Friday, August 27, 2021

Critique from Fabian Escalante, Former Head of Cuban Intelligence Services

 

Cuba: ¿Vamos por el camino correcto?

Por: Fabián Escalante

3 agosto 2021 | 82

Sin lugar a dudas, este es el momento histórico más complejo por el cual haya atravesado la Revolución cubana. La escalada de agresión de Estados Unidos a Cuba, representada en el mantenimiento de las medidas económicas y políticas establecidas por el gobierno de Donald Trump, sumada a nuevas iniciativas de la actual Administración Biden, ha logrado dañar y afectar severamente la sobrevivencia de nuestra población, circunstancia aprovechada por la CIA y sus cofrades externos e internos para intentar derrocar al gobierno cubano.

No excluimos para nada nuestros errores. Ellos de alguna manera han coadyuvado a tales empeños, pues desde hace algunos años, tal y como había sido analizado en los últimos congresos del Partido, se hacían imprescindibles reformas urgentes para salvar y sanear la economía, incrementar el nivel de vida de la población y enfrentar la agresión político ideológica que en campaña descomunal, el enemigo a través de sus múltiples medios, especialmente las redes sociales, venía desarrollando.

La batalla se generalizó, se incrementaron las acciones enemigas, que a través de sus agentes internos, quizás confundidos con el malestar existente por las escaseces y carencias de todo tipo que sufre nuestro pueblo, consideraron que habia llegado el momento del golpe final, para destruir la obra revolucionaria.

Estaban equivocados. El pueblo revolucionario respondió en unidad martiana a los que pretendían apagar el fuego, que en antorcha olímpica ha guiado el camino de los cubanos durante más de seis décadas y ha servido de ejemplo al continente y a otros muchos pueblos del mundo.

El combate contra la pandemia, la exitosa obtención  de cinco candidatos vacunales contra la misma, con los cuales hoy se inocula nuestra población, las medidas sanitarias en marcha, unido a otras acciones en el terreno económico que progresivamente destraban las fuerzas productivas, evidencian un cambio, lento, es verdad, pero, como todo esfuerzo contra viejos vicios y valladares burocráticos, han abierto un camino de luz y esperanza.

Brigadas de trabajadores sociales, integrados por estudiantes de ciencias sociales y jurídicas inician actividades para conocer de primera mano las necesidades y padecimientos de barrios marginales, en los cuales las medidas socioeconómicas y revolucionarias han sido limitadas, o insuficientes. La iniciativa es vital, pues no solo posibilita constatar dificultades y carencias, sino enmendar errores y tomar medidas, distribuir mejor y sobre todo, explicar y difundir nuestras ideas, el proyecto revolucionario, el ideario fidelista.

La inversión extranjera abrió sus puertas en un ejercicio revolucionario a extranjeros y a cubanos no residentes en el país. Se han tomado decisiones importantes en la liberación de precios para los mercados agropecuarios, lo cual supone riesgos, pero también resultados. No podemos aferrarnos a viejos conceptos y poner en práctica el legado de Fidel cuando nos indicó  “cambiar todo lo que debe ser cambiado”.

Las organizaciones de masas, en particular los Comités de Defensa de la Revolución, se proyectan en dos tareas fundamentales: la lucha contra la pandemia y el conocimiento de la problemática de la población en barrios y comunidades, no solo para su comprensión sino para conjuntamente con las autoridades locales buscar las soluciones necesarias.

La prensa difunde e investiga, y ha iniciado un saludable ejercicio de crítica e información de los problemas y conflictos sociales y económicos arrebatando al enemigo la iniciativa en este importante campo, aunque todavía exista un toque de triunfalismo en algunas de sus entregas, confiados en que la burocracia no trate de impedir y frustrar el esfuerzo.

Diariamente observamos por los medios de difusión, a nuestros dirigentes, encabezados por el presidente Miguel Díaz-Canel en la brega, ya sea en el trabajo voluntario, reuniones exigiendo resultados a los organismos de la administración del estado, en la lucha contra la pandemia o en la búsqueda de soluciones que destraben las fuerzas productivas.

Nuestros médicos y personal de salud, unido a los estudiantes de las más diversas disciplinas, participan denodadamente en el combate contra  la COVID-19, proyectando un extraordinario paradigma de virtud, desinterés y solidaridad, que puede ser ejemplo a otros pueblos.

En el campo internacional, la vital alocución del presidente mexicano Andrés Manuel López Obrador exhortando a la ayuda al pueblo cubano y su iniciativa de enviar donaciones a la Isla, complementó la invaluable ayuda del pueblo ruso y su presidente Vladimir Putin.  Bolivia y la Nicaragua sandinista se han sumado solidarias a este empeño de ayudar con “lo poco que tienen”, mientras que la maniobra política norteamericana de utilizar a la OEA para condenar a Cuba por supuestas y no probada represiones, ha fracasado, a pesar de haber sumado al lacayo europeo. Las recientes palabras del presidente argentino Alberto Fernández condenando el bloqueo contra Cuba y Venezuela y  a la OEA como un instrumento inservible, deviene en lápida mortuoria a este engendro, que hace ya tiempo, Cuba calificara como “ministerio de colonias”.

La operación urdida en Washington por la “mafia de Miami”, sus congresistas, la OEA, la Unión Europea y la ultrareaccionaria derecha norteamericana e internacional comienza a ser derrotada y, aunque quede aún mucho por andar y obstáculos por vencer, considero que vamos por el camino correcto.

Al calor de la batalla de ideas a la cual Fidel un día nos convocó, deseo realizar algunas reflexiones personales, con el margen de error que ellas pueden conllevar, pero con la honestidad de un veterano militante revolucionario.

El camino  por  recorrer en las circunstancias actuales es  complejo y escabroso. Se ha hecho evidente la necesidad de que los organismos de la administración central y las organizaciones sociales y de masas sean más proactivos, busquen y propongan soluciones novedosas, audaces, que posibiliten avanzar y profundizar más, en este rumbo: “de todo lo que deba ser cambiado”.

Es necesario profundizar en la crítica de los errores cometidos, analizar sus causas y consecuencias, públicamente, sin temores o dudas, pues nuestro pueblo es sabio y nos comprenderá. No hacerlo implica un error mayor y posibilita al enemigo que los utilice para engañar y manipular a sectores de la población con sus  consignas y mentiras que en catarata interminable difunden por las redes sociales.

El Partido debe analizar sus conceptos organizativos. Considerar que la militancia no debe concentrarse  en la superestructura, solo en aquellas instituciones u organismos en los que por su importancia económica, científica o social, sea necesario, y bajar el resto de su militancia a la base, a la comunidad, pues es allí donde el comunista habita y donde debe ser ejemplo y hay que combatir, explicar, persuadir, conocer lo que piensa la población y en su caso, buscar soluciones a las dificultades y problemas existentes.

El trabajo político ideológico es el resultado directo de la confrontación de ideas, conceptos, criterios y no precisamente de participación en círculos de estudios o lecturas de documentos y discursos, aunque ellos ayuden. Las organizaciones de base, los militantes, deben y tienen que defender las ideas revolucionarias allí donde se presente la oportunidad y cada cual lo hará en la medida de sus posibilidades, que se enriquecerá progresivamente en los debates e intercambios de las ideas.

Y para el final. Escuchando en el NTV al presidente Díaz-Canel conversando y felicitando a nuestros atletas olímpicos, reflexionando en sus alentadoras palabras y evocando la actitud del boxeador Julio César la Cruz al triunfar en su combate y proclamar desde el ring de boxeo, “Patria o Muerte ¡Venceremos!”, me convenzo una vez más, que este pueblo y esta Revolución son indestructibles, solo hay que actuar, luchar por nuestras ideas, por el socialismo, en la defensa de la obra revolucionaria de más de 60 años, en honor a los mártires de la patria, a las victorias obtenidas frente al imperio más poderoso y cruel del mundo y repetir una vez más, recordando a Fidel: ¡Aquí no se rinde nadie! La orden de combate está dada. Patria o Muerte ¡Venceremos!

(Tomado de Cuba en Resumen)

 http://www.cubadebate.cu/opinion/2021/08/03/cuba-vamos-por-el-camino-correcto/

 

Reflexiones sobre la actualidad cubana

Por: Fabián Escalante

25 julio 2021 | 86 | 

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Foto: Jorge Luis Sánchez Rivera/ Cubadebate.

Sin lugar a dudas, la explosión social ocurrida en nuestro país el 11 de julio del año en curso, nos sorprendió a todos y no por falta de evidencias e indiciosLas redes sociales, en maratón olímpico, propagaban a los “cuatro vientos” consignas, orientaciones, noticias falsas, fotos trucadas, etcétera, dirigidas a manipular, confundir, engañar a la opinión pública nacional e internacional sobre la situación sociopolítica cubana.

El objetivo era claro, aprovechar las dramáticas circunstancias de penurias y necesidades producidas por la asfixia del bloqueo multilateral decretado por Estados Unidos, sumado a eventos circunstanciales, tales como el incremento exponencial de la pandemia de COVID-19 y la rotura de la principal fábrica de electricidad (Guiteras, de Matanzas), que no solo afecto la energía sino también el abasto de agua.

A ello habría añadir las dificultades en el abastecimiento de alimentos y medicamentos con las consabidas largas colas, una “mafia” de “mercado negro” nacida a consecuencia de ello, y a los errores cometidos en la tardía implementación de medidas económicas aprobadas desde hace ya algunos años, entre ellas la producción de alimentos.

La operación subversiva de magnitudes golpistas, al menos por lo que se conoce públicamente, no fue descubierta y desenmascarada, ni al menos advertida a la población por todos los medios disponibles. Un solitario y excelente documental, La dictadura del algoritmo expuesto por la TV cubana, consistió en la alerta más sobresaliente de estas semanas, que, sin embargo, al no estar concebida como una campaña mediática, bien organizada, dirigida a explotar las informaciones brindadas, no alcanzó los efectos sicológicos, políticos y de influencia en la conciencia social, que eran necesarios y debían proyectarse, ante la inminencia de la agresión en marcha.

La Cuba —y el mundo— de hoy es diferente a la de ayer, y más diferente aún a la de los primeros años de la Revolución, razones que imposibilitan utilizar los mismos métodos de análisis o de manejo de crisis antes recurridos. Existe un sector poblacional joven, despolitizado, (por nuestro ineficiente trabajo político y patriótico) que no comprende la necesidad de la resistencia a las políticas imperiales y desean mejorar sus condiciones de vida y no encuentran una salida inmediata a sus expectativas.

Los días han transcurrido desde los sucesos relatados y, como sucede, muchas interpretaciones surgen a la luz pública, mientras las campañas mediáticas en Estados Unidos y sus aliados continúa machaconamente acusando a Cuba de violación de derechos humanos y otras atrocidades, con la abierta intención de crear las condiciones para una intervención militar norteamericana.

Los revolucionarios tenemos que meditar y sacar experiencias sobre los hechos sucedidos. Estados Unidos y su gobierno fascista es el principal responsable, pero —y este es importante—, nosotros también tenemos responsabilidades por los errores cometidos, que exigen un análisis autocrítico, no solo referencias marginales, es necesario profundizar en el porqué de ellos, cuáles fueron sus causas y cómo vamos a solucionarlos. Eso fue lo que Fidel nos enseñó y advirtió en noviembre del 2005 al afirmar en un discurso en la Universidad habanera que solo la Revolución podía autodestruirse.

El llamado a los revolucionarios y a los comunistas ha de ser pasar a la ofensiva, a la primera línea: combate a los elementos contrarrevolucionarios de adentro y de afuera, combate a la corrupción, a la burocracia, la desidia: combate a lo mal hecho, combate a la decepción y a la desconfianza, a la falta o ausencia de control administrativo y político, combate a las orientaciones “huecas, formales”, en dos palabras, generar ideas, defender conceptos y conquistas.

Combatir contra el enemigo y la burocracia, sería el deber y la responsabilidad de este momento histórico. Utilizar las organizaciones políticas, sociales y de masas, sustentados en los deberes y derechos que nos proporciona nuestra Constitución socialista, no rehuir la confrontación directa y no temer a enfrentar los conflictos, porque como Fidel en muchas ocasiones nos indicó: la mejor forma de defenderse es tomando la ofensiva.

El combate y la confrontación de ideas se está desarrollando hoy en la base de la sociedad, en la cuadra, en el barrio, en la comunidad y es allí donde el Partido y las organizaciones sociales y de masas deben y tienen que dar la batalla, no para oprimir, sino para convencer, para explicar y en su caso, para trasladar a la dirección del partido y el gobierno, las dificultades, incomprensiones y carencias.

La pasividad nos hace cómplices de los errores y tendencias negativas que ya Fidel en su tiempo había advertido.

Las campañas enemigas realizadas por redes sociales, por los mercenarios de origen cubano que habitan en la Florida, así como por las operaciones mediáticas de los medios informativos tradicionales burgueses, deben ser enfrentadas sin vacilación. Es necesario denunciarlas, alertar a nuestra población, desarticularlos desde adentro, aprovechando la necesidad del enemigo de publicitar sus consignas, orientaciones y contactar con sus promotores internos, actividades que pueden ser prevenidas y neutralizadas, sin innecesarias movilizaciones, que pudieran desgastar y agotar nuestras fuerzas en la perspectiva de un largo combate.

La solidaridad externa, como se ha convocado, debe potenciarse a su máxima expresión, tanto en Miami y otras ciudades norteamericanas donde habitan cubanos honestos, así como en otras ciudades del Mundo, donde es bien conocida la actitud solidaria cubana.

Una vez más, Fidel nos convoca a la batalla de ideas, que consiste en el debate y no en la imposición, en el convencimiento, en escuchar y comprender argumentos, y aceptar aquellos que sean justos, porque ello no implica concesiones de principios, al contrario, en todo caso, refuerza nuestro concepto de Revolución, aquel que nos legó Fidel.

“Trincheras de ideas valen más que trincheras de piedras”.

 http://www.cubadebate.cu/opinion/2021/07/25/reflexiones-sobre-la-actualidad-cubana/

 

 

Cuba: Are we on the right track?

By: Fabián Escalante

Division General (retd), former head of Cuban intelligence services. Author of several books on the intelligence services of the US against Cuba and has investigated the assassination of John F. Kennedy from the Cuban viewpoint. 

3 August 2021 | 82

Undoubtedly, this is the most complex historical moment that the Cuban Revolution has gone through. The escalation of aggression of the United States against Cuba, represented in the maintenance of the economic and political measures established by the government of Donald Trump, added to new initiatives of the current Biden Administration, has managed to damage and severely affect the survival of our population, a circumstance taken advantage of by the CIA and its external and internal brothers to try to overthrow the Cuban government.

We do not exclude our mistakes at all. They have somehow contributed to such efforts, because for some years, as had been analyzed in the last congresses of the Party, urgent reforms were essential to save and clean up the economy, increase the standard of living of the population and face the ideological political aggression that in an enormous campaign, the enemy through its multiple means,  especially social networks, I was developing.

The battle became widespread, the enemy actions increased, which through their internal agents, perhaps confused with the existing discomfort due to the shortages and shortcomings of all kinds suffered by our people, considered that the time had come for the final coup, to destroy the revolutionary work.

They were wrong. The revolutionary people responded in Marti-an unity to those who wanted to put out the fire, which in an Olympic torch has guided the path of Cubans for more than six decades and has served as an example to the continent and many other peoples of the world.

The fight against the pandemic, the successful obtaining of five vaccine candidates against it, with which our population is inoculated today, the sanitary measures underway, together with other actions in the economic field that progressively unblock the productive forces, show a change, slow, it is true, but, like any effort against old vices and bureaucratic fences,  they have opened a path of light and hope.

Brigades of social workers, made up of students of social and legal sciences, begin activities to know first-hand the needs and sufferings of slums, in which socio-economic and revolutionary measures have been limited, or insufficient. The initiative is vital, because it not only makes it possible to verify difficulties and shortcomings, but to correct errors and take measures, to distribute better and above all, to explain and disseminate our ideas, the revolutionary project, the Fidelist ideology.

Foreign investment opened its doors in a revolutionary exercise to foreigners and Cubans not resident in the country. Important decisions have been taken in the liberalization of prices for agricultural markets, which entails risks, but also results. We cannot cling to old concepts and put into practice Fidel's legacy when he told us to "change everything that needs to be changed."

The mass organizations, in particular the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, are projected in two fundamental tasks: the fight against the pandemic and the knowledge of the problems of the population in neighborhoods and communities, not only for their understanding but to jointly with the local authorities seek the necessary solutions.

The press disseminates and investigates, and has begun a healthy exercise of criticism and information on social and economic problems and conflicts, snatching the initiative from the enemy in this important field, although there is still a touch of triumphalism in some of its deliveries, confident that the bureaucracy will not try to prevent and frustrate the effort.

Every day we observe our leaders, led by President Miguel Díaz-Canel, through the media, in the struggle, whether in volunteer work, meetings demanding results from the agencies of the state administration, in the fight against the pandemic or in the search for solutions that unlock the productive forces.

Our doctors and health personnel, together with students from the most diverse disciplines, participate strongly in the fight against COVID-19, projecting an extraordinary paradigm of virtue, disinterest and solidarity, which can be an example to other peoples.

In the international arena, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's vital statement urging aid to the Cuban people and his initiative to send donations to the island complemented the invaluable help of the Russian people and its president Vladimir Putin.  Bolivia and Sandinista Nicaragua have joined in solidarity with this effort to help with "what little they have,"  while the U.S. political maneuver of using the OAS to condemn Cuba for alleged and unproven repressions has failed, despite having added to the European lackey. The recent words of Argentine President Alberto Fernández condemning the blockade against Cuba and Venezuela and the OAS as a useless instrument, becomes a tombstone to this spawn, which long ago, Cuba described as  "ministry of colonies".

The operation hatched in Washington by the "Miami mafia", its congressmen, the OAS, the European Union and the ultra-reactionary American and international right is beginning to be defeated and, although there is still a long way to go and obstacles to overcome, I believe that we are on the right track.

In the heat of the battle of ideas to which Fidel one day summoned us, I wish to make some personal reflections, with the margin of error that they may entail, but with the honesty of a veteran revolutionary militant.

The road ahead in the current circumstances is complex and rough. It has become evident the need for the agencies of the central administration and social and mass organizations to be more proactive, to seek and propose innovative, bold solutions that make it possible to advance and deepen more, in this direction:"of everything that must be changed".

It is necessary to deepen the criticism of the mistakes committed, to analyze their causes and consequences, publicly, without fear or doubt, because our people are wise and will understand us. Not doing so implies a greater error and allows the enemy to use them to deceive and manipulate sectors of the population with their slogans and lies that in an endless waterfall spread through social networks.

The Party must analyze its organizational concepts. To consider that militancy should not concentrate on the superstructure, only in those institutions or organizations in which due to its economic, scientific or social importance, it is necessary, and to lower the rest of its militancy to the base, to the community, because it is there where the communist lives and where he must be an example and must be fought,  explain, persuade, know what the population thinks and, where appropriate, seek solutions to existing difficulties and problems.

Ideological political work is the direct result of the confrontation of ideas, concepts, criteria and not precisely of participation in study circles or readings of documents and discourses, even if they help. Grassroots organizations, militants, must and must defend revolutionary ideas wherever the opportunity presents itself and each one will do so to the extent of his possibilities, which will be progressively enriched in the debates and exchanges of ideas.

And for the end. Listening on the NTV to President Díaz-Canel talking and congratulating our Olympic athletes, reflecting on his encouraging words and evoking the attitude of boxer Julio César la Cruz to triumph in his fight and proclaim from the boxing ring, "Homeland or Death We will win!",  I am convinced once again, that these people and this Revolution are indestructible, we just have to act, fight for our ideas, for socialism, in the defense of the revolutionary work of more than 60 years, in honor of the martyrs of the homeland, to the victories obtained against the most powerful and cruel empire in the world and repeat once again, remembering Fidel: Here no one surrenders! The order to combat is given. Homeland or Death We will win!

(Taken from Cuba in Summary)

 http://www.cubadebate.cu/opinion/2021/08/03/cuba-vamos-por-el-camino-correcto/

 

Reflections on Cuban current affairs

By: Fabián Escalante

25 July 2021 |

Undoubtedly, the social explosion that occurred in our country on July 11 of this year, surprised us all and not for lack of evidence and indications. Social networks, in an Olympic marathon, propagated to the "four winds" slogans, orientations, false news, tricked photos, etc., aimed at manipulating, confusing, deceiving national and international public opinion about the Cuban socio-political situation.

The objective was clear, to take advantage of the dramatic circumstances of hardship and needs produced by the suffocation of the multilateral blockade decreed by the United States, added to circumstantial events, such as the exponential increase of the COVID-19 pandemic and the breakdown of the main electricity factory (Guiteras, of Matanzas), which not only affected energy but also the supply of water.

To this should be added the difficulties in the supply of food and medicines with the well-known long queues, a "mafia" of "black market" born as a result,  and the mistakes made in the late implementation of economic measures  approved for some years now, including the production of food.

The subversive operation of coup magnitudes, at least as far as is publicly known, was not discovered and unmasked, nor at least  warned the population by all available means. A solitary and excellent documentary, The Dictatorship of the Algorithm exposed by Cuban TV, consisted of the most outstanding alert of these weeks, which, however, not being conceived as a media campaign, well organized, aimed at exploiting the information provided, did not reach the psychological, political and influence effects on the social conscience, which were necessary and should be projected, before the imminence of the aggression underway.

The Cuba – and the world – of today is different from that of yesterday, and even more different from that of the first years of the Revolution, reasons that make it impossible to use the same methods of analysis or crisis management previously used. There is a young, depoliticized sector of the population (due to our inefficient political and patriotic work) that does not understand the need for resistance to imperial policies and wants to improve their living conditions and does not find an immediate way out of their expectations.

The days have passed since the events reported and, as it happens, many interpretations come to light, while the media campaigns in the United States and its allies continue to accuse Cuba of human rights violations and other atrocities,  with the open intention of creating the conditions for a US military intervention.

Revolutionaries have to meditate and draw experiences about the events that happened. The United States and its fascist government is primarily responsible, but – and this is important – we also have responsibilities for the mistakes made, which require a self-critical analysis, not only marginal references,it is necessary to delve into the reason forthem, what were their causes and how we are going to solve them. That was what Fidel taught us and warned us in November 2005 when he affirmed in a speech at the Havana University that only the Revolution could self-destruct.

The call to revolutionaries and communists must be to move to the offensive, to the front line: to combat the counterrevolutionary elements inside and outside, to fight corruption, bureaucracy, neglect: to combat the wrong done, to combat disappointment and distrust, to the lack or absence of administrative and political control,  combats "hollow, formal" orientations, in two words, generating ideas, defending concepts and conquests.

Fighting against the enemy and the bureaucracy would be the duty and responsibility of this historic moment. Use political, social and mass organizations, based on the duties and rights provided by our socialist Constitution, do not shy away from direct confrontation and do not fear facing conflicts, because as Fidel often told us: the best way to defend yourself is by taking the offensive.

The struggle and confrontation of ideas is developing today at the base of society, on the block, in the neighborhood, in the community and it is there that the Party and the social and mass organizations must and must give the battle, not to oppress, but to convince, to explain and where appropriate,  to transfer to the leadership of the party and the government, the difficulties, misunderstandings and shortcomings.

Passivity makes us accomplices of the mistakes and negative tendencies that Fidel had already warned in his time.

The enemy campaigns carried out by social networks, by the mercenaries of Cuban origin who live in Florida, as well as by the media operations of the traditional bourgeois news media, must be confronted without hesitation. It is necessary to denounce them, alert our population, dismantle them from within, taking advantage of the enemy's need to publicize their slogans, orientations and contact their internal promoters, activities that can be prevented and neutralized, without unnecessary mobilizations, which could wear down and exhaust our forces in the perspective of a long combat.

External solidarity, as has been called, must be enhanced to its maximum expression, both in Miami and other North American cities where honest Cubans live, as well as in other cities of the World, where the Cuban solidarity attitude is well known.

Once again, Fidel summons us to the battle of ideas, which consists in debate and not in imposition, in conviction, in listening to and understanding arguments,and accepting those that are just, because this does not imply concessions of principles, on the contrary, in any case, it reinforces our concept of Revolution, the one that Fidel bequeathed to us.

"Trenches of ideas are worth more than trenches of stones."

 http://www.cubadebate.cu/opinion/2021/07/25/reflexiones-sobre-la-actualidad-cubana/


An edited translation is here https://walterlippmann.com/reflections-on-the-current-situation-in-cuba/

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Evolving Personal Thoughts About Cuba’s Crisis

 

August 18, 2021 (revised 8/20/21, 8/31/21)


Five weeks after protests erupted in Cuba, several points seem clear to me based on extended reading and conversations:


1)  The protests were authentic and justified.  The conditions of daily life are extremely difficult.  Food supplies, medicines and other essentials are in short supply and often available only in stores requiring hard currency.  Public demonstrations were a completely legitimate response.  The US and Cuban governments each bear part of the responsibility.  Both were surprised and overreacted. 

 

 

2)  Contributing factors included:

 

a)  The unilateral US embargo is an underlying material and psychological cause of the weakness of the Cuban economy. This is an act of economic warfare that is internationally denounced with near unanimity because of the legally and morally unjustifiable human cost and the odor of political hegemonism.  Presumptuous American intervention in international finances and shipping and restrictions on products with US origin content undermine normal economic life and impede investment for Cuba's development and, most urgently, hamper production of locally developed Covid vaccines.

 

b)  The policies of Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, as implemented by John Bolton and Mauricio Claver-Carone, contributed significantly to economic and psychological stress by reversing embargo exceptions introduced by President Obama and undermining the growing private sector.  Political attacks on Cuba's international medical contracts reduced national income and financial benefits for doctors, nurses and their families at home.  Cuba cites 243 additional sanctions by Trump.

 

c)  The Covid pandemic destroyed the tourism economy, the largest sector of foreign funded employment.  Initial disease control was frustrated by the economically driven decision to allow Russian tourists to visit Varadero, infecting resort workers and their families in Matanzas and Cardenas and then the rest of the country with the delta variant.  Covid also wreaked havoc in a health system lacking essential imported resources for treatment and for maintenance of the only bottled oxygen factory (updated data here)

 

d)  By failing to fulfill campaign promises to promptly restore Obama's policies, the Biden-Harris Administration contributed to suffering and frustration.  It unnecessarily prolonged for six months blockage of $2 billion in remittances that provide family assistance to 56% of Cubans, delayed immigration and family reunion visas because of absence of a consulate, and destroyed hope for return of private sector income from US travelers, cruises, business ventures, as well as educational, sports and cultural exchanges.

 

e)  Cuba's government and Communist Party leadership failed their responsibility. Economic reforms that have been long demanded and promised were delayed by bureaucratic self-interest and ideological rigidity.  Failure to free key sectors like agriculture and tourism from state control and delayed implementation of enabling regulations for private small and medium enterprise created grass roots frustration.  Deafness to widespread desire for more substantial changes in nationwide discussions of economic reforms and the new Constitution, including direct election of officials, as well as to calls for greater freedom for culture, journalism and political debate fostered dissatisfaction with the existing system.

 

f)  With the exception of a brief period during the Obama Administration, US policy for sixty years has been Monroe Doctrine based regional hegemonism, seeking regime change in Cuba.  Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on propaganda to encourage dissatisfaction and dissent and to provide financial support for opponents, justified by interventionist rhetoric of democracy applied uniquely to Cuba.  As Cuba opened internet connectivity, high tech means were used to identify, motivate and enable critics and to shape US and international opinion.  Software was developed and applied that included training, organizing methodologies, disinformation and provocation bots.

 


3)  Just as with protests any place in the world, including racial justice demonstrations in the US, political agendas and spin affect how July 11 is interpreted.  The protests were more than Cuba’s leaders publicly acknowledge and less than critics in the US proclaim.  Their quick spread throughout the country, size and diversity are evidence of significant popular dissatisfaction.  While the primary motivation seems to have been conditions of daily life, the emergence in many locations of political slogans against the government suggests that organized opposition was present to take advantage of, if not lead, events. 

While probably unplanned and larger than expected by anyone, the protests were not entirely spontaneous.   An enthusiastic narrative by a sympathetic journalist of the initial demonstration in San Antonio de Los Banos chronicles a series of preparatory actions encouraged through a US based Facebook page and an adventurist plan that included breaking into stores and seizing the local radio station.    https://cubapeopletopeople.blogspot.com/2021/08/the-organized-origin-of-protest-at-san.html

Still unknown is how much of a direct role US based groups played and whether any were government funded.  The Facebook link for the initial protest appears to be an independent venture.  Rosa Maria Paya boasted to her list, "Cuba Decide members and leaders directly took part in these historic protests and those outside of the island have been providing ... critical resource support to the network on the ground" for what she called   "a major turning point for Cuba."

Time can be spent productively dipping into the interactive map and linked videos of protests around the country.  https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1AQAArlWutvq3eqA2nK_WObSujttknlxZ&uspell

Attention should be paid to the age and racial makeup of the protestors as well as their number and demeanor on the street.   Total numbers are conjectural.  One hundred thousand in a national population of 11.2 million is the estimate of the most experienced US journalist resident in Havana.  Given the personal and occupational risk of participation and lack of precedent, an impressive number, but it is impossible to know how much they represent the mainstream will of the people as the US government assumes and asserts or are still only a marginal but larger opposition.  

A particularly insightful analysis emerged from a group of students convened by the Spanish newspaper El Pais 

In his opinion, there are two criteria to define the political position in Cuba today: the first is whether you consider yourself "outside" or "inside" the process. “That is, if you think that the Revolution can be reformed from within and give rise to a true and democratic socialism, or those who feel outside and think that this is impossible. There are even those who believe that it is undesirable ”. The other criterion "is the willingness to listen to those who think differently and try to ensure that all or almost all can be part of the future project of the nation." This, he says, separates the political field between "extremists and tolerant (or centrists)."

So, there are four groups: “Inside-extremists (mainly the Government); inside-centrists (for example, Silvio Rodríguez , Julio César Guanche, Ailynn Torres and other critical intellectuals, but committed to some extent); outside-centrists (the members of 27-N, and intellectuals who want a representative democracy but their forms lead them to dialogue with other actors and to be against the blockade and other external interference); and finally outside-extremists (the extreme right in Miami, groups that support the blockade and intervention) ”. The analysis of this 19-year-old boy has an impact on his maturity: "The ideal would be an alliance between the centrists, but power is at the extremes."

It was fair for President Diaz-Canel to ask the government’s supporters to take to the same streets to compete with the protesters, but wrong that among them were disciplined units of men with long heavy stakes that were used against them. 



It is as misleading to describe the protests as entirely peaceful as it is to give undue attention to photos and videos that show looting, overturned cars, and throwing of rocks and Molotov cocktails.  These particularly dramatic videos come from Covid afflicted Cardenas and from Holguin.

 


Were those deliberate provocations by opposition activists wanting to bring in the police or opportunistic thievery?   

Echoing justifications of violence at Black Lives Matter demonstrations, the famed dissident artist and recent Harvard appointee Tania Bruguera wrote,

 “Of course, there were some people who broke into food stores and also turned some police cars.  Still, the message from the people was very clear: [Vandalizing] the food stores means they are hungry and there is no way they have access to food. And turning over the police cars is saying they have enough of the police abuse. The people have spoken very clearly”

 The government’s response was also painfully similar to what we saw during racial justice demonstrations in the US last summer.  Police swept up innocent by-standers and self-declared journalists.  Incidents of uncalled for brutality are available on video.  We don't know what this man did before the video starts, but his treatment once in captivity does not meet Cuban or US standards.   https://twitter.com/i/status/1415012503143206912

Credible accounts have also been published of mistreatment in police stations.     https://jovencuba.com/abusos-manifestantes/

The renowned singer Silvio Rodriguez and the progressive on line publication La Joven Cuba have called for the release of all protestors who did not commit violent acts.   Human rights organization have accused the government of detaining at least 800 people, subjecting them to summary trials without legal defense and holding people secretly.  The government denies that, citing its own standards of due process and definitions of criminality, and says many people have been released.  It would clarify matters if the government posted its own authoritative data base of all detentions and the disposition of cases.

The US media has been extremely one-sided in its treatment of events in Cuba.  Even the generally progressive MSNBC and CNN gave most of their time to protest-exalting Cuban-American perspectives of their own staff and invited guests.  Only one show that I saw sought the opinion of regular contributor Ben Rhodes, the primary negotiator of the Obama opening.  Senators Menendez and Rubio were frequently interviewed but Senator Leahy and Representative McGovern were not.  Andrea Mitchell was the only host to offer an opportunity for the Cuban government to be heard substantively.   

It was striking to see the intense coverage by the US media in the Cuba protests, but their virtually total disregard of larger and more violently repressed demonstrations in Colombia, as reported with at least as compelling video by Al Jazeera.  

Although widely published as a picture of protest, including by the
New York Times, this actually shows pro government demonstrators

4)  What does the future offer?  Exile groups have exalted the protests, claiming that July 11 is the beginning of the end of the Cuban revolution.  However, efforts to engender subsequent demonstrations have failed completely.  

The government acknowledges material reasons for the protests but primarily blames the embargo and US funded and directed agitation and manipulation of the internet.  It has taken two responsive steps:  allowing tax free import of medicine and food in accompanying luggage and announcement of legal status for small and medium enterprise.   However it remained hostile to wealth accumulation, barred investment by Cubans overseas, restricted participation to only one business and precluded architecture and travel ventures.   The government appears to be relying on mass mobilizations, police control and punishment of internet agitation to avoid repetition. 

Cubans and long time friends who are known for their independence of Party line have published strong criticisms of the government’s role in creating the crisis and appeals for a substantially different approach, some of which can be seen on this blog, listed in the right margin.

While Senator Leahy, Representative McGovern and other advocates of engagement have criticized repression of protests, they called for renewal of the Obama approach.   Senator Menendez crafted an anti-Cuba resolution adopted unanimously and thus without much substance.  Senators Rubio and Scott submitted a separate resolution, also adopted without objection, to provide funds for forcing internet access, intended as a provocative challenge to Cuban sovereignty.

The ultra right in the Cuban American community feels empowered, overstating the explicitly political dimension of the protests.  As always they are against ameliorative humanitarian steps like remittances and travel that enable engagement between Cubans and family members here.


Cuban American hard liners demonstrate at the White House


President Biden’s rhetoric was opportunistic and over the top when he asserted on July 19th that "Cuba is a — unfortunately, a failed state and repressing their citizens."  He showed no awareness of the rich tapestry of Cuban society and culture or recognition that the explicit goal of the embargo was to make it a failed state.  President Diaz-Canel responded in kind, "A failed state is one that, in order to please a reactionary and blackmailing minority, is capable of multiplying the damage to 11 million human beings, ignoring the will of the majority of Cubans, Americans and the international community."

In reality Biden's actual follow-up has been only symbolic sanctions of Cuban security and military leaders.  Substantively his announced goals were potentially positive, although couched politically in negative terms, restoring remittances and restaffing the embassy with consular capabilities.  The President announced a remittance working group with a one month deadline (August 30) and aspirations to somehow force independent internet access.  

Nothing has been said so far about restoring travel, a somewhat theoretical objective as long as Cuba is wracked with Covid.  (An announcement is necessary soon so commercial and exchange initiatives can be prepared for the winter when Cuba intends to have completed national vaccination.)

Diplomatic efforts to rally US allies fell embarrassingly flat.  A joint letter attracted only twenty second or third string countries.  Even the OAS rejected the US effort to involve it against Cuba.


5)  My two cents worth.  Despite the protests, the fundamentals have not changed.  The Biden and Diaz-Canel administrations are faced with exactly the same choice as before July 11th.   Embrace the domestic political risks of reopening the doors to trust-building and engagement or remain in the unproductive decades long hostility that Presidents Obama and Castro upended.  

In the short term, Biden ought to reverse all of the Trump policies, starting with remittances and travel.  Diaz-Canel ought to implement the economic reforms that have been already approved and release all July 11 detainees who did not commit violence or property destruction.   It would be helpful if both leaders engaged publicly with groups advocating reengagement and sponsored symbolic cultural exchanges.  (Opera de la Calle could be hosted at the White House and the Kennedy Center.  "Hamilton" could go to Havana.)

Both need to take trust building steps that lead to more fundamental changes: the end of the US embargo and return of Guantanamo; Cuba's movement to a less defensive system of economic and political control over its people, perhaps a Vietnamese style market economy and legal space for organized peaceful opposition.  These are not quid pro quos but my personal estimate of natural self-determined evolution with the embargo as the linchpin.  


 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

 

 July 14, 2021

My bottom line is that, as within the Black Lives Matter demonstrations, there were activists in Cuba linked to larger political agendas who helped create and took advantage of the situation.  The pictures of looting and overturned cars and reports of thrown rocks and pavement stones are reminiscent of opportunists taking advantage of spontaneous authentic protests here. 


Contributing factors are undeniably US democracy funds and the failure of the Biden Administration to follow through on its promises materially (remittances) and psychologically (travel, consulate).


Never-the-less, allowing for exaggeration in media reports, a change appears to have happened in Cuba's political dynamic.  Watching the videos, one sees familiar faces (in general not specific) that go beyond Miami/Washington linked dissidents.  


As with Black Lives Matter, the question is how government authorities strike the balance between police control and social stability vs. recognizing the legitimacy of the protest, not only in terms of material needs but also for political access.  Can the system open economically more quickly and provide real space for public opposition without unacceptable risk?


It is politically very important that Cuba is able to convince the international press and the diplomatic community that all protesters who are still detained engaged in violence or property destruction.


If this video is authentic, it is painfully similar to police brutality against protesters during Black Lives Matter protests and ought to receive an official reprimand.   We don't know what the man did before the video starts, but his treatment once held does not meet Cuban or US standards. 
https://twitter.com/i/status/1415012503143206912


How will the US government react?  Predictably the hard liners see reason to be more hard line.  No doubt a sector of US intelligence and the security establishment sees an opportunity to get more serious about covert action for destabilization and color revolution style regime change.  However, I don't believe the opportunists in Miami that want to launch boats stocked with food, medicine and guns will be allowed to proceed.  The former mayor of Miami who wants to bomb Cuba is also a complete outlier.


Despite the US political environment, will the alternative evolutionist strategy of becoming more engaged have greater traction because of the larger opportunity for impact in a more fluid political situation? 


If protests do not escalate and the Cuban government maintains a proportionate response, do positive humanitarian actions become possible?  What is the reputational and soft power benefit in Cuba of restoring family remittances and providing USG encouraged if not funded assistance through mutually acceptable NGO channels?  How worried will US policy makers be about instability creating a migration crisis when the same could be taking place with Haiti?