An open letter, written by some intellectuals, artists and Cuban academics, has just surfaced at a website during the final weeks of 2009 stirring varied opinions. “Denouncement”, “turning point”, “support for the opposition”, are some of the most audacious adjectives with which the document in question has been evaluated, maybe in a somewhat hyperbolic manner, through certain means and individual opinions. And it isn’t wrong, of course, that, at last, a group of intellectuals from government sectors has understood that punches that have been dealt out might also reach them –such fortitude that is obvious from the quotation from Niemöller leading the write-up, by far the best part of the letter- but we must not overstate the fact.
Without wishing to counteract the ever-present inordinate enthusiasm, or to cancel stances that, by virtue of not being vague, at least cease to be rare in terms of totalitarianism, we must not throw ourselves into the arms of frenzy. Already, the title of the useless object is responsible for cooling off the most passionate of them: “Letter in opposition to the current obstructions and prohibitions of social and cultural initiatives” (emphasis by this blogger). That is, the obstructions and prohibitions that are “denounced” stay carefully bounded in time (only the “current ones”) and in the types of initiatives of those that are affected (only “social and cultural ones”). And this would not be completely reprehensible either if it weren’t for the enigmatic official language that was used throughout the speech, or for having displayed such childish naiveté that it might have inspired either a spanking or an applause for its authors and signers. I will summarize some of the elements that, in my personal opinion, obscure the good intentions that -however- I would like to grant this document:
– It fails to assign responsibility to people and institutions in the events listed. Since these are such events that, in some cases, have even been presented in the official media, it is incredible that the authors intend to ignore who their “universal” leaders are.
– It suggests the legitimization of social and personal initiatives only from socialist positions, i.e., ideologically “correct”, negating the supposed inclusiveness and “anti-hegemonic” character of their leaders.
– It defines as a “possibility” that facts, delicately denominated by them as “silent repression”, “develop into mainstream” in our society. But repression is not just a trend, it is a fact has dominated all aspects of life in Cuba for decades; not by chance did the General himself call on the people to “speak without fear” in the so-called “popular session” that has not been published in the media so far, devoid of any sincerity, arising from a chronic cynicism that publicly assumes the existence of social fear, the result of the systematic repression against dissidents or the restless.
– It contributes to the demonization of the word “dissident” and, at the same time, regrets that “the deserved respect for diversity” is not practiced which, according to what they say, cracks “the unity of the revolutionary process”. Such an attitude is markedly hypocritical.
– It calls for a “cultural dialogue”, avoiding, through bias, the political nature underlying all social conflicts inside Cuba. On the other hand, it ignores politics (and by extension, the political dialogue) as a fundamental component of culture.
– It suffers from general ambiguity, by omitting the definition of concepts mentioned in the text, e.g. “real counterrevolution”, “supportive autonomy”, “silent repression” and the like. It also should have established who are considered ” Cuban cultural-political actors” who should act against “the irreversible emergence of new social facts, such as digital technologies”.
It is just at this point that my doubts reach their summit, because such an “irreversible emergence” (and it truly is) seems to allude tangentially and euphemistically to the blogger phenomenon, the one that -using digital technology- has been persistently breaking the isolation that protected the idyllic and virginal image of Cuban totalitarian socialism, the isolation that was set up with treacherous intention by the same revolution that the signers of the letter of yore intend to safeguard. It leaves me breathless to see that the most advanced of “revolutionary” thought, always surprisingly ready to give birth to a new theory from air, might consider the use of the internet not as a sign of freedom and progress or as a means to link and disseminate culture, among other advantages, but as a necessary and unavoidable evil, a sort of disease with which it will have to deal, since we bloggers have made it impossible to keep the country under the protective “glass urn” of not having computer communication.
Ah, our naive official intellectuals, with their warm government positions and their eternal dedication to climb the ladder! So many efforts and toil, just to evade the root of all evils! Determined and busy fishing in muddy waters without actually getting their behinds wet, they find themselves once again halfway between submission and freedom: just in the undefined line of the timid. I can almost understand what little or no respect at all they arouse in the regime.
Illustration: March against violence carried out on November 6th, 2009 on Avenida 23. (Photo by Eugenio Leal)