Reports from Cuba: White flag to the regime in Havana?

By Jeovany Jimenez Vega in Translating Cuba:

White Flag to the Regime in Havana?

Those who advocate the elimination of the mechanisms of political pressure to which the Cuban government remains subject — I mean basically the United States Embargo and the Common European Position — often wield as a fundamental argument the alleged climate of reform undertaken by Raul Castro during the last few years.

One can suppose that this oversized expectation had its roots in the profound and systematic stagnation that characterized the big government of Fidel Castro, because the incorrigible bearded man became the extreme social framework in an immutable and absurd style that would have been impossible for anybody after him to modify in any way without it being perceived as a relief.

But if we accept the obvious premise that since 1959 one government has existed in Cuba — since it has already shown that in essence the mandate of Raul, with all its sweetening, has not been more than the prolonging of the mandate of Fidel — we can assume also, with a solid level of certainty, that the psychology of the regime continues to be exactly the same.

That drives us to a logical question: Would one expect that, in the case of these sanctions being lifted, that this olive-green oligarchy, at last, would grant the long awaited rights provided by United Nations Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, as well as Economic and Cultural Rights, whose ratification and implementation Havana has kept has a pending topic since February 2008?

The optimists would return to the idea of the Raul Castro reforms, but anyone who can make a more thorough approach to these alleged “transformations” will find that very few have actually represented a practical change, one which would have a beneficial and immediate impact in the life of Cubans on the island.

But we work from very good faith — which our counterpart has not deserved — and we accept that among these measures, some represent a more drastic and positive change than do others; among these the freeing up of the right to travel outside the country and the authorization of the purchase and sale of homes between native-born people.

We cannot forget, nevertheless, that the emigration reform has been in force since January 2013, stipulating that some professions are not permitted to travel freely, “…in virtue of the rules intended to preserve the skilled labor force…“; nor can we scorn that it also establishes as “…inadmissible…” for anyone accused by the Cuban government of “Organizing, encouraging, carrying out, or participating in hostile actions against the fundamental economic and social policies of the Cuban state…” to enter the country, “…When reasons of Defense and National Security are so advised…” and that the government considers that they should “… Be prohibited from entering the country, for being declared undesirable or thrown out.”

It is made more evident by the wide margin of maneuverability that this delicious tool for coercion leaves the repressor.

As for the authorization for the sale and purchase of homes, let us remember that the act has just recently foisted a series of annoying regulations of prices, that results in a return to the government’s hand, interfering where it isn’t called for — to remind us that here good things never last too long.

Now, a look at the rest of the package certainly will show definite signs that reveal suspicious edges in these so-called “reforms.”  Because it is really very difficult to accept the sincerity of these measures such as the “authorization” to buy used cars at astronomical prices; or the corrupt focus on the management of cooperatives like the transport ones, for example, that leaves it members (never owners of their means of working) with a useless margin of autonomy; or the imposition on the rest of the small business owners of unfair fees on prices or excessive taxes and the non-existence of a retail market that would supply them with the most basic primary materials; or all the limitations that make ever more evident the failure of the policies undertaken in the agricultural sector, as well as the refusal to liberate the management of the livestock farming sector while slaughtering and/or selling a cow continues being a capital sin that in Cuba one still pays for by up to 20 years in prison.

These are, among others, current evidence and premonitions that cast a shadow over our overall state in the short and long term and seriously put into question the will of the Cuban government.

But still more serious than the immutability of these “trivialities” of an economical nature, is the persistence of the repressive policy that continues fomenting that lethal duet: Communist Party-State Security. It is from the offices of what continues to be the only legally recognized party that the strategy, then executed by the henchmen in the street, is drawn up.

Today in Cuba arbitrary detentions persist and the most abject precariousness of due process guarantees — bastard daughters of the lack of division of powers — continue to perpetrate with impunity the beatings and repudiation rallies against opponents, without any authority protecting them so that they can avoid it.

Hitmen are ordered to stab the opposition leaders and suppress women who don’t bring arms but carry white gladioli in plain view.

They persist in a strong and absolute censorship of dissident thought by means of an absolute monopoly over the means of broadcasting and all types of press, and in addition, they veto any access to the Internet for the people and it is already the 21st century.

Therefore, we can conclude that in Cuba the “changes” that they have produced are insubstantial and skin-deep, purely cosmetic, nothing that heralds a real opening up to anything that sounds remotely like democracy.

If, in the end, this new mediocre generation isn’t capable of offering anything different, it would be more than logical to doubt its future good intentions or its capacity to conceive a scheme for real prosperity, and very much less so if the formula, whatever it is, includes moving away from the known path.

It is completely questionable that these “reforms” reflect a sincere attempt at opening the doors for the Cuban people to the potential that a globalized economy offers today. It is more coherent to think that we are observing delaying maneuvers that only serve to perpetuate the same people always in power.

Should the international community, the Cuban people and the internal opposition decide to offer a vote of confidence and give way: at what point would they offer guarantees that they would later ratify and implement the Human Rights covenants, and would that produce an immediate opening for democracy? Here all logical reasoning leads to the conclusion that this would never happen.

To revoke the sanctions now, would be translated into nothing more than an immediate oxygenation for the regime, without excluding, of course, its repressive mechanisms. It would not become a more efficient Cuban government from the economic point of view but would simply have more resources within its reach to squander and rob, to fatten still more the millionaire accounts of it oligarchs hidden abroad, and even to ennoble its delusions of grandeur.

The beast has already tasted blood and will stop at nothing. An autocratic government like that of the Castros, once it has released its instruments of political pressure and with the tacit approval internationally that this would imply, would never ratify the human right covenants but, on the contrary would probably repress more viciously than ever dissident thinking but from a much more comfortable position than previously.

This octogenarian generation that subjects the destiny of my country to its whims is definitely out of step with the needs of my people. No original protest has yet affected its dusty epaulets. These neo-burgesses will never consider a dignified exit from the poverty and inequality into which they have plunged us, because they know that this would mean an end to their privileges.

If history teaches us anything it is that unwise concessions, or those made at the wrong time, over the long term do more harm than good to the people who mistakenly assume them, and it also teaches us that there are definitely people who never change, and the pleiade that now leads this country according to their testicular fickleness is an excellent example.

The three decade marriage with the former Soviet Union made clear that the Cuban people will never be the final destiny for these riches; and if history proved that at that time why would we assume it would be different now when the indolence and corruption of the government are higher than ever.

To extend this blank check to the totalitarian government in Havana, and at this precise instant when its better half is tottering in Caracas, without the slightest sign of friendship to the internal opposition nor the recognition of our civil rights–as most recent events have pointed in the complete opposite direction–and without even having ratified and implemented the already signed United Nations covenants on civil and political rights as well as those on social and cultural rights, would be a catastrophe in strategic terms for the Cuban people and possibly delay, for many more decades, the coming of democracy for the long-suffering Cuban nation.

Translated by: BW