The Needless, Counterproductive Repression of Cuban Dissidents
December 19, 2013
By Pedro Campos
HAVANA TIMES — There have been numerous reports about the repressive
measures the Cuban government and its security apparatus took against
dissidents who had planned a peaceful celebration of the 65th
Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights this past
Apparently, anywhere from one to two hundred people around the country
were victims of reprisals. Photographs and video testimonies of these
events are available in different Internet sites.
The government isn't denying these incidents, so we can assume they
actually took place.
I was a Cuban government official and worked as a diplomat in Geneva at
the end of the 1980s, specializing in the area of human rights. These
events cause me great pain.
I do not support the political platform of Cuban dissidents, but I
defend their right to express their opinions peacefully – as such, I am
of course opposed to these acts of repression, which I consider in
violation of the human rights of these citizens.
I am going to pose a series of questions to President Raul Castro, the
members of the Politburo, the generals of the Revolutionary Armed Forces
(FAR) and Ministry of the Interior (MININT), those who directly
participated in these repressive acts and to share some general opinions
about these events.
What does the Cuban government achieve by breaking into people's homes,
imprisoning, kidnapping and even beating people who sought to celebrate
Human Rights Day peacefully in Cuba? What benefit is derived and what
good does it do its international credibility.
I believe it could have gained a lot more had it allowed these peaceful
celebrations to take place.
What is the government afraid of? That a few hundred people talking,
listening to music and perhaps yelling anti-government slogans are
capable of mobilizing thousands or perhaps hundreds of thousands of
people, who will support them and overthrow the government in a massive,
popular uprising? If that were the case, it would be a tacit
acknowledgement of their political defeat.
Doesn't the Cuban government realize that, in the age of the Internet
and smart-phones, when it's no longer possible to keep such incidents
from being divulged around the world, its repressive actions serve only
to bolster the national and international prestige of these dissidents?
Should the slogan "the streets belong to revolutionaries" be made a
reality by securing massive support from the people through popular
measures, or by cleaning the streets of dissidents through violent means?
I sincerely believe that the Cuban leadership, still imbued with the
spirit of the Cold War, Stalinism and military authoritarianism, blinded
by its own inability to pull the country out of its crisis and its
desire to remain in power at all costs, is unable to reason and see all
of the absurd things it is doing at all levels – economic, political and
After 7 years of a "new" administration, its measures still haven't
reached the tables of workers and industry, agriculture and
transportation are still in crisis. The country still has two
currencies, prices continue to go up and real salaries continue to be
Instead of the country's needed democratization and of increased
participation by the people in the affairs that concern them, we see
repressive strategies. The economic "adjustment" policies, which rather
resemble neo-liberal shock-therapy measures, do not even envisage
compensation for the least privileged sectors of society (pensioners,
single mothers and children of poor families), while the country's
educational and healthcare systems rapidly deteriorate.
None of these serious problems society faces can be solved through
repressive measures (which actually only make the problems worse). To
use brute force against the population is to dig one's own grave. I have
addressed this issue elsewhere. I don't pretend to give anyone any
advice. Everyone is responsible for their own actions. I am only
assessing the facts.
These repressive actions are, therefore, both unnecessary and
The socialist and democratic left has presented (neglected) proposals
for all areas of society that could help save the best of the
revolutionary process and guarantee that neither imperialism nor the
traditional Cuban far-right can take control of the country in the future.
With all of its different actions – particularly the repressive ones –
the Cuban government is paving the road towards a return to the worst of
the past, to a world in which no Cuban, no Latin American will ever want
to hear the word "socialism" again and to a new form of real or virtual
annexation by the United States, which both scorns and craves Cuba.
This is why it is so strategically important for today's progressive and
socialist movement to continue to demonstrate that this
ultra-centralized and anti-democratic "State socialism" has been a fake,
so much because of its methods as for its concrete practices.
True, post-Stalinist, democratic, participative, self-management
socialism is slowly but surely gaining ground among the many free
workers around the world who begin to break ties with exploitative
capital – both private or State – and force it to share political and
economic power or perish.
Cuba's State-monopoly capitalism, disguised as socialism, is in crisis
and disintegrating. It can either rot and give way to barbarism, to a
wild form of hyper-exploitative capitalism steered by a neo-fascist
regime, or start clearing the way for the full democratization of
society and, as such, for the true socialization of the economy.
It all depends on Cubans of good will, both in Cuba and abroad, in
support or against the government.
The last thing one loses, as they say, is hope.
Pedro Campos: email@example.com
Source: "The Needless, Counterproductive Repression of Cuban Dissidents
- Havana Times.org" - http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=100688