Reports from Cuba: Guilty!

Yoani Sanchez in 14yMedio via Translating Cuba:

Guilty!

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This summer, taxi drivers have become the government’s new public enemy.

At the beginning of the year evil was incarnated in the intermediaries, who were blamed for the high food prices in the produce markets. At the end of 2013, the boogeymen were those who worked for themselves selling imported clothes and other merchandise. In February of this year the war against the pushcart vendors reached its height, and today the enemy drives a shared taxi, a person who in common parlance is called a “boatman.”

If there is anything that has characterized the Cuban system of the last 57 years it is its ability to find a scapegoat. When the agricultural plans are not met it is the fault of the drought, the indiscipline of the workers or the poor organization dictated by some low-ranking bureaucrat. If in times of heavy precipitation the water supply remains unstable in towns and cities it is because, “the rain is not falling where it should,” as was explained to us in recent statements by an official of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH).

Urban transport does not work well due to “vandalism” and because “the population doesn’t treat this equipment as it deserves,” they tell us. Meanwhile most road accidents are because of the “recklessness of the drivers,” and not because of the poor state of the roads and highways, the terrible signage or the inventive measures taken by drivers to keep their obsolete vehicles running.

The powers-that-be point their index fingers in all directions to accuse others, but never turn it back on themselves. From time to time, to display a certain tone of self-criticism, they come down on Communist Party members themselves, and accuse them of not voicing their opinions “in the right place and at the right time,” or they make some minister take the fall for the failed policies in the areas of public health, education or some other sector.

We citizens are the main culprits, according to what state television tells us, for the presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that, for years, has failed to yield to spraying or campaigns against it. Our homes are the “main foci” of the mosquito, they spit at us from the press, as if state and government entities were untainted redoubts of cleanliness and order.

Emigration is also among our sins, because we go in search of “siren songs” and let ourselves fall “into the hands of the coyotes,” declares the Castro regime’s discourse. In this script it is third parties who are always to blame; the migrants who protested in front of the Cuban embassy in Ecuador were ‘scoring points’ with the United States and some of them, once they are settled in our neighboring country to the north, will end up sending “illicit funds” to their relatives on the island to support a private business.

The easiest to find are the external enemies, like imperialism, “the criminal United States blockade,” the conspirators “from the Latin American right,” and even the “historic betrayal” of the old comrades of Eastern Europe. This scarecrow to install fear is accompanied by the demonized “counterrevolutionaries” in our own backyard, who are targeted by all the insults the rude government machinery has created over almost six decades.

If products are missing on market shelves, television reports accuse the “profiteers.” If a papaya has come to cost an entire day’s wages for a professional, it is “the fault of the unscrupulous” who want to “profit at the expense of the people,” or so they lecture us from the little screen. In this apportioning of blame we have all been placed in the center of the allegations.

Right now the government propaganda apparatus is taking on the drivers of shared taxis, but tomorrow it could be the proprietors of private restaurants, the teachers who offer private tutoring, or the water carriers who sell their precious commodity in neighborhoods where the pipes have run dry for weeks now.

There will always be an “evildoer,” an “irresponsible” or an “enemy” that keeps the system from working in all its great manual-guided humanity, its never demonstrated efficiency, or it supposed but still un-proven capacity to make Cubans happy.

But the strategy of blaming others, in waves and programmed installments, has a weak point. There comes a time when the culprits outnumber the accusers. There is a second in which, from this side, from the stigmatized, we agree with the rafters, the dissidents, the pushcart vendors, the self-employed, the taxi drivers, the ousted ministers and the vilified trinket sellers. At this point, where we have been for a long time now, we have every right to point our index fingers at the system that has condemned us to the perennial dock of the accused.