A new foreign policy toward Cuba is being designed in the United States and Europe. This is a new scenario which is already a fait accompli whatever the results may be. No process of transition is linear or perfect. Politics is the art of the possible, the art of sizing up and overcoming mistakes. Human matters are not ideal and reality, as it is, hard and persistent, demands challenges and moves from us; it demands us to be flexible, creative and patient and not “to get stuck in the mud” of apocalyptic complain, bitterness and denunciation. It is necessary to find a balance between denunciation and announcement of what we propose as a solution; to go from criticism to the forward-looking spirit. That’s what Cuba needs already.
If everything is wrong, if attempts are crooked, if the winding road is not seen clearly… and besides, we don’t give the benefit of the doubt to the attempt to move or the opportunity to get together to propose our views and programs for the future… then nothing encourages hope, nothing feeds virtue and we all become pillars of salt because we look back (cf. Genesis 19, 26).
This is the time of all Cubans
We should learn how to distinguish policies of international relations from domestic affairs among Cuban politicians; to discern among different policies so that decisions made by national or foreign governments do not divide us as a nation; it’s necessary to build flexible and dialogical consensus; to build unity in diversity preventing fractures and attacks along the path.
Global geo-strategies should not break up civil society fabric. Negotiations among governments should not distract us; the complicated foreign policy should not confuse us; the decisions of the powerful should not divide us. No smokescreen should hide our everyday reality, the situation of the Country, the economic, political and social crisis we endure and must solve among Cubans, with all Cubans and for all Cubans. We are a plural nation; therefore we must learn the pluralist social coexistence.
We repeat that if the government of the United States and the governments of the European Union happen to synchronize their political watches with the Cuban government, the time appearing on their digital screens will be the time of Cubans.
We don’t want and we should not expect any foreign powers or political blocs to bring the solution to our problems; we don’t want and we shouldn’t give up our serious responsibility of being “the protagonists of our own personal and national history”. It’s not for a foreign government to do it. Instead of demanding that other governments do our job for us, we should demand that we respond to today’s and tomorrow’s challenges. One of the consequences of totalitarian paternalism is the anthropological damage and the total dependence which turns us into adolescent and dependent citizens; we depend on “what will be given to us”, “the ones who support us”, “what they will solve for us”. The international support will be visible, effective and above all, valid, only when we earn the respect, solidarity and accompaniment of the sister nations as a result of our work in here.
The fact that this is the hour of all Cubans means among other attitudes:
- To take on our responsibility as citizens whereas we demand our rights.
- To devote more energies to finding solutions and ways out rather than complaining about what is wrong.
- To make up our minds, once and for all, to build unity in diversity, due to political maturity and not due to immediate necessity.
- To make up our minds to find consensus among us not emphasizing and attacking our disagreements.
- To raise our conditions and demands with the government rather that asking others to do it for us.
- Finally, to go from rhetoric and epic, to politics and pacific action.
Listening to the needs of the people and being the voice of the voiceless
We often listen to the foreign voices rather than to the voices of our neighbours. We listen more carefully to the discrepancies and attacks from politicians than to the needs of our compatriots. We regard the foreign media campaigns and we push into the background the critical urgencies inside our country.
Isn’t it true that sometimes we live more to make statements, to answer, to denounce events, to attack… rather than listening, asking, accompanying, and responding to the needs of our people? What is our concept of politics and its practice? Is it confrontation or negotiation? Is it denunciation or proposal? Are we hypercritical or proactive? Finally, are we our own voice, in order to listen to ourselves and to get in good with us… or do we look for the ways and channels to listen to what the rest of the people, to which we belong, really feel? Do we lend them our voices being faithful to their demands in the first place and then to our demands? We sometimes are a bit of all this. A politician or a civic activist is, par excellence, a public server, a spokesman for his people, a person that realizes reality in a proper way; he is a transparent image of what his compatriots think, feel and need.
The act of listening is not only a human ability but an ethical and civic attitude. The act of listening is the first attitude of a public server. The attitude of an authoritarian person is to speak first, to answer afterwards and to reply later; the attitude of a democrat is to engage in a dialogue and negotiate, to listen and propose; to demand and give; to acknowledge his mistakes and apologize, to be magnanimous towards the others’ mistakes and to be willing to forgive others without rancour; it’s to rise over human miseries which we all show and to weigh anchor out of the gloomy seas. We should accept our ignorance before being categorical and honestly recognize the agreements with others.
Is it possible that the anthropological damage by totalitarianism has not only harmed the responsible freedom of all of us but it has also placed all of us on a top messianic position where we believe to be the owners of truth, the bearers of solutions and guardians of purity? None of us who have lived the past 50 years are immune to these manias inoculated to us by families and in school. The best thing would be to think about it, to exercise our introspection and to make the decision of starting a process of ethical, civic and spiritual healing. We have got the cure within ourselves; we have the ability and the opportunity to give us this humanist present.
We should make in-depth progress; we should advance upwards and in perspective
Like in the Olympic Games: citius, altius, fortius. This is the time for all Cubans who love the Fatherland to move forward faster, higher and stronger toward a freer and more responsible, democratic and prosperous society. We should make in-depth progress; we should advance upwards and in perspective doing everything pacifically. We must go from “less human conditions to more human conditions” (Populorum progressio No.20), until daily reality approaches more and more José Martí’s view and we quote: “I want the fundamental law of our republic to be the tribute of Cubans to the full dignity of man”.
To make in-depth progress; that is to say, to be more responsible, strengthening the foundations of civic social coexistence with values that give maturity, straight conscience, historic roots, consistence between what we think, what we say and the way we act; humility coming from humus which should be the food of virtue and high perspective. The higher and farther aspirations are in a society regarding its comprehensive human development the deepest its roots will be stuck in the hollow that fertilizes virtue. So states the most relevant Cuban poetess of the Cuban 20th century:
“Only if we stick ourselves on the shadow,
Sucking the living juice of the shadow
Drop by drop,
We will succeed in doing
A noble and lasting work
Up to the top…
Pleasant is the air,
Pleasant is the light,
But we cannot always be
Like a flower…
And those who do not lay down
Their souls to the ground as roots,
Will fade away.”
(Dulce María Loynaz, “Nameless Poems” Poem III)
To advance upwards means to make dignity grow, to attain higher perspective and civic decency. It is to overcome human miseries and abandon despicable attitudes; it’s to rise above vulgarity, banality and grossness. It’s to lift, more and more, our civilized and pacific coexistence, to tend to the highest ideals, to experience citizenship and human relations with nobility in our attitudes and souls. It’s to go from unsteady childishness to civic adulthood. It’s, in fact, to reach the height of human nature which is to live in the domain of magnanimity, forgiveness and universal and tangible love.
To advance in perspective: It’s to look up; not to be alienated watching the sky away from the social, political and economic life but to scan the Nation’s horizon. It’s to think beyond the immediate future taking short and steady steps. Narrow-mindedness, immediacy and surrounding noises very often prevent us from widening the view to analyse reality, to value events further than the ends of our noises; we cannot either adopt a medium or long term strategy. The further our strategic view is, the more holistic the analysis, the smarter the proposals and the more responsible our every day acts will be. Long wave light does not dazzle us if we light it ahead of us but it lights up the path, it allows us to manoeuvre and it can always be politely turned down so that we won’t dazzle the ones who travel in the opposite direction; we do it also with the aim of adjusting the speed of our projects and our daily commitments.
The new scenario we are facing and what is to come demands these and other responsible, mature and serene attitudes from all Cubans in the Island and in the Diaspora without delay or triviality.
One of the most relevant leaders in Cuban civil society has said: “the era of trenches has been superseded by the era of the negotiating table; therefore, we must go from epic to politics” (Manuel Cuesta Morúa).
Credibility of Cuban independent civil society, on all shores, depends, to a great extent, on the response to the present time by taking these two decisions and attitudes which can’t be postponed:
As public servers we must listen and respond to the most urgent needs of our people.
We must move towards civic depth, ethical height and political prospect.
Let us synchronize our citizen’s watches; this is the time of all Cubans.
Pinar del Río, February 25th, 2015
On the 162nd Anniversary of Father Varela’s Death