Saturday, October 08, 2016

Reflections Against a “Black Winter”

Reflections Against a "Black Winter" / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya

Miriam Celaya, Havana, 4 October 2016 — CUBALEX, an independent
organization dedicated to providing free legal aid to Cubans — an
essential service in a society where the abuse of rights is a permanent
part of daily life — in recent days suffered a sudden and brutal attack
at its headquarters in Havana, by the repressive forces of the government.

This unpredictable event, in which disproportionate and absolutely
unjustified violence was applied, marks a new chapter in the escalation
of terror that has been taking place in recent months against the
independent civil society of the Island in the form of harassment of
individuals and of various civic projects.

With this act, repression breaks its own routines and sends a grim
message: it is no longer about assaulting and beating dissidents and
opponents who demonstrate peacefully in the streets, but the regime is
willing to violate their own laws and indiscriminately level private
spaces in its attempt to crush any outbreak of dissent. No one is safe;
the Constitution and the laws are worthless against the power of the
State-Party-Clan Castro.

Meanwhile, the project Convivencia, the Law Association of Cuba,
independent journalists, unions and independent libraries, among others,
have also been receiving the unwanted attention of the political police
in the last three weeks, with no shortage of summonses, threats,
arbitrary arrests, seizures and "visits," both covert and open, a clear
sign that, despite the almost two years since the beginning of
reconciliation with the "imperialist enemy" and the end of the
belligerence, the top leadership is not even slightly willing to
tolerate the existence of areas of freedom and alternative positions to
its totalitarian power.

Put in perspective, since the raid of the Black Spring in 2003, the
picture has never been so baffling and obscure for independent civil
society, a fact that should trigger alerts in civilized societies that
defend the principles of democracy throughout the world.

In a clumsy effort to legitimize repression, the Castro regime has also
turned up its propaganda machine through its media monopoly, with its
old and hackneyed arguments: disqualification of its critics within
Cuba, as "mercenaries," "stateless,, "counter-revolutionaries," etc. –
and accusations against the US government of attempting to subvert the
political order in Cuba, to fund, either directly or indirectly,
"enemies of the revolution" and perversely maintain "politics of carrot
and stick," since the true intentions of Uncle Sam continue to be
reinstating capitalism in Cuba, something that is the well-known wish of
millions of Cubans.

Interestingly, this has not prevented the reconciliation process of the
Palace of the Revolution with the White House from continuing its
course. In fact, both parties consider that it is progressing
satisfactorily. Because it happens that the elders in olive green (or in
suits and ties, depending on the occasion) are more interested in
American dollars than these very "mercenaries of the internal
counterrevolution" whom they are accusing.

Repression, then, is not really based on the alleged bad habits of
sovereignty and self-determination – two buzzwords as corrupt as
everything else in Cuba – as their faithful spokesmen and their regional
allies argue. Nor it is that Castro and his claque aspire to a share of
the benefits that a normalization of relations with the powerful
Northern power would bring about. It is about wanting it all – dollars
and power – without intrusion and without question. For that purpose,
they need to complete their silent transition to succession without
uncomfortable interference from the restless actors of Cuba's
independent civil society. They also have the quiet acquiescence of
international public opinion and the approval of democratic governments
around the world, looking away distractedly as repression increases in
the exemplary Island.

This explains why this upsurge in violence by the forces of power stops
being logical, not contradictory. The Cuban reality is now so confusing
and controversial that there are no flat-out explanations to interpret
the signals in a unique or irrefutable way. The same question may
receive a number of different answers, not necessarily related to each

For example, the most recent survey presented on the cover of CubaNet
had a simple question, as is to be expected of an inquiry of this
nature. It sought responses to whether the current escalation of
repression of the Castro regime is due to the impunity it enjoys before
the international community. And indeed, just 24 hours after the survey,
more than 80% of respondents (including this writer) did so in the

Though impunity is indeed a factor of great importance in this case,
because it stimulates the violent actions of the Castro hordes, it is
just one element to explain the repression, but it is not its essential
cause. In fact, there is not one essential cause, but several; and they
are all essentially within Cuba and not just in the international
political arena.

In that cluster of underlying causes – which are, in turn, the result of
the failure of the Castro model and its inability to stand on its own
so-called "socialist" founding principles—include, among others, an
increase in social discontent and dissident sectors (and others "who
disagree") in the country, with the corresponding increase in activism
and social groups potentially receptive to proposals for alternative
solutions to the regime; greater visibility of critical sectors from the
standpoint of the use of new information technologies and communications
to penetrate the official information monopoly, despite the still
precarious and insufficient capacity of Cubans to access to the
Internet; hopelessness and lack of prospects of a better future for new
generations, dramatically reflected in the sustained outflow of people
from the country and the whole crisis that stems from it; and the fading
myth of the "external enemy" which has created numerous pores in the
monolithic structure on which absolute power was based.

Add to this the current boom of new critical actors, in this case under
the same or similar ideological designation used by the Castro regime
(socialist, Marxist, José Martí-based and others), which move in two
different trends: those who advocate participatory and democratic
socialism to allow opportunities for all Cubans, regardless of their
political color; and those faithful followers of the thought and labor
of the Revolution, who recognize the historic generation and ignore the
political otherness but refuse to slavishly repeat the official line,
while claiming their participation in political decision-making, an
unthinkable heresy to the totalitarian power.

Following the logic of a regime that encompasses the worst of the
traditions in all other Latin American dictatorships and
totalitarianisms in the rest of the planet, we can only expect more
repression and terror in the immediate future. The Castro regime seems
to be preparing for what is being proclaimed as a Black Winter.
Paradoxically, every new repressive action that aims to provide the
image of strength and curb outbreaks of internal dissent exposes more
clearly the vulnerability of the regime and its own fears of losing the
absolute control exercised for nearly six decades.

Independent civil society's response against the dictatorship's
escalation in repression has been the same in all cases: don't give up,
keep the will to continue fighting peacefully for democracy in any
circumstances, an attitude that deserves greater recognition, respect
and support from democratic governments and international organizations
that demonstrated so much solidarity at times when they rewarded the
oldest satrapy of the Western world with their applause, their approval,
or their silence.

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: Reflections Against a "Black Winter" / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya –
Translating Cuba -
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