation. But most of them have done it for their ideals

Does the fact that the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) has sent economic aid to Cuban dissidents who fight peacefully for democracy in Cuba make them mercenaries of the US? Does Coco Fariñas appearing in a photo with Posada Carriles make him a terrorist?

It is true that Brigade 2506 that starred in the Bay of Pigs invasion was trained, armed, supported and transported by the US government and its intelligence agencies to overthrow the revolutionary government in 1961. But does that negate that the vast majority of the members of that brigade had participated in these events to free their homeland from Castro-Communism? Were they mercenaries of United States who came to fight because of the money they were paid?

It is also true that more than a few of the opponents and the officials of the Cuban government have lived for years on the business of confrontation. But it is not true that most of them have defended their positions, including with weapons in hand, for money or personal benefits. Most of them have simply done it for their ideals. Neither one nor the other can be classified as mercenaries.

Could the Government of the Castro regime label as mercenaries all of the journalist, party functionaries, and officials of the Armed Forces and State Security who defend that government and what it considers its revolution and from which they receive high salaries and some perks? Absurd.

With biased, simplistic, and one-sided analysis of human history and its realities, without taking into account the interests of other affected parties and ignoring the most progressive values corresponding to each era, it is not possible to reach an understanding.

“Justice must be served for the literacy teachers murdered, for those dead in attacks on boats, economic facilities and official missions, for the crime of the plane crash carried out in the Barbados, and an endless list,” say some.

“We must have justice for the hundreds killed in the fight against the Revolution in the Escambray, for the thousands dead in the sea trying to escape communism, for the children and women on the 13 de Marzo tugboat, for the Brothers to the Rescue and the three young men who hijacked a boat,” say others.

I am not asking anyone to forget, but I believe that without transparency of information, without truth, without integrity in historical analysis, and without forgiveness, there will be no possible reconciliation. At least until the disappearance of the generations involved in Cuba’s political struggles of the last decades.

To accuse all those who do not share a particular vision of the country of being mercenaries, terrorists and assassins is nothing more than a pretext to continue the confrontation

To accuse all those who do not share a particular vision of the country and all those who receive aid from others for their struggle of being mercenaries, terrorists and assassins is nothing more than a pretext of the extremes to continue the confrontation and to not enter into dialogue because of various fears.

The old Cuban Communists were accused of receiving money from Moscow in order to disqualify and discredit them.

It is not just, nor is it legitimate, nor isn’t constructive for either side to continue with these absurd accusations against everyone who has been involved in these struggles from one side or the other.

Why don’t we just recognize once and for all that the era of armed military confrontation and the language of the Cold War is over and we are in a time of peaceful democratic political struggles where everyone can defend his or her ideas freely?

Let’s be serious. How can the opponents of the Cuban government objectively sustain a peaceful political struggle for their ideals without any outside help, when everyone knows that we live in a country where the government controls absolutely everything?

Has the democratic left itself have not been victims of this absolute, absurd and counterproductive control that ends up leaving people without life support and eventually turns them against their own operators?

How can we forget that high and medium level government officials of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) and the Ministry of the Interior (MININT) suspected of perestroikos and ideological weaknesses were sent en masse to retire and “perform other important missions” to limit their access to information and decisions between 1989 and 1994?

How can we forget that some compañeros were removed from their posts and lost their Internet or Intranet accounts because they used them to spread articles critical of state socialism and to publicly propose ways forward towards a participatory and democratic socialism after Fidel Castro himself warned in late 2005 that these Revolutionaries were the only ones who could destroy the Revolution by corruption and excessive bureaucracy, and also called for help in this fight?

The attitude of the delegation sent by the Government of Cuba to the Civil Society Forum of the recent Seventh Summit of the Americas was an example of that old extremist, intolerant and neo-Stalinist mentality in the leadership of political and mass organizations and of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) that pretends to be the only representative of Cuban civil society.

How can the opponents sustain a political struggle without outside help, when we live in a country where the government controls absolutely everything?

Is it possible that the government of Raul Castro could emerge from the current economic disaster with the collaboration of its historic enemy without essential changes in the political economic model that starts from a new national consensus that has the approval of workers, the self-employed, cooperatives, Cuban entrepreneurs, opponents and dissenters?

Do we really believe the Cuban president that the 97% approval of the Constitution in 1976 is the same level of approval that the government and its policies have today? Are we forgetting that in the last election almost 13% of the voters either did not vote or turned in a blank or annulled ballot? Does the general president not know that in recent years over 30,000 Cubans have left Cuba by different routes and does he not know that perhaps more than one million Cubans would like to leave the country?

Does the four-star general believe that the people don’t know the high level of nepotism and corruption that corrodes the system that he defends?

If the current government headed by Raúl Castro is unable to control its extreme wing and enter into a process of dialogue, national reconciliation and democratization of society, the country can hardly steer its development in peace and have the professional and financial aid from all Cubans, which it needs, no matter where they are, along with external collaboration. In any case, Cuba can go from bad to worse.

It is time to understand that our political and ideological differences, our sorrows over past events, leave us no choice but to overcome this stage of confrontation and take on the reunification of the nation with all its consequences.

Otherwise, we run the risk of turning our country into a failed state, either because the economy continues to sink into the vacuum of the inconsistencies of State management, of because of our inability to dialog, ending up in fratricidal conflict provoked by those who from the extremes would prefer that Cuba sink into the sea, rather than recognize errors and sit at the negotiating table.

Those of us who want to solve the problems of Cuba, be we within or outside of government and within or outside Cuba, need to set ourselves to seriously working for dialogue and reconciliation in a framework of democracy and rights, where the extremes are another bad memory of our history.