Could the dissidence become a valid interlocutor for the Cuban regime? / Iván García
Iván García, Translator: JT
In politics, all isn't what it seems. Considering that there is no way
out, a solution always looms. Above all and more than ever, dictators
desire power. But when this isn't possible, they negotiate the future.
Not so much for love of their country or her people. Simply to preserve
their lives and their perks. Augusto Pinochet killed thousands of
dissidents in Chile, but in the end, he had to open the doors to change.
The despicable racist government of Pretoria imprisoned Nelson Mandela
in a tiny, narrow cell on Robbin Island for 27 years. But before the
clamor of the majority of the South African people, then-President
Frederik De Klerk had no option other than to negotiate a political exit
with the mythical Mandela.
Those who persist in power with a knife between their teeth know the
game they're playing. The masses are unpredictable. They are capable of
applauding a six-hour long speech under a fiery sun, or of unleashing
their ire and furiously bludgeoning the politicians whom they consider
Remember Mussolini. Or the Rumanian Ceaucescu. If the revolts in North
Africa and the Middle East leave us any clear lesson, it is that
autocrats are no longer in fashion. Farewell to Ben Ali and Mubarak,
Gaddafi and Saleh. Another tough guy, Bashar Al-Assad, has his days
numbered in Syria. While the more violently they act, the worse is the
fury of the governed.
Have no doubt, Fidel Castro has taken note. He is a student of modern
history and every now and then he likes to remind us of it in his somber
The Castro brothers know that the economic situation in Cuba is very
serious and worrying. They must have some contingency plan up their sleeve.
The system has shown itself to be lethally useless to bring food to the
table and to produce quality items. We go to work to steal. Efficiency
and production are at rock bottom, as are wages.
The future for many Cubans is to leave the country. Those without a
future have come to be unpredictable. A time bomb. The present situation
is like the sandpaper on a box of matches, at the slightest contact it
can burst into flames.
The Castro brothers are maneuvering in a difficult terrain. And if the
internal situation in Cuba squeezes them, it might be that they could
negotiate with the dissidence. Not for all, just for a part — that which
they consider convertible to their interests.
According to some veteran opposition members, it's very probable that
Cuban intelligence has designed a parallel opposition which, in some
convenient moment, will serve as a wild card and political actor in a
future without the Castros.
It might be paranoia. In totalitarian states, suspicion and the absurd
become habit. But it isn't insane to think that to give the dissidents a
space if circumstances force their hand, could become a part of the
island's mandarin's calculus.
Supposedly, they're not going to hand over anything, they will have to
continue dealing as they are accustomed to, using denunciations, street
marches, and – above all – doing a better job with the citizenry.
If the opposition dedicates itself to work in search of its community,
does proselytizing work among its neighbors, and doesn't only offer a
discourse to foreigners, it will have a part of the struggle won.
It's important to increase the denunciations of mistreatment and lack of
freedoms to the European Union, the United States, and to the
international organizations that watch over human rights. But now is the
time to write fewer documents, which almost no one in Cuba reads, owing
to the repressive character of the regime and the low access of the
populace to the internet.
It's also time to combine all the points that unite the dissidents and
to obviate the discrepancies between the different political factions.
The goal of the peaceful opposition must be dialog with its
counterparts, as has happened in the old Burma with Aung San Suu Kyi at
To push a regime that has despised and mistreated its opponents into
negotiations, there has to be a 180 degree turn away from the old
tactics and strategies.
Cuba's fate worries everyone. The destiny of our motherland will be
decided in the next ten years. Or less. For that matter, the opposition
could turn into a valid player.
If it is proposed, it will come about. The dissidence has points in its
favor. A leaky economy, an inefficient government, and the discontent of
a majority of Cubans over the state of things.
In the short term, if the chore is done well, the regime will sit down
to negotiate with the opposition. Believe me, the Castro brothers don't
have many cards to play, although they'd like to make it appear
otherwise. And dialog is the best option for them — perhaps the only one.
Photo: Taken from the blog Uncommon Sense. From left to right, the
ex-political prisoners of the Group of 75: Oscar Elías Biscet, Ángel
Moya Acosta, Guido Sigler Amaya, Héctor Maseda Gutiérrez, Diosdado
González Marrero, Eduardo Díaz Fleitas, Félix Navarro Rodríguez, Arnaldo
Ramos Lauzurique, Librado Linares García (in dark glasses), Pedro
Argelles Morán and Iván Hernández Carrillo. José Daniel Ferrer García
could not be present. The meeting was held on 4 June 2011, in the
Matanzas village of El Roque.
Translated by: JT
February 24 2012