Editorial 49. Jan-Feb 2016
CUBA CERTAINLY CAN CHANGE AND MUST CHANGE
The year 2016 has begun and a significant number of Cubans feel a fusion of despair, uncertainty and the wish to leave this place. It’s logical; it’s normal. Time goes by, life is short and it’s only one. The world changes and Cuba remains the same… or worse.
The cost of living goes steadily up. Shortage in general and shortage of supplies deteriorate the quality of life of the majority of people. Violence grows as a result of repressed frustration, family breaking up and educative failure. Health suffers and the welfare system is poor. Vulgarity and existential filth are spreading. Coarse attitudes pass on to one another and a culture of confrontation, intolerance and verbal violence is established; there’s also an ideological and divisive violence in the public speech, in schools and in the attitudes promoted by the authorities. And deeper than the galloping economic, political and social crisis are the anthropological damage and the ethical and civic illiteracy. These are unnatural evils against culture and against the spirit. Unfortunately, they can go back against the ones who allow it. That should be stopped right away and the promotion of reconstruction should be started in the soul of Cuba: the reconstruction of the human person and the very civilized social coexistence which is said to be promoted in relations among countries with diverse ways of thinking and deep differences.
This is not a pessimistic view. It is the verification of reality. A reality experienced and already expressed by many Cubans without fear. Some of us express it verbally, others by writing and others with their gestures, their decisions and even with their feet. There is a growing and sordid nonconformity. Exodus is massive and unstoppable.
News said by the government is not encouraging and doesn’t help solve our daily existence. And even worse, the ability and initiative of Cubans are repressed and also the right to choose their own life project, to develop their potentials and to be the protagonists of their development and personal, family and national progress. The resistance to change on the essentials is turning the late and superficial reforms into an entertainment that ignores the most peremptory and basic needs of Cubans in an insensitive way. It’s impossible to live like that, to go on like that. In such situations power is not given to serve.
We should learn from everybody’s mistakes and achievements
The first step for change and reconstruction of the country is to acknowledge the crisis and its dimensions. But we don’t have to let ourselves be defeated by apathy, discouragement or the temptation to escape. The second step is to accept or reaffirm our conviction that we believe and trust in the abilities, talents and the enterprising character of Cubans, women and men.
In spite of everything we are confident that Cuba has children, women and men, here and in the Diaspora who are as capable, noble, talented and virtuous as the best children of any other country. We reject an opinion that is unfortunately expanding in Cuba and abroad which is that a definite ethical, efficient and agile solution is not found to the situation in Cuba just because “we are Cubans”. Not because the soil isn’t fertile and the climate is unhealthy we should damn the seed.
We believe that this racist and self-discriminatory criterion which shows a sort of reversed nationalism is another result of the anthropological failure of the ideological system imposed for more than five decades; it’s one of the main mechanisms that contribute to the prostration of many Cubans and the underestimation of our capacity as a people by foreigners and the upholding of the state of affairs in Cuba.
We are confident that Cubans will know how to learn from the lessons of past history: as Pinochet’s departure from power in Chile, the elimination of apartheid in South Africa, transitions in Central and Eastern Europe among many other processes of different political signs and cultural and geographic places. We are confident that we will find “the morals” in the most recent events in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.
Let us learn from each other, from all persons. Let us learn the best and draw lessons from the worst. The world and our region are changing vertiginously. Let’s take only a few examples though they might not be the only ones or the best ones but they are an indication of the way our peoples are going:
-Today in Latin America solutions are found through dialogue, negotiation and consensus and not through confrontation and barricades. CELAC, UNASUR, OAS are changing and they are trying to be inclusive and not exclusive. Inclusion of Cuba even in the Americas Summit is only an example.
-Today the pacific way is winning in this continent. Legitimate authorities and guerrillas linked to drug-traffickers and corrupt people sit at the same table. Another example are Colombia Dialogues for Peace which will bury, God willing, the age of guerrillas and violence as solutions that have proved to be a failure.
-Today, there is opening, rapprochement, negotiation, creation of processes of dialogue among the most contradictory models of society and among the governments that have maintained attitudes of war, blockade-embargo and distance from their own peoples, both sides, during decades. Maybe the dialogue is too slow and asymmetric but it is a channel, after all. The case of Cuba and the United States, the case of Central America, especially Costa Rica regarding the Cuban emigrants, are two examples.
-Today, the Constitutional, pacific, legal and electoral way has determined processes in which the people and their authorities are showing irrefutable signs that a change is possible by using pacific methods. The examples of Spain, Greece, Argentina and Venezuela prove it. Are we Cubans worse than the Spanish, the Greeks, the Argentines and the Venezuelans? Of course we are not. We have the same faults and the same virtues than those brotherly peoples. And if they could do it Cuba can do it and will be able to. It has been shown here and everywhere Cubans have escaped looking for freedom and progress.
-Today, the unity for pacific change has been attained in the most varied diversity. The most recent example has been Venezuela. Chavism, for its part became diverse at facing the economic, political and social crisis and many honest Chavist citizens placed the solution of their people’s needs above and first than political groups and sectarian ideologies. The army, the police and the most prudent sectors from the Venezuelan government have guaranteed peace during this change. This is a dignified attitude advisable for all, including Cuba. The opposition in Venezuela, now acknowledged as unquestionable majority, used to be considered a minority by the government until the elections on December the sixth; they were said to be a few factions without social grounds and even violent. Nevertheless those minorities joined together in the Coalition for Democratic Unity (MUD) which was the means they found for agreement above their historical differences and leaderships.
-Today, the MUD is not a monolithic bloc; it’s not even a Party or an ideological front. It’s the minimum to give voice to Venezuelans’ needs. For example, Leopoldo López and Henrique Capriles don’t agree about everything but they placed Venezuela above their methods and they didn’t discredit each other. Ramón Guillermo Aveledo and Jesús Torrealba have been founder and a continuator respectively and they did not claim the authorship of MUD because they placed Venezuela above their leading roles and they didn’t discredit each other. Henry Ramos and Julio Borges have different parties and ideologies even the latter belongs to the party that won more seats on the sixth of December; they put aside their personal leaderships and they didn’t discredit one another. We Cubans should learn very well from this.
-The MUD even after the electoral victory couldn’t appoint a candidate by consensus but they didn’t get paralyzed. They agilely looked for an electoral way out inside the organization through primary elections like any other party in the world. Everyone complied with the will of those internal elections and they didn’t discredit one another. On the contrary, Borges praised Ramos and he granted Borges the first parliamentary word so he could present the legislative program of the MUD. These six dignified Venezuelans, together with all of whom from the officialism acted peacefully with civic-mindedness and no discredit have placed the name of Venezuela and Venezuelans’ self confidence on high. Can’t we Cubans do that? Are we so different from the rest of the world? Have we been injected with a subordination complex and a civic and political inability that makes us believe we can’t make it?
We believe in Cubans and we trust them
We belong to the persons who believe that Cubans, women and men are and will be able to change. We will be able to listen to our people’s increasing needs, here and in any place of the world and we will know how to serve our people. Facts will prove it.
We believe that unity in diversity is possible and this process has begun here in Cuba and we see it in Cuban Civil Society Open Space, in Mesa de Unidad de Acción Democrática MUAD (Coalition for Unity and Democratic Action) and in other civic and political inclusive projects which are growing and maturing. Future will prove it.
We believe that “caudillismo”, sectarianism and above all, discredit will disappear and also the childish immaturity of taking personal congenialities and antipathies to the field of the service to the Nation.
We belong to the ones who believe that with the effort of all Cubans of goodwill the paths for politics as a service to the common good will be opened and the doors to spurious interests, foreign manipulations and the fact of living on politics will be closed both sides. We are sure that we will mature and prepare ourselves more and more so we can resist those temptations. We’ll do it through more ethical, civic and political education. But such huge work requires learning and maturing process and also a high perspective.
We believe that we Cubans will find the way to our own solutions, we will not copy others’ solutions but we will study and learn from all of them. We are working on it.
“Parties, get out; Motherland, come in”
In this crucial time for our Latin America and for Cuba, in this year 2016 in which important national and international events will take place, we don’t forget the programmatic phrase stated by José Manuel Cortina who was a delegate from Pinar del Río to the Constituent Assembly; he didn’t allude to the exclusion of parties or the contempt for their roles but to the supreme value of placing the interest of the Nation above partisan programs. When the incomparable Constitution of the Republic of Cuba in1940 started to be drafted he expressed:
“Here we must appease selfish passions and be united for this sacred purpose of significant social creation; and national solidarity is urgent in order to attain it. PARTIES, GET OUT; MOTHERLAND, COME IN! It’s important to notice, gentlemen that this is a Constituent Assembly; that a Constituent Assembly is like an altar of creation, it’s a temple and in temples everyone is obligated to repress his passions. All of us have passions in our hearts; all of us have fanaticisms but, gentlemen, in such dangerous moments it isn’t fanaticism or passion that saves the country; it’s only understanding that saves the Motherland”.
With this spirit and encouraged by the example of our brothers in the whole continent and other places in the world, we have the serene conviction that there are Cubans, women and men, walking in our streets and countryside who have the virtue, the ethical fortitude, the spirit of devotion and sacrifice, the civic and political education, the experience and youth, the serenity, the necessary drive and the firm decision to stay here in order to attain the change in Cuba. A change toward pacific, civil, enterprising, prosperous and social coexistence opened to the world.
Pinar del Río, January 28th, 2016
163th Anniversary of José Martí’s Birth.
Apostle of Unity in Diversity.