Jueves, 25 de Abril de 2019
Última actualización: 14:53 CEST

Looking at Cuba Right Now

Castro's funeral. (REUTERS)

In Cuba, in the name of socialism, the revolution and the workers, "Fidelism" placed the economy under state control, along with all large, medium and small properties, whether Cuban or foreign-owned, on which it organized wage-based production for the state, and seized political power for a minority.

The triumphant revolution of 1959, which never completed its democratic cycle, and never veered towards authentic socialism, ended up yielding a totalitarian, anti-democratic system characterized by monopolistic state administration so unproductive that it destroyed the economic bases of Cuban society, aggravated its housing, food and transport problems, and systematically and flagrantly violated every civil, political and economic rights of the Cuban people, all justified by invocations of the "defense of the revolution."

Thousands of dissidents died or were shot or assassinated during the civil war that followed 1959, due to all those abuses, and hundreds of thousands were jailed and condemned to long sentences.

Today the opposition employs peaceful and democratic methods, but it is openly subjugated. Socialist dissidence and alternative thought is also persecuted. Everyone is prevented from freely expressing themselves, or forming legal organizations, and their participation in electoral processes is hampered, as these are manipulated by the Party-Government. And, thus, thousands of Cubans flee the country any way they can, risking their lives on seas and in forests, while those who hold power seek to keep their grip on it forever, and are not even capable of calling upon the nation to engage in a constructive dialogue.

According to their own statements, the revolution's advances were education and medical care for all, but what they were after was a guarantee of a trained, healthy and dispossessed workforce that could be exploited by the state. And let it be made clear that public medicine as a widespread phenomenon has always has faced difficulties, with systematic epidemics that have demanded major ad hoc efforts. Since the fall of the USSR and the "socialist camp" hospital facilities for the people have been racked by deficient medical equipment and food supplies, while the political/military hierarchy enjoys hospitals with high levels of technology and other more favorable conditions.

The "anti-imperialist confrontation with the U.S.A.," with Cuba playing the role of the victim, and "proletarian internationalism," which concealed an attempt to export "the revolution," carried out through incursions into other countries, and medical and educational "aid" to other peoples, most of it charged for, were Cuba's international letters of presentation in search of international support and prestige, at an enormous cost to Cuban workers, professionals and soldiers.

Now, as the populist-nationalist-statist wave in Latin America, set in motion with the arrival of Chávez to power in Venezuela, ebbs as a result of its errors and excesses, and as the state model demonstrates its inefficiency, comes the death of Fidel Castro, orphaning the bureaucratic model crafted by and for him. Under such circumstances, aiming to defend the status quo, without any changes, may prove counterproductive for the members of the military, who have inherited their centralized political and economic power, but not the influence or magnetism of the leader at the national and international level to maintain it. 

Hence, reform measures that seek to refine the state's model for wage-based exploitation, with collaboration by major foreign capital, instead of expanding popular support, may definitively erode it, if they involve nothing but the opening of limited private and cooperative economic spaces that serve only to prop up a larger state-based plan, maintain a high level of exploitation, appropriate the wages of foreign technicians and professionals abroad, or foreigners in the country, control hiring, force wage-earners to work for the state with low pay so that they cannot become independent or create their own companies, and legally hinder private professional activities and the creation of companies and independent cooperatives.

These obstructions are openly detrimental to the interests of the people, workers and Cuban entrepreneurs, who they will no longer will be able to keep suppressing, because Cuba and the world have changed.

If, along with this, the military in power continues to refuse to make changes  to the political system, based on a single party, and the legal mechanisms that make possible the formation and development of political alternatives, the challenging panorama we will be facing in the short term can be appreciated.

Under these circumstances, the governments of other countries interested in benefitting their economic interests in their relations with the Cuban government, and the international movements and parties considered "socialist and of the left," if they do not also recognize the negative consequences of Fidelismo's state-based, centralized and repressive policies on workers,  and the rights of the Cuban people, and if they do not demand that the Government of the Island respect international rules at all forums and meetings, will only be making everything more difficult for freedom and social justice in Cuba, thwarted in the name of a non-existent socialism.

This combination of interests and visions lead the Cuban people to feel isolated in their fight for a more just society. This is the price paid for allegiance to a caudillo who managed to dupe the majority, and our inability as a people to identify our interests and draw together prodemocracy forces for effective change.

Many believe that the international policies of isolation and commercial and  financial blockades have actually benefitted the bureaucracy in power by allowing it to portray itself as an international victim, and to justify its economic disasters and repressive policies, without them having affected the elite's standard of living. Others, on other hand, think that without strong international pressure for political and economic isolation, to drown the statist system, profound changes will not be possible in the country.  Attitudes toward this phenomenon, which does not depend on us, have divided dissenting political forces.

For everyone's sake, well-meaning Cubans, from the Island and off it, regardless of their political philosophies, should set aside their differences, as we all ought to seek common ground on which to build the nation, based on a recognition of our diversity and respect for others, so that we can elevate it, through democracy, to the political and social level for which Cubans have been struggling for two centuries now, with everyone, and for everyone’s sake.

Otherwise, our fate will continue to depend on some other giant that backs the dominant group in the power: the one that is there, or the one that succeeds it, because a divided nation will always be a victim of international hegemonies.