The old Cuban government – the oldest in the world today – is beginning to show the ailments of its old age. It has become so stagnant that it is no longer able to devise creative responses to the emergence of a new generation that is not interested in a spent speech, much less in empty promises, neither are they intend to accommodate themselves to the old, unfair status quo.
With a big stick and the policy of tentetieso (don’t dare to move) fiddle smear campaigns that no one believes; and dropping a few crumbs from their feast, this wealthy military caste that represents no more than 0.01 percent of the Cuban population think that they can dissipate a nationwide mood of rebellion that reached a critical mass on July 11 (11-J), due to a 63-year-old accumulation of hardships and abuses while they, the power elite, continued to live at ease.
In recently concluded October, as the monthly report released on Monday by the Cuban Conflict Observatory (OCC) points out, they continued to strain all their forces in “the most brutal wave of terror unleashed by the State since the 1960s’ civil war.” This included raids, “exemplary” beatings, house retentions, acts of repudiation, workplace dismissals for expressing criticism on social media, and ten-year-plus prison sentences for chanting anti-government slogans in public.
However, the report indicates, these are not signs of strength, but rather fear of incoming protests, given the sick mood of the population. They know that 11-J was a watershed, that that day, as in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the impossible ─what they believed they had tied and well tied─ came true: a forest began marching towards the Palace of the Revolution.
They too keep track of public protests in Cuba, so they know that, despite their terror campaign, such demonstrations continued to grow. Besides, they are puzzled by this new enemy that dares to confront them, “a post-revolutionary generation naturally skilled on modern digital technologies, which contributes on social media new perceptions and meanings to the social imaginary. A creative amalgam of lawyers, religious ministers and laymen, economists, computer scientists, filmmakers, playwrights, writers, and artists. A cultural vanguard that gives voice to and encourages the hopes of a growing mass of impoverished and dissatisfied citizens.”
Cuba’s power elite has always feared being ridiculed. Yet when they brazenly spread on cyberspace shameful images of paramilitary groups armed with sticks and ready to repress those who dare participate in a march for change called for November 15, a downpour of mockery soaked them to the bones, in the form of posters, memes and videos posted on social media.
Last-minute populist measures taken by the government to create the expectation that things are about to get better, served these maverick young people to show that none of these concessions would have been possible without the 11-J, that the only thing that works vis-à-vis their negligence is to persevere with the protests.
As the October monthly report of the Cuban Conflict Observatory ends saying, “this mafia elite exercises more and more violent repression, while they less and less control the evolution of events.It would be most beneficial for the entire Cuban society”─the report adds─ “for this oppressive caste to understand that they must not kill all chances for nonviolent change”.
An independent journalist from this rebel generation, Iván García Quintero, recalls in his blog “Desde La Habana” the alternatives considered by two communist dictators from Eastern Europe when popular discontent reached the point of no return in their countries.
In Poland, General Wojciech Jaruzelski accepted to sit down and negotiate with the opposition led by Solidarity and Lech Walesa. It ended in a peaceful transition to democracy.
In Romania, Nicolae Ceaucescu ordered the Army and State Security to open fire at civilians demonstrating in the town of Timișoara. A week later Ceausescu had lost power and was shot by a firing squad along with his wife Elena.
By Rolando Cartaya