My Reply to a Dangerous Threat

August 15, 2017 |

By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez

They love applause, criticisms aren’t welcome. Raul Castro, his first VP Miguel Diaz Canel and the Communist Party’s numbre two man, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura.

HAVANA TIMES — Every act in Cuba in favor of change, outside of the official framework, is considered an act of dissidence. It doesn’t matter whether you sympathize with Posada Carriles’ violent methods, with the Chicago school of economics or whether you are a democratic socialist like yours truly. The system doesn’t distinguish between them; anyone who doesn’t cheer and applaud is an enemy.

I received my first sign of intimidation from State Security, who were threatening to imprison me, via my family. According to them, I’m apparently not committing any crime, “but there is proof of my crimes in what I do and they can imprison me.”

It is worth highlighting the fact that my journalistic work and the dissemination of my democratic and reformist ideas within socialism have earned me great sympathies and support within my community. This despite backhanded efforts to ruin my reputation, labeling me an “opponent”, “dangerous” or “counter-revolutionary”, really derogatory words in Cuba that official propaganda uses.

At the Cooperative where I belong as a tobacco farmer, they have been insisting that I be president for years. But the ANAP (National Association of Small Farmers) is standing in the way of this, on Party or State Security orders. I was already a candidate back in 2013, after the ANAP had convinced me themselves, and then they mysteriously met with the abovementioned institutions and all of a sudden decided to suspend the vote. They placed a person who wasn’t very well-prepared for the position “provisionally”, pressuring farmers who were asking for me to be the president.

The much-awaited election was set to take place on December 17th 2014 and I was put forward by the overwhelming majority. It was really hard for me to refuse the position. But, the order was that I couldn’t take on any kind of leadership role or responsibility within the community. They arbitrarily took me off of the list, mentioning that I was an “opponent”. Without being on the candidate list, I still got six votes from farmers who took the initiative to write down my name and put an “x” next to it.

ANAP, the National Association of Small Farmers.

There would have been a great debate on that day about this aberrant behavior, but it coincided, by chance, with the simultaneous announcement that Obama and Raul were going to reestablish diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba. The most symbolic act of this was the return of the “three heroes” from the Cuban 5 and the news transformed the event into a great party and it was no longer the right time for this kind of dilemma.

The cooperative has serious problems with how it operates and its accounts are very shady, with serious suspicions of corruption. The ANAP, the PCC and the Government know this, but they don’t dare do anything because they are afraid that after exposing these problems, the majority of farmers will be able to impose my leadership. For them, this is something unthinkable. That’s why they do everything they can to keep this current disastrous situation.

They have even stopped the farmers from creating a monitoring committee so that they can revise their collective finances, for the simple reason that they don’t want me to be at the head of this body. Worse than that, now they are afraid, like they were in previous elections, that my neighbors will put me forward as a candidate for the People’s Power representative and are already tryng to stop that from happening, that’s what they talked about at a meeting of “revolutionary figures”, this weekend here. Now, the opposition are planning on taking part in the upcoming elections.

After the threat of being imprisoned, I thought it would be wise and appropriate to send a letter to the Communist Party’s First Secretary in Mayari, Estrella Maritza Segura, making my position clear. These are my most important ideas:

“I am a socialist who believes in direct democracy and in political pluralism. I don’t share the concept of one party meaning national unity, nor do I believe this to be socialist. (…) although our Govenment, like our laws, are based on this united one-party belief…”

“Like many other people in Cuba, and the majority in the rest of the world, I think differently. I have a right to have different ideas to official ideas as a Cuban citizen. I have a right to aspire even for our political system to be better and to work better. Unfortunately, there aren’t any clear or truly effective mechanisms in our laws or political system that allows people to offer new ideas, discuss them in public spaces and to reach a majority consensus.”

“… it isn’t in my hands to do anything, nor is it in the hands of our people. According to the Constitution, only the PCC and Parliament via their government bodies, which is the Party itself in the end and we all know this, because it’s the only party, only those at this level of government have sovereign power in Cuba and can decide what needs to be changed and when.”

“That’s why, in hoping for better times, when any citizen can raise their voice and try to promote their ideas about a better country without this being a crime, I can only be hopeful and try to be useful in the meantime.”

“My articles are an expression of our reality and my personal thoughts can also be found in them (…). They are my ideas, I write them down and I share them with whoever can read them and discuss them. The Internet is an open space and nobody can ban anything for political reasons. Sadly, I am unable to publish my articles on media platforms within the island, because they are controlled by the government and today’s politics dominate these communication spaces, which should be used for a diverse, critical and productive national debate.”

“Forgive me if I am writing inconveniences. It’s the minimum I can do; and giving this up would mean losing my dignity. I have a right to have ideas, to write them down and to share them. I am not breaking any law; I am just using one of my most fundamental rights as a human, after my right to life.”

“Of course, I am afraid of all the power that you have and if you want to, you could imprison me unjustly, by applying any arbitrary law to make me disappear off the map. You can do whatever you want to. But, I must run this risk and be honest, just like Marti, “I have faith in the human race improving itself and in future life,” I hope you don’t commit this silly madness.”

My battle of ideas works in your favor (…) Because a better Cuba has to be beneficial for everyone, not just for an exclusive political group.”

Many people believe that a letter like this one is useless, but I believe it to be productive.

Share this:

What's your opinion?

  • Michael Ritchie

    Buena suerte mi amigo.

  • Carlyle MacDuff

    There are those who have written in these pages that elections in Cuba are democratic and open to all citizens.
    This article by Osmel Ramirez Alvarez demonstrates such views being fallacious. Being a socialist is insufficient, one has to be a dedicated communist and supporter of the Castro regime.
    That hopeless plea by Osmel:
    “I am just using one of my most fundamental rights as a human”
    falls upon the deaf ears of a repressive dictatorship.

  • bjmack

    You’re a good person, Osmel! A solution must be made and you’re part of it.

  • Chuck1938

    I agree with this article regarding Cuba’s political system which I believe, there was never a need to be selective rather than elective since its inception. Like it or not, agree or disagree, no one in Cuba, America or the world for that matter, could come close to Fidel Castro’s popularity and challenge him in a wide, open, scrutinized, verifiable election with international observers.

    And by the way, national or international observers are not allowed in the US proven fake presidential election, which is not decided by votes, but rather by a murky system called Electoral College, no one knows who they are or how they came to be . Remember George W. Bush famous stolen votes with Pregnant Chad and other gimmicks.

    The Cuban government decided then and now to have their “electoral model” just as the United States has theirs. In Cuba they are political selections and in the US in which only millionaires/zillionaires and people bought and sold-out to corporations can ever be elected to any higher office..

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      Chuck 1938, you are clearly out of touch with reality. If as you claim Fidel Castro was in an unassailable political position, why was he unable to prove that by holding open free elections?
      It was Fidel Castro who properly assessed the wishes and hopes of the Cuban people when he said on the 16th March, 1959:

      “There can be no danger if we do what Cubans want, if we provide social practice and solve the substantial social problems of all Cubans of liberty, of respect for individual rights, of freedom of the press and thought, of democracy, of liberty to select their own government.”

      So what did Fidel Castro actually do to pursue the hopes and dreams which he correctly defined? He denied them liberty, he denied them individual rights, he denied them a free press, he denied them democracy and he denied them the right to select their own government.

      I realise that it is the ‘in’ thing currently in the US to refer to ‘fake’ this and ‘fake’ that. such use of the word ‘fake’ is consequently becoming meaningless. Hence your description of “the US proven fake presidential election” is similarly meaningless. You as an American have the privilege of being able to openly and publicly criticize your own government – that right is denied for Cubans.

      But Havana Times ought not to be a continuous comparison between the US and Cuba. It displays closed minds because it leads to thinking that the rest of the world doesn’t exist. You blandly and incorrectly suggest that nobody in “the world” “could come close to Fidel Castro’s popularity”. Fidel and consequently his little brother Raul were far too frightened of the potential result to ever permit that supposed popularity to be tested by open free elections of the type which Fidel Castro promoted on the 16th March, 1959.

    • Moses Patterson

      Chuck1938 writes, “but rather by a murky system called Electoral College, no one knows who they are or how they came to be”. No at all true. My mother was an elector in the Electoral College for 4 Presidential elections. There is nothing secretive about the details of the Electoral College.

      • Nick

        I agree. There is absolutely nothing ‘secretive’ about the electoral college system as you say. One can simply ask Mr Google for the details.
        But it is perhaps now to be seen as an anachronism?
        Surely such an electoral system could now do with a re-think?
        When this system produces a President who achieved the support of 26% of the electorate and is evidently sympathetic toward uniformed fascist militia armed with assault weapons creating mayhem within view of the beautiful Blueridge Mountains, many may suggest that a re-think is perhaps in order?
        At the very least it would cast doubt on the USA’s legitimacy when it tries to assume some kind of moral high ground by criticising the democratic processes of other nations.
        For all Cuba’s faults, which are many, they don’t have a problem with armed nazis and their torchlit celebrations of the lives of pro slavery upstarts.
        It really is a very sad day when the President of the United States can make Kim Jong Un seem like a relatively reasonable fella in comparison.

        • Carlyle MacDuff

          Just for interest Nick, I don’t suppose you are referring to Cuba or similar one party countries when you speak of the US criticising the democratic processes of other nations?
          Nothing Nick can make Kim Jung Un seem reasonable! Given that Trump(f) is totally unsuited for the role he supposedly is supposed to fulfill, and given that the criticisms that both you and I have levelled at the US Constitution (I have done so on several occasions in these pages), the total evil of the third generation Kim dictatorship is worse than anything Trump(f) has yet achieved or proposed.

          • Nick

            if there is an out of date electoral system, so vulnerable to Kremlin influence, that can produce a President who is sympathetic toward fascist paramilitaries, then it may be a good idea to look to rectify it?
            If you have a problem with fascism, then you don’t solve it by counting the amount of political parties and comparing the total to that of other countries which do not have the same problem with fascism.
            Despite this issue, I find the USA to be an amazingly beautiful and diverse country.
            By contrast, I’ve never set foot in North Korea and actually have no particular wish to do so soon.
            However, in the dangerous face off between the crank trump and the crank Kim Jong Un, a neutral would have to say that it was the latter who came out looking the more reasonable of the two.

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            A third generation dictator who shoots even members of his own family and who could sit by and watch North Koreans starve, is more reasonable? I do not differ from you with regard to Mr. Trump(f) being a crank and a semi-closet racist Nick, but whereas he sinks pretty low, Kim Jung Un is the scrapings from the bottom of a rotten barrel.

          • Nick

            I’m no expert on North Korea. I just get the same info that most do. You won’t see me defending Kim Jung Un. But my point is that on his recent face off with trump he came out looking the more reasonable of the two.
            Apart from that I would just wish to see the USA get over this trump episode and get back to some kind of normality.
            I even have Mr P agreeing with me, which is unusual but a sign of the seriousness of what’s going on.
            I just want to get back to criticising the USA for the usual stuff (policy on Cuba etc), not commenting on this weird fascist business!

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            Accepting Nick that the mental health of both Kim Jung Un and Donald J. Trump(f) is a factor, I still put Kim Jung Un away ahead of Trump(f) in terms of being a major threat to the world. As is being demonstrated currently, the US political system allows saner minds to exert some controls, in North Korea no such safeguards exist.
            If I recall, Moses Patterson agreed with you on a specific point, not generally.

          • Nick

            I think Mr P was perhaps agreeing with my comments regarding the situation last weekend in Virginia and the presidential response to it. He may also agree that trump is possibly even more of a fruitloop than KJU, but that would all be for him to clarify not me.
            I would suggest that trump is potentially more dangerous than KJU simply because he has infinitely greater weaponry at his disposal plus the fact that he is obviously mentally unstable and prone to impulsiveness.
            Regarding safeguards:
            Are you suggesting that if trump ‘reached for the red button’ then some sane person would stop the process of firing off a preemptive strike?
            If that is what you’re suggesting, I would tend to agree.
            I would certainly hope that that’s how it would roll out.
            The safeguard for KJU would be plain old self preservation?

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            No debate Nick about Trump(f)’s lack of mental stability and impulsiveness. But as is currently being demonstrated, the US system of checks and balances is fast eroding his control. No such checks and balances exist for Kim Jung Un.

          • Nick

            I would not disagree with your point.
            I would just hope that ‘the US system of checks and balances’ gets rid of him sooner rather than later.
            There are those that suggest that Fascism and Communism have similarities and that Capitalism is infinitely superior to them both.
            What we are actually witnessing during the trump presidency is ever-present overlap and shared goals between between neo-conservatism (capitalist fundamentalism) and full-on fascism.
            Fascism is historically very good at ‘getting in through the back door’.
            Therefore Fascism is now gaining a toe-hold in the USA.
            And trump is the enabler. There are clearly previous examples of fascism gaining in popularity in the USA but there are no previous examples of trump. There have been enablers in high office before, but never in The White House.
            There is obviously an innate decency in the USA that will try to get this trump creature slung out before the fascist toe-hold has a chance of growing into into a foot-hold. I hope and believe that this decency will succeed.

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            Trump(f) did not create the groups which you define generally as “fascist”. As an opportunist he harnessed their energy and memberships for support.
            Those groups Nick were all ‘alive and well’ long before Trump(f) was a sparkle in his father’s eye. It was in 1948, that the great Paul Robeson sought an anti-lynching law from President Harry Truman, to have his request rejected as:
            “It isn’t time yet.” Robeson’s proposal was made following the lynching of four black men that year by the KKK.
            It could be that Trump(f) inherited his disregard for what both you and I and it appears a great number of Americans, as ‘decency’ from his pimp brothel owning grandfather. Such a role requires the deliberate exploitation of the unfortunate.

          • Nick

            Agree with all that you say here.
            These groups have been around for a long time (There is footage available online of Mass Fascist Rally at Madison Square Garden in 1939).
            Trump is no fascist. But he enjoys their support and does not want to lose this support by outright condemnation..
            It’s not restricted to the USA. Here in Europe there are similar links between Right Wing Populism and outright Fascism (overt links and underlying links).
            Right Wing Populists such as trump play an extremely dangerous game when they seek to ‘harness’ the energy of fascism, as you put it.
            I don’t credit trump with having anywhere near the breadth of understanding to really know what it is that he’s messing with.

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            The extremes of both left and right combine to form the groups you define as fascist. Remember that Hitler a National Socialist was an ally of Stalin a Communist and Mussolini a Fascist. Whereas you and I disagree on many points Nick, I think we agree upon supporting a multi-party electoral system (with all the faults) rather than dictatatorship of the left or right.
            I have a personal view that politics form a circle rather than spreading from left to right. The extremes meet together round the back of a tree in the centre of that circle and the example I gave above, illustrates that. My view is that Trump(f) although of some form of crackpot ‘right’, has a degree of envy for all dictators and has been disappointed to find that as President his powers are limited. His admiration for Putin (where does he actually belong in the political spectrum) and Xi a state capitalism type Communist is indicative of the power he sought.
            it is that lust for absolute power which drives or drove all those I have mentioned and one could add a list of others from Pinochet, to Batista, to Castro. All considered that they should control the lives of others and dictate their demands.

          • Nick Bearne

            Don’t agree with you so much on this one.
            Sure there was a non aggression pact between Germany and USSR for a while but there was also a non aggression pact between Germany and Britain (There was much more support for fascism in Britain than in Russia during this era).
            The first to fight against Hitler were German Communists.
            He was ultimately defeated largely by Communist Russia.
            There can indeed be similarities between all types of regimes, systems and leaders.
            I’m afraid that die-hard defenders of neo-con capitalism will always try to lump Fascism and Communism together whilst holding themselves up to be the champions of freedom or liberty or other such morally virtuous cause.
            The reality is that Fascists and Communists are sworn enemies. Always have been, always will be.
            What we are seeing currently is the naturally very close relationship between right wing capitalism and fascism. The relationship between the two has always been close.
            Unfortunately unbridled Capitalism of the type advocated by the neo-con element will always seek ways to control and exploit – to chew lives up and spit them out. And, as we can see, it is not afraid to try and ‘harness’ the fury of the fascists (‘harness’ being your term).

          • Carlyle MacDuff

            Firstly Nick, it was only the invasion of the USSR by Germany that broke the pact between Hitler’s National Socialist regime and that of Stalin’s Communist one. but in the meantime they had held to their agreement and both invaded Poland in September 1939.
            Regarding the claim that the USSR largely defeated Nazi Germany, it is a frequent claim which ignores the supply of war materials by both Britain and the US via Murmansk upon which the USSR largely depended.
            You mention fascism in Britain, presumably referring to Mosley, but omit to record how active the Communist Party was. I for one regard both communism and fascism as evil forces within any society as they advocate extremes that deny the rights of others.
            You use the expression “to chew lives up and spit them out” – who better at that than Stalin?
            I am and will remain a supporter of a multi-party political system rather than that of a single party. How about you?

        • Moses Patterson

          Sadly, I agree.

    • Eden Wong

      “… but rather by a murky system called Electoral College, no one knows who they are or how they came to be…”

      That is one of the weirdest/murkiest statements ever posted on this forum.

  • N.J. Marti

    The Castro’s have had a good run, but nothing is for ever. A failed economic system is a weak foundation.