The Morality of the Survivor / Dimas Castellanos
Posted on May 25, 2013
In the expanded meeting of the Council of Ministers held on Friday May
13, the head of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment reported on the
irregularities in the operation of businesses with foreign capital and
international contracts; the Minister of Economy and Planning spoke
about the irregularities and criminal activity in the marketing of
fuels; while the Comptroller General of the Republic recognized that
although there are improvements in the evaluations with respect to
previous reviews, serious problems and vulnerabilities persist.
An objective analysis on the subject should begin to banish the use of
euphemisms to sugarcoat reality. It is not about irregularities, but
rather a marked deterioration of ethics, of corruption, which if it
didn't begin in 1959, it was after that date that it expanded from the
political-administrative sphere to all social relations to become a
culture and to act as a brake on government projects themselves.
This phenomenon, which starts in the economy and even reaches the
spirituality of Cubans, is one of the factors that shows the structural
character of the current crisis and explains the failures in the
attempts to overcome it with limited changes to the economy.
Among the factors that condition this reality is the disappearance of
the tens of thousands of proprietors who were replaced by "bosses," the
total implementation of the "property of the whole people" and the
failure of wages and pensions; it was a combination of harmful agents
that have led to robbery, theft, bribery and deception in order to
survive. It is also because the moral standard is a collection of
socially accepted norms, that change depending on purposes, interests
and social conditions, such that survival is a form of morality that
emerged from the profound structural crisis we're immersed in.
The changes that are being implemented in Cuba under the label of the
Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Communist Party, are
faced with the worst situation in respect to moral conduct that our
history has ever known. Survival, reflected in multiple frustrations,
has generated disinterest, hopelessness and escapism reflected in a
morality that employs a patriotic vocabulary with a distinct content.
Now the struggle, is not designed for the purpose of abolishing slavery,
achieving independence and overthrowing tyranny, but rather to survive;
nor is it about "Freedom or Death" or "Fatherland or Death," but about
"Life or Death" which is the slogan of the survivor.
The explanation of the former lies in that the first human morality is
the preservation of life and when social conditions close every
possibility of realization, people have only two paths: renounce life or
survive. Thus, in the face of inadequate wages, Cubans respond with
activities at the margin of the law; to the impossibility of being
entrepreneurs, through the State track, that is, government expenditures
and utilities in particular; the shortages, theft from the State, which
is ultimately the property of "all the people"; the shutting down of all
possibilities to escape to exile; the so-called ideologies, with the
apathy; meanwhile the verbs escape, struggle and resolve, designate the
actions to acquire the necessary "extras," that is, to survive.
Official journalism does not seek the causes
Given this stubborn reality, the State limits itself to repression: more
police, surveillance, restrictions and inspectors; all actions about the
effects without taking into account the causes, among them the shift
toward totalitarianism that erases the citizen from the Cuban scene. But
what strongly draws our attention, as we see in the following and small
sample of articles, is the insistence over the years on the effects and
the ignorance of the causes:
The May 22, 200 issue of the newspaper Juventud Rebelde (Rebel Youth)
published "The Hunter of Deceptions," referring to a popular inspector
charged with detecting violations in quality, weight, price and the
selling items of outside the unit. According to this inspector when the
evidence of the crime was placed before the the offender, some consumers
are bothered and defending their own victimizer. That is, the "victims"
defended their victimizers, a fact demonstrative of the social
acceptance of the morality of the survivor.
On Saturday November 28, 2003, the newspaper Granma published
"Violations of Prices and the Never-ending Battle," in which an official
of the Department of Price Supervision of the Ministry of Finance, said
that in the first eight months of this year, in 36% of establishments
inspected they found irregularities; in the case of markets, fairs,
plazas and agricultural outlets, the index was above 47%, and in food it
On Saturday December 24, 2005, Granma reported that at the regular
session of the National Assembly of People's Power, Pedro Ross, then
Secretary General of the CTC, said: "There are workers who react, but
others don't and continue to justify the theft and other misconduct."
On Monday, February 16, 2007, Granma's article "Cannibals in the
Towers," addressed the theft of the structures that support the high
voltage electric transmission network. In 2004, 1,648 of the structures
disappeared on the 220 thousand volt network, and 545 in the 100
thousand volt network; in 2005 they stole 532 and 544 respectively; in
2006, after strengthening surveillance, technical measures and
sanctions, 267 and 1,827 disappeared. There was a decrease in 220,000
network only because the bolts were welded up to 6 yards high, but then
the daring fighters climbed above that height. Similarly the conductor
cables were stolen, to sell the aluminum and copper contained in them.
On Friday, October 26, 2010 Granma published "The Price of Indolence."
It turns out in the commune of Corralillo, in Villa Clara, more than 300
homes were built with stolen materials and resources. In 240 of the
homes inspected over 10,000 feet of rail tracks had been used, and in
82% railroad tracks from the Ministry of the Sugar had been used, which
came from the dismantling of over 15 miles of railway lines, and pieces
from over 59 high voltage towers were also used.
More recently, in Juventud Rebelde of February 19 and 26, 2012, the
Comptroller of the Republic said in an interview: "In our experience,
the causes of corruption range from the fact that there was no control
of the contracts, because those whose job it was didn't do it, and those
who had to audit it either didn't audit it or didn't do so in depth."
And to all this must be added the constant diversion of resources,
countless lawsuits, including against senior government officials.
What neither Granma nor Juventud Rebelde have established, as
journalists, is the relationship between, corruption on the one side
and on the other absolute state ownership, poverty wages and the
inability to be entrepreneurs. What they have done is demonstrated the
futility of repression, if not accompanied by measures to address the
causes, then, surveillance, police, simple inspectors, comprehensive
inspectors, or inspectors of the inspectors, are Cubans with the same
needs as the rest of the population and therefore practitioners of the
To change the course of events they will have to extend, although quite
late, the economic changes to other social spheres, which means
returning civil liberties, without which the formation and the
predominance of the civic behavior required by present and future Cuba
will be impossible.
From Diario de Cuba
23 May 2013