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sábado, octubre 31, 2020

The Path to Impunity

By Harold Cárdenas Lema

On Thursday, January 16, a Cuban government official published in his blog a list of independent media he accused of being ‘platforms for the restoration of capitalism in Cuba’. On the first day, only a few denounced the publication. On the second day, several of the mentioned sites faced difficulties while being accessed from the island. On the third day, the Facebook profile of the state-run radio station Radio Progreso reproduced the list in question for the ‘naïve’ and the ‘uninformed’, clarifying that these were only ‘the more reactionary sites’. Apparently, they left some out, but the list is a work in progress,

Today is the fourth day and the signals are still chaotic. Radio Progreso published with what perhaps was excessive enthusiasm, but they soon took it down from their profile. The strategy by a handful of well-positioned censors in the Ideological Department of the Communist Party and other institutions is still the one of insulting their targets by using expendable people and spaces, not involving institutions if possible. Of course, when the public debate moves beyond their capabilities to impose a specific narrative, they resort to the digital version of pounding the table, which is publishing their opinion in the mass media without allowing others the same opportunity.

Similarly, during the campaign against ‘centrism’ in the summer of 2017, the readers of Cubadebate and Granma knew the opinions of Enrique Ubieta and Elier Ramírez Cañedo, not the ones of Silvio Rodríguez, Carlos Alzugaray or Israel Rojas. Subservience to leaders and a ‘firm hand’, in the style of the former Soviet Union, are still professionally advantageous, unlike taking risks and changing obsolete dynamics.

How did we come to have a political environment where officials make accusations without producing evidence and institutions seem to have a bipolar nature? The origins can be traced back several decades, or to a date as recent as 2017, with the promotion of people with radical agendas to spheres of influence, but there are more immediate antecedents. The person who published the original list of ‘pro-capitalist’ media (which greatly differ among themselves) is the director of CubaSí, Manuel H. Lagarde. It’s not the first time this official is involved in an act of digital bullying. In the summer of 2017, together with Iroel Sánchez, he was one of the leading figures of the digital persecution they now seek to normalize in Cuba. Thanks to that, his influence was on the rise.

Only a year ago, a striking thing happened: the President publicly endorsed the inquisitors within the Cuban government. For years, and even during the most sensitive moments of 2017, Raúl Castro had refrained from taking sides in the public debate between officials and intellectuals on what the limits of the national debate should be. On July 15, 2018, the recently invested President Miguel Díaz-Canel closed the 10th Congress of UPEC (the Union of Cuban Journalists) with a speech in which he didn’t mention any active journalists, but did mention an official: Lagarde.

Making reference to a text in which the director of CubaSí also made ambiguous accusations, the President said in a praising tone: ‘M. H. Lagarde has described with irony, but without euphemisms, the new class of leaders that we’re being sold from those spaces. I recommend a thorough reading of “The New Revolutionaries”’. He went on to read aloud the most visceral fragment of the text. This happened in a few short minutes, but it was shown that day in the National TV News Bulletin, in the Granma newspaper and in any provincial media that follow the Party guidelines. I am far from being an impartial participant in this issue, because I immediately understood I was one of the people being judged, and I published a response. Lagarde confirmed his accusation of me several days later. Being a ‘new revolutionary’ must be the highest praise I’ve ever gotten.

But, how can the director of a national medium stoke smear campaigns and compose a list of official enemies? Why do we still not know the reason for the difficulties in consulting those media on Saturday? How is it possible to operate with such impunity in Cuba? Well, by rewarding and providing fuel for those who light fires in times that require unity. That sort of people is useful for internal purges, but they fragment society and generate wounds that endure in time. This impunity was reached through the arrogance of some, the indifference of others and the mistakes of the President. It doesn’t mean there’s no solution. Whoever empowered that group can also put a stop to it. This time the ball is in the presidential court.

(Translated from the original)

3 Comentarios

  1. There is a simple way to put all this: dishonesty. And sadly, not only intellectual.
    This could be an oversimplification of the whole process called «revolution». But from the point of view of the people rights, more or less granted already in all previous governments, Fidel’s revolution was a scamy trade of rights. People were tricked to gave up the right of free speech, free association, the right to strike, the freedom of choice and personal enterprise, in favor of the benefits of what still many call «social achievements of the revolution». There are big questions here:
    1. It was necessary to chop a set of rights to rise others. Specially considering the ironic situation in which Fidel or even the generations before him would have to fight under the very same conditions he imposed between 1968-1993 (No easy way to travel outside the country, no independent press, no practical way to rise money) To be fair in this case, support from people is the missing key… BUT! If there is no freedom in the association or press… How are you suppose to communicate with the mass??
    2. That sneaky trade… Is it worth? Many generations after, we are still debating if the rights we have are in risk the very same moment the «revolution» path(actual translation: communist party way) is no longer in our interest. This silly situation is a very subtle demonstration of how big was the scam. Always playing with the binary speech and the quid-pro-quo situation. Completely ignoring the fact that now a days, many non-socialist non-marxist countries have the same benefits with higher quality. There are many ways to discuss this, and many could say: yes, but Cuba is a 3rd world country under siege for many years. The actual question is: how is it possible we are in such a degraded state with all the human and natural resourses we have? This was a phrase for Fidel itself so there is no way to do the actual math because La Hostoria Me Absolverá was above all an emotional speech. But following his words: «there is no reason for cuban people to be poor. Cuba could host splendidly a population three times larger(6 x 3 = 18 millions at the time). Markets should be packed with products; the pantries of the houses should be full; all arms could be laboriously producing». So, after having the country under his will for sooooo many years… what do we have now? Did he ever actually planned to fulfill his own words?(there is so much more promised and ditched in a blink…)
    So, one of the main issues we must address as cubans, is to discard and and crush that stupid and harmfull binary mindset. We want social benefits! Who doesn’t?? But we also want personal freedom to decide what to do as part of the society instead of following someone’s master plan. And we should prefer a rather small State apparatus to pay for, because as Fidel said: «all arms could be laboriously producing».
    3. Is this the best approach? Every time comes with its own challenges. We must agree 1959’s revolution was a change for better, but why the way it was? It was never a people decision it was always people trust and trust is not the same as participating, even more, trust is by no means related to success. Fidel’s biggest mistake was his lack of humility in recognizing his inability to run a country and guide it to be a prosperous one. Instead he decided to export the armed fight first and social resistance later, under the assumption he could have better deals that way that actually trading, or maybe he was just trying to be some kind of Marxist messiahs, who knows!!?? The fact remains he spend way too much time and resources fighting and conspiring outside. Who was able to tell him he was wrong? How could cubans know how much money and people were and are involved in government’s non-developmente agenda? Could it be possible 60 years are not a long time for this BIG revolution, what about our parents, our grandparents? what about us!?
    Why the people in the government or the ones closer to them have a legal high life style but we are told that’s a capitalism problem? Why the don’t even use our public transportation system or medical institutions? Why we never see then in public spaces as normal citizens? What is their actual job content? What do the do every day? What and how much are we paying them or allowing them to keep from what constitutionally should be ours?
    Sadly, there are too many holes in our society. The least we can do is to start considering seriously if this is actually what we were promised for, what we choose and what we want. Personally, I feel totally scammed and I don’t want my children to have the same feeling. I am the first one hoping to be wrong… but the evidence is stronger in any direction.

  2. muy buen comentario Luis, sobre todo cdo dices:

    «Fidel’s revolution was a scam trade of rights. People were tricked to gave up the right of free speech, free association, the right to strike, the freedom of choice and personal enterprise, in favor of the benefits of what still many call «social achievements of the revolution». There are big questions here:

    1. It was necessary to chop a set of rights to rise others. Especially considering the ironic situation in which Fidel or even the generations before him would have to fight under the very same conditions he imposed between 1968-1993 (No easy way to travel outside the country, no independent press, no practical way to raise money) To be fair in this case, support from people is the missing key… BUT! If there is no freedom in the association or press… How are you supposed to communicate with the mass?

    2. That sneaky trade… Is it worth? Many generations after, we are still debating if the rights we have are in risk the very same moment the «revolution» path(actual translation: communist party way) is no longer in our interest. This silly situation is a very subtle demonstration of how big was the scam. Always playing with the binary speech and the quid-pro-quo situation. Completely ignoring the fact that nowadays, many non-socialist non-marxist countries have the same benefits as higher quality. There are many ways to discuss this, and many could say: yes, but Cuba is a 3rd world country under siege for many years. The actual question is: how is it possible we are in such a degraded state with all the human and natural resources we have? This was a phrase for Fidel itself so there is no way to do the actual math because La Historia Me Absolverá was above all an emotional speech. But following his words: «there is no reason for Cuban people to be poor. Cuba could host splendidly a population three times larger(6 x 3 = 18 million at the time). Markets should be packed with products; the pantries of the houses should be full; all arms could be laboriously producing». So, after having the country under his will for sooooo many years… what do we have now? Did he ever actually planned to fulfill his own words? (there is so much more promised and ditched in a blink…)
    So, one of the main issues we must address as Cubans is to discard and crush that stupid and harmful binary mindset. We want social benefits! Who doesn’t?? But we also want personal freedom to decide what to do as part of the society instead of following someone’s master plan. And we should prefer a rather small State apparatus to pay for, because as Fidel said: «all arms could be laboriously producing».

    3. Is this the best approach? Every time comes with its own challenges. We must agree 1959’s revolution was a change for better, but why the way it was? It was never a people decided it was always people trust and trust is not the same as participating, even more, trust is by no means related to success. Fidel’s biggest mistake was his lack of humility in recognizing his inability to run a country and guide it to be a prosperous one. Instead, he decided to export the armed fight first and social resistance later, under the assumption he could have better deals that way that actually trading, or maybe he was just trying to be some kind of Marxist messiahs, who knows!!?? The fact remains he spends way too much time and resources fighting and conspiring outside. Who was able to tell him he was wrong? How could Cubans know how much money and people were and are involved in the government’s non-development agenda? Could it be possible 60 years are not a long time for this BIG revolution, what about our parents, our grandparents? what about us!?

    Why the people in the government or the ones closest to them have a legal high lifestyle but we are told that’s a capitalism problem? Why don’t we even use our public transportation system or medical institutions? Why we never see then in public spaces as normal citizens? What is their actual job content? What do they do every day? What and how much are we paying them or allowing them to keep from what constitutionally should be ours?
    Sadly, there are too many holes in our society. The least we can do is to start considering seriously if this is actually what we were promised for, what we choose and what we want. Personally, I feel totally scammed and I don’t want my children to have the same feeling. I am the first one hoping to be wrong… but the evidence is stronger in any direction.»

  3. “ most people WANT to be told what to believe. Once successfully lied to, they want even MORE to be told they “are right” while those who disagree “are fools.”
    I know a secret about facts: They do not exist. Theories, models and interpretations exist. Some describe and predict physical events better than others, but not one presents as the final and absolute truth about anything that exists in the physical universe.
    People who do not do their own “fact checking” with regard to things they consider important, do become pawns in the hands of those who tell the stories they find most convincing. Those who mistake their own fact checking results for “facts” become victims of their own cognitive and emotional biases.
    If you find this viewpoint interesting, you will probably love Neuropolitics, a book by Robert Anton Wilson that explores these subject in theory and practice. Available in hard copy or via the networks, seek and ye shall find. ”

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