Ministers, Cynicism, and Mockery
In any normal country – and I say “normal” because in the dystopia called Cuba nothing functions like in the rest of the world – the Ministers and other government authorities have the obligation to face the people and account for their management, especially when things are going badly. In Cuba the governing bodies never hold themselves accountable, and only appear on television to justify through lies each and every failure of their policies. Their lies are often an insult to intelligence, when they’re not just a shameless mockery.
On September 27, Alejandro Gil Fernandez, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Planning appeared on the television program Mesa Redonda [“Round Table”] to announce to Cubans that despite the deep economic crisis the people are suffering, the situation was going to get worse in the coming months.
The Economy chief was accompanied by the Cuban Minister of Energy and Mines, Vicente de la O Levy, who, in a brief intervention, announced a new wave of blackouts, saying that these would intensify in October for lack of fuel.
After explaining the difficult situation that was approaching, Alejandro Gil concluded:
“There are effects, there’s an impact, we know that life is hard; that it’s complicated finding the day-to-day food needed; that at times it’s complicated dealing with a blackout of 8-10 hours; that transportation is complicated. We know that. But have faith – we know the only way out is the revolution and socialism, and that’s what we’re all working for.”
A mere five days later, Prime Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz contradicted the triumphal narrative of these officials and affirmed:
“We can’t be satisfied, but I believe we have to set it up that way, like a work system, above all with the clarity that it’s because we have no more, and we have to see how we can exploit all the potentialities of our territories and the need to review our methods and styles of work.”
Then, to top things off, on Wednesday, October 4, Betsy Diaz Valasquez, Minister of Domestic Trade, appeared on the same television program to detail the vicissitudes that the Government is suffering in their attempt to supply the food items that are sold via the ration book. She treated us like sub-normals – informing us that the split peas they distribute come from Canada, and that in the period from January to May the rivers freeze over, hindering the acquisition of said item.
It’s a very good thing to inform the public about the precarious situation the country is going through, but it would be better if they did so with truth on their lips and respect for the population’s intelligence.
It would be good if someone would let Minister Betsy Diaz know that, from the time they teach us geography in middle school, we Cubans know that in a climate such as Canada’s the rivers freeze over at certain seasons of the year. But we also know, Madame Minister, that neither trade nor transport of goods across Canada halt during any season. If Cuba doesn’t acquire food items in the Canadian market, it’s for lack of funds or bad management on the part of those responsible for doing so.
It would also be great to clarify to Prime Minister Marrero that the people have known for a long time that we don’t have more, and that the regime wore out the productive potential of the island by converting fertile lands to fields filled with Marabou [a plant that can be used to make charcoal], dismantling over 80% of the centers for sugar production, destroying the cattle herds, and eliminating the private enterprise that today they’re trying to revive. Has the Minister perhaps forgotten that the wise and revolutionary Cuban Antonio Nuñes Jimenez, nicknamed the 4th discoverer of Cuba, estimated in his writings on geography that the island had the capacity to feed around 26 million people? The current population is around 11 million. Is the Prime Minister forgetting that the “methods and styles of work” are the ones the regime has imposed?
But what it would be most important to clarify to the Señor Minister is that the thing that truly no longer exists is the political capital that the revolution and its leaders once enjoyed. It would be good for him to know that for a long time now – due to the economic disasters that have come one after another; due to the constant violations of the people’s most elemental rights; due to nearly 88% of the population being sunk in poverty – the people don’t believe in the promises they make, just like they don’t believe the justifications that they put forward for the cameras.
It would be very good if someone would explain to Alejandro Gil that, down here among the people, we do know how hard life is, we do know what it means to have blackouts that last for hours; we do know how difficult it is to obtain a little food to put on the table, especially if there are children, elders, or sick people in the family.
Alejandro Gil should also know that the people are aware what it means not to have transportation, not even an ambulance to transport a sick person, or a hearse to take a dead relative to their final resting place.
It would be very important for Gil to realize, although I suspect that he already knows so, that the trust he asks for ran out a long time ago, and that the people know that Cuban socialism isn’t the road, except for the band of corrupt functionaries that live off the backs of the people.
Alejandro Gil should know – without anyone telling him – that while he moves around the country in the latest model cars, with fuel supplied by the State, the people must get around in jam-packed, bad-smelling buses that are in such bad shape that they sometimes don’t make it to where they’re going.
Alejandro Gil should know about the juggling that ordinary people have to do, even relying on charity and family remittances, to obtain food, while month by month he receives food provisions assigned and paid for by the Council of State.
Alejandro Gil should know that – while the electricity never fails on his block and if it does fail, they have electric generators with plenty of fuel – the people have been suffering through 4, 8 and 12-hour blackouts since long before this announcement of catastrophe.
Alejandro Gil should know, and never doubt, that for a long time now the people don’t have any faith in socialism thanks to the fact that they’re well aware of the lifestyles of the country’s upper leaders. That very faith he clamors for is being demonstrated by the people crossing over dangerous borders in Central America, risking their lives on unstable boats, or desperately seeking some relative or friend to sponsor them for the humanitarian parole program being offered by the US.
Señores Ministers: Get down from your pedestals. Maybe from up there, you can’t observe the people very well. Have a cup of humility tea, recognize your failures, and give the Island of Cuba the only thing it needs to become prosperous once more: FREEDOM.