The New Scenario / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on January 27, 2015
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 23 January 2015 – The possibility that some
day the dispute between Cuba and the United States would ever be solved,
the discussion about how to accomplish it having been successively
postponed, seemed so remote.
If we were to identify in a simple form the background of the
disagreement between both contenders, we would have to say that it can
all be reduced to the intention of the Cuban government to implant a
socialist regime with a single party and without private property, in
the face of the geopolitical will of the United States to maintain in
the region a homogenous system of representative democracy and market
The fact that Cuba became the first socialist country in the Western
hemisphere sustained the dream of Nikita Khruschev to some day see the
hammer and sickle flag waving over the Capitol in Washington. Perceived
from afar, the problem qualified as one element of the contradictions of
the Cold War.
But, observed from within, the conflict could not be reduced to a brawl
between Cubans and Americans replicating the East-West conflict, rather
it starred Cubans with different ways of thinking. The imposition of the
Marxist ideology provoked an internal schism in Cuban society and in the
Cuban family. Under the guise of a growing class struggle, appeared
victims and victimizers, and an enormous quantity of silent witnesses.
To those who proposed to align the Island with the countries of the
Socialist Camp, it wasn't enough to confiscate all American-owned
properties, in addition, in less than a decade, they swept away the last
vestige of private property. They implanted a ferocious "scientific
atheism" and prohibited any political or ideological display that didn't
maintain absolute fidelity to the principles of Marxism-Leninism.
The enemies that process engendered, inside and outside, ended up
joining forces. There were armed landings, groups in the mountains,
bombings and sabotage. The prisons filled with political prisoners, and
the terror of suffering the consequences of dissent brought faked
obedience. The great majority of victims of the Revolutionary laws left
for exile, while socialism in Cuba continued to produce the dissatisfied.
One fine day, McDonald's arrived in Moscow before the flag of the
proletariat was hoisted in the capital of the empire, and as a
consequence, the construction of pure hard socialism on the Island
ceased to seem a Utopia to reveal itself as an absurd aberration. A
Special Period that nobody dares to put an end to, the uncertainty about
whether the leadership is a delirious dying man or a pragmatic
conservative, the inability to produce, the insolvency to buy, the lack
of an attraction for interested investors, the absence of an
understandable definition of the way forward, the total exhaustion of
old slogans, a crisis of values never before seen, an unstoppable
emigration, the decline and aging of the population, the insecurity that
Venezuela will continue its support with energy and financing, and a
thousand more reasons, have placed before the Cuban government the need
to sit down and talk with its oldest adversary.
These talks have found enthusiastic defenders, enemies and skeptics.
These tendencies, with all the imaginable gradations and with greater
and lesser visibility, are present in all environments: at different
levels of power in the United States, in the apparent unanimity of the
Cuban Government, in the exile, in the internal exile and, of course, in
the gagged protagonist that is the Cuban people.
The enthusiastic defenders can be localized easily in that group of
people on the Island who have as a priority achieving material
prosperity and being legitimated as an emerging middle class. In the
exile, there are those who would like to invest with guarantees in the
innumerable niches that can be opened; from government positions, those
who dream of recycling generals into managers; and from the environment
of the opposition, the few with the healthy naivety to believe that, as
a consequence of dialog, political dissent will be decriminalized and
they will soon be seated in parliament after winning the votes of their
The enemies of the rapprochement are found among the hawks of the U.S.
military sector and in that part of the exile that dreams of violently
overthrowing the Cuban Government and making them pay with blood for
their multiple and unpardonable crimes. They can be seen emerging in the
internal opposition among those who suspect that if the government is
sitting down to negotiate with the Americans, they will no longer have
to talk to them.
They argue that their demands, their just demands, particularly with
respect to Human Rights in Cuba, will fade into the background relative
to the claims prioritized by the American executive branch. In addition,
there is the group of those who aspire to be included in the refugee
program, or to be beneficiaries of "help" from the North, and fear that
all of this will disappear before the flowers that today adorn the
negotiating table wither.
Paradoxically, those in the Island's power structure who totally reject
the reestablishment of relations appear to be at the controls of the
repressive bodies; those who would be left without work and, still
worse, without privileges, on the day that, by virtue of the presumed
dismantling of the exterior harassment, Cuba can no longer be considered
besieged and, in consequence, dissidence ceases to be treason. Along
with this troop, are the gallant combatants who refuse to abandon their
trenches, the ones where they won their medals and merit points that one
day served to get a house, a car, a job and even public prestige.
Skeptics lack confidence in anything that some group of anonymous
negotiatorss have agreed to in secret. There are abundant reasons to
believe that the only thing the American government wants is to regain
its hegemony in the region, or that the only purpose of the Cuban ruling
elite is to save their heirs. They are everywhere, though they don't
speak up, or do so with due caution.
The issue of the reestablishment of relations, with everything that
rests on it, will be an election issue in the campaigns of Republicans
and Democrats; it could lead to political purges in the Communist Party,
the government and the parliament; it could rearrange alliances in the
exile; and delineate with greater precision the divisions in the
internal opposition. But it will be a reason for hope in the crowded
buses, in the lines for "chicken for fish," in the private taxis and
private restaurants, and among all those who have a relative on the
We Cubans should never find ourselves in this extemporaneous and foreign
dilemma. The real problem continues to remain unresolved and it is the
dispute between the people and its government.
Neither optimistic enthusiasm nor sterile skepticism is any use, much
less the intention to reverse what seems inevitable. The script is
written for four hands by those who are already quantifying gains and
losses. The only certainty is that there will be a new scenario where
new rules will come into force and every actor must rearrange his or her
Source: The New Scenario / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar | Translating Cuba