Cuba: A Good Time to Talk about DemocracyApril 24, 2012 | Print |
HAVANA TIMES, April 24 — The Cuban newspaper Granma reported recently that Miami Marlins baseball manager Ozzie Guillen said that he respected Fidel Castro – a statement that cost him a five-game suspension without pay.
The next morning on the Cuban television program “Buenos Dias,” they had on a “specialist” (I didn’t see what specialty it was) who used this example and other examples to reveal how “freedom of expression” is a part of the phony democracy in the United States.
I was glad. It’s good to know how things work in that country – it keeps our dissatisfaction with the Cuban government from leading us to prefer the US model.
It’s good that the positive things in that nation don’t blind us, though our media takes on the responsibility for filling our eyes only with the bad.
In that democratic country, a few weeks ago a young man was killed and the perpetrator was let free, protected by US law. I would like to avoid the detail that this young man was black, because it would still have been murder if he’d been a white person.
I also know there are white people among those who are seeking justice, but I don’t think the youth’s race was a casual detail. I don’t think he would have died if he hadn’t been black, nor would his murderer have walked free if he weren’t a white man.
It’s good that our media has also informed us that in Spain they’ve just criminalized calls for demonstrations over the Internet. It’s is now a crime even to promote passive resistance as a form of protest.
Just a few months ago, the current president of Spain announced measures to exploit workers even more. In his own words, if demonstrations didn’t take place the day after the measures we’re announced, he and his government would have fallen short.
Now, they’re not only inventing ways to further exploit workers, but are also denying everyone the right to protest. It reminds me of that song sung by the Cuban duo Buena Fe ten years ago: “I’m going to grab you by the throat and squeeze. The more forcefully you demand, the less you’ll be able to complain.”
And Here in Cuba
I’m pleased that our media informs us about what’s happening in the supposed world democracies. That leads me to suppose that if one of our baseball managers, or any of our artists or intellectuals, publicly expressed their admiration for dissidents like Yoani Sanchez, Reinaldo Escobar or Miriam Celaya, for example, they wouldn’t have to fear about any retaliation; they wouldn’t have to worry about this jeopardizing a chance to travel or a job opportunity.
I can now imagine that if any of our sports or cultural personalities happened to speak out in favor of a multiparty system or decided to meet with government opponents, they won’t receive a visit from our State Security agents. Nor would they be subject to any lynch-mob-like “act of repudiation” by hardcore pro-government groups in the community.
After reading in the official newspaper of the party — with a critical eye — about the anti-democratic measures taken by the Spanish government against those who are protesting budget cuts, I can assume that no citizen in our country would be imprisoned if they called for or participated in similar peaceful demonstrations. Their right to peacefully express any disagreement would be respected.
I also suppose it means that if our official media is able to put these supposed democracies under a magnifying glass, it’s because we Cubans enjoy the exercise of all our rights to free speech, even to oppose the government in power, and that no citizen has had their rights violated.
Therefore I shouldn’t expect anyone to respond to this article with examples to the contrary, because if the violation of the rights of a citizen ever occurred, our official media — the same one that exposes the false democracies of the world — would be the first to report such infringements.
I should note that I haven’t done anything except sit down here at the table set by our official media in raising the issue of democracy and freedom of expression. I only think that if we talk about democracy, this is a good time to address our own.