I have read the comments posted to my blog entry “China Apologist” with much interest, and I’m pleased by the level of information shared by some readers. One always learns something from those more informed. Nevertheless, I feel impelled to participate in the debate, since—as usually happens—the theme of the post is no more than the beginning of a drifting that gradually takes us to an unexpected labyrinth, and sometimes (almost always) leads to a situation where some participants end up attributing to the blogger suggestions which were never included in the original text. And I say this in response to the comment from one dear reader who, begging to differ with me on the issue that here in Cuba they make us “take in China by the bucketful,” responds by pointing out that outside of Cuba there are bucketsful of “anti-China” sentiment. These attacks have missed the point in one sense or another. That doesn’t seem bad to me, opinions are important and discussion is healthy; but does my dear reader believe that, because there’s an intense campaign against China outside of Cuba, inside Cuba we have to kindly devote hours of our squalid prime-time programming to Chinese culture, the beauty of its society, and the achievements of its economy? At least the rest of the world has the option to change the channel a couple times, with many more possibilities of encountering some program that meets or comes close to meeting their expectations. That’s not the case here. In what lies, then, the discrepancy? Could it be the fact that in Cuba the national economy is being mortgaged to China and, still, nobody knows how and when the debt is going to be paid—does this, which is the source of my worry and that of many other Cubans, have a relation to those bucketsful of anti-China sentiment? I don’t think so. We should not skim past our arguments so quickly.
On the other hand, if the Dalai Lama were “bad,” it wouldn’t make the Chinese invasion of Tibet “good.” What an oversimplification! That’s something like maintaining that, since Batista was bad, Castro is good; a pseudo-argument (sophistry, rather) that is still used in Cuba by the government—although with limited success, considering that the Batista dictatorship lasted scarcely a few years and the Castro regime has thus far frozen a half-century, just to compare them in the simple, but devastating, temporal aspect of the matter.
With regards to the march of countless Chinese in Berlin that is mentioned in the commentaries, that doesn’t seem so impressive to me either: there are Chinese people, and lots of them; and—besides—there have been uncountable marches organized in support of disgraceful ideologies and regimes or causes of dubious justice (recall the lavish marches of Hitler’s SS, the marches in support of Ceaucescu in Romania, of Stalin in the USSR, of Pinochet in Chile, of Franco in Spain, of Chávez in Venezuela, the Marches of the Combatants in Cuba, and many other marches), which casts doubt on the integrity of the marchers’ motives, and even the sincerity of their commitment. Cubans living both on and off the Island know very well that marches are not a reliable indicator. For decades we have trained ourselves in marching here in Cuba to the point that later, in many cases, we end up marching right out of the country.
It’s enough to approach a debate among Cubans to realize, close-up and in stark relief, a fatal tendency towards polarization: if you don’t like the Chinese it’s because you like the Americans; if the Chinese are a terrible influence, then the Americans are too (or even worse); or, the Chinese are bad, the Americans are good…. Etc. etc., on and on until infinity. But, as it happens, I do not propose anything in particular in favor or against “Chinese things” or the Chinese people, and the same is true regarding the American people and “American things”. I only said, and maintain, that in the mass media on the Island, a strong pro-China campaign is being orchestrated and that doesn’t seem good to me, which doesn’t imply that an anti-China campaign should be organized. The historical antecedents of this type of propaganda in the last 50 years indicate to us the real possibility of certain commitments to China in the highest spheres of government, and remember, also, that historically the Cuban people end up being the eternal payer of promises, the debtor of commitments that we didn’t contract and about which we were never consulted. Russia (ex USSR) is the quintessential example that shows us to what dangerous extremes our political commitments have brought us—don’t forget the delicate missile crisis, which brought us to the brink of a nuclear war when almost nobody in Cuba knew how lethal it might turn out to combine Russian warheads in our territory with the arrogance and vanity of Castro. But then there was the commitment to Angola, with its pointless loss of more than two thousand Cubans, not counting its effect on the economy and on the psychosocial panorama of the country, and our commitments to the guerrillas in more than one country in Latin America or Africa. More recently, the commitment to Venezuela arose, leading to the immediate and massive diversion of Cuban health and education professionals (with the consequent reduction in the quality of those two important social services), with the resulting reintroduction of epidemics of dengue fever in the country, a sickness that had been eradicated from our territory long ago; a commitment, finally, that reached the point of a suggestion on the part of a senior leader of the revolution, such as Carlos Lage, that Cuba had not one, but two presidents: Fidel Castro and Hugo Chávez. And still, someone believes that we shouldn’t be worried about the buckets of China that they’re pushing on us? Of what concern to me are the Beijing Olympics, the “injustices” of the BBC, and the economic setback of the U.S. in Iraq against the risk of mortgaging my country for the remainder of this century? I’ve had almost half a century of mortgaged life, I don’t want any more.