One Step Forward, One Step Back / Ernesto Morales Licea
One Step Forward, One Step Back / Ernesto Morales Licea
Ernesto Morales Licea, Translator: Unstated
The diplomacy of the absurd. A kind of indecipherable political cha cha
cha, with steps lacking any harmony with each other, forming no coherent
dance. The thinking of the top leadership in Cuba is an unfathomable
mystery to me, every day more difficult to understand. I have come to
think: Not even the powers-that-be are interested in reality. What
interest them, as a delicious Creolism says, is to fuck.
What's in the scales? On one side we have the release of 126 political
prisoners, some deported to Spain, others living today in their houses.
How nice. And then, on the other side, we have the recent savage
kickings of dissidents, the beating of women, the tear gas used on
protesters who, from a doorway of Palma Soriana, demanded freedom.
Do the scales tip to either side, are they anything but horizontal?
Decidedly not. Any effect desired from the release of the opponents, in
the political chess game, is annulled under the weight of the repression
of today. This, in diplomatic matters, is laughable insanity.
Let us tip the scales once again: On one side we'll put the calls of
Raul Castro who, either he is a major player, or he delivers his
speeches under the influence of his beloved alcohol, or he really wants
Cubans to begin to speak without fear, or to show their disagreements in
public meetings and forums. I've heard it more times in the last five
years than from his brother in 50. A show of openness? Could be. But
why? Why do they need it, want it? Apparent democracy for whom?
Any rational is left with no vitality when later, from the hand of this
call for supposed sincerity, we put on the other side of the scales a
cultural icon like Pable Milanes who, expressing his discontent, his
urgent desires for social reforms, and a digital posse, blog soldiers,
Silvios and Edmundos, knives between their teeth, launch their attack
Elementary conclusion for Cuban brains? If an untouchable like Pablo
gets such a response on the part of the establishment, totally
discrediting him (or is there anyone who doubts that when Silvio
Rodriguez, Edmundo Garcia, or digital soldiers like Enrique Ubieta or
Iroel Sanchez speak, they are simple transmitters of the official
posture?); if this is what happens to an emblem like Pablo, what can
common and hungry mortals expect?
Last but not least: Let us set on the scales the recent words of Raul
Castro announcing changes in national immigration policy, stripping from
the majority of exiles the unjust designation of enemies. We will add,
also, the visible advances in tolerance for sexual and religious
diversity, a point even Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recognized,
on presenting her annual report on religious freedom in the world.
(Clinton said that, although Cuban was still one of the countries most
criticized in previous reports, with respect to religious freedom its
practices had improved.)
But then, rampant and dissonant, we rebalance the scales at a stalemate,
with the rejection of former Gov. Bill Richardson who did not return
home with the contractor Alan Gross on his plane, nor was Richardson
even able to visit Gross. In the past, Richardson has been an active
advocate of normalizing certain points of diplomatic relations with
Cuba, and he confesses that the release of extremely ill Gross, who has
lost over 100 pounds, would have served to open large areas of
negotiation. (More to the favor of the Cuban government: to free a man
so affected as Alan Gross would not have been seen as a symptom of
political weakness, but as a distinguished act of humanity.)
What is the diplomatic move of the same establishment that cordially
invited Richardson to the Island? Treating him to an ass-kicking.
Absolutely refusing him an interview with Alan Gross. Managing that the
former Democratic governor would say that too many people in the cabinet
don't want to normalize any bilateral situation, and insinuating,
frustratedly, that in these negotiations Cuba had lost a friend.
And above all, the icing on the cake: the mummified leaders decided to
send their fundamental backing to the politics of those such as Mario
Díaz-Balart, David Rivera and company, in their effort to provide cement
for the 35,000 schools Obama wants to reconstruct, to create more walls
of estrangement between the two shores.
Placing pieces on the board: Where is this deranged ship that is my
country headed? I declare myself incapable of discerning it. I don't
If the intention is to maintain a tight grip, if the intention is to die
victims of biology (today Vilma Espin, tomorrow Juan Almeida, previously
Julio Casas Regueiro) without changing anything in the landscape, why so
much interest in reform? In decentralizing the economy? In allowing the
sale of cars and houses, announcing supposed immigration changes,
emptying the jails of political prisoners, inviting Jimmy Carter and
If the intention is to mount a backchannel lobbying, feigning rigidity
in public while speaking candidly to the enemy in the shadows, why so
many beatings, so many arrests, so much incendiary verbiage against
Pablo Milanes, and now, so much unnecessary and prejudicial theater like
that shown against the Democrat Richardson?
I don't believe one step forward one step back that is staged every day
in Cuban politics has much to do with the indecision of the fearful or
the doubtful. What's more, I don't believe there is another politics in
the world that exhibits more scandalously the incorrigible senility of
its sponsors and executors.
September 14 2011