Saturday, July 31, 2021

Jesus Arboleya: Frank Assessments, Future Options


Jesus Arboleya   August 2021  (Original Spanish follows)

What is being discussed in Cuba today?

As is probably the case in almost the whole world,  the central theme of popular debate  in Cuba is related to the health crisis generated by  the COVID-19 pandemic, its  terrible economic consequences and the social restrictions imposed by its treatment. Inthe case of Cuba, this situation, which is aggravated  by  the intensification of the UNITED STATES embargo, which has given rise to  a perverse combination, which has deprived the country of its  main sources of income and placed at its  limits  the solution of the consumption needs   of the population.

Of course, social discontent increases under these conditions and dissatisfaction with government management, justified or not, tends to  spread  in  people. It could be said that the complaint about  the  prevailing  situation  was the  main driver of the protest  demonstrations  that took place in various parts of the country on 11 and 12 July, although they also had the encouragement of counterrevolutionary forces, mostly established  abroad, which acted through social networks and other mechanisms of internal mobilization, often  to encourage the most violent expressions.

Although the actual volume and  social composition prevailing among  the demonstrators remains to be  specified,  about which there is much speculation, it could be said that this is a fairly heterogeneous group  of people,  mostly devoid of a political project to guide their participation in these events. However, we  should  highlight  the presence of dissident sectors, which have been  expressing  themselves for some time through various acts of civil disobedience, much promoted outside Cuba. Although minority, and also diverse in their composition and objectives, these sectors provided a certain political  characterization  to the event and a more exploitable  image in the eyes of international public opinion.

The phenomenon that occurred, quite unusual in the history of the Revolution, has had different readings. On the one hand, the apocalyptic ones, which once again predict the end of the Cuban revolutionary process and urge the US Government to act to speed it up, including through military aggression, under the pretext of humanitarian intervention. Around this logic are grouped the most aggressive counterrevolutionary forces,  advocating  chaos in the country, which have considerable external support, capable of establishing a media matrix that prevails in social networks and the large media.

So far, U.S. government policy seems to be determined by this current, given its supposed electoral impact on Florida. Millions of millionaires are destined to stimulate it, the sanctions against Cuba are increased and the  story of the Cuban-American extreme right is imposed in the official discourse of the country, as well as in the  US debate on the Cuban reality.

With this current there is no dialogue possible, so perhaps more important for the articulation of  a  national debate, are the people  who, whether or not they have participated in the demonstrations,  do not join the US plans,  but have been  critical, both of the government management, as well as of alleged excesses committed by the public force in the confrontation with the demonstrators, arbitrariness in the legal treatment of the detainees and the communicational conduct of the event by the government. The clarification of these problems, the search for solutions to differences and the establishment of clear rules to regulate this type of event for the future, is an important step to alleviate the tensions generated by the demonstrations.  

Also encouraged by the current situation, but long-standing in  the agenda of the national debate, the discussions related to the conception and functioning of Cuban socialism have gained more relevance.  Here they are framed from sectors very committed to the revolutionary process, whose main demand is to improve government management and that the reforms approved years ago by the party and the State be carried out, after  broad popular consultations, to others who more or less  oppose socialism or perceive it associated with Christian Democrat formulas, social democrats and liberals,  which they assume can be applied to sin Cuba.

The agenda of these groups or individuals is as diverse as it is sometimes imprecise in their plans and solutions. They focus more on criticism of what exists than  on specifying the proposals that may serve as an  alternative. It highlights issues such as the design of the socialist model, the democratization of its functioning, the role of the communist party, private property and commercial relations,  the application of the economic order, the problems of equity and poverty, discrimination in its various manifestations, emigration, ecology, animal care and many others, each with more or less amplified repercussions in Cuban society.

Despite the diversity of concerns and  opinions, these tendencies find a common place in the criticism of bureaucratism, corruption  and other vices associated with government management, things that the  official  discourse itself also rejects and combats, as well as in the confrontation with positions that they consider conservative and refractory to changes,  which they place in  certain  structures of the party and the State, as well as  in  intellectuals whom  they accuse of being dogmatic,  although these ors are not recognized in this definition.

The particularity of the Cuban case is that all these tendencies, whatever their ideological sign, are crossed by a constant that, whether they like it or not, defines them from the patriotic point of view, say the role of the United States in the life  of the nation.

Since the origins of the Cuban anti-colonial struggles, the issue of relations with the United States appears as a defining factor of  the  patriotic scale. The annexationist currents, which early seemed an alternative,on the understanding of  joining that country  on equal terms once independence was achieved,  were diluted or  quickly as a patriotic option, when it became clear that this was not the American plan. José Martí was  the one who best warned about the danger of U.S. pretensions  and set  as the main objective of the national struggles:  "to prevent in time with the independence of Cuba that the United States spread through the Antilles and fall, with that force more, on our lands of America. "

It was not possible and that "more force" inaugurated the neocolonial model in Cuba. Andthe anti-imperialism, as a basic condition for the independence and sovereignty of the country, then became the common factor of the patriotic struggles tos Cubans from the advent of the Republic to the present day. Ignoring this factor or placing it in the background limits the ability to understand the Cuban problem and  places people on swampy ground,  with the risk of  becoming functional to the objectives of US policy  against the island, although that is not their intention.

It is not enough to mention the US blockade "on the fly" in order to concentrate on domestic problems, which supposedly have a solution by ignoring the impact of US policy on them. If we do not understand the integrality of US policy, we cannot understand the Cuban dilemma or that of the rest of the world. We are in the presence of a global hegemonic system, which penetrates through all the pores of the social fabric and, as former President George W. Bush said, is with him or  against him. A truth that is more than evident in the case of Cuba, although that confrontation may have different degrees and nuances.

It is true that the fear of "giving weapons to the enemy" and the practice of  blaming  imperialism for all the difficulties, equally limits the comprehensive approach  to problems, has restricted democratic spaces and served as an excuse for dogmatism in many cases, but the solution is not reverse reductionism, but the promotion of  political culture and the dialogue that serves as its sustenance. The good news is that, both inside and outside the country, cubans   have the cultural  capital that requires this effort, a  knowledge that is installed in academic and intellectual spaces, even in popular wisdom, and that has also increased its presence on social networks. The issue is to know how to take advantage of it.


Jesús Arboleya. Progreso Semanal. Agosto 2021

¿Qué se discute en Cuba actualmente?

Como probablemente ocurre en casi todo el mundo, el tema central del debate popular en Cuba es lo relacionado con la crisis sanitaria generada por la pandemia de la COVID-19, sus terribles consecuencias económicas y las restricciones sociales que impone su tratamiento. En el caso cubano, esta situación que se ve agravada por el recrudecimiento del bloqueo norteamericano, lo que ha dado lugar a una combinación perversa, que ha privado al país de sus principales fuentes de ingreso y colocado en sus límites la solución de las necesidades de consumo de la población.

Como es lógico, el descontento social aumenta en estas condiciones y la insatisfacción con la gestión gubernamental, justificada o no, tiende a extenderse en las personas. Pudiera afirmarse que la queja ante la situación imperante fue el principal motor de las manifestaciones de protesta ocurridas en diversos puntos del país los días 11 y 12 del pasado mes de julio, aunque también contaron con el estímulo de fuerzas contrarrevolucionarias, en su mayoría establecidas en el exterior, que actuaron mediante las redes sociales y otros mecanismos de movilización interna, muchas veces para alentar las expresiones más violentas.

Aunque falta por precisar el volumen real y la composición social predominante entre los manifestantes, sobre lo cual existen muchas especulaciones, pudiera afirmarse que se trata de un grupo bastante heterogéneo de personas, en su mayoría desprovistas de un proyecto político que orientara su participación en estos eventos. No obstante, habría que destacar la presencia de sectores disidentes, que hace rato se vienen expresando mediante diversos actos de desobediencia civil, muy promocionados fuera de Cuba. Aunque minoritarios, y también diversos en su composición y objetivos, estos sectores aportaron cierta caracterización política al acontecimiento y una imagen más explotable de cara a la opinión pública internacional.

El fenómeno ocurrido, bastante inusual en la historia de la Revolución, ha tenido diversas lecturas. Por un lado, las apocalípticas, que otra vez pronostican el fin del proceso revolucionario cubano e instan al gobierno norteamericano a actuar para acelerarlo, incluso mediante agresiones militares, bajo la excusa de la intervención humanitaria. Alrededor de esta lógica se agrupan las fuerzas contrarrevolucionarias más agresivas, propugnadoras del caos en el país, las cuales cuentan con un considerable apoyo externo, capaz de establecer una matriz mediática que impera en las redes sociales y los grandes medios de información.

Hasta ahora, la política del gobierno de Estados Unidos parece estar determinada por esta corriente, dado su supuesto impacto electoral en la Florida. Fondos millonarios se destinan a estimularla, se incrementan las sanciones contra Cuba y el relato de la extrema derecha cubanoamericana se impone en el discurso oficial del país, así como en el debate estadounidense sobre la realidad cubana.

Con esta corriente no hay diálogo posible, por lo que quizás más importante para la articulación de un debate nacional, son las personas que, hayan o no participado en las manifestaciones, no se suman a los planes norteamericanos, pero han sido críticas, tanto de la gestión gubernamental, como de alegados excesos cometidos por la fuerza pública en el enfrentamiento a los manifestantes, arbitrariedades en el tratamiento legal de los detenidos y la conducción comunicacional del acontecimiento por parte del gobierno. El esclarecimiento de estos problemas, la búsqueda de soluciones a las diferencias y el establecimiento de normas claras que regulen este tipo de eventos de cara al futuro, constituye un paso importante para aliviar las tensiones generadas por las manifestaciones.

También alentadas por la actual coyuntura, pero de larga data en la agenda del debate nacional, han ganado más relevancia las discusiones referidas a la concepción y el funcionamiento del socialismo cubano. Aquí se encuadran desde sectores muy comprometidos con el proceso revolucionario, cuya principal exigencia es mejorar la gestión gubernamental y que se lleven a cabo las reformas hace años aprobadas por el partido y el Estado, después de amplias consultas populares, hasta otros que más o menos se oponen al socialismo o lo perciben asociado con fórmulas democratacristianas, socialdemócratas y liberales, que asumen pueden ser aplicadas en Cuba.

La agenda de estos grupos o personas es tan diversa como, a veces, imprecisa en sus planes y soluciones. Más se concentran en la crítica a lo existente, que en precisar las propuestas que puedan servirle como alternativa. Se destacan temas como el diseño del modelo socialista, la democratización de su funcionamiento, el papel del partido comunista, la propiedad privada y las relaciones mercantiles, la aplicación del ordenamiento económico, los problemas de la equidad y la pobreza, la discriminación en sus diversas manifestaciones, la emigración, la ecología, el cuidado de los animales y muchos otros, cada cual con repercusiones más o menos amplificadas en la sociedad cubana.

A pesar de la diversidad de preocupaciones y opiniones, estas tendencias encuentran un lugar común en la crítica al burocratismo, la corrupción y otros vicios asociados a la gestión gubernamental, cosas que el propio discurso oficial también rechaza y combate, así como en la confrontación con posiciones que consideran conservadoras y refractarias a los cambios, las que ubican en ciertas estructuras del partido y el Estado, así como en intelectuales a los que acusan de dogmáticos, aunque éstos no se reconozcan en esta definición.

La particularidad del caso cubano es que todas estas tendencias, cualquiera sea su signo ideológico, aparecen traspasadas por una constante que, quieran o no, las define desde el punto de vista patriótico, dígase el papel de Estados Unidos en la vida de la nación.

Desde los orígenes de las luchas anticoloniales cubanas, el tema de las relaciones con Estados Unidos aparece como un factor definitorio de la escala patriótica. Las corrientes anexionistas, que tempranamente parecieron una alternativa, en el entendido de unirse a ese país en condiciones de igualdad una vez alcanzada la independencia, se diluyó rápidamente como opción patriótica, cuando resultó evidente que ese no era el plan norteamericano. José Martí fue quien mejor alertó sobre el peligro de las pretensiones estadounidenses y fijó como objetivo principal de las luchas nacionales: “impedir a tiempo con la independencia de Cuba que se extiendan por las Antillas los Estados Unidos y caigan, con esa fuerza más, sobre nuestras tierras de América.”

No fue posible y esa “fuerza más” inauguró en Cuba el modelo neocolonial. El antimperialismo, como condición básica para la independencia y la soberanía del país, devino entonces el factor común de las luchas patrióticas cubanas desde el advenimiento de la República hasta nuestros días. Desconocer este factor o colocarlo en segundo orden, limita la capacidad de comprender la problemática cubana y sitúa a las personas en un terreno pantanoso, con riesgo de convertirse en funcionales a los objetivos de la política norteamericana contra la Isla, aunque esa no sea su intención.

No basta con mencionar “al vuelo” el bloqueo norteamericano, para concentrarse en problemas domésticos, que supuestamente tienen solución obviando el impacto de la política norteamericana sobre los mismos. Si no entendemos la integralidad de la política norteamericana, no podemos comprender el dilema cubano ni tampoco el del resto del mundo. Estamos en presencia de un sistema hegemónico mundial, que penetra por todos los poros del tejido social y, como dijo el expresidente George W. Bush, se está con él o en su contra. Una verdad más que evidente en el caso de Cuba, aunque esa confrontación pueda tener diversos grados y matices.

Es cierto que el temor a “darle armas al enemigo” y la práctica de culpar al imperialismo de todas las dificultades, igual limita el abordaje integral de los problemas, ha restringido los espacios democráticos y servido de excusa al dogmatismo en muchos casos, pero la solución no es el reduccionismo inverso, sino la promoción de la cultura política y el diálogo que le sirve de sustento. La buena noticia es que, tanto dentro como fuera del país, se cuenta entre los cubanos con el capital cultural que requiere este empeño, un conocimiento que está instalado en los espacios académicos e intelectuales, incluso en la sabiduría popular, y que también ha incrementado su presencia en las redes sociales. El asunto es saber aprovecharlo. 

A political x-ray for possible dialogue in Cuba

By Jesús Arboleya On Jul 28, 2021   Progresso Weekly


Protests that occurred on July 11 in Cuba have reinforced the idea of the need for a national dialogue in order to articulate a new consensus and expand existing democratic mechanisms. As it is difficult to specify an agenda and identify its possible actors, it is worth trying to discern the political currents existing in the country and their broader interests.

Since the triumph of the Revolution, Cuban political life has been so intense and all-encompassing that very few have been able to avoid placing themselves in one of the great conglomerates in dispute — those who support the socialist system and/or its adversaries. Let us analyze the balance of these forces and their possible disposition to the dialogue that is proposed.

Defeated initially on the Island, the hard core counterrevolutionaries settled abroad, especially in Miami. For the most extreme sectors of this group, dialogue is a bad word and there have been many disparagingly called “dialoguers (dialogueros)” who have been harassed, attacked and even killed, for defending this position. Beyond the fanaticism that characterizes these groups, there are objective factors that explain this behavior: those who adhere to a hostility encouraged, protected and very well remunerated by the U.S. government.

They are promoters of chaos and U.S. intervention in Cuba. Their ultimate goal is to return to the neocolonial regime that previously existed in the country. This is not a gratuitous accusation inspired by left-wing fundamentalisms; it is clearly expressed by the Helms-Burton law, a legal instrument that regulates relations between the United States and Cuba.

These forces have some supporters within the country, generally encouraged and dependent on the money they receive from abroad. In no way is this a secret. Boasting of their transparency, the U.S. government makes known the public funds allocated for subversion in Cuba — money that is received from its Miami intermediaries, extreme right groups who also profit from these funds.

Their activities in Cuba and abroad, usually violent and meant to provoke, resonate internationally due to the attention they receive via the large information consortiums and in social networks where media campaigns are articulated, and often designed using very sophisticated techniques for manipulating these media. Due to its nature and intentions, under these circumstances there are no real possibilities of dialogue, nor is it to be supposed that they would be willing to accept it, since it conspires against their own existence and privileges.

However, not all opponents of the socialist system are reluctant to establish a dialogue with the government and various sectors of Cuban civil society. For some, this responds to a strategy aimed at achieving a “regime change by other means,” as Obama’s move to establish relations with Cuba was defined. For others it simply reflects intentions for advancing their own interests — be they economic, cultural, ideological, existential, even humanitarian — without conditioning it to the overthrow of the Cuban government. This is not strange. Cuba maintains more or less harmonious relations with countless governments, institutions and people all over the world who oppose socialism.

No matter their intentions, this dialogue is convenient for Cuba because these positions are the majority within its emigration, and are based on their recognition of the State and the Cuban institutions with which they propose to negotiate with. This dialogue should attempt to satisfy matters of mutual interest while neutralizing the most aggressive options that influence policies towards Cuba of those in power in countries where they live, including that of the United States.

This tendency, which could be characterized as a peaceful opposition with a willingness to dialogue with the Cuban government and civil society, also has its proponents within Cuba, although there are no organizations that represent it. As can be inferred from the result of the 2019 constitutional referendum, it is composed of around 9 percent of the electorate, some 700,000 people, who voted against socialism, a figure that could increase if we add some abstentions and invalid votes. A significant minority position, which does not correspond to the matrix of propaganda against Cuba, that does not imply that it is fair to ignore their rights, nor is it intelligent to underestimate the importance of taking them into account for the construction of a national consensus.

Although often they can be freely expressed through the channels of the People’s Power, the open consultations that are usually carried out on various issues, through unions and other mechanisms of citizen participation, and either due to deficiencies or limitations in the functioning of these structures or as a result of the social compulsion that intolerance and misunderstanding of their positions can generate, the full satisfaction of these rights is often limited.

Given the difficulty of expressing themselves through official channels, it is common for them to manifest themselves through churches and fraternal organizations, with which the government maintains relationships, or through social networks. To increase dialogue with these sectors and expand the possibilities of their participation in multiple aspects of national life, it is enough to enforce what is established in the Constitution and that they receive maximum protection from the State and the rest of the country’s political institutions.

Paradoxically, it has become much more complex to establish the agendas and the composition of possible dialogues within the left-wing conglomerate that, from various philosophical and political approaches, declares itself in favor of socialism, although some may question the model applied in Cuba and the management of the government. Although practically all say they are willing to participate in a national dialogue, they often differ in the scope of the convening, the focus of attention and the priorities of the debate. Achieving conciliation of these positions is vital to articulate the unity of the country around the socialist project. As much as the argument has been degraded as a result of the abuse of slogans, the history of the Cuban nation bears witness to the importance of this unit for the defense of the sovereignty and independence of the country, the point of demarcation of political tendencies in Cuba.

The issues in dispute are many. They include the conceptualization of socialism and its application to the Cuban reality; the functioning of the government and the direction of the economy; the role of the market and private management; the mechanisms of democratic participation and popular control; the concept of citizenship and one’s rights; information and cultural policy; bureaucratism and dogmatism; social problems of diverse character; the role of the communist party and its methods of work; emigration and the nation’s bond with emigrants; as well as relations with the United States and the rest of the world.

These are very complex issues, traversed by fairly recent phenomena such as the collapse of the USSR and the European socialist camp, which had served as a model for the Cuban system; the tremendous economic crisis that this meant for the country, with its resulting inequalities, social problems and the deterioration of values ​​that greatly influenced citizen behavior; the increase in emigration as a result of discontent and lack of expectations, especially among young people; as well as the death of Fidel Castro, who was a unifying factor domestically and of influence internationally, especially on the left.

Add to all of this the resurgence of the U.S. blockade in the midst of a devastating pandemic, as well as the worsening of inherited structural problems which complicates even more solutions for the current circumstances. The strange thing is not that there have been protests of social discontent, but that the system has been able to survive despite these immense inconveniences.

Under these adverse conditions, new leadership in government, which has made its own mistakes, has had to function. Which does not exempt them from assuming the maximum responsibility of channeling possible dialogues, which in fact they have promised to stimulate and have tried to do so through various official announcements. The problem is that dialogue not only consists of establishing spaces to express opinions and debate on various topics, but also in the resolution of conflicts, through the confrontation of different ideas, sometimes supposedly antagonistic.

The Cuban government has not always had the flexibility and breadth that is required for this endeavor, in part because, in the case of Cuba, the real need to be on the defensive, with no gaps, is important. One consequence of U.S. harassment has been the objective limitation of the exercise of democracy in the country. With everything that must be recognized as a right and from that condition they must be treated when they occur within the parameters established by law, protesting in Cuba does not entail the same dangers to national security as in other countries. No one has thought of a humanitarian intervention in Colombia, for example, although those killed by the police in the demonstrations in recent months number in the dozens.

“The art of the Revolution has been its ability to turn enemies into friends.’ – Fidel Castro

Revolutionary intransigence demonstrated by the Revolution has been an essential component of the capacity to resist and forms part of the tradition of Cuba’s fight for independence and national sovereignty. A possible dialogue’s problem is when this intransigence is assumed through a misunderstood radicalism, which confuses principles with conjunctures and objectives with methods to achieve them. Any student of Cuban history will recognize that Fidel Castro, the most radical of Cuban revolutionaries, was a magician of dialectics. On one occasion I heard him say, and I quote him from memory: “The art of the Revolution has been its ability to turn enemies into friends.”

The most conflictive moments of the revolutionary process, and the cause of many of the worst political consequences, has been when, protected by a distorted ‘revolutionary radicalism,’ the most extreme tendencies prevailed. Many people felt alienated by a perverse logic which unfairly mistreated them until turning them into enemies, thus justifying the original abuse. Extremism, as Lenin, another radical revolutionary par excellence, warned, is a breeding ground for opportunism, and opportunism is a cancer that corrodes revolutionary processes. One only has to look at the Soviet debacle, a disaster that hatched within the system, to perceive the magnitude that these damages can attain.

Extremism obstructs dialogue when it entrenches itself in the indefensible and, in the name of defending the Revolution, disqualifies any type of criticism, as well as violates ethical principles of socialist political conduct where the end cannot justify the means. It would not matter much if it simply reflected another current of thought which struggles to defend its truth on an equal footing with other tendencies, but it can be very harmful when, as has happened on occasions, it assumes the representation of the official line of the party and the State, monopolizes public expressions and exercises the ability to repress its adversaries.

In this way, in recent years, attempts have been made to discredit, even punish, left-wing intellectuals, mostly young people who, rightly or wrongly, take critical positions regarding certain conceptions and government policies. Also, options for dialogue with non-socialist sectors have been frustrated which, regardless of great differences, have been willing to find common ground with sectors of the left. They have even tried to silence the critical voices of revolutionary militants through pressure or by limiting their access to the official media.

It is clear that any of these expressions can serve individuals with hidden counterrevolutionary intentions. Surely, there are departments within the CIA, right-wing organizations and so-called experts in many places trying to gain ground in Cuba. Be it a non-conforming left, or followers of other ideologies or, even, among the most extreme radicals, the issue is not to make things easier for them by making enemies of those who are not and who do not want to be. Once again, respect for the Constitution and the laws is the best protection against the penetration of the enemy and the main antidote to avoid committing excesses covered by this purpose.

Although it is not possible to speak of the existence of a properly institutionalized national dialogue, many dialogues exist in Cuba and are more widespread than many suppose. They take place within the communist party itself, particularly in the nuclei, whose symbiosis with the popular bases should be listened to and exploited more closely. They happen with great intensity and breadth in academic circles, either among students and teachers, or as a result of social research that, although increasingly taken into account for the design of public policies, are not disseminated until they become a source of popular culture. It occurs between intellectuals and artists within their own organizations; it has even been seen in the commissions of the National Assembly of People’s Power, although the result of the votes always reflects an exaggerated unanimity. It exists between emigrants and the government, as well as various sectors of civil society, not to mention the streets, declared a permanent forum for political debate in the country.

Perhaps the main obstacle to the potential of these scattered dialogues to contribute to the national consensus lies in the limitations of the press and other official media to disseminate their results and integrate them into the political work of the nation. For years the government itself has criticized the deficiencies of the press to reflect the situation in the country and meet the information needs of the population. But this criticism has been focused more on pointing out the results, than analyzing their causes. The most negative consequence has been the loss of credibility of public bodies and their defenselessness in the face of the distortions that are often generated through social networks or other strange media.

This contrasts with the quality of our journalists and other information professionals, many with a high vocation for social service, trained in good schools, and aware of the most innovative techniques of the trade. They are not even problems in essence attributable to the directors of the organizations and officials who direct these activities, since their replacement would suffice to overcome the mess. It is a much deeper problem related to the conception of the role of the press in the construction of socialist hegemony and the norms for its operation, an old unsolved problem of the socialist system. Add to this a huge gap when facing the scenario created by the new information technologies. The solution, then, requires a thorough review of state and party policies, as well as their conceptions regarding the press and its democratic demands.

The phrase, “It’s the economy, stupid,” was Bill Clinton’s campaign theme in 1992 and was considered so descriptive of the situation that some say it was decisive in his victory. The same logic applies to the current Cuban reality. No dialogue will be able to solve the impact of this objective reality in the daily life of Cubans, but violence will achieve even less. Dialogue is a way to find solutions, especially by taking advantage of the enormous human capital the country has developed, and produce the welfare that comes with social harmony and contributes to popular political culture. Therein lies its importance.




The perfect storm

By Jesús Arboleya Last updated Jul 28, 2021


Many feel that protests that occurred in Cuba on July 11 constitute the announced death of the Revolution. Although truly shocking and damaging to the image of a country that prides itself on citizen tranquility, it is not rare for the revolutionary process to have been able to overcome major confrontations.

In the early years these confrontations were expressed in the armed struggle against terrorism, rebel gangs and invasions organized by the CIA. But even after overcoming this stage in the domestic scene — more or less violent social upheavals did not end — the common factor has been the participation and encouragement of the United States government and the external counterrevolution.

What occurs at the moment does not substantially change this pattern. It is difficult to qualify as ‘spontaneous’ demonstrations that occurred in unison throughout the country. They’ve been in the planning for months and have the financing, at least indirectly, of the hundreds of millions of dollars publicly allocated by the United States for the “promotion of democracy” in Cuba.

We are in the presence of a new U.S. aggression and this constitutes the central element of the analysis, although the majority of the protesters have not received instructions from the White House and their objectives do not even correspond to the pretensions of that country in Cuba. In reality, one of the great tragedies of this type of event is that many of its participants do not even act with full awareness of what they want, although generally they do know what they do not want, nor are they able to calculate the consequences of their actions. This is the difference between revolution and chaos.

It also would be simplistic to say that these types of conflicts only respond to a “malevolent imperialist plan,” since they are a reflection of the economic, social and political problems that the country traverses. Many times they are the result of the United States’ own aggressions, especially the blockade, but also as a consequence of errors and inadequacies in the construction of socialism in Cuba, and the inevitable political struggles that a process of this nature generates.

That said, it is worth analyzing the particularities of the current protests, an expression of the perfect storm that the country is experiencing. The most important is that the political subject has changed — both of society as a whole, and of the government that should govern its destinies — without the cohesive factor that the figure of Fidel Castro represented.

Continuity’ can be a valid slogan when referring to the objectives of the revolutionary process, but inoperative when it comes to conducting it. The country’s own leadership has insisted on the need for institutions and political cadres to change the “mentality” and ways of operating. That leadership has also tried it in many ways. But the main criticism of its management has been the inability to generate these changes at the speed and depth required, even to carry out many of the reforms that it has designed and that enjoy a positive national consensus.

Another peculiarity has been the level of violence applied by the forces of order in certain places — without justifying attacks against the police or the vandalism of the protesters. Although there have been moments of great confrontations, the government has always been careful to establish limits to the repressive actions of the police, knowing its political consequences.

Without reaching the scale that is unfortunately quite common in other countries, we have experienced scenes of violence and police abuse which do not correspond to the traditions and practices of the Revolution. It is true that the demonstrations were not always peaceful and orderly. Just as videos demonstrate police excesses, there is plenty of evidence of the violence and vandalism in various demonstrations which justify the determined action of the police. The problem is that although repression in Cuba may be minimal compared to other countries, a single case is enough to transgress the ethics of the revolutionaries and damages the image of the country, with what this entails for the national security itself. It is also bad policy.

This violence also takes place at a time when the process of approval of a new Constitution is being consolidated, which had the support, granted by secret ballot, of more than 80 percent of the voters. Violating the postulates of this Constitution constitutes a crime for either party and there are no reasons to do so, since it affects the consensus that underpins the strategic project of the nation.

Another peculiarity is the difficulties of the revolutionary forces to confront the subversive actions channeled through social networks. This is a new scenario for Cuba, at a disadvantage in the face of enemies who have all the money and experience in the use of these instruments of social communication — whether it be to sell a pair of shoes, destabilize a country or elect a president. For sure, the profiles of the majority of Cubans already rest on servers ready to be classified and dozens of operators are in charge of manipulating them. Nobody summoned me to the July 11 demonstrations, but thousands of people, more willing than me, surely received the message.

However, beyond the problems of the use of new technologies, there is the problem of the content of the information that is distributed and the methods used to guarantee the effectiveness of the message and its credibility. The shortcomings of the press, with no solutions in sight, have been the object of constant criticism from the country’s leaders. A good part of the human capital of the intelligentsia is wasted in the media and the result of social research continues to have very limited diffusion, which affects the accuracy and depth of the analyses that are transmitted to the population. The debate from different positions, present in other settings, even in the queues outside grocery stores, is a rare animal in the Cuban press.

Many of the social problems that lack adequate attention, and which President Díaz Canel himself has pointed out among the causes of the events that occurred — namely poverty, marginalization, racism and other social differences — have been studied for years by Cuban academic centers. And the results that warn about these phenomena and their treatment have not always been duly taken into account.

Although there is a lack of research to confirm this data, Díaz Canel also defined the fundamental components that he considers were present in the demonstrations and identified three large groups: the annexationists, who act bent on the interests of the United States; people with criminal attitudes; as well as a large presence of young people. The former are easily identifiable by their political ties and attitudes, the second group by their conduct, but the last respond to a much broader and more complex definition, related to much bigger problems in the life of the country.

Although the economic blockade has not been able to overthrow the regime, as its proponents have hoped for, it has been a determining obstacle to the economic advancement of the country, as well as serving as a constant political wear and tear, conditioned to create overwhelming deficiencies for the common citizen.

The Cuban miracle has been to survive under these conditions, but to resist eternally does not satisfy the life expectancy of ordinary people, especially young people. Such a level of dissatisfaction explains the volume of emigration that exists, as well as the expressions of dissatisfaction that are observed in various settings. The cause is economic, but its consequences are political and as such must be addressed.

The resurgence of the blockade, to the point of economic suffocation as a result of Donald Trump’s policies, has been compounded by the devastating humanitarian, social and economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. It is no coincidence that the demonstrations were called for at the worst moment of the pandemic, when the country faces record levels of infections and deaths, a situation that should improve in the coming months as a result of the application of Cuban vaccines.

Nor is it a coincidence that they occurred at a time when the Biden administration seemed ready to announce the much-studied policy toward Cuba. Since taking over as president, the Cuban-American extreme right has been articulating provocations and media campaigns to prevent the sanctions established by Donald Trump from being reversed. It seems that Biden is cornered by these pressures and that policy towards Cuba will not have significant changes in the coming months.

The only thing that depends on the Cubans is Cuba itself. May the crisis, the mother of great transformations, in a climate of dialogue and peace, allow us to evaluate everything that must be evaluated and change everything that must be changed. The future of a Revolution depends on it, a Revolution where many Cubans have poured their life, heart and soul into.


Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Humanitarian Letter to President Biden

 President Joseph R. Biden

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW Washington, DC 20500

July 28, 2021

Dear President Biden:

While there has been much attention paid to the unprecedented social protests that erupted in

Cuba in the last weeks, there has been far less attention paid to the ongoing humanitarian crisis in

Cuba that was one of the drivers of the protests.

As news reports and studies have made clear, Cuba is currently facing severe shortages of basic

medicines, syringes for vaccination, food, and other vital materials as they battle COVID-19.

These shortages are causing needless suffering and deaths.

We are writing to urge you to put saving Cuban lives ahead of all other priorities by

suspending U.S. regulations that endanger the lives of Cuban people by preventing

humanitarian aid from reaching Cuba.

In making this request, we do not wish to minimize the political significance of either the

protests themselves nor of this moment for Cubans and Cuban-Americans.

However, we believe that at this moment of acute global danger, U.S. policy towards Cuba

should be governed by one overriding principle, irrespective of political considerations: that we

should do everything possible to ensure the health and well-being of the Cuban people by

removing all obstacles to the flow of vital medical aid and food.

While Cuba’s economic crisis has been caused by numerous factors, U.S. sanctions are clearly

contributing to the worsening humanitarian situation the island is facing, and your administration

should take the necessary steps to alleviate the suffering of the Cuban people.

Specifically, we urge you to:

1) Lift all restrictions and caps of family and donative remittances that could help Cubans

purchase food and medicine on the island;

2) Remove the requirement for specific licenses to send medical supplies to Cuba and the

“end-use verification” requirement for humanitarian imports, both of which vastly increase the

red tape in sending aid to the island from the U.S., and which discourage both donors and sellers;


3) Lift all restrictions on banking and financial transactions related to humanitarian aid as well as

restrictions on the percentage of U.S.-made material used in foreign- produced medical supplies

that inhibit the purchase or distribution of humanitarian aid internationally.

We hope your administration can act on this request urgently.

Yours truly,

Caribbean Agroecology Institute

Center for an Urban Future

Center for Democracy in the Americas

Christopher Reynolds Foundation

Cuba Educational Travel

CubaOne Foundation

Environmental Defense Fund

Foundation for a Civil Society

Friends of Havana eV

Fund for Reconciliation and Development

Global Health Partners

Havana Preservation Initiative



Ocean Doctor

Project Por Amor

The Marti Project

The Nature of Cities


Academics and policy experts signing in an individual capacity:

Anthony M. Tung (New School)*

Belmont Freeman (Architect)*

Ben Rodriguez-Cubeñas (Rockefeller Brothers Fund)*

Carlos Fernandez-Aballi (Entrepreneur)*

Carlos Pomares (Essex County Board of Commissioners)*

Carlos Rodriguez (Pratt Institute)*

Claudia Castillo (Pratt Institute)*

David Burney (Pratt Institute)*

Debra Andreades (Urban Planner)*

Esther da Costa Meyer (Princeton University)*

Gabriel Vignoli (New School)*

Jill Hamberg (Pratt Institute)*

John Kirk (Dalhousie University)*

Katrin Hansing (Baruch College, City University New York)*

Michael Cohen (New School)*

Peter Orris (University of Illinois, School of Public Health)*

Ron Shiffman (Pratt Institute)*

Rosa Lowinger (Conservator) *

*Institutions and affiliations included for identification purposes only

Domingo Amuchastegui: Primary Cause of July 11 and the Way Out


"We change or we sink"

written by Domingo Amuchastegui  26 July 2021

 published by La Joven Cuba

"We change or we sink," a sentence that heralded profound transformations, was uttered by Raul  more than a decade ago. A little later,  Fidel Castro said when referring to socialism: «This does not serve us or us...». Such statements — in addition to being indisputable truths — seemed to promise significant changes. false. Quite the opposite has happened.

Today we are looking at a reality that painfully hints at a marked setback. July 11 and subsequent incidents mark the sinking of the old model on which he wanted to perpetuate an exhausted experience.

Let's examine some key points:

1. I do not give credit to the United States; to Cuban Miami; to the paid opposition (as I have always characterized it) that has been trying for more than six decades to blow up the country like a pressure cooker (a thesis advocated since 1960); nor to the criminals who always accompany such social outbursts, of being the managers and inspirers of 7/11/21.

In particular, let us stop blaming all our ills on the empire. From Washington to Calle 8, and to the wage earners  on the island; they were all taken by surprise by the events of that day, as also happened with the Cuban rulers. Obviously, hostile factors immediately try to capitalize on what happened through their media scaffolding.

2. I support the view that what happened is typically a spontaneous social explosion of considerable extent, encompassing numerous provinces and cities and involving thousands of people. It shows a social composition where areas and neighborhoods of recognized poverty are distinguished and in which blacks and young people stand out, pillars of the revolution in past decades.

There has been no lack of expressions of a kind of neo-annexationism, with many symbols of the United States flying, while in the streets of Miami, time and again, intervention by Washington was called for, which is the absolute sum of all solutions.

3. On the other hand, both parties claim a monopoly of the term people. Big mistake. Large segments of village are located on both sides. There are thousands of Cubans protesting and thousands still on the side of the government; a scenario reminiscent of "masses against masses". Such polarization stems from the current situation of hardship, extreme shortages, total lack of incentives (both material and socio-cultural), dollarization (beyond what is usual in the Cuban context) and, in particular, the reaction to the effects of the so-called "Ordering".

I attach particular importance to the latter. For thirty years it was said and repeated that the Cuban leadership would never apply a "shock therapy", but, in practice, the "Ordering" resulted precisely in a monumental "shock therapy" that left the vast majority of the population in a situation in which prices and wages became antagonistic categories, fueled by hyperinflation.

4. Computerization and social networks introduced an unprecedented multiplier and sudden dynamic, which was attempted to be silenced by the state's cyber monopolies. This was a futile act of political cowardice.

Who benefits from shutting down the Internet and other services? The Cuban government? Certainly not. It benefits opponents and discredits the one who does.

5. The essential responsibility for all this lies in the institutionalized resistance to any significant change, with a comprehensive approach and that supposes a comprehensive redesign of the proven inoperative model that has rested on a set of absolutist-ist dogmas such as Party-State, Party of the Cuban Nation, totally inadequate and overcome after sixty-two years of the revolutionary triumph.

The urgency of such changes became apparent in 1980 with the Mariel episode. Nothing was done, it was a case of dismissing everyone as 'scum', and the rigidity of the system was reinforced. The so-called Rectification of Errors of 1986 gave rise to hopes of change, but without providing anything effective. In 1991, prior to the Fourth Party Congress, a wave of proposals for radical changes arose at the time of the discussion of the Call to the Fourth Congress.

The response of the Party leadership was one of total rejection and severe recriminations and warnings. Once again, this leadership liquidated any possibility of change, including the expansion of the process of Economic Improvement promoted by them and that was advocated by the FAR since the early eighties.          

6. With the collapse of real socialism  and the Soviet Union (1989-1991), the ideal juncture arose to promote a comprehensive remodeling; however, nothing was done, but the absolutist mechanisms, the buckling, were deepened. The adoption of some patches, here or there, achieved little in the already urgent need for profound transformations.

The argument that 'if we loosen up, the situation gets out of hand', prevailed again and again. Meanwhile, the corruption and enrichment of many leaders, their children and grandchildren — including accounts and trips abroad — and, with it, a marked erosion of the moral authority that must distinguish any leader, became increasingly visible — becoming a popular talk.

7. Cuban leaders began to live with their backs to reality, refusing to perceive that the eras and values had changed, that the younger generations were no longer the enthusiastic revolutionaries of the sixties or the  obedient militants  of other decades; that sixty years do not pass for pleasure and that the mechanisms of communication and interconnection from one generation to another are fundamentally modified. For these leaders, time inside the country seemed to have stopped.

8. At the height of the SIXTH Party Congress, winds of change seemed to blow, but without culminating in anything real. The Seventh Congress would result in the suppression of such possibilities and a strong countercurrent to some of the measures or patches Once again the reverse was imposed. 

9. Then came the VIII Congress (April 2021) without building broad debates and preliminary consensus, despite the fact that the levels of poverty and deprivation reached unsuspected levels and of an almost impossible to imagine severity, worsened by Trump's economic war and the pandemic. The VIII Congress could represent the milestone or turn towards a path of profound transformations. But it wasn't.

This was the last possibility that could perhaps have calmed tensions and encouraged remodeling. And all this is what leads directly to the social explosion of 11 July, its aftermath and subsequent and renewed tensions, questions and unknowns.

10. In what directions are such tensions, questions and unknowns projected? The first and most urgent thing to define is: is the government collapsing? Categorically not... For now. But its internal and international image, its prestige and legitimacy have been seriously eroded; it won't be the same again even remotely; the stigma of July 11 will be indelible.

11. It will be their willingness and ability to comprehensively redesign the system that will say the last word. An aggravating factor to take into account and that limits in the extreme any design of changes is that the Cuban government faces a remarkable situation of bankruptcy, indebted in extreme in all latitudes (Paris Club, China and Russia), is a pariah in international financial relations.

This situation worsens after 11 July, because in the eyes of potential investors and tourists, a situation like this is not at all attractive. In such a context, it is only possible to undertake a comprehensive redesign at home and with a view to foreign investment and Cuba's reintegration into the international financial institutions, if it is necessary to ensure capital and technology flows in the medium term.

12. In the short term, we will have to work wonders  in the field of agricultural policy; full and easy access for SMEs to all activities, their financial support without fiscal suffocation; substantial reduction of the state monopoly and many others that have repeatedly been suggested and advised by Cuban economists. These are not  patches like those adopted these days (zero restrictions on Cuban travelers bringing goods for family and small businesses, term payments and others) that seem to be taken from an antique shop and that were urgent since the eighties.

13. And if, together with these hypothetical changes, there were to be a miracle of some improvement in relations with the United States —which seems difficult with Biden because his administration seeks at any cost the collapse of the Cuban government in order to win Florida for his Party— and an equal improvement in the pandemic, then things would improve, but never in the short term. It is not even foreseeable in a near time to reach five million tourists or a flow of 600 thousand Cubans as visitors.

14. The short term will be the one that decides, and it will do so on the forgotten premise that: "We change or we sink."

«Cambiamos o nos hundimos»

escrito por Domingo Amuchastegui 26 julio 2021
(Foto: EFE)
«Cambiamos o nos hundimos», sentencia que anunciaba profundas transformaciones, fue pronunciada por Raúl hace más de una década. Un poco después, Fidel Castro sentenciaba al referirse al socialismo: «Esto no nos sirve ni a nosotros…». Semejantes afirmaciones —además de ser verdades indiscutibles— parecían prometer cambios significativos. Falso. Ha ocurrido todo lo contrario.
Hoy nos asomamos a una realidad que insinúa, dolorosamente, un señalado revés. El 11 de julio e incidentes posteriores marcan el hundimiento del viejo modelo sobre el cual quiso perpetuarse una experiencia agotada.

Examinemos algunos puntos clave:

1. No le concedo el mérito a EE.UU.; al Miami cubano; a la oposición pagada (como siempre la he caracterizado) que lleva más de seis décadas tratando de hacer reventar el país cual olla de presión (tesis propugnada desde 1960); y tampoco a los delincuentes que siempre acompañan semejantes estallidos sociales, de ser los gestores e inspiradores del 11/7/21.

En especial, dejemos de echarle la culpa de todos nuestros males al imperio. Desde Washington hasta la Calle 8, y a los asalariados en la Isla; a todos los tomó por sorpresa los hechos de ese día, como también ocurrió con los gobernantes cubanos. Obviamente, los factores hostiles de inmediato tratan de capitalizar lo ocurrido por medio de su andamiaje mediático.

2. Sustento el criterio de que lo ocurrido es, típicamente, una explosión social espontánea de considerable extensión, que abarcó numerosas provincias y ciudades e involucró a miles de personas. Se aprecia en ella una composición social donde se distinguen zonas y barrios de reconocida pobreza y en la que sobresalen negros y jóvenes, pilares de la revolución en décadas pasadas.
No han faltado expresiones de una  suerte de neo-anexionismo, al enarbolar no pocos símbolos de EE.UU., en tanto que en las calles de Miami se pedía, una y otra vez, la intervención por parte de Washington, cual suma absoluta de todas las soluciones.
3. Por otro lado, ambas partes reclaman el monopolio del término pueblo. Gran error. Amplios segmentos de pueblo se hallan a ambos lados. Hay miles de cubanos protestando y miles todavía del lado del gobierno; un escenario que recuerda aquello de «masas contra masas». Una tal polarización se  deriva de la actual situación de penurias, escaseces extremas, falta total de alicientes (tanto materiales como socio-culturales), la dolarización (más allá de lo habitual en el contexto cubano) y, en particular, la reacción frente a los efectos del llamado «Ordenamiento».

 A esto último le concedo especial importancia. Durante treinta años se dijo y repitió que la dirigencia cubana nunca aplicaría una «terapia de choque», pero, en la práctica, el «Ordenamiento» se tradujo precisamente en una monumental «terapia de choque» que dejó a la inmensa mayoría de la población en una situación en que precios y salarios devenían categorías antagónicas, alimentada por una hiperinflación.

4. La informatización y las redes sociales introdujeron una dinámica multiplicadora y súbita sin precedentes, que se trató de silenciar por parte de los monopolios cibernéticos del Estado. Esto fue un acto inútil y de cobardía política.

¿A quién beneficia el cierre de Internet y otros servicios? ¿Al gobierno cubano? Ciertamente no. Beneficia a los oponentes y desacredita al que lo hace.

5. La responsabilidad esencial de todo esto descansa en la resistencia institucionalizada a cualquier cambio significativo, con enfoque abarcador y que suponga un rediseño integral del modelo probadamente inoperante que ha descansado en un conjunto de dogmas absolutistas-estatistas como Partido-Estado, Partido de la Nación Cubana, totalmente inadecuados y superados tras sesenta y dos años del triunfo revolucionario.
La urgencia de semejantes cambios se hizo patente en 1980 con el episodio del Mariel. Nada se hizo, se trató de descalificar a todos como «escoria», y la rigidez del sistema se reforzó. La llamada Rectificación de Errores de 1986 originó esperanzas de cambio, pero sin aportar nada efectivo. En 1991, previo al IV Congreso del Partido, se suscitó una ola de propuestas de cambios radicales en el momento de la discusión del Llamamiento al IV Congreso.
La respuesta de la dirección del Partido fue de rechazo total y severas recriminaciones y advertencias. Una vez más, esta dirigencia liquidaba toda posibilidad de cambio, incluyendo la expansión del proceso de Perfeccionamiento Económico por ellos promovido y que era propugnado por las FAR desde inicios de los ochenta.          
6. Con el desplome del socialismo real y de la Unión Soviética (1989-1991), se presentó la coyuntura idónea para impulsar una remodelación abarcadora; sin embargo, no se hizo cosa alguna, sino que se profundizaron los mecanismos absolutistas, el abroquelamiento. La adopción de algunos parches, aquí o allá, poco lograban en la ya urgente necesidad de transformaciones profundas.
El argumento de que «si aflojamos, la situación se nos va de las manos», prevalecía una y otra vez. Mientras, se hacían cada vez más visibles —deviniendo comidilla popular— la corrupción y enriquecimiento de muchos dirigentes, sus hijos y nietos —incluyendo cuentas y viajes al extranjero— y, con ello, un desgaste acentuado de la autoridad moral que debe distinguir a cualquier dirigente.
7. Los dirigentes cubanos empezaron a vivir de espaldas a la realidad, rehusando percibir que las épocas y valores habían cambiado, que las generaciones más jóvenes ya no eran los entusiastas revolucionarios de los sesenta ni los obedientes militantes de otras décadas; que sesenta años no transitan por gusto y que los mecanismos de comunicación e interconexión de una generación a otra se modifican raigalmente. Para estos dirigentes, el tiempo al interior del país parecía haberse detenido.
8. A la altura del VI Congreso del Partido parecieron soplar vientos de cambios, pero sin culminar en nada real. El VII Congreso se traduciría en la supresión de tales posibilidades y una fuerte contracorriente a algunas de las medidas o parches Una vez más se imponía la marcha atrás.
9. Llegó entonces el VIII Congreso (abril del 2021) sin que se construyeran amplios debates y consensos preliminares, a pesar de que los niveles de pobreza y carencias alcanzaban niveles insospechados y de una gravedad casi imposible de imaginar, empeorados por la guerra económica de Trump y la pandemia. El VIII Congreso pudo representar el hito o viraje hacia una ruta de transformaciones profundas. Pero no fue así.
El presidente Miguel Díaz Canel en su discurso durante el VIII Congreso del Partido (Foto: Estudios Revolución)
Fue esta la última posibilidad que hubiera podido tal vez apaciguar las tensiones y alentar la remodelación. Y todo esto es lo que conduce directamente al estallido social del 11 de julio, sus secuelas y ulteriores y renovadas tensiones, interrogantes e incógnitas.
10. ¿En qué direcciones se proyectan tales tensiones, interrogantes e incógnitas? Lo primero y más urgente a definir es: ¿colapsa el gobierno? Categóricamente no… por ahora. Pero su imagen interna e internacional, su prestigio y legitimidad se han visto seriamente erosionados; no volverá a ser lo mismo ni remotamente; el estigma del 11 de julio será imborrable.
11. Serán su disposición y capacidad para rediseñar integralmente el sistema las que digan la última palabra. Un factor agravante a tomar en cuenta y que limita en extremo cualquier diseño de cambios es que el gobierno cubano enfrenta una situación notable de bancarrota, endeudado en extremo en todas las latitudes (Club de París, China y Rusia), es un paria en las relaciones financieras internacionales.
Dicha situación se agrava tras el 11 de julio, pues a los ojos de potenciales inversionistas y turistas, una situación como esa no es nada atrayente. En un contexto tal, únicamente cabe acometer el rediseño integral en el orden interno y de cara a la inversión extranjera y a la reinserción de Cuba en las instituciones financieras internacionales, si es que se desea asegurar flujos de capital y tecnologías a mediano plazo.
12. A corto plazo habrá que hacer maravillas en materia de política agraria; de pleno y fácil acceso de las MPYMES a todas las actividades, su respaldo financiero sin asfixias fiscales; sustancial reducción del monopolio estatal y muchas otras que, repetidamente, han sugerido y aconsejado economistas cubanos. No se trata de parchecitos como los adoptados en estos días (cero restricciones a los viajeros cubanos que traen mercancías para familiares y pequeños negocios, pagos a plazo y otros) que parecen sacados de una tienda de antigüedades y que eran urgentes desde los ochenta.
13. Y si unido a esos hipotéticos cambios, se produjera el milagro de alguna mejoría de relaciones con EE.UU. —que parece difícil con Biden pues su administración busca a cualquier costo el colapso del gobierno cubano con el fin de ganar la Florida para su Partido— y una igual mejoría de la pandemia, entonces mejorarían las cosas, pero nunca a corto plazo. No es ni siquiera previsible en un tiempo cercano llegar a los cinco millones de turistas ni tampoco a un flujo de 600 mil cubanos como visitantes.
14. El corto plazo será el que decida, y lo hará sobre la olvidada premisa de que: «Cambiamos o nos hundimos».

Silvio Rodriguez and Yunior García Aguilera Find Common Ground; Silvio's Questions About Implementation of Reforms


Meeting between the troubadour Silvio Rodríguez and the playwright Yunior García

Frankness, respect, dialogue and fraternity were some words that according to the artists characterized the meeting. At Yunior's request, the renowned troubadour asked for amnesty for those who "were not violent" during the 11J protests.

On Cuba News  July 21, 2021 2

Dozens of Cuban artists and intellectuals met on November 27 in front of the Ministry of Culture of Cuba, in Havana, with the purpose of establishing a dialogue with officials of the institution on various concerns that have affected or slowed the expansion of Cuban culture, especially the artistic manifestations made by the youngest.

The call, which was joined by people belonging to various organizations and political activists, did not have the best outcome. Several of the participants were later branded mercenaries, among other qualifiers that have stopped the search for a concession that will, after all, enable the cultural development of the country and the most questioning avant-garde creative expressions. From that spontaneous meeting was born the group called 27 N, a project that brings together artists from different currents and political spectrums, as a reflection of the country that is Cuba today. Some of these creators participated in the demonstrations on Sunday, July 11, in front of the ICRT and in other parts of the country and some were arrested or suffered violence by law enforcement agents, according to the creators themselves.

Playwright Yunior Garcia, who participated in the November 27 convocation and demonstrations last Sunday,  was one of those arrested and is now under a precautionary measure that prevents him from leaving his home.  The young playwright is one of the artists and intellectuals who has repeatedly called for dialogue and to seek points of union to resolve differences and find a way to build a culture of democratization that will finally lead to a more inclusive country open to opinions and cultural expressions of different signs.

Under this premise he sent a public letter to the troubadour Silvio Rodríguez, inviting him to talk, soon the poet said in his blog Segunda Cita that he would meet with Yunior in the studies Ojalá and they would talk. The meeting happened and both artists attested to it on their respective facebook walls. The dialogue has aroused great and good expectations among a swath of artists and intellectuals who have spoken out against violence, ideological discrimination and public calls for hatred to solve Cuba's pressing problems. According to Yunior both "we agree on a project (in due course it will be made public) that could serve for the beginning of a truly plural, inclusive, civic, respectful and broad debate, which finds consensus among the diversity that characterizes us today as Cubans." The troubadour asked for amnesty, "keeping the word pledged" to those who were not violent during the protests that occurred on July 11 in Cuba.

 We reproduce both testimonies: 

Yunior García Aguilera said:

We've already talked.

It was 70 minutes of frankness in the studies Ojalá. Neither invited the other to renounce his positions or principles. We were able to confront our differences with the utmost respect and preferred to concentrate on our commonalities. Nor did we waste time discussing issues that none of us can resolve in practice. We focus on how to contribute, right now, to the good of Cuban society as a whole.

 Silvio pledged to Dayana, Niurka and me to advocate for the release of all prisoners who participated in the protests. He gave his word, convincingly, that he will do everything in his power to achieve that goal.

 We also agree on a project (in due course it will be made public) that could serve to begin a truly plural, inclusive, civic, respectful and broad debate, which will find consensus among the diversity that characterizes us as Cubans today.

 Today's match was not about a fight to find a winner. It was About Cuba. And I think we got out of there with the certainty that real changes are needed, driven by non-violent means, without interference and where no Cuban feels excluded.

 Thank you to all those who contributed, with their opinions and comments, to make this meeting possible. Much remains to be done. And we're going to do it without hate.

Silvio Rodriguez said:

The meeting with Yunior and Dayana was good, I do not exaggerate if I say fraternal; there was dialogue, exchange, we listened to each other with attention and respect. For me the most painful thing was to hear that they, as a generation, no longer felt part of the Cuban process but something else. They explained their arguments, their frustrations. I tried to make them understand that in my years everything was also much slower than we expected it to be. Blame what, who? And we talk about misunderstandings between different ages, between different interests and understandings. Too painful for me to declare themselves out; I cannot accept that failure even in the name of pain at misunderstandings. I suffered them too and never felt outside. But I think that my generation was the immediate one to the insurrectionary and that we inherited the motives of our parents and then, growing up, we suffered with them how much it has cost to be sovereign and also socialist.

 There have to be more bridges, there has to be more dialogue, there has to be less prejudice; less desire to hit and more desire to solve the mountain of outstanding economic and political issues; less habit of listening to those who speak the same thing with the same words, decade after decade, as if generations did not also come with their own words and illusions.

 I was asked to call someone and ask for amnesty for all prisoners. I remember the last time I asked for an amnesty. It was at the Anti-Imperialist Tribune. A second before going up an authority told me not to say it. If I don't say that, I don't say anything, I replied. And I was able to get to the microphone. And among many other things I asked for the freedom of those people with whom I disagreed. And a couple of weeks later (not because of me) 70 lives were free. I don't know how many prisoners there will be now, they say hundreds. I ask the same for those who were not violent and I am following my word. They have nothing to fulfill me because I asked for nothing. Hopefully they never feel outside again (desire thrown into the air).

Encuentro entre el trovador Silvio Rodríguez y el dramaturgo Yunior García

Franqueza, respeto, diálogo y fraternidad fueron algunas palabras que según los artistas caracterizaron la reunión. A solicitud de Yunior el reconocido trovador pidió amnistía para quienes "no fueron violentos" durante las protestas del 11J.

por   Redacción OnCuba

 julio 21, 2021

en Cuba

Decenas de artistas a intelectuales cubanos se reunieron el pasado 27 de noviembre frente al Ministerio de Cultura de Cuba, en La Habana, con el propósito de establecer un diálogo con funcionarios de la institución sobre diversas preocupaciones que han afectado o frenado la expansión de la cultura cubana, sobre todo de las manifestaciones artísticas realizadas por los más jóvenes.

La convocatoria, a la que se unieron personas pertenecientes a diversas organizaciones y activistas políticos, no tuvo el mejor desenlace. Varios de los participantes fueron tildados luego de mercenarios, entre otros calificativos que han detenido la búsqueda de un conceso que posibilite, al fin y al cabo, el desarrollo cultural del país y de las expresiones creativas de vanguardia más cuestionadoras. De aquella reunión espontanea nació el grupo llamado 27 N, un proyecto que aglutina a artistas de distintas corrientes y espectros políticos, como reflejo del país que es Cuba hoy. Algunos de esos creadores participaron en las manifestaciones del domingo 11 de julio frente el ICRT y en otros puntos del país y algunos fueron detenidos o sufrieron violencia por parte de agentes del orden según los propios creadores han declarado.

El dramaturgo Yunior García, quien participó en la convocatoria del 27 de noviembre y en las manifestaciones del último domingo, fue uno de los detenidos y ahora se encuentra bajo una medida cautelar que le impide salir de su casa.  El joven dramaturgo es uno de los artistas e intelectuales que ha llamado reiteradamente al diálogo y a buscar puntos de unión para solventar las diferencias y encontrar un camino que construya una cultura de la democratización que desemboque, finalmente, en un país más inclusivo y abierto a opiniones y expresiones culturales de diferentes signos.

Bajo este premisa le envió una carta pública al trovador Silvio Rodríguez, invitándole a conversar, al poco tiempo el poeta dijo en su blog Segunda Cita que se vería con Yunior en los estudios Ojalá y conversarían. El encuentro sucedió y ambos artistas dieron fe de ello en sus respectivos muros de facebook. El diálogo ha despertado grandes y buenas expectativas entre una franja de artistas e intelectuales que se han pronunciado contra la violencia, la discriminación ideológica y las convocatorias públicas al odio para resolver los acuciantes problemas de Cuba. Según Yunior ambos «coincidimos en un proyecto (en su momento se hará público) que podría servir para el comienzo de un debate verdaderamente plural, inclusivo, cívico, respetuoso y amplio, que encuentre los consensos entre la diversidad que hoy nos caracteriza como cubanos.» El trovador pidió amnistía, «cumpliendo la palabra empeñada» a quienes no fueron violentos durante las protestas ocurridas el último 11 de Julio en Cuba.

Reproducimos ambos testimonios:

Yunior García Aguilera dijo:

Ya conversamos.

Fueron 70 minutos de franqueza en los estudios Ojalá. Ninguno convidó al otro a renunciar a sus posiciones ni principios. Fuimos capaces de confrontar nuestras diferencias desde el más absoluto respeto y preferimos concentrarnos en nuestras coincidencias. Tampoco perdimos tiempo en discutir los temas que no podemos resolver en la práctica ninguno de nosotros. Nos enfocamos en cómo aportar, ahora mismo, al bien de la sociedad cubana, en su conjunto.

Silvio se comprometió frente a Dayana, a Niurka y frente a mí, a abogar por la liberación de todos los presos que participaron en las protestas. Dio su palabra, de modo convincente, de que hará todo lo que esté a su alcance para lograr ese objetivo.

También coincidimos en un proyecto (en su momento se hará público) que podría servir para el comienzo de un debate verdaderamente plural, inclusivo, cívico, respetuoso y amplio, que encuentre los consensos entre la diversidad que hoy nos caracteriza como cubanos.

El encuentro de hoy no se trataba de un combate para encontrar un ganador. Se trataba de Cuba. Y creo que salimos de allí con la certeza de que se necesitan cambios reales, impulsados por vías no violentas, sin injerencias y donde ningún cubano se sienta excluido.

Gracias a todos los que aportaron, con sus opiniones y comentarios, para que este encuentro fuera posible. Falta mucho por hacer todavía. Y lo vamos a hacer sin odio.

Un abrazo.

Silvio Rodríguez dijo:

 El encuentro con Yunior y Dayana fue bueno, no exagero si digo que fraterno; hubo diálogo, intercambio, nos escuchamos con atención y respeto. Para mí lo más doloroso fue escuchar que ellos, como generación, no se sentían ya parte del proceso cubano sino otra cosa. Me explicaron sus argumentos, sus frustraciones. Traté de hacerles comprender que a mis años también todo resultaba mucho más lento de lo que esperábamos que fuera. ¿Culpa de qué, de quienes? Y hablamos de incomprensiones entre edades diferentes, entre intereses y entendimientos diferentes. Demasiado doloroso para mí que se declaren fuera; no puedo aceptar ese fracaso ni en nombre del dolor por las incomprensiones. Yo también las sufrí y jamás llegué a sentirme fuera. Pero pienso que mi generación fue la inmediata a la insurreccional y que heredamos los motivos de nuestros padres y después, creciendo, sufrimos con ellos lo mucho que ha costado ser soberanos y además socialistas.

Tiene que haber más puentes, tiene que haber más diálogos, tiene que haber menos prejuicios; menos ganas de pegar y más deseos de resolver la montaña de temas económicos y políticos pendientes; menos costumbre de escuchar a quienes hablan lo mismo con las mismas palabras, década tras década, como si las generaciones no vinieran también con sus propias palabras e ilusiones.

Me pidieron que llamara a alguien y que pida amnistía para todos los presos. Recuerdo la última vez que pedí una amnistía. Fue en la Tribuna Antimperialista. Un segundo antes de subir una autoridad me dijo que no lo dijera. Si no digo eso, no digo nada, respondí. Y pude llegar al micrófono. Y entre otras muchas cosas pedí la libertad de aquella gente con quienes no estaba de acuerdo. Y un par de semanas después (no por mi culpa) 70 vidas fueron libres. No sé cuántos presos habrá ahora, dicen ellos que cientos. Pido lo mismo para los que no fueron violentos y cumplo con la palabra empeñada. Ellos no tienen nada que cumplirme porque nada pedí. Ojalá nunca más se sientan fuera (deseo lanzado al aire).


From Silvio's Blog

‎July 30, 2021 Q&A‎

‎Silvio said...‎

‎I would like to know who the comrades are responsible for the fact that not everything that should have been changed has been changed, after two congresses of the CCP  [Cuban Communist Party], the Guidelines and a Constitution. Those who, with names, surnames and positions represent this current of brake in the upper echelons. I would like to know your arguments. It would be fair for them to identify themselves. It would be worthy of your part, since you are surely defending what you honestly believe. Who knows if they would even get some applause. I would like to know how they explain it to themselves and how to their peers. How they analyze difficulties like the recent events. For them, would everything be the fault of the blockade, imperialism and the networks? Not a single culpita [little mistake] on our part? I invite the second-class members who know about this, or who have hypotheses about it, to present them. That is something I would like to know.‎

‎July 30, 2021,‎

Preguntas y respuestas del 30 de julio de 2021

Silvio dijo...

Me gustaría saber quienes son los compañeros y compañeras responsables de que no se haya cambiado todo lo que se ha debido cambiar, después de dos congresos del PCC, los Lineamientos y una Constitución. Quienes, con nombres, apellidos y cargos representan esa corriente de freno en las altas esferas. Me gustaría conocer sus argumentos. Sería justo que se identificaran. Sería digno de su parte, puesto que seguro están defendiendo lo que honestamente creen. Quién sabe si hasta obtendrían algunos aplausos. Me gustaría saber cómo se lo explican a sí mismos y cómo a sus compañeros. Cómo analizan dificultades como estas últimas. ¿Para ellos todo sería culpa del bloqueo, del imperialismo y de las redes? ¿Ni una sola culpita de nuestra parte? Invito a los segundaciteros que sepan de esto, o que tengan hipótesis al respecto, que las expongan. Es algo que me gustaría saber.

30 de julio de 2021,


The legitimacy of the questions and the urgency of the answers.

Julio Carranza 

I have recently read a relevant and very pertinent commentary by Silvio Rodriguez asking, with frankness and commitment, what is the explanation and from whom the responsibilities of the notable delay that the transformations that Cuba needs have had and have, same that for more than 20 years have been agreed in Party Congresses and reflected in important official documents such as: The Conceptualization, The Guidelines and finally the new Constitution. (See his blog Segunda Cita). 

 Agreements, moreover, that had the support and raised expectations in the vast majority of the population, transformations that would have led to greater spaces for the inclusion of the youth and that would have allowed a much more favorable situation both to face the blockade and the aggression as well as the terrible pandemic that ensued.

 We have been saying publicly for some time now:

 "Economic reform is a matter even of national security", "time is already a critical variable", "comprehensive transformations are the only way to a recovery of consensus", "a new pact must be made with each generation", "we must make up for lost time", "without economic reform there is no efficiency and without efficiency there will be neither welfare nor sustainability possible", "we must overcome the resistance of the bureaucracy", "the transformations must be carried out with or without blockade, with or without pandemic", "the greatest success of the blockade would be in paralyzing the transformations", "we must move forward without pause and with haste" etc, etc, all these are phrases taken from articles I have published in these and other media during the last few years, all with their corresponding arguments.

 Were there reasons in these statements or not, I add this question to those very pertinently asked by Silvio and also, where does the resistance come from even for the approved decisions that have had a minimum level of implementation, with low visible effects, will we be in that old Creole formula of "it is obeyed but not complied with"?

 On the other hand, as far as the economy is concerned, an essential factor of what is being discussed, the problem is not solved with isolated measures (however positive they may be) that leave intact the essence of an exhausted economic model, it is about its integral transformation, the establishment of a new economic model, socialist yes, but efficient, sustainable, viable, we could say, as defined in The Conceptualization, and also as many economists have (we have) argued for years.

 I am not going back to these issues with the intention of insisting on the arguments given over and over again, much less to cause useless discomfort, I do it because seeing the recent events, their evolution, the responses and the hardening of the external aggression (both real and virtual) I ask myself now: is there not enough evidence to overcome any resistance and advance integrally at once, to place the changes as part of the dialogues that the country needs?

 The transformations (in the sense so often argued) must be an essential component of both the response to the aggression against the country and the necessary internal, broad and democratic dialogue with all those who share the principles of the project of the nation (national sovereignty, social justice, economic and democratic development).

 Perhaps Silvio's questions, to which I have joined and expanded, do not have to do with the situation and the events we have lived and are living. The damage of the genocidal aggression is enormous and reprehensible, but our own responsibilities are also there and weigh heavily. 

 The reaction must be notorious and agile, the challenges are in sight, to recover the lost time, no matter how complex the situation is and to move forward, to break all immobilism with audacity and without dogmas, is there any other alternative, objectively it is possible, I hope so, and I repeat "time is a critical variable"!

 July 30, 2021


 Julio Carranza Jcvvs

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La legitimidad de las preguntas y la urgencia de las respuestas.

Julio Carranza

Recientemente he leído un relevante y muy pertinente comentario de Silvio Rodríguez preguntando, con franqueza y compromiso, cual es la explicación y de quienes las responsabilidades del notable retraso que han tenido y tienen las transformaciones que Cuba necesita, mismas que desde hace más de 10 años se vienen acordando en Congresos del Partido y reflejando en importantes documentos oficiales como: La Conceptualización, Los Lineamientos y finalmente la nueva Constitución. (Ver su blog Segunda Cita).

Acuerdos, además, que contaron con el apoyo y levantaron expectativas en la inmensa mayoría de la población, transformaciones que habrían dado lugar a mayores espacios de inclusión de la juventud y que habrían permitido una situación mucho más favorable tanto para enfrentar el bloqueo y la agresión como la pandemia terrible que sobrevino.

Nosotros hace tiempo venimos diciendo públicamente:

“La reforma económica es un asunto incluso de seguridad nacional”, el tiempo es ya una variable crítica”, “las transformaciones integrales son el único camino a una recuperación del consenso”, “se debe hacer un pacto nuevo con cada generación”, “hay que recuperar el tiempo perdido”, “sin reforma económica no hay eficiencia y sin eficiencia no habrá ni bienestar ni sostenibilidad posibles”, “hay que superar la resistencia de la burocracia”, “las transformaciones hay que realizarlas con bloqueo o sin bloqueo, con pandemia o sin pandemia”, “el mayor éxito del bloqueo estaría en paralizar las transformaciones”, “hay que avanzar ya sin pausa y con prisa” etc, etc, todas son frases sacadas de artículos que he publicado en estos medios y en otros durante los últimos años, todas con sus correspondientes argumentos.

¿Había razones en estas afirmaciones o no?, sumo esta pregunta a las muy pertinentemente hechas por Silvio y también, de donde nace la resistencia aún para las decisiones aprobadas que han tenido un nivel de implementación mínimo, con bajos efectos visibles, estaremos en aquella vieja fórmula criolla de “se acata pero no se cumple”?

De otra parte, en lo que a la economía se refiere, factor esencial de lo que se discute, el problema no se resuelve con medidas aisladas (por positivas que estas sean) que dejan intacta la esencia de un modelo económico agotado, se trata de su transformación integral, del establecimiento de un nuevo modelo económico, socialista sí, pero eficiente, sostenible, viable, pudiéramos decir que tal como quedó definido en La Conceptualización, y también como muchos economistas han (hemos) argumentado por años.

No vuelvo sobre estos asuntos con el ánimo de insistir cansinamente sobre los argumentos dados una y otra vez, mucho menos para causar malestares inútiles, lo hago porque viendo los acontecimientos recientes, su evolución, las respuestas y el endurecimiento de la agresión externa (tanto real como virtual) me pregunto ahora: no hay ya suficientes evidencias para vencer cualquier resistencia y avanzar integralmente de una vez, colocar los cambios como parte de los diálogos que el país necesita?

Las transformaciones (en el sentido tantas veces argumentado) deben ser un componente esencial tanto de la respuesta a la agresión que se le hace al país, como del necesario diálogo interno, amplio y democrático con todos los que compartan los principios del proyecto de nación (soberanía nacional, justicia social, desarrollo económico y democrático).

Acaso las preguntas de Silvio, a las que me he sumando y ampliado, no tienen que ver con la situación y los acontecimientos que hemos vivido y estamos viviendo. El daño de la agresión genocida es enorme y repudiable, pero las responsabilidades propias también están ahí y pesan mucho.

La reacción debe ser notoria y ágil, los desafíos están a la vista, recuperar el tiempo perdido por compleja que sea la situación y avanzar, romper todo inmovilismo con audacia y sin dogmas, acaso hay otra alternativa?, objetivamente se puede, ojalá así sea, y vuelvo a repetir “el tiempo es una variable crítica”!

30 de julio 2021