The path of the ice ax

por Giordan Rodríguez Milanés

In the novel The Man Who Loved Dogs there’s a passage in which an NKVD instructor puts a gun in the hand of Ramón Mercader and orders him to assassinate a teenager accused of being ‘an enemy of the people’. The holders of power have always ‘conjured up’ enemies for the class they have claimed to represent and guide, from amongst themselves, as an expedite way to perpetuate their power, lest other defenders of their same cause be more intelligent, or coherent, or well-liked, or generated doubts about the infallibility of the supreme leader, or brought the official line of thought out of its comfort zone. Stalin read compulsively, and his ideological and political alpha male instinct eventually came out on top, leaving behind a sea of suffering and blood among the very social class he claimed to defend.

I don’t know whether the passage came entirely from Leonardo Padura’s imagination or there was some reference to the NKVD’s training methods. I don’t remember either whether Mercader actually shot that pockmarked teenager. He must have. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have been entrusted with the mission of killing Trotsky. For some missions you can’t use a hesitant warrior, with scruples, with some sense of decency. The killer for hire, as well as the doctrinal killer, has to blindly follow the order of the mastermind. The victim has the life story that the mastermind told the murderer. The executioner is a sort of robot with an algorithm configured for only two options: revolutionary or counterrevolutionary, sympathizer or enemy. The killer for hire does it for money. The doctrinal killer does it out of fanaticism, because he can’t think of a solution other than extermination, because in the path of his ice ax he doesn’t see a human being, nor a revolutionary with a different point of view, nor a grandfather, nor an intellectual with transformative thinking, nor a social being who might be the bearer of a commendable alternative, nor even a member of an opposing class. In front of the doctrinal killer there are only infallible leaders or ‘enemies of the people’ in the path of the ice ax.

Some so-called cyber-warriors, supposed defenders of the Revolution, behave like Mercader. They just need to be given a ‘mark’ and they proceed to assassinate him or her on the web. This week we have detected that modus operandi being used against doctor René Fidel González García. Someone quotes an alleged post by an alleged former student of the professor who accuses him of anything from trading better grades for sexual favors, to being a schizophrenic, to being opportunistic and mentally handicapped. Although the same cyber-warrior says that ‘Facebook took down the post’ of the alleged victim of René Fidel, he had the foresight of copying and sharing the text, and it is then shared by others like him whose algorithms do not allow any semblance of a doubt. That way they carry out the ‘artillery barrage’ in advance of the publication of a statement by the Board of Directors of the University of Oriente which recognizes that they invalidated doctor René Fidel’s academic status because, and I quote: ‘since 2012, a series of published pieces by the then professor started appearing in websites such as La Joven Cuba, Rebelión, Sin Permiso, Cuba Posible, among others.’

According to this statement, the pieces by René Fidel ‘caused professors, students or citizens in general to question their content or become affiliated with his positions … something demonstrated by the subsequent review of his students’ final papers for his subject [Sociology of Democracy]. Therefore, René Fidel’s ‘crime’ is not that he requested sexual favors, or that he suffers from a psychiatric condition, or that he is opportunistic and mentally handicapped, as the virtual hitmen claim. Doctor René Fidel’s ‘crime’ is the same one committed by Soviet writer Mikhail Bulgakov, or Leon Trotsky, or Virgilio Piñera, or Lezama Lima: making us think. It’s the same ‘crime’ committed by each collaborator for La Joven Cuba or Rebelión when they do not abide by the official line of thought of the Cuban government.

That ‘crime’ could have been forgiven if René Fidel had accepted a post working in a library; if a few months later he would have written a mea culpa or ‘clarifications or explanations for his part’. But he did what –it all seems to indicate– no Cuban is allowed to do in this country under no circumstances whatsoever: lodging a complaint against those who repressed him under his constitutionally given rights. For me, it is obvious that, in this Rule of Socialist Law, the Constitution of the Republic ends whenever those in power believe that ideological and political divergence begins, which proves that, as it happens with retroviruses, Cuban Stalinism has only mutated; it still exists under a new guise.

The main problem is that, with the punishment of René Fidel for causing his students to also think beyond the official stance, with the use of character assassination, they are punishing decency at the very moment when President Díaz-Canel is making an appeal to rescue it. Along with the reputation of the ‘enemy of the Revolution’, they are mortally wounding institutionalism, the very one that Raúl Castro called to strengthen in Cuba. They are turning the Constitution of the Republic into a caricature, all of which, in the middle term, will have a political effect which would betray the just and libertarian essence of the Revolution itself. Someone has to tell them that they are killing this revolution. It’s your problem with the new generations. History, as always, will pass judgment and pronounce its sentence. Incoherence and deceitfulness will not be absolved, no matter how many cyber-warriors squeal or slander. In the same way that millions of human beings can remember Bulgakov or Trotsky, but no one can recall the name of even one of those who wrote pamphlets for Pravda or Izvestia, history will not absolve them, as it didn’t absolve Joseph Stalin.

(Translated from the original)