A shout

Image: Yuting Gao


Reflections on the demonstrations in Cuba

It seems quite possible that everything that has happened in Cuba since last Sunday, July 11th, has been encouraged by a greater or lesser number of people against the system, some of them even paid, with the aim of destabilizing the country and causing a situation of chaos and insecurity. It is also true that then, as often happens at these events, there were opportunistic and regrettable acts of vandalism. But I believe that none of the evidence removes a shred of reason from the scream we hear. A cry that is also the result of the despair of a society that is going through not only a long economic crisis and a specific health crisis, but also a crisis of confidence and a loss of expectations.

To this desperate clamor, the Cuban authorities should not respond with the usual slogans, repeated for years, and with the answers that these authorities want to hear. Not even with explanations, however convincing and necessary they may be. What is required are the solutions that many citizens expect or demand, some demonstrating in the street, others giving their opinion on social networks and expressing their disappointment or disagreement, many relying on the few and devalued weights they have in their impoverished pockets and many , many more, queuing in resigned silence for several hours under sun or rain, even with the pandemic, queues at markets to buy food, queues at pharmacies to buy medicine, queues to get our daily bread and for everything imaginable is required.

I believe that no one with a minimum sense of belonging, with a sense of sovereignty, with civic responsibility can want (or even believe) that the solution to these problems will come from any kind of foreign intervention, much less of a military nature, as they arrived. asking some, and which, it is also true, represents a threat that is still a possible scenario.

I also believe that any Cuban inside or outside the island knows that the US blockade, or commercial and financial embargo, whatever you want to call it, is real and has become internationalized and intensified in recent years. And it is a very heavy burden for the Cuban economy (as it would be for any other economy). Those who live outside the island and today want to help their family members in the midst of a critical situation, can prove that it exists and how much it exists by being practically prevented from sending a remittance to their relatives, just to mention a situation that affects many. It is an old policy which, incidentally (sometimes forget), practically the whole world has condemned for many years in successive assemblies of the United Nations.

And I don't think anyone can deny that a media campaign was also launched in which, even in the most crude ways, false information was disseminated that, from beginning to end, only served to diminish the credibility of its managers.

But I believe, along with everything said above, that Cubans need to regain hope and have a possible image of the future. If hope is lost, the meaning of any humanist social project is lost. And hope is not recovered by force. It is rescued and fed with solutions, changes and social dialogues, which for not arriving have caused, among so many other devastating effects, the migratory yearnings of so many Cubans and now provoke the cry of despair from people, among whom there were certainly opportunist criminals and people paid for that. Although I refuse to believe that in my country, at this point, there can be so many people, so many people born and raised among us, who sell themselves or commit crimes. Because if that were the case, that would be the result of the society that fostered them.

The spontaneous way in which a notable number of people have also manifested themselves on the streets and on social media, without attaching themselves to any leadership, without receiving anything in return or stealing anything along the way, should be a wake-up call. And I think it is an alarming example of the distances that have opened up between the ruling political spheres and the streets (and this has even been recognized by Cuban leaders). This is the only way to explain what happened, especially in a country where almost everything is known when you want to know it, as we all know.

To convince and calm the desperate, the method cannot be that of force and obscurity solutions, such as imposing a digital blackout that has cut off communications for many days, but that does not prevent calls from those who want to say something, for or against . Much less can a violent response be used as a convincing argument, especially against non-violent people. And it is already known that violence can be not only physical.

Many things seem to be at stake today. Maybe even after the storm comes the calm. Perhaps extremists and fundamentalists will not be able to impose their extremist and fundamentalist solutions, and a dangerous state of hatred that has grown in recent years will not take root.

But, in any case, solutions need to be found, answers that should not only be of a material nature but also of a political nature. And so a better and inclusive Cuba could respond to the reasons for that cry of despair and loss of hope that, in silence, but with force since before 11 July, came from many of our compatriots. Those lamentations that were not heard and whose rains originated this mud.

As a Cuban who lives in Cuba, works and believes in Cuba, I assume that I have the right to think and express my opinion about the country where I live, work and believe. I already know that at times like this and when trying to express an opinion, it happens to be “always reactionary for some and radical for others”, as Claudio Sánchez Albornoz once said. I take that risk too, like a man who longs to be free, who hopes to be more and more free.

* Leonardo Padura is a Cuban writer. Author, among other books, of The romance of my life (Boitempo).

Translation: Isabella Meucci protocols for Boitempo's blog.

Originally published on the website The young Cuba.


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