Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Political Burden of the Dictatorship after the Dictatorship

The Political Burden of the Dictatorship after the Dictatorship / Miriam
Posted on August 26, 2013

Days ago, I had the opportunity to read a smart and funny article by
Eugenio Yáñez, in which, based on the age of the highest representatives
of the government, the writer was questioning the "youth" proclaimed by
Castro 2 in his recent speech for the 60th anniversary of the assault on
Moncada barracks. Almost at the end of that article, Yáñez successfully
launches a judgment referring to the olive green gerontocracy still in
power in Cuba: "Instead of trying to distort reality, it would be better
to clear the way for new generations that will do it better, because
it's impossible to do it any worse".

The extent of the case, as simple as it is accurate, brings to mind a
debate a couple of years ago with several of my friends that focused on
a discussion about who could be the alternative political actors we
might consider for the presidency of a Cuba in transition. On that
occasion, there were very interesting analyses around opposition figures
and programs of the most diverse leanings and positions, including the
dissident spectrum from the last part of the '80s decade until today.
The opinions of those debating were, of course, also very different and
emotional at times.

I will not fall into the naïve temptation of retelling a version of that
reunion here, or the viewpoints of each participant because, after all,
it was not about trying to decide the Cuban transition in a simple
dialogue among friends, nor does Cuba possess the necessary minimal
conditions for freedom and democracy, political maturity or enough
civility, even among the dissident ranks, to tolerate criticism or
opinions that are different from their own evaluations. In fact, almost
every figure carries within him the messiah virus or the belief that he
eats the egg of absolute truth for breakfast every morning, and only the
more honest ones, the best, have the ability to recognize the evil in
their own hearts, and to keep it duly restrained and not allow it to
expand and dominate them. Even the people seem to interpret the
criticism of any leader or program as a divisive attempt. Often, people
seem to need idols more than freedom itself.

But back to the question, the fact is that at that unique and
unforgettable meeting attended by several intelligent and acute
individuals, the idea that raised the most debate was that of a fellow
member who closed the circle, declaring: "Anyone who is democratically
elected and supports civil liberties conducive to the exercise of all
human rights will do as president for me, since, if that were the case,
we would be guaranteed the right to criticize him, to speak out against
his administration, to demand, to force him to listen to demands and,
within a reasonable period of a few years, to remove him from office in
new elections if he doesn't meet the voters' expectations".

I must confess that at that time I wasn't 100% on board with his
proposal, though I could understand he had made a good point. Maybe I
was driven by distrust in imagining what the performance of certain
shady characters would be when anointed with legitimate power leading
the destiny of a nation in the turmoil of a transition that will
undoubtedly be difficult. That prospect terrifies me still.

However, Yáñez's article has made me think about the Cuban reality and
once again taken me back to that memorable gathering where, as so often
happens, a group of friends discussed the hypothetical future of a
democratic Cuba. That friend and Yáñez are both right: the Castro regime
has deliberately performed so badly that no one else could do it worse,
not even the worst of the worst hidden kingpins we have in every sector
of Cuban society. But, to elect "the wrong thing" so we won't have the
worst one, doesn't sound to me like a good political sense.

Definitely, in the presence of a democratic election, I would not vote
for just anyone. However, due to the stubbornness of the eternal Moncada
octogenarian boys who cling to power, I can't help but to recognize that
any other option would be preferable, at least for the majority. The
dictatorship has become the point of reference to such an extent of what
a government should not be that it has sealed the evil within the fate
of the Cuban people, even long after it's gone. And so, paradoxically,
it could still play a political role, in case it becomes indirectly
responsible of an unfortunate future election of the transition that
awaits us.

Translated by Norma Whiting

9 August 2013

Source: "The Political Burden of the Dictatorship after the Dictatorship
/ Miriam Celaya | Translating Cuba" -

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