English (Editorials)

9 - CULTURE AND POLITICS IN CUBA

The world is not a chaos. Nor do we live in anarquy as a system. The world is not all bad. Neither is Cuba a normal country. Shades is what is missing, more and more. Manichaeism cuts the world in half. Not equal halfs, not proportional, not interwoven, but the partition is totally unsymmetrical: we the good ones, and just in case, with some others; and the rest of the world is a complete disaster.
However, to escape has become the most rapid, used and wished “solution”, for the inmense majority of Cubans, women and men, when they become aware of the reality we are living in and the deceiving perspective which says: “here everything is better”. The tragedy is the following: in view of the first difficulty, in view of the violation of any rights of the citizens, in view of the endless crisis, the “national solution” comes down to leaving or enduring without a complaint.
Is it that Cubans do not love their country anymore? Or is it that what they don’t love is the way they live and the way this country is organized?
If the responsibility fell only on the shoulders of the citizens who choose to leave their country, this would have happened en masse before 1959 too.
This is why we wish to meditate on the exercise of power and the way to administrate the country, because we consider this might be the root cause of everything that Cuba and its exile are experiencing.
There are, at least, five forces which drive the world: being, knowing, believing, wish and power. All of them are necessary, all of them can make a contribution to the welfare and happiness of persons, families and the humankind. For us, however, the order is important. And the way these forces are used seems to us even more decisive. The way some persons use these powers show their conception of the world. The order they prioritize these forces show the level of civilization; the respect to human rights; it shows the qualitative development of persons and society.
In our conception of the world, and therefore, in our perspective about Cuba and its future, first thing is to be persons. Without this condition, the rest of vital forces collapse for lack of support or they are used against the very human being. To develop the being means to put an ethics as the axle, base and compass of all the rest of vital forces.
Knowing, without personal ethics, is a science without a conscience. A sicence which manipulates the very life. Believing, without being first a human being, is fanaticism. To wish to do something, that is, to have willpower without personal ethics is pure obstinacy. Power without personal ethics is heartless authoritarianism.
According to this logic, the power without the primacy of the ethical being; the personal “ethos” and a community ethics freely assumed and agreed, is subjection of some by others.
Every power means to entrust something to somebody. It’s the sum of all the quotas of personal sovereignty that we willingly give to one or some reponsible persons. Therefore, every power is meant to serve the ones who have passed it for a while, with a certain purpose and under the effective control exerted by the ones who have passed power. If power is not put at the service of citizens in an effective and obvious way; if power cannot be avaluated by everybody, it becomes itself illegitimate. It loses its raison d’etre. It loses it’s reason.
That is why it seems so illogical to us the fact that one people lives in fear of its rulers. The fact that some children fear their parents. The fact that some parishioners fear their pastors; that some countries fear bigger countries. If power inspires fear then it’s not legitimate power. If the ones involved in some kind of responsibility have to use threats, coercion, repression, imposition... such responsibility loses its legitimity and its authority. Fear engenders submission or deceitfulness and these are not results produced by power exerted as a service. Nobody fears to be served or to share responsibilities with others when there is a climate of trust and respect for the human rights and the aspirations of the ones who expect an attitude of service and not of imposition coming from the ones responsible. He who serves does not impose or demands servility.
There is a substantial difference between holding power and having moral authority. It shows. People are the best measurement and standard to distinguish one thing from the other. People run away from the one who holds power in order to subjugate them. But they come closer to the moral leadership which accompanies and supports them in their personal progress. People pretend before the authoritarian power; whereas they cooperate or criticize the ones who win a moral authority. People reject the powerful selfish though it can’t be expressed openly. But they admire and follow the leaders with moral authority, though it might not be expressed either because they are afraid and because they pretend before the powerful ones.
It is easy to know if one people has leaders with moral authority. And it’s even easier to know if one people is submitted to an authoritarian power. Ask if the people are afraid, what they are afraid of and whom they beware and you will know if power is exerted to submit or to serve the citizens. It’s hard to believe that the international mechanisms need so many periodic evaluations in carpeted halls. It would be enough to ask the people why they beware and whom they beware.
The very power knows it, better than anyone. The bigger and more powerful the State repressive bodies are, the clearer the State qualifies itself. The more instruments and resources a Government needs to repress its own people the clearer the exercise of its power can be evaluated. The more prisons, detention centers, houses for questionig, security agents, tapped telephones and informers in each block, the clearer the kind of power exerted over the population is. The moral authority is inversely proportionate to repression.
There is no moral leadership if there is no project coming out of the real needs of the people. Or at least, if the projects from the citizens are not accepted or consulted, there will be no moral authority if there is no project for the future to be offered to the people. The power which only asks for sacrifice is abuse of power. The power which offers only death as an alternative to the Fatherland or to an ideology, or to a saving imposed from above without a notice and drastically damaging the quality of the daily and family life of citizens is not ethical or legitimate though it is legal. When this happens, then the time has come for power to go back to the people which is the sovereign one.
Being a person is above every power and legal autority. What gives moral authority to power is the respect for the life of every person. What gives legitimity to power is the real welfare, not the welfare on television. Only the access to opportunities for present personal and community progress, (not eternally postponed), backs up every power ethically.
An authentic exercise of power as a service is based on reason, dialogue, public debate, free access to the media; to convince, not to defeat and devastate the adversary; it’s based upon giving and tolerating, consulting and listening in order to act consistently, not to put the people’s expectations on ice- or to let the people to relieve tension- in a game of mass psychology which works as a safety valve to control better the national “pressure cooker”.
Then every citizen ought to have these simple tools for his civic literacy, for his empowerment as a citizen. Tools that allow him to educate his conscience in order to discern, evaluate and have his own criteria about the ones who exert any kind of power either inside the family or in a social organization or in a church or in a territory or in the whole country. The same instruments for ethical discernment can serve to learn how to assess the exercise of every power in the international community. Fear cannot be hidden behind political masks, as Father Varela used to say. The very fact that people have to use masks is an unequivocal indication of the climate we are living in.
As for the Cuban people, we are certain and confident that our nation has ethical roots firmly rooted to the humus of the history of the Fatherland and it shows wherever there is a settlement of Cubans in the increasing national diaspora. We also count on the sufficient moral reserve in the most simple people, less corrupt, more transparent, with less real power but with more moral authority.
All in all we know that there are many people in Cuba and in all its shores who want to do well, who want to work in Cuba, for a more open future, less dark, more participatory, less repressive, with more opportunities for progress, with less frustrated personal projects due to the domination and the censorship of a power which thinks more of itself, of its own safety and permanence than in the only guarantee for a power to last, which is: to serve the real interests of the nation placing them above its own interests.
Who identifies those interests of the nation?
How can those expectations be expressed without the fear to be crushed in our own country?
Where can we discuss the solutions in equal conditions with the ones who think differently?
When are the decisions for change going to start? They are the only way to lift the hope of the people who are overwhelmed and desperate.
When and how will the ones with the same interests be able to organize themselves to serve each other in the search for the common good?
What kind of service should the ones who exert some kind of power or responsibility render in order to provide a real and efficient climate for trust and coexistence among all Cubans and the legal structures that guarantee this?
Cuba, its present and its future, depend, to a great extent, on the answers that each Cuban woman or man gives, honestly, to these and other questions. That present and future of the Nation also, and above all, depend on the political will of power to listen to the answers and respond with an attitude of authentic service in order to lift everything that might block the genuine aspirations of all of the citizens.
To serve the happiness and the real progress of the people, of each person so that he has not to choose between leaving or being, is the only way to have moral authority. And only the moral authority legitimizes power.
Pinar del Río, June 3rd 2009