The Cuban question and the left in Brazil

José Clemente Orozco (1883–1949), On the Road, 1929.


By not understanding what is at stake in Cuba, part of the Brazilian left openly declares itself anti-democratic

In recent days, much has been said about the issue of protests against the Cuban government. The issue is indeed complex, involving the American embargo, the meager external aid from the socialist “powers”, the collapse of the economy with the pandemic, the limitations of the public health system to deal with covid-19, the death or retirement of the revolution generation. For this very reason, the demonstrations brought together a diverse audience, ranging from supporters of an American “invasion” and “annexation”, passing through retirees and wage earners who earn in Cuban currency, while the economy is adopting the dollar standard, and young people dissatisfied with the lack of prospects.

But there is a sector of the demonstrations that is particularly important in defining what is at stake. They are intellectuals, artists and university professors (in part, evidently), who question the methods of the Cuban dictatorship: repression of the opposition, with imprisonment and torture of critics of the regime, censorship of artistic production, which must go through the approval of the government, and absolute limitation of access to information, monopolized until today by the communication organ of the communist party, the Granma.

What is at stake in Cuba is the fact that the precarious economic opening, which favors tourists and local businessmen who profit from tourism, but keeps the great mass of the population in a situation of material precariousness, has not been accompanied by a minimum of opening policy. On the contrary, in the last decade political repression increased, and in 2018 censorship was what motivated the increasing criticism of the artistic class.

Padura demonstrates the seriousness of the problem, from his work The Man Who Loved Dogs, which paints a stark portrait of the Cuban dictatorship from the point of view of freedom of expression.

Regrettably, an important part of the Brazilian left is in denial about the problems of the Cuban regime. To any criticism, they claim that either no liberal democracy works, or Cuba is indeed democratic, as there are elections. They do not realize that what is essentially at stake when it comes to the debate on the Cuban regime is the curtailment of political freedoms and fundamental rights and guarantees. Lula, Dilma, and the PT in an official note, give an endorsement to the Cuban regime that can only be understood by the compromise relations established between the Cuban PC and leaders of the Brazilian left during the military dictatorship, who, in order to make the armed struggle possible, relied on logistical and financial support from the Cuban government.

Maintaining support for the Cuban regime, without saying a word about the problem of fundamental rights and guarantees in Cuba, is an indignity that can only be justified by remnants of Stalinist thinking, which submits means to supposed ends, and results in the creation of a bureaucratic caste, associated with military commanders, who maintain authoritarian control in a one-party system and tight control over the circulation of information and opinion.

By failing to understand what is at stake in Cuba, part of the Brazilian left declares itself openly anti-democratic, by underestimating the lack of guarantee of first generation rights. By clinging to a cold war dogma, part of the left demonstrates its inability to understand and face Jair Bolsonaro and his authoritarian project of power in Brazil, which paradoxically mirrors regimes such as the Venezuelan one, with political control through the co-option of military leadership and gradual suppression of the division of powers, with the submission of the judiciary and the legislature to the executive power, in order to then ensure impunity for the diversion of resources to an authoritarian political caste.

Either face your ghosts, or the Brazilian left will be out of any possibility of playing a leading role in confronting Bolsonarism, which does not only mean defeating Bolsonaro electorally, but affirming democracy, freedom of expression and continuing to fight for the expansion of effective guarantees to human rights. humans in Brazil.

*Rodrigo Ghiringhelli de Azevedo, sociologist, is a professor at PUC-RS.




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