News and Facts about Cuba


FRANCISCO ALMAGRO | Miami | 10 Nov 2015 – 11:57 pm.

‘It is there, in the subjective judgments of most of the people where
Cuban Communism has achieved its greatest and most sustained success.
And where its enemies have failed.’

Some years ago I was walking with a female friend of mine down a long
Havana avenue. It was the early ’80s. The opening up of markets and the
granting of some minimal freedoms led many to believe that the
card, known simply as la , the book, was about to disappear. I
remember that when I applauded the idea my friend stopped short and
shouted, in the middle of the street: “Not la libreta! Please! That’s
the only thing that guarantees us any security.”

I stared at her. I couldn´t believe my ears. Even in those early days of
what was bit of a boom, la libreta was a total joke. You could barely
make it half a month on what they “gave” you. I’ve been mulling over
that episode for over 30 years now. Security? What security?

That subjective feeling of being secure is as vital to people as oxygen.
No matter what you’re protected from, or how. You can be sure that your
house is yours, that you have a doctor and a free , that your
care is safe, and that – even if you lose some of your personal
freedoms – there are enough and government agents to protect you.
It’s just this – security – that ideologies, politicians and even the
great religions, seek to sell. The primary function of any institution
or leader that seeks to fully win over the human heart is to provide his
followers with the utmost sense of security.

In a way, he who provides security holds the reins of power. And he who
protects, rules. And the safer and more secure we feel, the greater the
degree of autonomy and individual we hand over to the Invisible
Power. This is true of some cultures more than others, but almost all of
them, regardless of their geographic location or era, have handed
security over to men, and not to institutions. Nobody is immune from
this tendency to surrender. Human beings, intrinsically attuned to
detect danger and death, assign to a parent, a boss, a leader, a wife or
a husband a measure of their own freedom in exchange for security.

I have long pondered what my friend and hundreds, millions of Cubans
fear if there is change: losing their security. Never mind that this
security is as delusory as a nightmare, or that the ration book is
woefully insufficient, that the hospitals are in ruins, and without
doctors, that the schools are without teachers, that wages are paltry
and the cities are falling apart. For millions of Cubans, even today,
Cuba’s libreta and its hospitals, schools, salaries, and Cuban cities
“have problems, but they’re secure.” Many feel they should not be given
up for anything or anyone because it could all be worse.

“It is there, in the subjective judgments of most of the people where
Cuban Communism has achieved its greatest and most sustained success.
And where its enemies have failed.” Like clockwork, some aging Cuban
leader repeats, like a mantra: “The Cuban Revolution does not abandon
anyone.” Now, we know that this is not entirely true, nor is it entirely
false. The regime knows very well how to choose the recipients of
emergency aid. Although it is insufficient, almost negligible, it is
aggressively publicized in the mass media, day and night, until the
average Cuban feels safe after a hurricane, an or some other
calamity, including war.

Meanwhile, with reference to the media, democracy is actually not a very
secure place. “Why change things?” many ask. What the Cubans have heard
and seen for over half a century is that in other countries elections
are bought and presidents and representatives are assassinated.
Elections? What for? Some time ago the Cuban regime bought the right to
serve as the people’s paternalistic guardians, the quasi-divine and
infinite right to govern. For this it used not only weapons and money –
though there was plenty of that. Force and money does not win over
hearts for long. Thus, the regime seduced millions of parents, children
and grandparents with the failsafe message of filial love: paternalistic
security. A “Fatherly State” that, although it hurts to maintain so many
(Is that pain real?), cannot avoid it because it constitutes its very
raison d’etre.

Can anything be done for a people who, despite feeling like adults,
cannot shake off the overprotective bonds that render them dependent,
ineffectual, irresponsible … in short, that deprive them of their
freedom? A people cognizant of the fact that they are constrained by an
Absolute Power but, at the same time, feel like they owe it something,
as if breaking with the Pater and setting off in search of their own
lives meant betraying their own existence. Unfortunately, over on this
side, we have not quite understood that, like the character in Orwell’s
1984, with tears in his eyes and after suffering countless humiliations,
many good Cubans remaining on the island are still capable of saying
that they “love” you-know-who. Stockholm Syndrome, yes, but it’s still a
kind of love, after all …

By the way, over here politicians also make impossible promises to
provide an illusory sense of security: mass deportations and
unbreachable walls, full employment, and international supremacy, with
the results visible in the polls. Therefore, an effort to effect
change, to bring about social development, cannot be limited to the
material sphere. The material dimension without the existential
component, without a discourse of peace, reconciliation and convergence,
is fruitless. The human heart is not transformed by cruises, cell
phones, computers or cars. On the contrary, it tends to become hardened
and insensitive. Real change will begin when a woman walking down a long
Havana avenue asks, in amazement, why on earth her is rationed. And
when she asks this without hatred because in her heart there is no
longer any place for it.

Source: “Security” | Diario de Cuba –

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