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    Some Uncertainties

    Some Uncertainties / Fernando Damaso
    Posted on August 31, 2013

    Though it has no leading role in socialism as it is practiced in this
    country, the self-described “new Cuban left” is trying to find its place
    in the current economic, political and social debate, one in which no
    one is participating. Perhaps it is inertia that leads it to simply
    repeat certain well-worn arguments put forth by the government, which
    are far removed from historical reality.

    When referring to the Cuban Republic, the “new left” accepts as fact
    that it was a neo-colonial and subjugated pseudo-state, constrained by
    the Platt Amendment and subject to foreign interference. It assumes that
    only a tiny minority lived well while the rest of the population
    suffered in misery without education, health services or employment
    opportunities. It also believes that discrimination against racial
    minorities and women was rampant. The current authorities have been
    incessant in their demonization of past eras, facts and historical
    figures, while some have accepted these claims as absolute truths and go
    on repeating them.

    The reality is that the situation was not quite so gloomy. Cuba was one
    of the most advanced countries in the world in terms of agricultural and
    industrial production, health services, education, salary levels and
    labor rights. Its gross domestic product was also one of the highest in
    the region, making it an attractive destination for immigrants from
    other countries. It had an established and thriving middle class, and
    both its population and cities were continually growing, both from an
    economic and urban standpoint as well as in terms of infrastructure.

    In fact, most of what we still have of value we owe to the republican
    era. To ignore this truth — even keeping in mind the political situation
    as well as other shortcomings and problems that existed at the time, and
    that still have not been resolved — is like listening to only half the

    When referring to the disastrous years of socialism, however, the new
    Cuban left characterizes it as true, authoritarian, statist and
    Stalinist. It focuses attention only on its distorted features, blaming
    them for all its failures, as though it were not the system itself —
    independent of its atrocities and its leaders — which has failed
    wherever it has been tried.

    When discussing the future, the “new left” rejects a return to the past,
    presuming it might lead to something as ridiculous as a return to
    pre-1959 capitalism. It accuses those who propose abandoning Raul
    Castro’s model of being responsible for a possible loss of independence
    and sovereignty (language which daily falls further out of use in a
    globalized world) or for subjugation by the neighbor to the north. It is
    a perhaps unintentional reprise of an official rhetorical phrase: “You
    are either with me or against me.”

    The only thing that Cuban socialism has distributed equally throughout
    the population — which does not include of the tiny elite which hangs
    onto wealth and power — is poverty. This is the equality that its
    domestic and foreign supporters applaud. Cuban socialism has enjoyed
    fifty-four years of missed opportunities, which makes it highly unlikely
    that the population will be inclined to give it further opportunities
    either in the present or in the future.

    As the popular saying goes, the Castro model’s “last fifteen minutes are
    up.” Therefore, new opportunities present themselves to other political,
    economic and social initiatives which can and must include all citizens
    who care about Cuba. They cannot, however, impose narrow concepts,
    whether or not they are what we call socialists, democrats,
    participatives, critics, conservatives, liberals, capitalists,
    anarchists, rationalists, centrists, decentralists, pluralists,
    reformers, etc.
    It is only natural that this political opening would occur after years
    of living under a single economic, political and social ideological
    mindset. The wide variety of new ingredients should produce a dish
    capable of satisfying the palates of most of our citizens. But this dish
    cannot be prepared by one single chef. It has to take into account the
    opinions and participation of those who will consume it, and must
    include economic development, freedom and social justice.

    The goal is to enter the current global jet stream and advance along
    with it in ways to be determined by citizens exercising their full
    democratic rights, with participation by everyone but without new and
    ridiculous political, economic and social experiments or the kind of
    one-party nationalism that has left us light years behind the world’s

    29 August 2013

    Source: “Some Uncertainties / Fernando Damaso | Translating Cuba” –