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Erasmo Calzadilla: My parents named me Erasmo 34 year ago, when I was planted in a neighborhood of retired military personnel situated toward the southern city limits of Havana. I don’t know why, but I’m impassioned with thought, philosophy, art, science, friendship and music; in short, everything good that has stirred the passions of humans, nature, and God – or whoever was the creator. Actually I graduated in pharmacy, but I work as a professor at institutions that believe in me and are welcoming. It is important to highlight that I also hold a well-defined political position: I am a bitter opponent of those who are bossy, abusive, and imposing, those who believe they hold the truth, etc., independent of their attire. To them, I occasionally dedicate a few angry words.

An Optimistic Map of the Cuban Opposition

July 12, 2014 | Print Print |

Erasmo Calzadilla

Photo: Juan Suarez

Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban opposition is a mind-boggling issue. The State has shrouded itself with so much smoke and fear that it is practically impossible to know the identity of those who confront it. From its point of view, all are mercenaries, supporters of the US blockade and champions of savage capitalism.

The truth, however, is that Cuba’s dissident community is a complex and varied universe. When it comes to government opponents, you find people on both the Right and Left, anarchists and neo-totalitarians, anti and pro-capitalists, violent militants and pacifists, Yanqui-lovers and anti-imperialists. As they say in Cuba, there’s “a bit of everything, like in the pharmacy.”

Faced with the government’s campaign of disinformation, people tend to adopt extreme postures: they either swallow the entire shit sandwich or they assume that absolutely everything the government tells them is a lie.

As a result of this, many fledgling dissidents end up gravitating towards the more recalcitrant groups that are more likely to be infiltrated (and even organized) by State Security. No one has to come and tell me this: I personally saw this happen to a very close friend of mine.

Because of all this, I value and am grateful for socialist Haroldo Dilla’s recent efforts to undo this thick tangle and shed light on the “nature” of different dissident groups in Cuba.

I also have some criticisms of Dilla’s commentary Cuba: los nuevos campos de la oposicion politica (“Cuba: The New Fields of Political Opposition”). Some may be fruit of my ignorance, others perhaps not. Only time will tell.

The first thing that strikes me is the optimism with which Haroldo looks towards the future. This optimism cuts through his entire analysis and leads him to conclusions that are, from my point of view, erroneous. The following paragraph illustrates what I mean:

“On the other hand, we must regard the impossibility of continuing to maintain Cuban society behind an information fence as a potentially auspicious sign. As international contact increases and dissident or critical actors multiply, the State begins to lose its communication monopoly. The economic reforms and Cuba’s insertion into the global economy will demand greater access to cyberspace by the Cuban population, with the implications this has for access to information and interaction with the outside world. Everything points towards a future that will afford the opposition greater elbow room.”

Dilla takes the exponential and stable growth of the global economy and communications for granted. If that premise were true, it would be logical to assume that “political” dictatorship will give way to the advance of globalization. The question is: will this growth take place?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and nearly all scientific communities involved in predicting climate patterns herald an environmental crisis whose destructive power mirrors that of a global war. Every year, they rectify their predictions, alerting us to the fact that the crisis will hit earlier and harder than they originally thought.

Shouldn’t this hot potato be one of the possible future scenarios we consider in our political predictions?

The same holds for the energy (and raw material) crisis. Even those scientific institutions that are most committed to development (I am thinking of the International Energy Agency) are beginning to acknowledge its seriousness. The oil company Shell tells us that, to maintain our current consumption levels in the coming decade, we would have to discover and vigorously exploit several deposits like the one in Saudi Arabia. This is as impossible as covering the coming oil gap with renewable sources of energy or nuclear power plants.

More and more geo-strategists are including the energy deficit and its potentially destructive consequences among the factors that will steer developments in the short and middle terms.

It is therefore valid to ask ourselves: why don’t Cubanologists (I use the term in its most positive connotation) accord it the importance it deserves? Could it be they have bought into that bubble known as “fracking”? If we couple this explosive situation with the progressive destabilization of Venezuela, the political conflicts that are likely to ensue following Raul Castro’s retirement, less and less room for doubt remains: we are sitting on a powder keg.

With such dark clouds and thunder looming in the horizon, isn’t it a bit crazy to assume business will continue as usual? We ought rather to expect forms of political and economic destabilization that result in greater authoritarianism (the much-feared imposition of a North-Korea-like model) or, on the contrary, the complete but no less traumatic destruction of the regime.

I am also “reproaching” all other Cuban political scientists and politicians. As far as I know, not one has given environmental problems and the energy crisis the importance they deserve. As the leaders they are or pretend to be, they have the responsibility to become informed, divulge the bad news and make decisions on the basis of the principle of precaution.

This is the end of my reflection for today. In my next post, I will continue to yap about the political map of the opposition drawn up by the great Haroldo Dilla.


What's your opinion?

  • Moses Patterson

    The elephant in the room is the existence of an “opposition” at all. According to the Castros, any opposition to the regime, from the right or the left, is illegitimate if that opposition dares to “oppose” the regime. The Castros oppose a free press. Non-State public assembly is illegal. The free expression of ideas is repressed. As a result, opposition in Cuba is fractured and in disarray. The “map of the opposition” reflects this disarray, in large measure, due to the fear of the Castros that opposition of any kind is a threat to the dictatorship.

  • John Goodrich

    In the current state of hostilities which begins and will end with the U.S.G. , it is prudent for the GOC to treat any potential threat to its existence as important.
    We have the usual historical amnesia in those who seem to have completely forgotten that since 1959, the GOUSA has and continues to try to bring down the Cuban revolution .
    As an anarchist I fully recognize the lack of democracy in the Cuban ( and most other) governments and the need for serious changes but absent an international environment in which Cuba can normalize, it is patently foolish to expect the GOC to try to democratize freedom of expression when so many are on the imperial payroll in Cuba to destabilize the country.
    Even paranoids have real enemies and the very real existential threat from the GOUSA is hardly paranoid thinking on anyone’s part.
    Just to refresh your senescent memories, since the end of WWII the GOUSA has made some 90 interventions into democratic countries, revolutions, elections, social movements NONE of which had anything to do with installing democracy and to the contrary ALWAYS to impose totalitarian systems.
    You have to be a complete chowderhead or , as in the case of Moses, willfully ignorant, refusing to look at the evidence , to not both know this imperial history and what it portends for Cuba should it let down its guard.
    As for the future, Moore’s Law has been invalidated —sort of —-Due to the enormous resources being poured into computer development and AI , Moore’s Law’s standard of a doubling of computer power every 18 months has been cut dramatically.
    In 2012 the Chinese had a 12 petaflop array.
    In early 2014 they announced a 38.5 petaflop array .
    This is a tripling in about a year and a half rather than a doubling and gives some indication of the skyrocketing advances coming at us.
    Granted that the environmental disaster we face from anthropogenic climate change is very real and will submerge a great deal of the world if nothing is done in about 30 years .
    That time frame coincides with the coming explosion of technologies linked to computers and AI and it will truly be a race between the ongoing
    environmental crisis and the technologies which will entirely solve our energy and environmental problems .
    I believe we, as a race, will go right to the edge of extinction on this
    We will have a human-level and then far beyond human level AI and computer power in the late 2020s and things will change rapidly and for the good as we get into the actions made possible because of the super-human machine intelligence we will then have.
    It’s a matter of smarter-than-human intelligence figuring out new ways to change things before we go off the environmental cliff .
    Most people who have not looked into this future have a very hard time understanding how Moore’s Law absolutely ensures a super-human computer/AI capacity in what seems to them to be an impossibly short time and once we get something smarter than humans, that super-human intelligence will be the last thing that humans will have to struggle to invent.
    IMO , if you read between the lines of these and other books written by stone capitalists , you can clearly see the end of capitalism that they don’t really mention. This bodes well for the rise of global democracy and again, IMO.
    Ray Kurzweil ( now head of engineering at Google) tells of all this in his book’
    “The Singularity Is Near ” and more detail on the new technologies that will replace the environmentally disastrous methods now used is also in
    “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think ” ( Diamandis and Kotler) .
    I’ve read these books and hundreds of internet posted articles on the technological future and have spoken with a great many people in the tech fields in the past 3-4 years or so just trying to find the holes, the errors, anything that does not compute in what these authors have written and I have not found anything substantial to negate their predictions.
    The most common and understandable error most make is not being able to extrapolate the exponential rate of Moore’s Law while accepting its validity.
    Noam Chomsky, for instance thinks that Kurzweil’s 2045 future is well over 100 years away and calls Moore’s Law a “trend ” even though it is a “trend ” that has held up for some 30 years and which now is actually accelerating as Kurzweil predicted back in 2006 or so it would do .
    Show me where we’re wrong .

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Thank you so much for the dissertation upon the collective thoughts and wisdoms of Chomsky, Kurzwelll, Diamandis, Goodrich, Kotler, Moore et al. Until now the relationship had escaped me, but I think it would be helpful for you to bring it to the attention of the USG, GOC, GOUSA, and the IMO who might possibly be intrigued by consideration especially when linked to the Chinese 38.5 petaflop array.
      Have you yet considered my suggestion that you should escape the clutches of US imperialism coupled with the awful capitalism and emigrate to Cuba becoming a permanent resident there?
      For temporary accommodation you could go to:
      http://www.cubaparticular.com
      It is an excellent site listing casa particulars across Cuba and includes details of the accommodation and prices.

      • John Goodrich

        Sorry, but that kind of thinking which can be encapsulated as “Love It or Leave It” a familiar bumper sticker thinking popular during the Vietnam Invasion is not only tired but highly insulting.
        That ” Love It Or Leave It ” stems from the old ” My Country Right Or Wrong ” that necessarily omits the rest : My country right or wrong : when right to support it and when wrong to fight it .
        The U.S. is an imperialist nation forcing neo-liberal capitalism on an unwilling world . As a citizen, it is my right and DUTY to try to fix the problems of my country and not to run away from the problems.
        As for Cuba, the USA has no right to tell any country what government or systems they can have and this is where we you and I differ. As with the Hippocratic Oath , a country’s duty is first “to do no harm” and the U.S.G. spends a trillion dollars a year enforcing capitalist poverty and totalitarianism on the world .
        It is my duty and your duty to stop this.
        You’re just too ignorant of the purpose of U.S. Foreign Policy history and the notion of national sovereignty to understand any of this.
        Were this Nazi Germany , you’d be a cheerleader for Nazism.
        Drink your Kool-Aid kid.
        “It is easier to lie to people than it is to tell them that they’ve been lied to .
        You’ve been lied to big time and you swallowed it whole.

        Your request is analogous to a man leaving his wife dying of cancer rather than staying and helping her get well .

    • Griffin

      John wrote,

      “The most common and understandable error most make is not being able to extrapolate the exponential rate of Moore’s Law while accepting its validity.”

      So what you are saying is that people like you, who believe that nonsense, are incapable of basic mathematical calculations? Got it.