Saturday, November 21, 2015

Double-bladed Scissors

Double-bladed Scissors / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya
Posted on November 20, 2015

14ymedio, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 12 November 2015 — Value judgement
comments are very often made abroad about what – more or less – some
have taken to calling "an internal dissidence crisis in Cuba," implying
an epitaph, and with premature and unjustified gloating, when we
consider that frustration and dissatisfaction – the primeval basis on
which all dissidence feeds – have maintained an upward trend on the Island.

However, the existence of a crisis is not necessarily a negative sign.
The new landscape, encompassing daily life in Cuba and international
relations, involves rearrangements and challenges for all stakeholders,
especially those who move counter to truly hostile political conditions.
In any case, crises create growth opportunities as well as challenges.

So we are facing what will be a growth crisis for some opposition
groups, if they know how to assume the challenge to define their
strategies and advance. If they persist in continuing with their old
methods and concepts that lead nowhere, however, they will face a crisis
of extinction.

Slow going, winding path

The current Cuban scenario is at a juncture where a transformation is
taking place due to circumstances that have been building in the past
few years which mark a slow, though significant, turning point in the
profoundly State-based, centralized system that characterized the entire
previous "Revolutionary" period.

Among these changes are Fidel Castro's exit and his brother's, the
general-president, succession to power with the start of a process of
economic lukewarm reforms which – though lacking in depth, extent and
effectiveness – envelop an admission of the failure of the government's
mission, opening a crack in the extreme centralization and creating a
point of no return that has permitted the (minimum) resurgence of
private initiative.

There have also been legal changes that restored certain rights, such as
the sale of homes, cars, and other goods, as well as emigration reform
that eliminated the humiliating exit permit and extended to 24 months
the Cuban nationals' periods of stay abroad.

In the field of computers and communications, marketing of computer
hardware and cell phones were authorized, mobile e-mail service was
established and public Wi-Fi sites were created, among other measures.
Despite their limitations – high prices and slow, sporadic connections –
these measures represent some flexibility from the previous ironclad
monolithic practices of the regime.

Obviously, compared with technological advances and rights that are
enjoyed in democratic societies, such transformations are minimal. In
fact, they implicitly reflect the lack of rights that Cubans have been
enduring for decades. However, these restrained steps taken by the
Government – forced by the need to survive and not by a real political
resolve to change – mark the beginning of the end of totalitarianism and
prepare the setting for demanding deeper changes.

Unfortunately, in the absence of solid structures in the independent
civil society that can sway the pace, direction and depth of the
changes, the transformations have been implemented from the very
military power established in 1959, to suit its own interests, which has
set the slow pace of the process and the twists and turns along the
road, including about-face phases or stagnation of some of the adopted

A new schism

In this sense, last year's December 17th announcement of the restoration
of relations between the governments of Cuba and the U.S. marked a
milestone that shocked the entire Cuban society in general – and the
dissidence in particular – since it dramatically ripped to pieces the
old official discourse of David vs. Goliath, rendering it obsolete on
the one hand, while on the other, it introduced a new relationship style
between the U.S. government and the internal opposition.

This has forced a schism in the dissidence, whose most radical sector
considers this reconciliation of the two governments a "betrayal" of
democratic Cubans on the part of the Obama administration, at the same
time that they disapprove of an eventual lifting of the embargo, all of
which immediately places the solution to Cuba's internal political
conflicts in the hands of and under the laws of a foreign government.

Another problem is the tendency to ignore their own limitations against
the powerful government machinery. Some radical groups expect general
elections to be held immediately after the resignation of the current
government, an unrealistic (and impossible) move, considering that the
longstanding dictatorship holds not just the country's economic,
political and military power, but in addition, it absolutely controls
all the structures of the social order and directs a broad and efficient
paramilitary apparatus. In fact, the repressive capacity of the Castro
regime is its most powerful institution to date, even
extraterritorially. Venezuela is proof of it.

There is also a moderate trend sector within the dissidence that views
the end of the U.S.-Cuba dispute as a possible opening that would favor
a climate of deeper changes – including legalization and consolidation
of independent civic organizations and the emergence of a middle class –
as well as increased pressure from the international community on the
Cuban Government for change in the political sphere, and a potential
improvement in the living conditions of the population, among other
positive effects.

This trend is betting on dialogue and negotiations to achieve reforms
that will open opportunities for citizen participation that will face
the power structure, historically based on a monolithic system as well
as a gradient to ensure a peaceful and orderly transition, avoiding
social chaos, settling of scores, summary trials and vandalism peculiar
to abrupt changes in long-traumatized societies.

But, so far, the moderate sector has not been able to assert itself in
the political arena and lacks recognition, not only by the Cuban
Government – for obvious reasons – but it has also been ignored by
international governments and organizations currently interested in
negotiating with the regime.

Both strategies, the radical and the moderate, pursue, as a common goal,
the establishment of democracy in Cuba, but their irreconcilable
approaches will inevitably lead to a breaking point. In addition, they
are being fueled by ancient evils, such as autocratic governments,
authoritarianism and the yearning of its better-known leaders to steal
the limelight.

However, the real challenge facing the opposition is to overcome the
resistance phase as an end in itself and to conquer the participation
and commitment of Cubans inside the Island, something that has not been
attained by either strategy.

The Cuban opposition cannot delay in such issues as abandoning the role
of mere political folklore which the international press has tried to
turn it into, starting by putting an end to conflicts that lead nowhere.
The other path would be to disappear from the effects of wear and tear
and mass departures.

It is clear that the current political and economic global interests of
governments with very different ideals have encroached on our country
and are negotiating with the dictatorship, while those of us who
rightfully aspire to re-establish the nation are not finding the
essential unification hinge to get the two sharp blades of a scissors to
cut the Gordian knot of the Castro regime. Tomorrow could be too late.

Source: Double-bladed Scissors / 14ymedio, Miriam Celaya | Translating
Cuba -

No comments:

Post a Comment