Cuba: When “Winning” is Losing

May 4, 2017 |

Foto: Raquel Perez Diaz

By Fernando Ravsberg

HAVANA TIMES — The violent reaction to the dissident who ran through Revolution Square carrying a US flag on May Day has been the last of a series of failed responses.

The guy was beaten up and arrested in the middle of Revolution Square, during the rally for May Day in front of journalists.

Photographs and videos of the scene have traveled the world over and this was clearly the opponent’s objective. He “stole the show” thanks to the priceless help he received from those people who jumped on top of him, grabbing the flag from him and hitting him in front of rolling cameras which belong to the world’s main press agencies.

What would have happened if nobody had got in his way during his speedy race through the Square? It would have surely not been much more than an anecdote, which would have supported government discourse when it accuses dissidents of being mercenaries who serve the star-spangled banner.

Not too long before this event, a young journalism student was kicked out of the university in Villa Clara, with the official media arguing that “university is only for revolutionaries.” Her photo went around the world and stirred people’s rejection, even from well-known followers of the Cuban Revolution.

The expulsion of Karla Maria Perez from her university in Villa Clara for belonging to a dissident group caused a lot of harm to Cuba’s image.

If the CIA’s psychological warfare team had to have chosen a case, they couldn’t have done a better job. She was an 18-year-old girl, with the face of an angel, who was expelled from a Cuban university because she didn’t share the government’s ideas, “the perfect victim”.

The University of Havana doesn’t fall far behind either. Two Economy and Law professors were dismissed from their jobs for such a malicious deed as writing for a [non-governmental] media outlet which is legal and has offices in a building on the Malecon.

Today, Omar Everleny Perez, PhD, continues to live in Cuba but he travels all over the world, from Japan to the US, pouring out his economic knowledge in classrooms of different universities, none of which are Cuban. Who won and lost with this expulsion?

Lawyer Julio Fernandez was forced to choose between continuing to express his thoughts publicly or to renounce this civil right so that he could remain a professor at the university. Today, he continues to write for OnCuba but he no longer teaches at the University.

After the hurricane that hit Baracoa, a group of young Cuban journalists carried out a public fundraiser and traveled to the region to report on the natural disaster. The government’s response was to arrest them, thereby converting an insignificant event into international news.

The Periodismo de Barrio journalists were released without the authorities filing any charges against them. So, why were they arrested? If they couldn’t go into the area, wouldn’t it have been enough to just have stopped them from getting there? Does anybody believe that this scandal helps Cuba in any way?

Allowing the existence in Cuba of unofficial digital publications and punishing the young people who work for them is contradictory and hard to understand.

I recently received a threat that they would break my teeth if I didn’t start “talking softly”. The threat was published by a government journalist. Is there nobody capable of assessing the damage that such cockiness does to the image of Cuba?

In Holguin, another scandal made headlines when a colleague, Jose Ramirez Pantoja, got axed from the Cuban Journalists Association (UPEC) and fired from his job at a local radio station because he reproduced, on his personal blog, part of a speech the assistant director of the official Granma newspaper gave at a professional event.

Pressure on young journalists in Villa Clara who collaborate with digital media platforms (non-governmental) led them to write a public letter of protest, which has also traveled across the globe. Despite the cost, these policies remain steadfast.

Extremist blogs, financed by the State, repeat over and over again, that whoever isn’t a revolutionary is a counter-revolutionary, that is to say that whoever isn’t with “them” is their enemy, an opinion which pushes towards a dangerous social polarization.

These are the same people who are promoting blind unanimity, a caricature of the true conscious union between human beings. Unity upheld in diversity is the only glue that can keep the mosaic of a nation in place.

In 275 BC, General Pyrrhus of Epirus had already understood that some battles inflict such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. These “Pyrrhic victories” of the most extremist sectors could lead Cuba down this same route.

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  • Carlyle MacDuff

    I await the responses from the sycophants with interest. As I have previously pointed out, the Communist Party of Cuba bases its policies upon conformity – under the dictates of the Castro regime. Universities in the free world encourage individual development, thought and ideas – from which society as a whole benefits but such individuality is anathema to the non-democratic socialists and communists. Dr. Ernesto Guevara de Serna Lynch when a Minister in the Castro family regime, clarified the PCC policy by saying:
    “Youth have to learn to think and act as a mass, to think as an individual is criminal.”
    Of course the sycophants try to deny that that is a quotation and try to throw sand in the eyes of readers – but the quote is correct and a matter of record. It clearly defines the purpose of education in Cuba. The books used in the schools and universities are written and carefully edited to support the misinformation pumped out by the Propaganda Department of the PCC. Eventually when Cubans are able to vote for their individual political party of choice such literary rubbish will like Mein Kampf be exposed, condemned and replaced.

    • Nick

      The neo con sycophants currently have the upper hand?

  • Walter Teague

    As usual, right wing propagandists typically misquote or quote out of context. This quote is slightly off and definitely out of context. You can Google and find the more accurate quote representative of a struggle in the midst of a revolutionary war: “In March of 1960, he [Che] declared that ‘one has to constantly think on behalf of masses and not on behalf of individuals…It’s criminal to think of individuals because the needs of the individual become completely weakened in the face of the needs of the human conglomeration.’ ” Given how incredibly rich in individualism Cuban culture and society has long been and still is, it is amazing that it was possible for the Cubans to unite sufficiently to make a revolution and overcome the brutality of the Batista government and police. That was the context in 1960.

    • Moses Patterson

      Please read Carlyle MacDuff’s comment. The Che quote he refers to is correct. To say otherwise is misleading.

      • Carlyle MacDuff

        The interesting aspect of Walter Teague’s supposed quote is that it reflects the conceit of Ernesto Guevara de Serna Lynch that he was the appropriate person:
        “to constantly think on behalf of the masses”.
        The conceit is self evident and helps to explain the process of communist thought which ends up inevitably in dictatorship as demonstrated in Cuba in addition to the USSR, China, North Korea, Syria and the endeavors of Maduro in Venezuela to crush the democratic processes and impose a socialist system upon the people of his country. He ought to explain openly that as driver of the bus, he will determine the route, the timetable, the price to be paid and the compulsory destination.
        The reality is Moses that the Castro family regime supporters want to be thought of as thinking individually and that the correct quote that I provided is contrary to their own imaginary socialist world. Facing reality is not their forte.