News and Facts about Cuba

The Legacy of Intransigence

The Legacy of Intransigence / Miriam Celaya

Posted on March 30, 2013

Let's say that for a long time the damn phrase hasn't been heard in the

mainstream media (although I must admit I'm not exactly a follower of

that media). In any event, it's been missing from the speeches, which

slyly avoided it, like those who choose to ignore as far as possible the

hard expressions of the Stalinist period before 1989. However, a few

days ago, during a news broadcast, a young and elegant announcer

mentioned it and it fell on my ears with the force of a blow: "The

activity demonstrated the 'revolutionary intransigence' that

characterizes our people."

Revolutionary intransigence, the girl said, and her face, far from being

grim and fierce, glowed with the happy enthusiasm of someone alluding to

an invaluable treasure.

The negative charge of this buzzword is overwhelming, along with some of

its synonyms — intolerance, fanaticism, obstinacy, stubbornness,

persistence — but I understand that no word is bad in and of itself. In

fact, almost all of us refuse to compromise on some essential issues or

principles, without doing harm to others and without clinging to a

deliberate, insurmountable rigidity of spirit. However, context marks

the differences. Personally, it makes me sick to recall the whole

nightmare brought on by the practice of revolutionary intransigence as a

vehicle of terror and social control in times that, perhaps naively, we

prefer to assume are in the past.

Let us briefly review some forms of of this official strategy

called intransigence, which marked the lives of everyone in the Castros'

Cuba and by virtue of which every Cuban was supposed to betray their

comrades at the slightest suspicion of not sufficiently appreciating the

process and its leaders or not showing the zeal and enthusiasm (also

revolutionary) appropriate in every circumstance:

"Obstruct" even the slightest critical manifestations — and if they were

veiled or moderate, these tended to be the most "dangerous" — if they

were directed against the government, official regulations, a mere

member of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), etc. Combat "softness," the

"tendency to individualism" and certain "aberrations" such as

homosexuality, or deeply rooted and damaging scourges such as religious

beliefs of any denomination; clearly demonstrate a rejection of "petty

bourgeois deviations" such as a taste for things, fashion, music, etc.,

and for capitalist countries, particularly the United States (sins

classified as "ideological diversion" and of which wearing jeans,

listening to rock music, and having long hair were considered among the

most serious); and many more. Not to mention recognizing any kind of

political opinion that different from the line carefully monitored by


Past and present damage

Due to the application of the intransigence as a strategy in the service

of power, there have been crimes on the Island such as the firing

squads, the the Military Units to Aid Production* (UMAP), schools in the

countryside**, discrimination and harassment of individuals and groups

on grounds of religious belief or sexual preferences, the repudiation

rallies*** in all their different gradations — which continue even today

— annulment of independent civil society and a free press, and many

other diabolical variations designed to enclose in the iron fist of

totalitarianism even the slightest hint of public will.

Intransigence has been the mother of censorship in literature, film and

other forms of art and culture, and also has gagged creation and

initiative in all spheres of national life. It is not by chance that

Ernesto Guevara is considered the paradigm of intransigence and what

should have been the "New Man."

We could talk about other disastrous events that left us a legacy of

intransigence throughout our history, including examples from all stages

prior to 1959, but I'm afraid that the count would be too extensive. If

I prefer to refer to the so-called "revolutionary" stage it is because

it was after that deceptively bright January when to be intransigent was

generalized and established itself as a policy and became a feature of

decorum and social recognition. Many accepted it, many others remained

silent and everyone, absolutely everyone, was afraid. And so it was able

to do so much damage.

Thus, I was perplexed when a smiling barely thirty-something speaker

pronounced the word malignant, and shuddered at the regenerative power

of the perversity of the system that is trying to perpetuate itself like

a crust on the psyche of certain individuals of new generations.

Does this girl know how much pain revolutionary intransigence has

produced in this nation? Since then and going forward, fighting

revolutionary intransigence has become a permanent item on my personal


Forgive me readers if this decision makes me look somewhat intransigent.

Translator's notes:

Military Units to Aid Production was a system of concentration camps for

undesirables such as religious believers, homosexuals and others.

** Schools in the countryside were boarding schools for teenagers

designed to produce the "New Man" away from the influences of their

families. This program has only recently been ended.

*** Repudiation rallies are government sponsored and directed mobs

(often using children) who confront "counterrevolutionaries"

screaming slogans and even physically attacking them.

Translated from

27 March 2013

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