(Article originally published in the Diario de Cuba on July 8, 2011)
The recently published interview granted by Cuban-American businessman Carlos Saladrigas to Orlando Márquez, editor of the magazine Palabra Nueva of the Cuban archbishopric, has provoked numerous reactions on both sides–Cuba and Florida–although, of course, the official Island media have not even mentioned the matter. As expected, when the topic is about proposals of reconciliation and of Cuban expatriates’ capital investments, dynamite-charged intensification is expected, ready to blow up bridges or to place obstacles, though conciliatory opinions trying to find a middle ground do emerge, a peaceful balance between offers and opinions of the debating parties, though, as is often the case, these mediations are usually too restrained when they occur from within Cuba, since they remain frozen at the midpoint between the problem and their possible solutions.
The work I am using here as reference, in addition to the mentioned interview of Mr. Saladrigas–whose proposals I consider very attractive–are Vicente Escobal’s article (“Mr. Saladrigas, Don’t Count Me In”) recently published by Cubanet: the debate between Jesús Arboleya Cervera and Ramón de la Cruz Ochoa published in Espacio Laical Digital Supplement No. 137/July 2011, and González Mederos Leinier’s article (“Saladrigas Arboleya and the Debate on the Future of Cuba”), published in Digital Supplement No. 138/July Digital 2011 of the same venue. All texts consulted are just a sample of how complex and necessary the topic of the Cuban reality, the reconciliation, and the role of the different social actors on the future of the nation are, as well as the schism created by the tremors that have encouraged the Island’s government for over 50 years.
Vicente P. Escobal, in his personal interpretation of the proposal, criticizes Saladrigas for the project of reconciliation between Cubans (he refers to “Cuba and its Diaspora: the Challenge of Facilitating a Reunion” published in the “Espacio Laical” Digital Supplement of the Archdiocesan Laity Council of the Archdiocese of Havana), for considering it as an apology to the Cuban government, and he concludes that “If our aspirations are to “perfect” communism, to hand the executioners of the Cuban people a statement of “forgive and forget” and to betray the memory of our beloved martyrs, then, Mr. Saladrigas, don’t count me in”.
For his part, Jesus Arboleya, a political analyst associated with the Cuban Ministry of the Interior and the official academic sector, attacks Saladriga’s proposal due to his not being completely convinced of “his appreciation about the virtues of the market”; not only because they don’t harmonize with the socialist aspiration and vocation that he–by virtue of certain capricious and unknown statistics–considers generalized in the Cuban people, but because “the world is upside down and it’s the market’s fault, socialist ideas have never before been more alive in Latin America, and State intervention has even been necessary in the US in order to resolve the wrongs brought about by neoliberalism.
As for Leinier González, we will need to thank the conciliatory spirit that animates him–something that’s always timely when it comes to resolving tensions–and some notes about the objective reality of Cuba today, though at times his focus may be somewhat dreamy and not entirely in tune with Cuban conditions, and though he might have felt obligated to throw the occasional soft dart against the dissidence, when–referring to the work of Arboleya–he states: “I dare say that an intellectual effort has not existed from the Cuban opposition party (neither inside or outside Cuba) that has managed to equal, in quality and reach, the narrative defended by Jesús Arboleya”. As if Cuban intellectuals who oppose the government in Cuba were able to make use of the same editorial possibilities as that man, or if the many academic émigrés did not have their work solidly published outside Cuba. Naïveté, fear, ignorance or opportunism are impulses that, on more than one occasion, have clouded the best of intentions of the forums, and it is for that reason that I prefer to attribute this minor cluelessness of Leinier González instead of the rush that guided him at the time he partook in a debate so very important as to stop at trifles of this nature.
However, my intention now is not to analyze the ever-challenging issue of dialogue among Cubans, nor the obvious advantages or disadvantages of alleged Cuban-American businessmen’s investments in Cuba, but to insist on jumping the sharp contradictions of the official budget, including the brilliant arguments of the outstanding analyst Jesús Arboleya. And this is because when the market relations are so demonized that they would ultimately defeat a nonexistent socialism in Cuba, the defenders of the system are forgetting to make some proposal to inform us how prosperity and development may be achieved outside the market. At the same time, the selective amnesia of thinkers like this individual omits the existence of a strong middle class in Cuba, represented by sectors effectively linked to foreign capital and strongly correlated to the power strata. The same memory illness does not allow the analyst to include in the category of “dangerous” foreign capital business investment from Spanish, French and Brazilian investors, and even from the Chinese government, among others, operating since long ago in our territory, from which only the Cuban government draws profits, its narrow circle entrenched in solid interests and its foreign partners. Is this not about the demonic “concentration of capital”? Isn’t the combination of capital and absolute power the worst the worst monster created by the so-called “socialism”?
The Cuban-American dollars are, without a doubt, the “perverse capital”, though in reality they constitute one of the largest sources of foreign capital income on the Island and the financial support to tens of thousands of Cuban families. Cuban-American dollars and not “socialism” have achieved the survival and even the economic welfare of their relations in Cuba. Mr. Arboleya and the top leadership which he serves are well aware that Carlos Saladrigas’s proposals not only contribute to legitimate a source of prosperity essentially Cuban that would turn into a dangerous beginning of autonomy for many individuals in the country, but that it will eventually foster the growth of independent cells in civil society. Florida’s Cuban entrepreneurs’ capital and not just market capital would result in, at the end of so much detouring, the vehicle for that huge “perversion” known as Freedom.