Editorial 17. Sept-Oct-2010
THE CHANGES WE WANT FOR CUBA DEPEND ON US.
Everything has moved in Cuba, especially since February 2010. Everything had been moving before. It’s a process. Everything has moved except the essence of the system.
If we assess the first 9 months of this critical year we could mention some factors of the analysis, catalysts, dilemmas, morals and challenges:
Factors for an analysis of the Cuban reality.
1. Accumulation of the inefficiency of the system for half a century: it’s been proven that it doesn’t work.
2. Galloping economic crisis up to the lack of liquidity and significant credits.
3. Increasing social unease because of social differences, violence and repression.
4. Accumulated corruption, caused by the economic crisis and the moral deterioration
5. Immobilism of power: it gains time and the expectations of changes are frustrated.
These and other structural causes are the root cause and the essence of the problem in Cuba. The rest is the same old thing or good intentions on the part of some. But the Country cannot be changed for the good only with good intentions. On the other hand, during 2009 it seemed that the international community and the public opinion turned their heads and forgot about the Caribbean Island in order to pay attention to problems of grater importance.
Every crisis that is hidden or disguised or postponed turns out through catalysts that can seem small or seemingly insignificant and out of proportion regarding the power machinery. From February on some catalysts began to appear coming from this internal pressure that has been repressed and increased for decades.
1. The going on hunger strike and the death of the prisoner of conscience Orlando Zapata Tamayo.
2. The increasing and pacific presence of the Ladies in White on the streets.
3. The going on hunger and thirst strike of the psychologist and journalist Guillermo Farinas Hernández.
These are the main protagonists of what have occurred in Cuba this year, with the support of the rest of the civil society. Everyone demanded the same thing, each one using his own language and style, all of them in a pacific way and opened to dialogue: the freedom for the political prisoners unfairly accused and imprisoned for seven years in prisons of high rigor and faraway from their homes. Zapata’s death unleashed a process. The world reacted, the media looked at Cuba again with grater attention and everything started to move more rapidly.
The government faced one first dilemma:
1. To stay still letting the internal pressure and the international solidarity campaign lead to an out-of-control situation, or
2. To move the domino and grant freedom to some of the almost 200 political prisoners imprisoned at that moment in the Cuban jails; more than two dozens of them were seriously ill.
It seems that they measured the seriousness of the crisis of the country and they decided to choose the second alternative.
But there was still a second dilemma:
1. To acknowledge the true protagonists: Zapata, Ladies in White, Fariñas and with them the greatest agreement and solidarity ever achieved in the rest of the civil society, or
2. Not to acknowledge these valid interlocutors and palm their prominence so that the undeniable fact of the existence of an internal opposition is not accepted.
An opposition which is militant and open, really small but visible and active; it’s a sign and a voice of the immense mass which is dissatisfied, frustrated and increasingly violent. Small, yes, but where has the political opposition been a majority from the beginning, in the transition processes of the totalitarian systems to democracy? We are extremists here in Cuba, a country which is an island with a leadership. Some times we are extremists by doing too much and some times by doing too little. Máximo Gómez stated: “We Cubans either go beyond things or we never make it”.
The power clearly chose the second alternative: it disregarded the interlocutors and looked for a mediator. The two interlocutors have never been sitting at a table: the State and the opposition, with the help of the mediator: The Church. It was rather an oral mediation some distance away until the mediation became negotiation and exclusive spokesperson for this process of releasing the prisoners from prison. We recognize this meritorious humanitarian task by the Church and we are glad together with the prisoners who have been released from prison though the majority of them have been sent into exile.
The negotiation has gone beyond the national boundaries and what used to be and is a problem between the people and its government was superseded by the eternal conflict between the governments of the United States and Cuba. And once more, the internal conflict was superseded by the relations between the European Union and the Cuban government. Once more, the internal situation in Cuba is intended to be negotiated abroad. The same thing that happened at the end of the war of 1895 could happen now: the fighters for freedom in Cuba, the mambises and Calixto García were left out of Santiago at that time. Now it’s the pacific fighters from the civil society.
The Cuban government prefers to acknowledge and negotiate with its “bitter enemies” abroad and at the same time ignores and disregards one part of its own citizens. The same as what happened with the mambises at the end of the war of independence in 1898. The difference now is that this is not the metropolis and the United States excluding the fighters for freedom but the totalitarianism in decomposition which negotiates abroad and uses disregard and repression inside.
It is necessary to continue analyzing and going into these strategies in high politics and not paralyze ourselves in the details that could end in an humanitarian operation but that could as well have a possibility to advance into structural, gradual and inclusive changes. In this kind of system and in the middle of the accumulated crisis, every movement can help to open the door to the change or just maneuver in order to decrease the pressure and gain time. For both things it is necessary to be alert, to analyze deeply, to include all the scenarios and accept the call of the responsibility that each citizen feels.
It would be good to find some morals or lessons up to now in this very recent history until History has the distance and all the necessary elements to judge:
Morals or teachings for the future of the changes in Cuba:
1. We Cubans, women and men inside Cuba, are the main protagonists of all the process of transformation in the Country; all Cubans who wish pacific changes and not only the ones who wish to perfect this socialism through reforms. There isn’t any group which can be the judge to decide who should or can be in charge of the destiny of Cuba.
2. The support of the part of the Nation that lives in the Diaspora will be increasing and effective insofar we, inside Cuba, do what we should do pacifically.
3. The international community will turn its head to pay attention to us and give solidarity to the democratic changes in Cuba only if we Cubans do what we should do pacifically.
4. A small group of women and two men in a hunger strike, one of them to the death and the other one on the edge of the maximum sacrifice, both of them heroic as martyrs; all of them, men and women, doing a selfless and generous service for the freedom of the Fatherland, have become catalysts and a driving force of the real change. Once more, the power of the smallness.
5. This catalyst can be neutralized, the prominence can be palmed and the conflict exported if the civil society inside Cuba is not alert, civically educated and willing to sacrifice itself for its role and its purposes.
6. The power can be moved and gradual and increasing goals can be achieved if we decide ourselves to do what we should do pacifically inside Cuba. Something has been attained now. Tomorrow we could attain the changes that the immense majority of Cubans wish; but without exclusions of some Cubans by other Cubans. It has been proved that it depends on us and we can and should do it.
Other morals could be concluded. Cuba and we Cubans some times have been forgetful. We turn the page very soon. This is good when we are dealing with rancor and hatred, with revenge and violence because it helps forgiveness and reconciliation. But there is a historic record that we should not lose. There are experiences that we have lived and we should learn from them. We should see the morals and have strategies in order to continue the process with new coherent steps and we should not distract ourselves from the essential thing we are looking for.
The first eight months of this historic year 2010 show it convincingly: we Cubans will attain only what we are willing to attain through the pacific struggle, with the eyes very open and the civic conscience well educated.
From the experiences we have lived we could deduce some challenges that the Cuban Nation has for the next months.
Challenges for the immediate future:
1. Will the political opposition and the dissidence from the civil society want to assume their own pacific prominence without getting tired? Will they be able to? Their political credibility and their service to the whole Nation without exclusions could be jeopardized.
2. Will the government assume its own prominence in favour of the substantial, gradual and pacific changes with no exclusions and without retaining the power? Will they be able to? Its political credibility and its service to the whole Nation without exclusions could be jeopardized.
3. Will the Church assume its mission of authentic impartial mediation, without exclusions and without political options on any of the parties when the moment comes during this process of mediating between the opposition, the civil society and the government? Will it be able to? Its temporary credibility and its service to the whole Nation without exclusion could be jeopardized.
4. And will the rest of the citizens who constitute the Fatherland want to make their contribution, according to their vocation and possibilities, using the alternatives they consider better for freedom, justice, peace and the reconciliation of the whole Nation? The credibility, the service and the sovereignty of each citizen, woman or man from the real Cuba could be jeopardized.
We believe that soon we will have at hand the specific answers to these four challenges. The future of Cuba, its freedom and its happiness depend on those free and responsible answers.
An urgent need.
There is one requirement so that each one of these sectors can assume its prominence in a responsible way: the civic and political education. The civic illiteracy of a majority, even of the ones who hold a greater responsibility, is evident and regrettable. The main causes are: more than 50 years of forced indoctrination and the anthropologic damage of totalitarianism; the confusion of roles and the interference in others’ businesses; to relinquish responsibilities and civic liberties; the unstoppable exile; the lack of respect and cooperation among the different sectors; the leadership and the exclusive sectarianisms. These are only samples of the urgency for the education of all of us for freedom, diversity, pacific cohabitation and democratic participation.
Nobody should snatch the prominence in our own personal and national history from us. This was a warning by the Pope John Paul II who said it four times during his five days of visiting in 1998 and it seems that we still have things to learn. When everybody said that the main phrase and message from the Pope in Cuba had been: “May Cuba open up to the world and the world open up to Cuba”, we agreed and this openness is very important to us at present.
But since 1998 we were convinced that there was another message repeated persistently by the Pope from the very moment he stepped on Cuban land at the Airport in Havana: “You are and should be the protagonists of your own personal and national history”.
But this is not about phrases only. The recent history has proved to us that if the civic prominence is assumed, that is, the “proto-agonae”: to be the first ones to suffer the agony for the Fatherland, then everything moves and the power gives in.
The future will undoubtedly confirm this moral: We will achieve only what we are willing to attain by our own effort through sacrifice.
Pinar del Río, September 8th 2010.
Solemnity of Our Lady of La Caridad de Cobre.
Emblem of our Country and Mother of all Cubans, women and men.