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Between confrontation and dialogue

Between confrontation and dialogue / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on November 1, 2014

14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 31 October 2014 – There has been a lot of
talk lately of the presumed improvement in relations between the
governments of the United States and Cuba. In both countries there are
tons of supporters for two antagonistic positions, which in summary and
without a desire to simplify, can be reduced to two terms: confrontation
and dialog.

Rivers of ink and saliva have been spilled to argue both ways and the
more reasons are put forward the further away the solution seems. The
worst is when the passions lead to personal attacks and the dismissal of
those who think differently. And so I renounce mentioning names here and
refrain from appealing to disparaging epithets.

If I were forced to choose I would vote for dialog. I resist confrontation.

But it is not enough. We immediately have to respond to another question
that introduces a new dilemma: an unconditional dialog or without

The General has insisted that he is willing to sit at the
table as long as he is treated equally or, and it’s the same thing,
under the condition that his legitimacy is not questioned. And of course
without being asked to renounce the “bedrock principles of the Revolution.”

What legitimacy are we talking about? If we refer to the number of
countries with which the Cuban government maintains diplomatic
relations, its presence in international organizations or its ability to
dictate laws and enforce them across the length and breadth of the
country, then we have no choice but to admit that the Cuban leaders
enjoy a high level of legitimacy even though they are considered
dictators, usurpers or repressors of their people, and that is very
evident in lack of popular will expressed in free elections.

Is there a universal standard of legitimacy for governments or do
various interpretations of democracy and exist? Perhaps we
will have to admit that a government can imprison its political
opponents, violently repress peaceful activists, fail to sign or ratify
international treaties on human rights, deny or prohibit the legitimate
existence of an independent civil society, oblivious to the power
transmission created by the protection of the only permitted party;
denying their citizens participation in the management of the so
solicitously offered to foreign investors and that everyone has to
recognize them because they have reduced child mortality to first world
levels and for maintaining a universal system of free .

It is likely that once the biology performs its inexorable duty, it
exponentially raises the possibilities of sitting down to talk

If the norm for measuring legitimacy could change at the will of those
seeking to be recognized as legitimate, then everyone would be in this
game, from the North Korean regime to Al Qaeda, and if we look in
retrospect we would also have to accept the Pretoria of apartheid or the
Cambodia of the Khmer Rouge, not moving beyond contemporary history.

But we are in Cuba and we’re talking about a government rigidly
controlled by a highest leadership of octogenarians. Regardless of the
promises of continuity made by those on the horizon as the relief team,
what is most likely is that once biology performs its inexorable duty,
it exponentially raises the possibilities of sitting down to talk.

Because none of those who are going to occupy the government or
political offices at that time, it is understood, will be responsible
for mass executions, or thoughtless seizures, or even feel guilty about
the Revolutionary Offensive of 1968, because in that year, if they had
been born, they were children or teenagers. Opportunists who applauded
in order to rise? Yes, but this is an accusation that does not carry a
life sentence.

I have not the slightest doubt that the most optimistic results arise
from a dialog between the Cuban authorities and the now disunited and
still weak civil society that could bear fruits comparable to Poland’s,
to use a well-known example; still less if it is a dialog between the
Cuban and American governments, in the absence of the independent civil
society on the island and in exile.

I can bet that “the ruling party” is going to negotiate with ferocity
for the best pieces of the pie, whose most appetizing ingredients are
the guarantee to not be judged and the possibility of maintaining
control over the successful sectors of the economy.

But I’m also sure that the path of confrontation—through maintaining the
, the inclusion of Cuba on the list of terrorist countries or the
dismissal that assimilates the internal opposition into the “subversion
financed from abroad”—only serves to consolidate the positions of the
dictatorship both on the international and domestic scene.

I would prefer not to have to choose, but I don’t want to keep waiting,
and I am not talking about the future of my children, but of my

Source: Between confrontation and dialogue / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
| Translating Cuba –

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