Why Do We Cubans Put Up With All This? / Cubanet, Roberto Jesús Quiñones
Cubanet, Roberto Jesús Quiñones Haces, Guantanamo, Cuba, 3 November 2016
— In talking to fellow countrymen and foreigners, the question comes up:
Why do we Cubans have put up with so much abuse from the Castros?
The question is raised because of the discrimination to which we have
been, and are still subject, to the existence of a dual currency system,
excessive prices for goods and services, and the indiscriminate
repression at the slightest sign of dissidence.
But those who ask this question are forgetting inescapable historic
circumstances, because the anthropological damage caused to the Cuban
people by the Castros has its origins in the Sierra Maestra guerilla
warfare and in secrecy. We also should not forget that the Cuban
Revolution enjoyed the overwhelming sympathy and support of the people
because its political and economic programme was backed up by the
restoration of democracy. Measures which, with obvious popular impact in
a country where the people, up until then, had been seen as an
entelechy, guaranteed an extraordinary level of support for Castroism.
Taking advantage of that, it was able to convert the slightest criticism
into a counter-revolutionary act, thus legitimising repression "in the
name of the people" although those who are repressed are a part of the
In April 1961, a group of excited militiamen accepted Fidel Castro's
proclamation of a socialist revolution, "in the name of and on behalf of
the Cuban people", without which nobody would have conceded that right,
on the corner of 23rd and 12th (opposite the cemetery in Vedado,
Havana). A typical example of manipulation of the masses.
Absolute control of education and the media, subjugating everyone to
surveillance, ranging from telephones and correspondence, up to their
private lives, making all family or individual advancement indissolubly
linked to loyalty to the regime, was, among other practices, sufficient
to establish Castro's rigid control of society. When, in October 1965,
the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party was created, another
leftist dictatorship was politically formalized, which had, de facto,
existed since 1959.
Those who dare to stand up to the totalitarian regime pay for it by
death in combat, being lined up and shot, thrown in jail, sent into
exile, or ostracized.
In the 70's, the advance guard of a peaceful opposition made itself
felt. It began to knit together a new awareness and, although the regime
continued to enjoy popular support, the discontent was evident, as was
demonstrated at the Mariel embassy and what happened afterwards. (The
April 1980 occupation of the Peruvian embassy, the confrontation with
the Castro government, and the subsequent mass exodus from the port of
Mariel of some 125,000 Cubans to Miami.)
The Special Period was another turning point. (the extended economic
crisis from 1989, through the 1990s, following the collapse of the
Soviet Union). Progress in the independent civil society was still going
slowly, although more visibly. Its protagonists contributed to the
revealing of another Cuba, which did not exist in the Cuban official
media. Radio Martí, broadcast from the United States, made an enormous
contribution to that.
Fidel Castro's posture, which was to refuse to admit the de facto
failure of socialism, which he was faithfully copying, and which was
going hand in hand with shortages, the exodus from the country of
important cultural, sporting and political figures, the strengthening of
the mass exodus of the Cuban people, the emergence of marked social
differences and phenomena such as tourist apartheid, decriminalization
of the dollar and prostitution, increased popular discontent.
From then on, the civil society began to grow rapidly. The ground they
had gained was thanks to their courage and persistence. Repression
increased, but because of that, the people know that the police beat up
and lock up men and women whose sole offence is to peacefully demand the
observance of the human rights, which the Castro regime repeatedly
violates on a massive scale.
All of this occurs with the complicity of the State Prosecutor's Office
and the tribunals. The Cuban opposition lacks any rights. Along with the
complicity of the state institutions, can be added the no less shameful
connivance of numerous governments whose latest cynical act has been to
approve Cuban membership of the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Some ask, how much longer? Forgetting that to be a peaceful opposition
requires a large dose of humility and courage. Anyone can shoot a
policeman in the back, as did the members of Castro's 26th of July
movement, dedicated to overthrowing Batista, or place a bomb in a cinema
or public place. If the peaceful opposition started to do that, if they
took up arms – if they obtained them even though one of the first
measures of the dictatorship was to eliminate arms factories – then
Castro and his inevitable front men would go crying to their accomplices
in the UN to denounce the "terrorists" and put an end to them with the
consent of the governments who praise democracy while they support
But it's just one day at a time. In spite of the defamatory campaigns,
the discrimination and abuse, the people are watching. It's a long-term
struggle, but at least the opponents don't have the death of any other
Cuban on their consciences. Their achievement is that they are fighting
peacefully, even for the cowards who hit them, discriminate against
them, and penalize them.
Translated by GH
Source: Why Do We Cubans Put Up With All This? / Cubanet, Roberto Jesús
Quiñones Haces – Translating Cuba -