The Theory of the Last Push

By Harold Cárdenas Lema

One last opportunity, a plan that will solve everything, one last push. The Cuban exiles hold on to the hope that this time they will manage to change the prevailing political system in the island. Meanwhile, the Granma newspaper announces a legislative timetable which excites its readers. On both shores, there’s a long history of exaggerated optimism and promises with an expiration date, infallible thanks to the short-term memory of the people. J. R. R. Tolkien said that false hope is more dangerous than fear, that’s why it’s worth pointing it out.

When you want to believe in something, doing it over and over is easy. The patience of those who watch the NTV and Fox News is infinite. For that reason, they don’t question the promises Trump made in 2017 or that his results with Cuba are nothing more than propaganda aimed at securing votes. In the island, they don’t speak either about the current economic and social guidelines, whose observance should be media priority. Public attention has a teen spirit, always moving to the next topic in vogue.

That a political group creates an optimistic narrative to energize its followers is nothing new, but that its leaders believe it is. The Cuban government structure gets genuinely excited with the campaign of the moment. Meanwhile, exiles continue to build their identity around an anticommunism stuck in the Cold War, with a memory of Cuba frozen in time and frequent lack of empathy for their fellow compatriots.

Batista’s followers left Cuba thinking they’d be back home in a matter of days. They put their faith in Eisenhower’s trade restrictions, in Kennedy’s invasion and embargo, and so on with ten other presidents. When the socialist bloc crumbled, they took out their bags to return to Cuba, until they had to put them back in their closets. When Bush included the island in his axis of evil, they were perhaps more cautious, but the excitement was there. They day that Trump announced the return to a firm-hand policy, there were tears of emotion in Florida. John Bolton found it easy to go to Miami in 2018 and promise Latin American exiles that the troika of Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba would soon collapse; the hard part would be delivering. After a year and a half, Maduro’s government has a stronger hold on power and street protests no longer affect Ortega. In Cuba there are shortages, but the people is far from rebelling, and the conservative sectors within the Party and the government are getting increasingly better positioned.

Ever since Cicero, all political discourses ask their followers one of two things: believing in something or doing something. Cuban exiles have tried both once and again, and still today they place their faith in the will of the current American president, instead of having a dialog with Havana. It’s not much different in the island.

The dreams of a prosperous sugar harvest, a poultry industry that never existed, an infallible energy system or a country of matchless culture, largely remained just dreams. The recent faith in a reform process, in the national debate that engendered the guidelines and in the normalization of relations with the empire were not reciprocated either. Some dreams were not fulfilled due to problems related to the country leadership, other because there were no conditions to do so, others because of external obstruction and even some others by chance. However, unthinkable goals such as the biotechnology development area or subsistence during the 90s crisis, became true. Perhaps the best kept promise has been the one of continuity.

There’s a reason why we always find a new plan: to keep the public interest alive in the cause being defended. In order to do that, it is necessary to excite the public with an objective that’s apparently at hand. Regardless of history proving otherwise, emotion is what matters in politics. The theory of the last push in Miami prolongs the conflict between both countries, and in Cuba it obstructs a long-term look at the island’s problems. When pathos replaces reason and false hopes become the currency, we must alert the public opinion. That’s also our last push.

(Translated from the original)