Eliezer Avila Commits to a Green Party
Eliezer Avila Commits to a Green Party / Lilianne Ruiz
Posted on October 8, 2013
Cubanet interviewed Eliezer Avila, the computer scientist who once faced
Ricardo Alarcon, former president of the National Assembly. He moved to
the capital in order to participate more directly in the changes in
What have you been doing in your public life lately?
Since I arrived in Europe I have focused on my personal life. One of my
biggest frustrations was that I’ve always lived nearly 500 miles from
the capital (in Puerto Padre, Las Tunas). I had to take a bus or a train
and travel sometimes for days in order to participate in public life,
which is not only all that is written which overseas readers may read,
but what happens in debates within of Cuba, within the intelligentsia
who, with or without criticism, is what touches us.
We must mention the debates of the journals Temas [Themes], Espacio
Laical [Lay Space], a series of good debates, in which I want to
participate. Then, making an effort to be able to insert myself in a
more coherent and consistent way in public life, I have had to spend the
last two months to stabilize my life in the city of Havana.
From your previous social work we perceived you as a human rights
activist and then a freelance journalist. But you have defined yourself
as a politician. So: What political leaning do you identify with?
Socialism, Social Democracy, Liberalism?
I said in an interview with Bayly (in Miami) recently, that I define
myself as a rational politician, perhaps a mix of “liberal center.” The
truth is that I have infinite belief in individual freedom as the sole
driving force of initiative, progress, the maximum effort to get ahead,
and freedom. Now, I also believe in social responsibility, and I believe
in a government that offers opportunities.
In European politics, as far as I could see, especially in the Nordic
countries, there is a strong tendency for political rationality. That
is, the issue we are talking about is the specific issue of what we
should do. We don’t have to look through black or white glasses. We are
going to study the issue in its totality and make a decision that at
times could be a little to the left and at times a little to the right.
The truth is it’s looking for the better good. I lean that way.
There are a ton of projects there that don’t consider economics, but the
tendency of the left says that we have to do them because they sustain a
group of services, of subsidies, because this is a social policy of
interest to the left. But, well, it’s an economic disaster, that ends up
undoing the policy itself because of the lack of resources to sustain
what remains on the large screening, that can’t even sustain itself, and
then, which way do I lean? For a balance between what is efficient and
what is necessary.
Although you have defined yourself as a politician, Somos + [We Are
More] is not a party but a movement. Has it been founded yet?
We are at the stage of conceptualization. I’m trying to gather a nucleus
of people, especially young people; university students, workers. I’m
looking for young people who aspire to have a future in Cuba. We can
design a proposal addressing different subjects, in accordance with our
dreams for a future for everyone in the country, including those who
today make up a part of any political tendency.
The new acquisition of Somos + is a specialist in biology, who is
designing the policy proposals in the environmental field, which in
Cuban is disarmed. We want to have economists, sociologists, workers.
That is, we want to have a directing nucleus of the Movement as diverse
and comprehensive as possible. And we are engaged in this effort. We
have not yet officially launched the Movement.
You also said that the Movement could accept some communists as members.
What, then, is is precisely the purpose of Somos +?
The point of departure of our Movement should be, above all, the most
common demands of the largest possible number of Cubans. I know
Communists who are Democrats. So, we are associating with tendency to
the left, a hegemonic opinion, dictatorial, that doesn’t have to be that
way. In Spain there are communists, in France, in Canada, the United
States is full of communists who are democrats. Because they respects
the rights of everyone else who are not communists to compete
politically, fair and square, and to create a social balance, based on
what we all think. Then, you can have whatever political position you
have and at the same time be a democrat. What I will always defend is
that our Movement is democracy. There’s no room for doubt about that. We
will not accept people who are not democrats, that’s it. But for me, I
don’t think it’s necessary to label people and ask them what color they
are for them to be, in one way or another, a part of the Movement…
Have you been inspired by any movement within or outside Cuba to
conceive the idea of the Somos+ Movement?
I would say I’ve had very broad influences. I have had excellent
conversations with leaders of movements in Cuba. For example, José
Daniel Ferrer, a person I admire and respect very much. Other people who
are not actually a political movement, but they do have some very
interesting ideas for the future of Cuba , such as Antonio Rodiles,
Yoani Sanchez, Dagoberto Valdés and well, a long list… They have
nurtured me in all this, but also the trip to Europe, especially to
northern Europe, where I think they are the most balanced politics in
the world… The German Green Party really left me very inspired… I like
doing politics that way. A relaxed politics, no angry grand passions
that try to move the world, a conversational politics. I saw in the
German Parliament the most heated political discussions, and then
everyone has a glass of wine, hugs each other, shakes hands.
This to me seems to be the best example I’ve seen of what we have on a
small island. We don’t have to have these great conflicts that some
people want to encourage until they’re unsalvageable. We have the same
language, the same idiosyncrasies, we have the same aspirations. What do
we want? A state of decent comfort, of dignity, a freedom of information
that allows us to be believe we have entered the world, and we are not
in a small cave in the Caribbean and that we are not part of the
We want to be respected for our work, we want to be paid, and according
to this we can have the life we deserve.
Why are you leading Somos + instead of joining one of the already
established movements within the opposition?
It has always seemed necessary to me for a new seed to be born, a new
flower, that is not conditioned, permeated by a group of things that can
be positive or negative but that have been longstanding.
It is good to assume responsibility for success if we achieve it, but
also bear the weight of failure if it comes to that. It is very
interesting to travel this whole road, we have the right, as a new
generation, to make mistakes, to forge our way, to be neither better nor
worse than those who started earlier and whose work I respect.
Now I want to ask questions to get an idea of your profile: What books
do you read, what music do you like, what movies do you remember?
I like old music, from the ‘70s and ‘80s, in English and in Spanish. As
I am a computer scientist I’m passionate about programming sometimes
whole nights, whole weeks, without going to bed, listening to a lot of
hard rock, “System of a Down,” “Nightwish.” Movies: I very much like
historic films, and adventures. I like all the movies about World War
II, including the reflections of those who make you questions yourself,
to think about the essence of humanity itself, above all, this capacity
to create hatred. I really like “Life is Beautiful.” At the same time I
very much like movies that exalt human valor. In books, as in movies,
and in music, I like true stories. I was reading “The Rage and the
Pride” by Oriana Fallaci. I finished reading the novels of Padura. I
like Cuban writers who defined an era, with a writing that was very
brave for its time, because it was ahead of many things that happened then.
How do you intend to add more people to Somos +, taking into account the
fear that people have of reprisals from the government with its
First, I don’t think I should feel badly that no one has beaten me, I
haven’t been in jail. Then, I think it is normal that it happens, that
many people tell me, “I don’t want to sign up, I don’t want anything to
happen to me.” You have to show these people that they are standing on
safe ground. A ground in which I have confidence and which anyone can
also rely on because there is nothing hidden. Political transparency
can, in every sense, be a weapon that will help us to add many people.
The underground Cuban opposition has its advantages and disadvantages.
One of the greatest fears that I have is that once we engage in politics
in a democracy, too many people were accustomed to hiding.
This recent event with the musician Roberto Carcasses asking for changes
at the concert of September 12, do you think it’s a sign of new times ?
I think so, recently I was talking to my wife. There are many people who
are willing to assume some measure of responsibility for what touches
them, according to their place in society, and I mean artists,
intellectuals, many people who have responsibilities within the media …
People who travel, and Robertico Carcassés is one of them, they realize
that in the whole world today a new wave is happening, they sometimes
say, “Well good, the Arab countries are being shaken up.” I think the
whole world is being shaken up…. These people who travel, who leave,
they are seeing everything that is happening, when they get to Cuba it’s
like traveling back in time 54 years… Sometimes there are situations
like that of Robertico Carcasses, which I think it was mostly an
awakening of consciousness that marks a before and after. It marks a
precedent, as did what happened at the University of Information
Sciences (UCI) as well.
With that speech I had the opportunity to make … It raised the bar a
little of what would be done and what could be criticized, and after
there was a trend in the newspaper Granma, in the News, of creating
spaces where people began to discuss a set of issues . Well, I think it
is very healthy and very necessary for a country to have things happen
like with Robertico Carcassés … Far from being the exception, it should
be the rule.
It’s said that the reforms within Raul Castro’s government are a
fraudulent change, and that one of their tactics is the replace the real
opposition, organic within the society, with what the spokespeople
themselves have called a “loyal opposition.” If you agree with this
opinion, what do you think of this phenomenon?
Today what we have in this second stage, to give it a name, in the
government of Raul Castro, is a setback, including a discourse that
already seems to come from the past. We have seen once again the
pioneers reciting with their neck veins bulging, almost in the style of
the “open platform.” We have reading in the newspaper again these
discourses that label things “Revolutionary” and “truly
Revolutionary,”or that abuse the word Revolutionary.
Yes, but when I gave the example of what they call loyal opposition, I
was thinking of places like the official blogosphere, where there is a
certain amount of criticism, but it is fabricated by the government to
create an impression of openness…
I also include that in what I was saying. In any of those spaces even La
Joven Cuba could enter, but the result is that you can fool some of the
people some of the time, but you can not fool All of the people forever.
These spaces were opened and people began to feel a catharsis there. It
turns out that criticism is only the first link in a chain of a process
that should end with political decisions. Then, something very
interesting has happened in Cuba, it is that we have already talked too
much. We bring too many years of criticizing.
Lilianne Ruiz, From Cubanet
4 October 2013
Source: “Eliezer Avila Commits to a Green Party / Lilianne Ruiz |
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