Check out how free this country is!
“Check out how free this country is!” / 14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez
Posted on January 31, 2015
14ymedio, Victor Ariel Gonzalez, Havana, 29 January 2015 — “In Vietnam,
Yoani Sanchez would be in prison,” says Rafael Hernandez, editor of the
magazine Temas (Topics), comparing the Cuban regime with the Vietnamese
one. And he adds: “Check out how free this country is!” According to the
official researcher, Cuban bloggers “are arrested and released, but they
are not put in prison,” as occurs in the southeast Asian country, where
these cyberspace activists receive “nothing but” jail for being
The political scientist and essayist offered these observations last
Wednesday at the Juan Marinello Center during the presentation about the
book “From Confrontation to Efforts at ‘Normalization.’ The Policy of
the United States towards Cuba,” by the publisher Social Sciences. One
of the authors, Elier Ramirez, participated in the panel discussion held
by the magazine.
Just reading its name, one deduces that the essay by Elier Ramirez and
Esteban Morales – co-author – reflects the offical Cuban position about
the rapprochement between the Island and its “historical enemy.” The
word “normalization” in its title appears in quotation marks because,
among other reasons, “the United States has always understood
normalization from the position of domination,” says Ramirez. “There is
no change in its strategic objectives [basically, regime change in Cuba,
but] a profound tactical adjustment” behind the negotiations between
Washington and Havana, according to the author.
This work had already been released, at least once, during the
presentation of the volume “Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of
Negotiations Between Washington and Havana,” written by U.S. researchers
Peter Kornbluh and William LeoGrande. But then, last October, the
political situation was very different from the current one.
During Wednesday’s presentation about the book, the comparison between
Vietnam and Cuba emerged in the context of what Rafael Hernandez
considers a double standard in U.S. foreign relations which criticizes
Cuba on questions like freedom of expression while not doing the same to
other countries. “How do you [the American government] demand from me
[the Cuban government] what you do not demand of the Vietnamese who put
bloggers in prison?” asked the researcher who is also a moderator of the
space Ultimo Jueves (Last Thursday).
Rafael Hernandez also referred to the case of the performance by Tania
Bruguera last December 30. In order to justify the attitude of Cuban
authorities, he gave as an example a hypothetical megaphone protest in
front of the home of the British prime minister. “Before taking out the
loudspeaker, they already told him off and got him out of there,” he
said, referring to the imaginary protester. “What does that have to do
with freedom of expression? What are we talking about?” he added,
insisting on the supposed “double standard” of the western discourse
with respect to that basic right.
Entering into a process of negotiations that both parties have deemed
“historic,” one can no longer speak only of “a relationship between two
governments” because now there is also “a relationship between two
societies” declared Hernandez, who called for a realization that “there
is a new game.”
The official analysts define this “game” as a “form of battle” for
preserving the regime, different from all previous battles. This war,
certainly is already taking place also in the symbolic realm where the
most rancid nationalists have been contaminated by a certain foreign
banality, especially American.
It is not strange that an official intellectual like Hernandez expresses
himself thus about the rapprochement between the two countries. As far
as his comparisons in matters of human rights, it is legitimate to ask
what exactly the editor of Temas meant to say. There are three possible
1. Vietnam is a dictatorship.
2. Cuban bloggers should be prisoners.
3. We bloggers should feel grateful for the few handouts of freedom that
the regime grants us and that it also can take from us at any time,
imitating its “sister nation” from southeast Asia.
Translated by MLK
Source: “Check out how free this country is!” / 14ymedio, Victor Ariel
Gonzalez | Translating Cuba – http://translatingcuba.com/check-out-how-free/