Freedom for Cuba: Not a Lost Cause

I came across this article from January 1, 1999, by John Suarez titled, “Cuba: The Lost Cause.” Change the dates and a few words here and there, and it provides timely inspriation for the cause of a free Cuba.

Over the past four decades Cuban patriots fought for a lost Cause. Their rewards were summary executions, decades suffering torture under inhumane prison conditions, or exile from the land of their birth. This sacrifice was made for the Cause. What is this Cause? It is the return of the republic and the rule of law to Cuba. Cubans fought and died for independence and a republican democracy throughout the second half of the 19th century. This struggle became primarily a political struggle throughout the first half of the 20th century culminating in the Constitution of 1940 and the election of the opposition figure Ramon Grau San Martin in 1944. On March 10, 1952 Fulgencio Batista plunged Cuba back into the anarchy and chaos of dictatorship and the lack of rule of law. This opened the way for violence to triumph and become institutionalized on January 1, 1959 when the last remnants of the Republic were executed, imprisoned, or driven into exile by the Castroite terror.
Throughout the next four decades Cubans of all social backgrounds, from poor farmers to wealthy entrepreneurs, struggled and fought against the tyranny Castro and his comrades erected. The defeats were great and the dismay profound: The Bay of Pigs, the guerilla war in the Escambray, the example of the Plantados, the rise of the Cuban human rights movement, the revolts on the Malecon, and the sacrifice of the pilots of Brothers to the Rescue (shot down while trying to rescue Cuban rafters). Men like Mario Chanes de Armas and Sebastian Arcos Bergnes sacrificed their lives for freedom and human dignity. Did they fight for a lost cause?
Forty years later Fidel Castro and his court of assassins are still running Cuba into the ground. The Exile has kept the flame of Cuban nationalism burning strong and alive. The internal opposition fighting the odds of imprisonment, infiltration, assault, and under surveillance continues to stand for human dignity and liberty in the face of overwhelming physical force. According to T.S. Eliot, “If we take the widest and wisest view of a Cause, there is no such thing as a Lost Cause, because there is no such thing as a Gained Cause. We fight for lost causes because we know that our defeat and dismay may be the preface to our successors’ victory, though that victory itself will be temporary; we fight rather to keep something alive than in the expectation that it will triumph.”
We are at a crossroads in Cuban history, and those living in the diaspora have to prepare for the transition that is taking place in the Cuban nation. For the past 39 years the Cuban nation has been divided against itself, both parts losing what it is to be Cuban. We in the diaspora have begun the process of assimilation upon living in an alien culture for more than a generation. The children of the Exile have come of age in America and have done so without the knowledge of their Cuban history and in many cases their families’ own history of sacrifice and loss. Castro’s totalitarian regime has warped and manipulated Cuban history to serve his ends.
We have an entire generation of Cubans who are ignorant of their own history. This has generated apathy and a sense of hopelessness and loss. This serves the interests of the Castro regime and runs counter to the interests of the democratic opposition. Robert A. Nisbit states it succinctly that, “A sense of the past is far more basic to the maintenance of freedom than hope for the future. … Hence the relentless effort by totalitarian governments to destroy memory. And hence the ingenious techniques for abolishing the social allegiances within which individual memory is given strength and power of resistance.” If the struggle of the opposition over the past four decades is to be continued and honored, then it must be taught in context along with the rest of Cuban history (which is our collective memory as a nation).
We must be patient and realize that this Cause will be a struggle which will eventually lead to victory. Liberty and the rule of law to survive requires a people to be ever vigilant. Let us begin this struggle with prudent steps. Let us exercise our economic and political muscle to educate the new generation about their history and culture in our local school system. Let us encourage our elected politicians and community leaders to adopt political prisoners and work for their release. Rather than have them feed us empty rhetoric about how they, a local or state official, will bring freedom to Cuba. Let them take up the cause of one man or woman imprisoned for their political or religious beliefs and work to raise the issue of human rights in Cuba. Let us demand that our universities utilize individuals such as Dr. Ricardo Bofill, one of the founders of the Cuban Committee for Human Rights, to teach courses on human rights. Olance Nogueras and Yndamiro Restano, internationally distinguished journalists who risked imprisonment to get their stories out, to teach courses on journalism. Let us build stronger bonds with our brothers and sisters in Cuba who share our common Cause. They need our support both spiritually and materially.
These steps may seem like too little too late, but even Jose Marti, not a man characterized by his prudence, saw its virtue in that, “At times, because prudence slows us down, the impatient think it obstructs, without seeing that it is like the brake of a train that prevents its reaching the bottom of the slope in bloodied splinters. To restrain is to accelerate.” We need to use our imagination and our heart, but we must be guided by those who kept the cause alive, by those moral and religious traditions found in our churches and synagogues, and finally we must think of those generations not yet born and the Cuban nation we will leave them. We must prepare the next generation to take up the cause, and recognize their rights and responsibilities as Cubans.

Read it here.