A short while back, I posted on a column in the Yale Daily News, which surprisingly maintained that the Cuban people remain enslaved. Not surprisingly, some took umbrage. In a guest column, two “professionals working closely on on Cuban foreign policy and human rights” take the original writer to task for…. Let’s see, for “perpetuating a series of myths.”
First among them is the question of race. After citing a historical slaughter, the authors do acknowledge that there was nothing as formal as the “Jim Crow” laws of the South, and that race remains a problem today. I have no doubt that it does, if you take a look at the faces of the ruling circle. So the point is….? I guess it’s a historical gotcha kind of thing. Of course, Michael Fernandez’s original point had something to do with the “enslavement” of the entire population as well.
It is a point the authors take on next: Fernandez’s repeated use of slavery to describe the subjugation of the Cuban populace. Now I’m a little unclear as to whether this is supposed to be a “myth” also. But the objection is that-
to dismiss as “slaves” those Cubans who work day-in and day-out under these adverse circumstances to provide for their families demeans their integrity and insults their intelligence.
Well, the authors may be professionals, but they really need to work on their definitions. We are not dealing with Elizabethan English here. In the modern context, the word enslaved describes a condition characterized by the deprivation of freedom, not the diminution of dignity or lack of intellectual ability. I gather we are to think that American slaves never “pushed back” against their masters in many different ways. I suspect their true objection is mentioned earlier on with the modifier “counterproductive,” to which I would counter whether they think “playing nice” is going to make a difference.
Oh, wait, they do. It is unfair to criticize Raul’s Reforms, they suggest. Take a look at the two human rights documents the regime just signed. Absent in their response, of course, is any mention of the debacle with the Damas or any of the recent pronouncements of zero tolerance for “subversion.” And, would you believe it, Fernandez paints a picture of an “Orwellian” world? How outlandish.
It goes on in this vein- there’s Eliécer’s famous exchange without his infamous disappearance. Their point seems to be that this may be the beginnings of real change and:
Those with a keen interest in Cuban affairs would do well to watch these changes closely rather than dismiss them out of hand.
Read it. It is the emotion inherent in the original that bothers them, since it is obvious that for every objection they raise, they have to include a laundry list of qualifiers. I suspect that the difference in rhetoric springs from the difference in perception. They still believe change is possible with the current regime.