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    NO EMBARGO, NO CRY

    NO EMBARGO, NO CRY
    ORLANDO LUIS PARDO LAZO
    MARCH 18, 2015

    This article is part of The Mantle’s series Against Censorship.

    The U.S. embargo against the Cuban government is like those recurrent
    childhood nightmares, for both Cubans living on the Island and abroad.
    Oh, the Embargo Embargo: limit of our life, fire of our leaders…

    During decadent decades the Cuban Revolution has been defined by that
    urge of surviving in a besieged place, where distrust and the hate
    speech are officially justified by the tricky threat of a foreign foe,
    where an invisible U.S. invasion was enough to promote impunity within
    the Island, including the need of a messianic savior: Fidel, just
    Fidel—because calling him Castro could be considered a first symptom of
    dissent.

    And public dissent begets personal disaster in dictatorships.

    We Cubans are fed with the populist paranoia of Fidel in our mothers’
    milk. In turn, this rule of Fidelity feeds a paternalistic State where
    citizens always behave like children. All responsibilities rely upon the
    Revolution. Behaviorism in the time of barbarity. Discipline as the
    substitute of both duty and desire. Meanwhile all our fundamental
    freedoms were embargoed by the Cuban authorities as a displaced
    vengeance for the U.S. embargo against them.

    At first, with the Soviet satellite republics nourishing the Cuban
    economy, our Commander in Chief was making jokes about how useless the
    U.S. embargo was to prevent his Revolution from turning Cuba into a
    First World nation:
    – “There will be enough milk produced in Cuba to fill Havana bay.” (1966).1
    – “The effect of the American blockade has been to require us to work
    harder and better, it has been effective in favor of the Revolution.”
    (1967).2
    – “The language of force does not intimidate us, we have been cured of
    it, so the blockade is now a subject of scorn and laughter.” (1969).3
    – “Happily, we depend on the U.S. for nothing. No trade, no food,
    nothing.” (1975).4
    – “Economic relations with the U.S. would not imply any basic benefit
    for Cuba, no essential benefit,” (1985).5

    In the 1990s, however, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the
    restoration of democracies in Latin America, Castro had to retool his
    propaganda machinery. The U.S. embargo suddenly proved to be the genesis
    of all social debacles on the Island. The economic sanctions threatened
    our sovereignty more than a coup d’état, and as such the world was to
    condemn them but with no mention of the scarcity of the fundamental
    rights for the Cuban people (including the exiles, now more than
    one-fifth of our population).

    Generation after generation, resistance to Cuban totalitarianism has
    become synonymous with the fine art of waiting. From ideology to
    hypocrisy to idiocy, Cubans are experts in expecting with no expectation
    at all. Anything goes, from fighting the Ebola virus in Africa to
    signing a Major League contract worth several million dollars.

    Once we were austere, once we even had an astronaut, maybe we have just
    gone astray. Stigmatized as “worms” by the Castroites, many Cubans are
    indeed waiting for biopolitics—or rather necropolitics—to finish its
    work on a half fossil Fidel, a Marxterialist Methuselah about to turn
    89, shrunken like a magic-realist character by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
    who, by the way, was his close collaborator and a spokesman of the Cuban
    Revolution.

    The alternative to indolence is to emigrate to the northernmost province
    of our country: Miami-Hialeah and other post-totalitarian towns, where
    we can rent a so-called “efficiency” to watch this film from the burger
    side of the embargo. Big Brother Marx is easily overwhelmed by a Big Mac.

    The end of the economic and financial embargo against Cuba—still
    inconceivable since the U.S. Congress is reluctant to change the
    law—should then imply the end of the Castrozoic Cold War Era, still
    ongoing by sheer inertia on the Caribbean island. And we all enjoyed a
    preview with the miraculous milestone of last December 17, when the
    simultaneous speeches of President Barack Obama and General Raul Castro
    announced the normalization of U.S.-Cuba relations, a pluribus duo, with
    liberty and justice for none—or perhaps only for the subscribers of The
    New York Times, after endless op-eds paved the way for the White House
    to pay the way for the Chamber of Commerce to invest in Cuba, just as
    their members did in the Fabulous Fifties.

    This adulterated affair of a democracy with a dictatorship is about to
    seal the self-transition from power to power taking place on the Island
    today. The Cuban dynastic model of State capitalism is already pregnant
    with a baby dictatorcracy called Castrolandia 2.0. The next Putin-like
    president is likely to be Alejandro Castro Espin, who, like the Russian
    autocrat, is a colonel linked to state security who happens to be the
    son of Raul Castro, who in turn has promised to step down in 2018 at the
    age of 87 years with six decades of control behind him.

    The pros and cons of this unexpected approach are not as relevant as the
    perverse point that there are no right or wrong options when it comes to
    monolithic regimes. No deal is dear with the Castro family. Every
    engagement is co-opted for their own convenience, because all the levers
    of society remain at their disposition without any limits.

    Despite Obama’s rhetoric that breathed life into the Cuban
    establishment, the alternative to Communism is not likely to be
    consumerism, but Communism itself. Or collapse. After Fidel, the Flood.
    And Obama seems to be advancing a helping hand to us before a migratory
    crisis extends its hideous hands to the U.S., as it is being announced
    already in the record numbers of rafters and Cubans illegally crossing
    U.S. borders, before and after December 17.

    Since the nuclear missile crisis of October 1962, these “human missiles”
    have been used as a pressuring position by Havana in its dialogues or
    diatribes with Washington, DC. That is why on Island, the rumor is that
    the Cuban Adjustment Act, which privileges Cubans to apply for a
    permanent resident status after one year and a day in America, will
    vanish somehow with the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between
    the White House and Revolution Square.

    And so we keep voting with our feet in a sort of pedestrian’s plebiscite
    to kiss goodbye the Revolution—a fleeing flow that is 100% political
    precisely because 100% of Cuban migrants hurry to declare that they are
    only looking for economic benefits. What kind of benefits when they had
    free education, free sports, free arts, free health and free et ceteras
    on the Island? Farewell, Fidel.

    Americans can come to Cuba in the search of profits. Cubans keep
    quitting their proletarian paradise in search of only we know what.

    “Yankees, come home” echoes in the so-called Key to the Gulf for the
    first time in the history of our hemisphere. Americans are more than
    welcome to appease our tired tyranny with their new markets for the New
    Man to cease being a soldier and become a salesman. Money is time in
    this equation to build a stable status quo for the region, which is a
    major concern for America’s national security. In gold they trust: bring
    down the wall means open up the wallet. This explains the urgency of
    Google, Amazon, Delta, Netflix, Coca-Cola, and even Bacardi to
    re-conquer the once-called Pearl of the Antilles. Meanwhile, a multitude
    of five-year multiple-entry U.S. visas is being granted to Cubans of all
    ages, before and after December 17.

    If 50-plus years of U.S. diplomatic stalemate and economic sanctions
    failed to bring freedom to the Cuban people it is because these were
    never designed to bring freedom to the Island, but to penalize a regime
    that started by sequestering Cuban sovereignty with anti-democratic
    procedures, including the violent illegalization of civil society and
    all forms of property—both private and public, including the
    press—forcing up to one-fifth of our population to live in exile today.

    The 50-plus years to come of U.S. capitalist engagement with Cuba cannot
    guarantee fundamental freedoms for our people, because a market economy
    is not a redemptive formula per se, and it has been implemented by many
    authoritarian systems to deny all basic rights. But “rights” is a
    worn-out word that President Obama, Pope Francis, and General Castro
    have eagerly agreed to postpone during almost two years of secret
    negotiations: Cuban democracy, like heaven, can wait.

    What has been good for Americans since the Eighteenth Century is still
    not good enough for Cubans in the Twenty-first Century. This is the
    basis of revolutionary racism, a discriminatory concept cruelly
    conceived by American academics in their search of a lost Left. First
    world democracies seem disappointed to support pro-democracy movements
    anymore in the Third World, while Castroism keeps on being more than
    proud to Castrify other countries —Venezuela is the most tragic example
    today.

    Oh, bama! Why not take advantage of these U.S.-Cuba negotiations to seat
    the historical gerontocracy in olive-green uniforms at the same table
    with the emerging civil leaders on the Island? Don’t we deserve this
    after we have achieved so much in the struggle for freedom of speech and
    to raise awareness of human rights violations and the overall
    anthropological damage in Cuba? If the Castros want to be treated as a
    normal government, shouldn’t the Castros constitute a normal government
    beforehand?

    But as it has been impossible to hold the Cuban government accountable,
    the lesser evil now seems to be to promote “Cuban civil society” only
    for political correctness in presidential speeches, while in fact
    excluding us from the establishment to come: State capitalism with the
    sheepskin of a soulcialism.

    In moral terms the unpopularity of U.S. policies, given the popularity
    of the Cuban Revolution worldwide, should be less important than
    securing that a true transition to democracy will take place in Cuba
    soon. Unless, of course, advancing American interests in the Western
    Hemisphere still means advancing American interests in Western Union.

    Despite any goodwill of the U.S. executive branch enforcing resolution
    after resolution, involving certain congressmen and think tanks and NGOs
    and press magnates and corporate tycoons that shake Raul Castro’s hand
    without asking him a single uncomfortable question, what is being
    legitimized is a clan that abolished the Cuban Congress and Cuban think
    tanks and Cuban NGOs and the Cuban Chamber of Commerce and all Cuban
    press except that belonging to the Communist Party.

    I am not sure about “what everybody needs to know about Cuba”—as the
    American scholar Julia Sweig might say—but rather about what nobody
    dares to know about Cuba. Even if this is a small step for democracy,
    it’s also a giant leap against independence. And decency. The U.S.
    change in its Cuban policy is the latest victory of The End of History:
    from the Spanish-American War to the Anti-Imperialist Revolution, the
    growing “common marketization” of international relations is what really
    counts and “Cuban” continues to be out of date.

    Milan Kundera, maybe the best Cuban novelist who is a Czech who writes
    in French and lives in Switzerland—a perfect mix for liberty—knew that
    “the old dead make way for the young dead” for “the struggle of man
    against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

    “Dialogues between the elites are not the path of the people,” said the
    assassinated leader of the Cuban Christian Liberation Movement Oswaldo
    Payá—winner of the European Parliament’s 2002 Sakharov Prize for Freedom
    of Thought. Dead since July 22, 2012—like Polish priest Popie?uszko in
    the mid-1980s— in a traffic “accident” denounced as an extrajudicial
    killing by the surviving witness who was driving the car, Payá and his
    peaceful activists managed to collect more than 25,000 signatures on the
    Island to legally democratize our society, as established by the Cuban
    Constitution. The Castros’ reaction was dozens of incarcerations, forced
    expatriations and, ultimately, his murder by the Ministry of the Interior.

    Is the Obama administration willing to mention such delicate details in
    The New Deal with Cuba or will there be no solidarity with Payá’s
    family, who has been requesting an independent investigation since that
    sad Sunday that abolished the hope of an inclusive country? And not just
    a clowntry club for cowboys, a post-totalitarian museum turned into a
    tourist theme park or worse, into a mausoleum of martyrs like Orlando
    Zapata—left to die during a hunger strike—Laura Pollán—our second
    Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought—and Oswaldo Payá?

    Respect for universal values like life, mercy, beauty, truth, and
    liberty—the most natural and yet so difficult to attain in times of
    tyranny—is the responsibility of every free man and woman who wishes to
    favor my people, who deserve not to wait any longer to be treated like
    real citizens, with or without whatever diplomatic decisions are taken
    one thousand miles away in the U.S.

    “Cubans have the right to have rights,” repeated Oswaldo Payá before the
    Castros took his life. And we Cubans have the right to have rights
    irrespective of all the Castros’ conspiracies to permanently prevail. I
    still skeptically trust in such a Cuba “founded with all and the good of
    all”—as the patriot and poet José Martí wrote more than a century
    ago—but most of my fellow Cubans already don’t. Our wisdom is weird, for
    we have seen things that you Americans wouldn’t believe

    1. Fidel Castro. Speech at the Meeting of the Federation of Cuban Women,
    (December 1966).
    2. Castro. Playboy (January 1967).
    3. Castro. Speech at the Plaza de la Revolución, Havana (January 2, 1969).
    4. Castro. Speech at the First Congress of the Cuban Communist Party,
    (December 1975).
    5. Jeffrey M. Elliot and Mervyn M. Dymally. Fidel Castro: Nothing Can
    Stop the Course of History (Pathfinder Press, 1986).

    Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo is a writer, photographer, blogger of “Lunes de
    Post-Revolución”(English trans. “Post-Revolution Mondays”), and editor
    of the Cuban independent digital magazines The Revolution Evening Post
    and Voces.

    Source: No Embargo, No Cry | The Mantle –
    http://www.mantlethought.org/international-affairs/no-embargo-no-cry

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