Cuba: The End of the Social Spell of the “Revolution”
The following text was published by the Alfredo López Libertarian Workshop.
The repressive social spell that kept a large portion of the dinosaurs of the international left pacified has vanished. Underneath the “Cuban Revolution,” and counter to its benign image, the “Cuban state” has emerged publicly, in all its repressive rawness and grandiloquence. The same Cuban state that, to confront Yankee imperialism, created an omnipresent political police force to combat the society under its control. The same Cuban state that, in the name of socialism, destroyed all the working-class organizations that, with their histories of struggle, would have made socialism’s declared victories into an everyday reality. That same Cuban state that has turned solidarity into an international brand identity while keeping us submerged in distrust and fear between neighbors. The same Cuban state that—in the middle of the intensified Yankee embargo—builds more hotels for foreign tourists than infrastructure to produce food, fruit, and milk. The same Cuban state that has produced the only vaccines against COVID-19 in Latin America, but makes its health personnel function essentially as unpaid members of the political police.
In the recent days of July 2021, that Cuban state has shown what it really is: an oligarchy like any other, zealously maintaining its absolute power at any cost; a vulgar kleptocracy putting on enlightened, humanist airs; a pyramid of power as solid and out of proportion as the pyramids of the Egyptian theocracies, but surrounded by paradisaical beaches.
To make geopolitical arguments right now about the place of Cuba in imperial global strategy, to argue that the anti-government protests in Cuba are inevitably paid for by the Cuban right wing in Miami, that the protesters are simple criminals looking to loot, that the true revolutionaries are with the government—these are all arguments that describe a significant part of reality, but they miss it on one point. The people of Cuba have just as much right to protest as those of Colombia and Chile. What’s the difference? That they are oligarchies with different origins? With more or less brutal practices? More or less distinguishable camouflage? More or less servile postures towards the US government? More or less sublime ideas to their privileges? All of these immense differences among the Colombian, Chilean, and Cuban oligarchies are reduced to zero when on a beautiful Sunday morning you discover that, in addition to the mafioso oligarchies in Colombia and Chile, the Cuban oligarchy is also—before an unarmed populace—armed to the teeth. A little more or a little less, to crush you and your brothers, your body and your mind, if it merely occurs to you to question the normality that they manage.
Everything the Cuban state has done to produce domestic vaccines against COVID-19, all the labor subsidies, all the wage increases it offered to many sectors in the middle of the pandemic—all of a sudden, these all evaporate, not just because of the inflationary spiral and endemic food shortage in Cuba, but also because it’s been made clear that it all formed part of the macabre framework of “repressive tolerance.” This is something that any decent person in Cuba can now discover, without needing to read any brilliant books on counterculture. We can serenely define those who would come now to sweeten that repressive tolerance in this country, and to raise the mirage of militarized harmony over it, as the new face of that which has no place in our future. Those who, in the name of a future democracy or the smooth functioning of the economy, come to discredit the affinities, fellowship, and energy that blossomed in the protests, or to reduce what happened on those days to “simple vandalism by social degenerates,” speak in the name and language of the decrepit oligarchies that once again shamelessly raise their voices in this country.
The “masses” have once again become the “people,” with all of their light and shadows, by refusing to obey the heavy chains of control and instead trusting in affection, affinity, and the minimum capacities to think and act together that have reemerged in acts of disobedience and solidarity among equals, in the middle of the spiral of violence, the pandemic, and the supply shortage. This is the new reality that was born in Cuba during these days of July 2021, and it is this new reality, as anarchists in Cuba, of which we want to be a part.