By Yassel A. Padrón Kunakbaeva
Who’s living in a bubble? Is it Havana or Miami? The question now gains relevance in light of the media campaign orchestrated against actor Fernando Echevarría, initially for appearing in a TV advertisement denouncing the Helms-Burton Act, and now for visiting Miami. It would seem that many are sore about the simple fact that the Cuban government has the capacity, the means and the support of professionals in order to articulate a response to aggressions. Deep down, the old dream of packing the bags to return to a capitalist Cuba still lingers.
It’s incredible that, in the era of the Internet and telecommunications, geography should have so much influence on the way of thinking. They think one thing in Miami and a different thing in Havana. With one difference: the island is the real country; the one progressing, or collapsing, or both. The ‘other Cuba’ in Miami is built on foreign soil, and by natural law can only be sustained in the popular imagination. Some may be sore about this, but that’s the way it is.
I’ve always found surprising how quickly those who live outside of Cuba –and especially in Miami– change their way of thinking. It’s like they were abducted by the ideological machinery of capitalism. Many come back considering obvious what they always deemed absurd in Cuba. But that ‘other’ worldview does not penetrate the island easily. The common sense of the Cubans in the island continues to have unshakeable certainties; because they are an organic product of the society they live in and are a part of.
An example of that is the blockade, that is, the Helms-Burton Act. Many in Miami have ended up approving that measure and deeming it necessary. It seems to be something in which they need to go the whole nine yards. But in the island common sense is overwhelmingly against the Helms-Burton. Everyone wants to return to the path of relatively peaceful coexistence and economic progress that was glimpsed under Obama’s administration.
To the prevailing mentality right now in Cuba, Fernando Echevarría’s TV ad is perfectly understandable. Perhaps some don’t like it from the artistic point of view. There will always be people who consider some of its lines excessive. However, few could disagree with the general message. Almost nobody here supports the blockade. And almost nobody would consider the participation of a Cuban actor in such material reprehensible or ethically questionable.
The wish to direct the Cuban historical process from the US seems to me, as I’ve said elsewhere, an absurd and criminal idea. And it’s not just a personal view: by now many here ask themselves why those who promote rebellion so vehemently from the other shore don’t come over to topple the government themselves. It’s very easy to behave uncompromisingly when you’re fairly away from danger.
Another thing which I’ve always found curious is how, in the last few years, the accusations made against the Cuban government seem to come not from advocates of capitalism, but from radical left-wing groups. Critics say there’s no food and that houses are collapsing. However, the norm in capitalism is that neither of those two things is a given right. Go ask the Puerto Ricans. The only system which guarantees the right to food and housing is socialism. So, are they proposing that we build a more perfect socialism?
Obviously, it’s all demagogy and hysteria.
Of course, Cuba and its social system have as many contradictions as there are cracks in an Old Havana tenement. But, if there’s one reason why inequalities and social ills have emerged, it’s because the government has ceased to be orthodox in its egalitarianism and has allowed room for the market. That is to say, Cuba, out of pragmatism, has moved closer to capitalism. And when social consequences surface, the defenders of staunch capitalism tear their hair out?
Their favorite accusation against the Cuban government is that it’s totalitarian; however, it’s them who expect lately that, in their territory –i.e. the US or Miami–, everyone should think as they do. They want to see the artists who live in the island expelled or censored. At the present time, by attacking Echevarría for visiting that city, they imply that those who do not think like them shouldn’t have the right to be there. Apparently, so much fighting against totalitarianism made them totalitarian.
Anyway, there are too many absurdities for my humble understanding. The most sensible attitude of all so far has been Fernando Echevarría’s, who has ignored the media commotion. And to those who still strive to impose their worldview on an entire nation, I have only to wish them luck in their impossible mission.
Contact the author at: firstname.lastname@example.org
(Translated from the original)