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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Disobedience / Miriam Celaya

Disobedience / Miriam Celaya
Miriam Celaya, Translator: Unstated

Observing daily life in Cuba is becoming increasingly misleading. Under
the supposed calm of a society where nothing seems to happen, the forces
of different and often conflicting trends are moving. And these
movements could potentially generate conflicts of different types and
magnitudes. A brief and no doubt incomplete analysis reveals an
undeniable reality: nothing is immutable, nothing is eternal, not even —
who would have believed it — the totalitarian regime camouflaged under
the generic euphemism of "revolution."

In recent weeks the unwillingness of the government to search for
political solutions has become clear. The misguided declaration of the
General-President telling us that no one should "have illusions" with
regards to eventual political changes was terse, but it has the
advantage of eliminating the prolonged wait for some negotiation with
the regime. Then, a negotiated solution with the miniscule power group
excludes possible scenarios, precisely because the will of that group.

That is, the dictatorship has clearly exposed its reluctance, not only
toward changes and inclusions, but even the pretense of a fictitious
social pact. To put it briefly and bluntly, the gerontocracy and the
acolytes of the generalship have barricaded themselves in their
trenches. And that's from a positive point of view, thus simplifying the
march and justifying the search for alternative solutions in pursuit of
democracy. Unwittingly, they have passed us the baton.

At the same time, the picture is getting bleaker. Economic figures show
an unstoppable increase in the cost of living, rampant impoverishment of
large sectors of society, the inefficiency and inadequacy of government
measures aimed at the so-called "renewal" of a model that remains on
life support — that is, because of the existence of an also precarious
Hugo Chavez in Venezuela — and the inability to overcome the crisis
under current political conditions.

Socially, the soaring delinquency and crime rate, the deterioration of
the systems of health and education — practically on the verge of
collapse — widespread discontent, frustration, lack of prospects,
despair, the decapitalization of confidence in the system and
despondency, are all components that could lead, in the relatively short
term, to a crisis of governance, the implementation of large-scale
repression, or a combination of both.

On the other hand, never has there been a larger sector of dissatisfied
protesters and the public will to exercise rights. The political
challenge is manifested, beyond ideological tendencies, in resistance
and the growth of larger and larger groups of independent civil society;
in the rebellious attitude of new and old generations of dissidents; and
in the speed with which these groups have been consolidating and linking
to each other, despite the repression and surveillance of the servants
of the regime.

The strength of these independent groups lies mainly in their open and
inclusive character and their stepping back from ideology, which makes
them immune to penetration by agents of the regime. At the same time,
access to new technologies has been a catalyst to allow the diffusion of
ideas in a medium that is beyond the absolute control of the government,
despite the low connectivity of Cubans to the Internet.

The weakness of the regime lies in exactly the opposite characteristics:
its closed and unchanging character, its secret and conspiratorial
nature, its exclusions, its urgent need to control information and to
hinder the free flow of ideas and opinions, and its need to appeal to
repression as a desperate measure to slow its own inevitable end. An
untenable position in the midst of a world ever more globalized and plural.

The Cuba of today has the same government it had 53 years ago; however,
is quite different from that of just five years ago. And this is not a
conceptual blunder. Five years ago we were not even aware of the
existence of so many outraged among us; we had not thoroughly understood
that we are heirs to over half a century of repressed dissent and that
it's not required to fight guerrillas in a fratricidal struggle: it is
enough just to disobey.

Now Cubans increasingly understand that our bad leaders are there
because we have allowed them to be, that political capital belongs to
citizens, not governments, that a regime cannot sustain itself, and that
the hope for our future lies precisely in the fact that this government
has no future. As the civil resistance begins to move beyond its
survival phase, the government adopts strategies to survive. The roles
are changing imperceptibly. Now the most imminent danger is the expected
response from the government. An escalation of repression from the base
to try to prevent the dissidence from gaining strength.

Today, the political apathy of a large mass of the population might seem
an obstacle to achieving democracy. However, this apathy is also the
prelude to the denial of support for the regime: something like the
wisps of an old myth that has died. The revolution ended decades ago,
Cuban socialism has never existed, false social achievements did not
survive the spurious grants from foreign governments, and the corrupt
regime has no moral capital to demand greater sacrifices. Without its
permission and without its liking transformations have been building
steadily from within the island, and the regime's stubbornness only
tends to accelerate its end: Cuba is changing and the future no longer
depends on them, but on all of us.

(Article originally published in Diario de Cuba on Monday, 13 February 2012)

February 17 2012

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