The recent release by the Cuban government of the 52 detained prisoners in the spring of 2003 can be interpreted in several ways. We shall examine some possible strategies or possibilities. And in all of them, the one gaining the most is General Raul Castro’s regime.
Certain national and international analysts think that the release of the nonviolent opponents displaces the fragmented internal dissidence. Maybe they are right.
In any case, the national opposition is weak, with a political project unknown to the majority of the population on the island and it is infiltrated to its marrow by the intelligence services.
To make things easier for the Castro government, in the last decade certain opponents have been focused on strife, nepotism, excessive profanity and an immeasurable protagonist role.
Among so much quarrel, corruption of certain leaders, warlordism and messianic projects that do not correspond with the reality of the country, and serve only so that American agencies give them money, which evaporates into questionable conduct, one can reach the conclusion that the release of the 52 opponents did not score points, nor will it pave the way for a possible dialogue between the government and the dissidence.
The Cuban dissidence is not at its best. It’s a trivial opposition. It hurts to say it, but that’s the way I see it. Its aims and premises are the same that the majority of the Cuban population wish. But its working methods have devalued.
The clever ones who work with General Castro did their math. The death of the dissident Orlando Zapata and the constant walks of the brave Ladies in White, together with the hunger strike of Guillermo Farinas, warmed the track and instigated critics across half the world.
Something had to be done. And it was Raul Castro’s loyal generals who lead the country. All the enterprises which function and generate an income one way or another are controlled by the olive-green entrepreneurs.
The antiquated Russian tanks have been, for many years, falling apart in the underground shelters. Just like the outdated MiG fighters and the antiaircraft guns. In the absence of a war against the North, which will never happen, the Cuban nomenklatura dedicated itself to business.
They learned marketing, costs and benefits. So that they could improve their financial situation on the island, they received big commissions and abundant diets from capitalist entrepreneurs. When they look at themselves in the mirror, they notice how much better they look in tailor suits, rather than in their rough military uniforms.
To these generals, who like to say Sir rather than colleague, who prefer the good table, Spanish wines and Scottish whisky to the sugarcane rums, they are the ones who encouraged Castro II to launch a truce.
They made a deal with the Cuban Church and the Vatican. With Spain, and underneath the table, with some sectors of the Obama administration.
They are willing to talk to any actor inside or outside the country, except with the national opposition, for the simple reason that our dissidence, between the harassment of the State Security, its foul language and inertia, has been digging its own political tomb.
Another possibility wisely thought by those who rule the country’s destinies, is that the economy is helplessly sinking.
If the people keep thinking that their future is in Miami or in Madrid, that working is not worthwhile because the wages are a joke, that the pantries and wallets are empty and that the chagrin of the ordinary citizen towards the regime is on an upward trajectory, then the political change imposes itself in an accelerated manner.
Because of a logical and compelling reason. If the depressed levels of Cuban lives are not improved, they will lose power. And they bet on controlled changes. They look at Vietnam and China. Whilst they take advantage of the oil offered at a bargain price by the impertinent Hugo Chavez.
Then they have to empty the prisons. It’s a first step. Improve the language as well. Insults will be kept for better occasions. The generals think they have the situation under control with respect to the opposition. They conclude that if they can bring to the table a glass of milk, vegetables and some meat, other than pork, they can reinforce their principal role.
A bolder dissidence could be a more fertile land for new proposals, in line with the people’s realities. Even if it didn’t have access to the media nor public participation.
The government will continue to look at them with a dog’s face. But there are interesting gaps. If 52 non violent dissidents were released, from now on there will be no rational argument to incarcerate anyone for writing or for organising a political party.
The ball is in the opposition’s court. They will have to raise the stakes. They are losing 1 – 0.
Photograph: Reuters. General Julio Casas Regueiro, Minister of Defence, one of Raul Castro’s trustee. Facing the junta directive of the Enterprise Management Group S.A (GAESA), to which the chief executive is his son in law, colonel Luis Alberto Lopez-Callejas.
Translated by: Ladis Beeharry