By Yassel A. Padrón Kunakbaeva
This October 10, Miguel Díaz-Canel was ratified as President of the Republic. From the speech he gave as he took office, the media singled out one phrase: ‘The Revolution is not a fight for the present; the Revolution is a fight for the future.’ As could be expected, the social networks reacted to the event, with messages ranging from emphatic support to the deepest contempt.
Some argue that, after so many decades of fighting for a future that never arrives, it’s about time we fought for the present. Others remind us that our present is the future of our parents and grandparents, who were also called in their time to fight for a bright future. They are right, of course, and they have every right to voice their criticism of the President’s speech. The problem begins, in my opinion, when a will becomes evident to attack and insult anything that comes from the government; when there’s a desire to make every speech, action or gesture look bad.
It’s very easy to be biased. Any speech contains phrases which, taken out of context or placed under a certain light, make the author look rather bad. The question is why people become biased. Some are part of a professional opposition, and in their case it’s all easy to understand, since they have a direct interest in affecting the Cuban government. Others, however, while not being necessarily antagonistic toward this government, have accumulated so much disappointment and bitterness that they are unconsciously biased. The latter, I believe, have allowed emotions to cloud their judgment.
Sometimes, intellectuals have a tendency to see castles in the air, and they forget about the most basic things. I mean that as criticism and self-criticism. In the case of the Cuban political situation, for example, some intellectuals dream of alternative forces and social-democratic third options. But modest people, in that sense, will not be fooled: they know that, in the case of Cuba, there are only two forces with the economic, political and military clout to be taken into account. One is the governing Communist Party of Cuba; the other is the exiles in Florida, who have the support of the United States. The people know that you’re either with one or with the other.
Then, if you do not agree with the capitalist restoration proposed by Miami, and if you do not harbor dreams of a perfect democracy and a developed capitalism at the end of the rainbow either, you have to realize that we must make do with what we have. You may not like the predominant socialist state model in Cuba, or you may consider that the time has come for indispensable change, but what you can’t do is fall in the trap that many Soviet intellectuals fell in with perestroika, when they attacked the Party so much that they contributed to the victory of capitalism.
In the midst of all that we have Díaz-Canel. The grave mistake many are making is expecting too much of him. One man, no matter that he be the President of the Republic, cannot do the work of the whole society. Besides, he does not govern alone; he must act in coordination with other forces at the heart of the State, in the midst of the complex process of generational change. Only with the passing of time, as his leadership strengthens, will we be able to know precisely how much we can expect of him.
It’s also a mistake to expect too little. We must only appreciate the efficiency with which he has handled the successive crises during his still short term in office to realize that it is fortunate to have someone like him in the presidency. Díaz-Canel has also been the greatest promoter of informatization and Electronic Government. He’s the one who’s brought the word transparency into political discourse. One could write, in short, a long list of the merits he has accumulated as a leader.
However, more important than Díaz-Canel himself is what he represents: the possibility that what’s noblest and purest in the Revolution may prevail in the Cuban leadership forces. Here and there, the Revolution sowed values which are still present in people of all walks of society. There were also those, of course, who sowed arrogance, intolerance, corruption and selfishness. But the good seed is still there, and if you look after it, if you fight negative forces with intelligence, it may sprout yet.
Nothing’s clear when it comes to Cuba. The day may yet come when it becomes evident that the Revolution has been definitely lost. Everything’s possible. Fidel himself said that we could put an end to it ourselves. But it seems to me that we still have time to fight one last battle for the regeneration and the redirection of the process.
This last battle, as I see it, will be a battle that shall take a long time, and that shall largely be fought in the field of ideas. It will not be won, of course, by being biased, or by becoming a sounding board for radical opposition. It’s about watering the good seed wherever it may be, with a gardener’s care, and about fighting weeds with strong shears.
Of course, Díaz-Canel had to talk about the future. That’s what politicians do. But still, the future is all we’ve got. To find the paths for the solution to our problems, we can only project ourselves forward. I never forget that song by Silvio Rodríguez in which he said: Te convido a creerme, cuando digo futuro (I invite you to believe me, when I speak of the future).
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(Translated from the original)