Cuba finds itself in a situation qualitative different from the one we lived before the passage of the two latter hurricanes. In fact, all Cubans know, though we never say, that they have been, at least, three hurricanes , not counting the former hurricanes.
Indeed, we believe that these two meteors: Gustav and Ike, have come to fill that quantitative and systematic accumulation of five consecutive decades which has devastated –it literally means to leave isolated and with nothing- the Island of the Caribbean which once used to be the destination of so many inmigrants and the paradise of so many appetites. Always overflowed with requests, some honest and progressive... other times ethically unacceptable. Now it’s not like this. For the better and for the worse.
It would be wrong, or at least, highly deviating, to observe and evaluate or diagnose the present situation in Cuba starting from an analysis of the economic, political and social reality bearing in mind only the consequences of the two terrible natural disasters.
Not even considering that Cuba has been the victim of a natural disaster in its widest meaning, we could evaluate the situation of the nation as objectively as possible.
It’s necessary to observe the statistics of the houses and buildings that have been totally collapsed, as well as the damages to the agriculture and the industry of the main productive branches such as tourism and the nickel. But also we would have to ask ourselves: Why were the houses so deteriorated? Why have not been solved in the long run –so long as half a century- the construction of anticyclone houses in a country located in the Caribbean such as ours and with all of the resources centralized in the hands of a State that only has to decide with no objections, where to use them? Why was inefficiency battering, the same as a five-category-hurricane, the inmense majority of the enterprises, industries and sistematic forces of the country without stopping it for five decades? Who decided the priorities that superseded these vital necessity of houses and infrastructure considered as urgent since 1952, in the far-off days of the Moncada Program?
It’s necessary to bear in mind the total destruction of the electric system all along the narrow Island and the inability of the existing sources of energy to cope with the demand of this small country. But we would also have to ask ourselves: why in 50 years was not the distribution network buried according to the economy and the help worth millions coming first from the USSR and then from Venezuela? Why were not substituted , little by little, the obsolete sources of energy until now? Who decided the priorities of each quinquennium which left behind this vital generation and distribution of electric energy?
It is necessary to listen to and bear in mind the total defenselessness of the m ajority of the citizens, the Cubans, men and women, who say, before the TV cameras, with simplicity, with a dose of naivety and much of paternalist culture, that “they have been left with nothing”. And there they stay, expecting nobody will be “unprotected”. With one hand over the other hand: waiting. But also we would have to ask ourselves: the Cubans who have suffered the damages of two continuous hurricanes, with no time to repare the damages of the first one, why don’t they have savings to repare the damages suffered? They haven’t been able to construct their houses with a minimum of security, until they were left “with nothing”. The salaries have not allowed to save any money in 50 years, for the personal and family security which is inherent and constituent of every fair salary. Why? Or one deeper question: Why this culture of the chick with the open mouth waiting in the torn nest for something that will be put on his beak? Why this defenselessnes of the citizens? Why this anomy which expects everything to come from above, just with the arms crossed? Why taking for granted that nobody will be unprotected by a State which is being considered God?
It’s necessary to bear in mind the enormous and admirable mobilization of soldiers, leaders and workers from the State brought from other provinces, to cover the most urgent and relevant needs. This action has been significantly called: “giving vitality” to towns and entire municipalities, many provinces and big institutions and organizations on which many essential services depend. But now we will have to ask why this vitality is not given, besides the Army and the Civil defense by, above all, a civil society acting in coordination with the ones who know the whole problem, but with the initiative, autonomy and creativity that don’t give and can’t have, logically, the army or the governmental structure which have their own centralized dynamics. We ask why those “live forces” of the communities at the base, the groups, the independent associations, the organized alternatives from below cannot give this vitality themselves. Why do so many persons cross “one hand over the other”? Where did we aquire this anomy which is like a civic and anthropological anemia? Haven’t these persons been educated in our educative system?
If we don’t try to analyze the situation and evaluate the “damages” of the three hurricanes in a multifaceted, holistic and integrated way, even the best intentions will be lost in a sea of illogical conclusions, due to the alienation regarding the truth about Cuba. The logic, the methodology, the “normal” which is done in similar situations in any part of the world do not work in the redoubts of the absurdity, where out of inertia or by an all-embracing will, there is an attempt to stop the evolution of life and history. It doesn’t matter if it is waiting for a “miracle” or waiting for “the required conditions”. Life and history cannot be stopped or manipulated by twisting the normal course of evolution, without causing irreparable cyclonic and anthropological damages; economic, political and social damages. To master nature and cutivate the human spirit and consciouness is a task not only of all men and women in all times but of us who believe in God; this task is sublimated, by an “order” given by the Creator Himself, since the Genesis. But it can’t be done against nature.
Once we approach this holistic and comprehensive evaluation of reality, it’s not normal or ethical, to stand with the arms crossed in the useless complaint which has been denounced (also the corruption and the stockpiling were denounced) in the article called “Information to our people” publised in the national press and it states (with good reason): “Our people is showing a palpable sign of the multiplying power of morality, unity, the decision to endure and the confidence in their leaders and above all, in itself. Such exemplary attitude contrasts with the selfish attitude of the ones who just complain and demand that others solve their problems”. (Granma Newspaper, 29-9-08)
Responding to and sharing the confidence we have in the inmense capacity for recovery of our people, we try to give our contribution which is summarized in one proposal: to free the productive and enterprising forces of each Cuban, man or woman, without distinction or exclusion.
According to our limited perspective of common Cubans we have tried to discern three tentative behaviors by the government and three by the Cuban people. We now summarize these concepts in order to share them with the ones who wish to implement a serious, deep and truly “political” dialogue, that is, about the “polis”, the “civitas”, the whole nation and not only its government or its intergovernmental relations of international cooperation.
May the synthesis not cloud the essence of the tentative behaviors we forsee:
First tentative behavior:
The government: Focussed on restoring the damages, on maintainig the existing things, producing or even increasing a centralized State production. Gainig time, day after day, waiting for a situation that allows to recycle the crisis of the system without changing anything structural. It’s the delay, the struggle against time or to gain time. The same old story, until it is possible.
The sovereign citizenship, the community: Months go by, the adrenaline produced by the disasters lowers; the diligent solidarity gives way to the routine of the work (or the unemployment); At first, we wonder, but then we know that, like in former hurricanes, several years later, entire families will survive living in shelters which have been wrongly called: “temporary facilities” and they are neither facilities nor temporary; then it comes a down process, a psychosocial phenomenon related to depression, a collapse into the total apathy, the dependence on the State, the resistance to change, the anti-dynamics of the “sitting down”, and the subsequent deterioration of the personal, family and productive situation.
Second tentative behavior:
The government: A partial openning up, politically conditioned, establishing cooperation agreements that give priority to the economic aspect over the ethics, the commerce over the Human Rigths, the material aspect over the spirit of the Cuban nation. The interests over dignity. It’s not only a question of order for the treatment of the topics but the concept of the political and the ethical aspects. It’s as simple as the thousand-year-old golden rule: Don’t wish others what you don’t wish yourself. Even with this partial and selective openning, the system will not be able to avercome the cyclonic crisis which for 50 years have lived between survival and totalitarianism. There is always an ally or a sponsor, first from the East and now from the South. We have to acknowledge that regarding the geographic aspect we have improved, though not in the essence of assistance in exchange for ideological blocs. It’s serum and oxygen to maintain the same internal blockade that does not allow prosperity to develop and does not allow the development of the capacities and opportunities of each Cuban either. The same old story but with assistance therapy.
The sovereign citizenship, the community: It would be an opportunity for some persons who are near the help or who are beneficiaries of strategic investments, and on the other hand, the exhaustion of the excluded ones, for economic as well as political or social reasons, who do not have anything to lose. It could lead to non-organized social outbursts, which are no less chaotic or dangerous.
Third tentative behavior:
The government: This is what we propose. The structural reform, the deep change: to free all the productive forces and the economic, social, religious, cultural and political initiatives that can be found in the best moral reserve of the Cuban people. We are sure that such capacities and strength exist. We are sure that Cuba is no less than any other country in the world which has managed to be the protagonist of its own sovereignty from below as well as the protagonist of a structure of partipatory inclusion. There is no doubt about that. This is the only sitematic and capillary solution in a medium and long run, which would respond to the causes and not only to the consecuences and that has inner capacity and pacific viability in today’s world to save Cuba and any country from the cyclonic devastation of financial hurricanes of the savage market, such as the meteor of anthropologic disasters caused by paternalist systems, centralized and exclusive.
The sovereign citizenship, the community: Bearing in mind the enterprising character of the majority of Cubans and the openning up that would stimulate their initiative, each person could choose his own project of life, managing by himself or organizing himself with others. It’s the equal oppotunities not only among all the citizens to receive the things assigned from above but between the citizens and the State which now has the monopoly of everything. It’s the path to human promotion and social progress.
Of course, it’s very probable that these tentative behaviors combine. We only have separated them to facilitate their evaluation and look for solutions.
On it’s part, the Cuban government has declared that it cannot give inmediate answer to all the consecuences derived from the hurricanes. These hurricanes have been the last straw of 50 years of an inefficient economic system, always depending on foreign help.
Cuba is sinking into a state of effective ungovernability. Because to rule is not to repress and practically militarize the country. Because, as Martí has said, a nation is not founded as if ruling a camp. Cuba needs to be founded again upon the basis of the Varela and Martí project. Governability is the democratic way to promote the governance of the citizens, that is, their capacity to self management and count on the legal framework and the healthy environment of peace and opportunities, without exclusions. This ungovernability, de facto and non-declared, hinders the journey of the nation with obstacles called corruption, black market, emerging mafias, not detected or yet tolerated, unconscious sit-down strike, because there is no material or moral stimulation and the jobs only guarantee the daily survival during the first days of the month or the days closed to the pay day of what is called salary. It’s also called structural inefficiency of the centralized economic system. It’s called the closing to open markets due to the lack of credits and the lack of credits is because the acquired debts are not paid. That has caused the lowing of the Confidence-Country Indicator which is used by the investors of the whole world to risk their capitals and technologies.
This state of paralysis in the essential aspects is also called stubornness due to ideological dogmatism, lack of dialectics and political pragmatism which close the doors of Cuba to entire blocks of nations, with the possiblitity of openning them. Or they delay the economic negotiations until despair for reasons strictly political. Or there is a palliative policy in which temporary solutions appear: independent work, to palliate the internal situation, or the fliexibilization of investments to allow some oxygen from abroad. All this, until a political allied nation appears to palliate the situation, the doors of the former temporary little reforms are closed again, because they are not needed anymore: the security is granted by the neighbour nation. This way, there is no viable economy or democratic governability.
It’s necessary to lift all blockades. It’s true. The embargos coming from abroad. But at the same time and above all, the blockade of this centralized and monopolist system upon its citizens has to be lifted. To free the productive forces and the initiative of Cubans so that they can really work and succeed:
To lift the economic blockade: imposed to the productive strength of each citizen which is repressed so that the laws of a regulated market economy can awake and free the only true source of the real and lasting reconstruction of the Country: the work.
To lift the social blockade: which hinders the capacity and the right that the citizenship has to organize itself independently, so that the personal initiative can be complemented and open to authentic spaces of participation and solidarity, the only true and lasting way to heal the anomy, to put the protagonism of citizens at the service of the community and to learn how to organize and rebuild the subjectivity and the most diverse group and association richness: a capillary and articulated network of the civil society.
To lift the political blockade: which excludes pluralism of opinions, alternative programs to seek the common good through the negotiated, pacific and agreed solution to the main problems of the nation. The only democratic way to attain a Cuba with a place for all of us in a healthy cohabitation: the multiparty system and the division and effective mutual control of the three powers of the State: the executive, the legislative and the judicial powers. To be all of us under the law and not under the leadership of one only exclusive party which passes and repeals laws that are later approved in the unanimity of a mono-coloured Assembly. That is: the reconstruction of a Democracy State.
To lift the blockade of the international relationships: The doors are open to some nations and closed to others due to political exculsive reasons. Nations that have been historically very closed to Cuba, with ties of culture, religion, idiosyncracy, ways of government and cohabitation. So that Cuba opens up to the world, really. It means that each Cuban, woman or man, and that is Cuba, can travel, go out and in his country freely and all citizens of the world have the doors of Cuba open for the interchange of opinions, cultures, commerce, experiences and fraternity. That’s what corresponds to an interdependent and global world in which we are living today, even when there are a few countries like our country where the citizens are kidnapped because they need a special permission from the government to be able to travel. Besides, the whole nation is being held in a time and a world compartmentalized by ideological and political frontiers which no longer exist in reality. That is: it’s necessary the reconstruction of the international relationships not only among governments but among all sectors of the civil society of each country.
The hurricanes, anyway, will come back in the years to come through the sea of the Caribbean. Cuba will not move from here. Neither the repression of laws enforced rigidly, nor the tiering slogans of more work, discipline and demand will be able to solve the deep problem. Everbody knows it and the ones who have lived more know it better.
It’s urgent to start a campaign of civic and ethical education that raises the self esteem and the self management of the citizens. Only through education, the willpower becomes strong and the virtue is cultivated. To educate for freedom and responsibility, not to repress in order to keep the power and survive precariously. The extreme situation the country is facing can’t endure another experiment or more systematic exasperation, or more trench spirit, or more call to endurance.
So if we don’t implement now the options and efficient structural solutions in the medium and long run, the patience of the citizens in Cuba will not be enough to come out of a hurricane and go into another. Too much has been the time and infinite the patience. Silent has been the suffering and the lost lives, not only for the consequences of the meteors but for the stuburnness of wanting to go into the past.
But precisely because of that, this is not the time for complaints, or looking behind. It’s necessary a pro active and efficient policy. A policy of proposals. Let’s clean the skies of Cuba. Let’s channel the pushing waters that now, repressed, threaten the Cubans. Let’s open the doors of citizen sovereignty and the frontiers of the Island. It’s a new opportunity for the fundamental and unavoidable changes to come with order and graduality, from the ones who have got the power to lead and facilitate them.
Let’s free, once and for all, the live forces of society. Cuba needs to change with serenity, in a climate of industrious quietness. Let’s stop the confrontation with an external enemy almost indispensable to maintain this warfare climate and let’s also stop the confrontation with the citizens who don’t think the same way as the ones in power. If that happens, Cuba will no longer have the crash and the fright that prevent living and working in peace. With that, Cuba will gain identity, dignity and progress, inserted in the concert of democratic nations, with quiet and serene normality.
Cuba deserves it and we have the duty and the right to construct those new skies and this new land in which our children and grandchildren, at last, can grow up in peace and prosperity.
Pinar del Río, November 3rd 2008.