An Optimistic Map of the Cuban OppositionJuly 12, 2014 | Print |
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.