Editor’s note: Jorge Dávila Miguel has a degree in Journalism since 1973 and has maintained a continuous career in his profession to date. He has postgraduate degrees in Social Information Sciences and Social Media, as well as post-university higher studies in International Relations, Political Economy and Latin American History. Currently, Dávila Miguel is a columnist for El Nuevo Herald, on the McClatchy network, and a political analyst and columnist for CNN en Español. The comments expressed in this column belong exclusively to the author. See more at cnne.com/opinion
(CNN Spanish) – Paula Bravo, a smart CNN Opinion editor, asks me for answers to the questions in this headline. And I get to work. Confusing, but oriented. Tired, but optimistic. Brave, but coward. Will it be possible to provide a sensible criterion with such contradictory premises? Will there be an opinion that makes this column fair?
I’m afraid not, because both in Havana and in Miami and Washington, where the Cuban reality is “decided”, they live captive of also contradictory premises and their results, very often, turn out to be unsuccessful. But let’s get started.
Fundamental fight and opponents
Washington specifies, with its policy towards Cuba, the other two cities of the conflict. Because from there the trade embargo against Cuba is exercised, which Havana hates and Miami adores. The Cuban government aspires to settle with Washington, while it despises Miami, because it prefers to speak with “the bosses” and not with “the employees.” But this analogy, although captivating, is neither exact nor good, because it was none other than Miami exiles who managed and achieved the hardening of the embargo until its current form in the first half of the 1990s. The Cuban-American National Foundation, then captained by Jorge Mas Canosa, he achieved two laws: Torricelli (1992) and Helms-Burton (1996), which are why Cuba began its protest before the United Nations 29 years ago (1992), obtaining great victories in that forum. which the United States ignores.
In 2017, it was several Cuban-American legislators, including senators and representatives, who led President Donald Trump to issue his 243 measures against Cuba. And more importantly, and it is also the Republican Cuban-American legislators, now added to the Cuban-American Democratic Senator Bob Menéndez, who managed to ensure that President Biden has followed Trump’s policy towards Cuba without saying a word, when he had promised the opposite.
In addition, the Cuban political class in the United States, many of those who are in exile, and even many of those who are literally no longer exiles, because they are used to traveling to Cuba, would be delighted with the contempt of Havana because it feeds their Cerval contempt for the Cuban “cupola of power”.
Is a new era beginning?
No. Because the political idiosyncrasy of the Cuban government, and the Cubans who support it, is radically contrary to that of the opponents and the exile, and shows exactly the same polarization and hatred as 60 years ago. Both consider themselves possessors of the absolute truth about the nature of things, among which is Cuba, and therefore they are both morally superior. And neither of them, even if they repeat it, are primarily interested in how those below see things. In light of the latest events, I do not see elements of a “new age.” Because both in Havana and Miami the extremes rule. And for both of them, nationality, being Cuban, their simple opinion, not perfect, but always timely, means absolutely nothing, if you do not agree with one of theirs. “Worms” and “clarias”, exiles and communists insult each other, without understanding that the real Cuban drama is that Tyrians and Trojans are, in essence, the same. Two extremes that meet, and that despite their distant ideologies, end up being the same.
Take, for example, “continuity”, an ideological political precept in Havana, which is an article of faith. It is not really known what it means or how far this continuity goes. Only it indicates fidelity to the past. At that time, when Fidel Castro lived and ruled, a statesman who played with the political possibilities of his time ad nauseam. First because it was a time of world social confrontation, second because it had Soviet support for its disorganized economy, and third because it was simply Fidel Castro. It existed, it was alive, it was primus inter pares, admired and despised internationally by Tyrians and Trojans. His influence and leadership widely transcended Cuban borders. Who of the well-fed government bureaucrats can be equal to Fidel Castro?
But it is that in Miami also reigns “the continuity”. Without naming it as in Cuba, but it exists. Political heir to those who left Cuba at the beginning of 1959. Almost nothing survives from subsequent exiles that identifies exiles with less authoritarian, more liberal, more enlightened, pluralistic or simply democratic currents. Nothing has changed in purpose or method. If a program by Armando Pérez Roura, the late anti-Castro radical of Miami radio, is taken today and it is put on the air 30 years later, there would be no variation in the message. Radio listeners would get excited, they would think again, like Willy Chirino, that the end of “the castros” is coming, to be disappointed once more, shortly after, as with the recent and failed November 15 in Cuba. Last apocalypse of so many predicted since they would end with Cuban communism, and that, not to vary, also failed.
And Washington, surprise, would be enthusiastic about the “continuity” of the Cuban communists and exiles, since after 60 years of embargo, what occurs to him is to innovate with more of the same. With the exception of Barack Obama, whose policy opened the doors of understanding, but the Cuban government was afraid because it thought that imperialism wanted to sneak into the kitchen. And the exile rejected it, because it was also afraid: the Cuban solution was through peace, not through a bloody defeat of the Cuban system.
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The seed of change
Every human society is constantly changing, and so is the Cuban one. Indeed, it changed with the social and economic measures promoted by Raúl Castro, insufficient, but which indicated where one could go, and this was the response of the Cuban population to them.
The fundamental problem for the proper treatment of all seeds, even in economic and social matters, is knowing how to cultivate them and the freedom to exercise this wisdom towards a profitable end: the well-being of the population. There are no roadmaps in seminal development, and it is less possible to want to reach a glorious end in which the fruit of the seeds agree with the party’s ideological political schedule. In the Cuban case, we can see that in addition to the pandemic and the US embargo, the implementation of monetary unification was not at all happy, and the update, done without the necessary rigor, after years of slow meetings and government decisions.
For all the above, the seed of economic change exists, but it is essential that gardeners know how to allow it to become fruit. And if the productive change takes place, the seeds for a socialist state of law already promised should have the same precepts of care, and freedom to achieve it. Because man does not live on good food alone. And that is the end of any government, with the people and for the people.
Will we see Cuba change?
The desire for change exists, the need also. Everyone expects it from the current situation, the difference is to what extent they want that change, depending on their political conviction.
There would be at least four fundamental paths, with a few variants each that would be lengthy to consider.
- That the Cuban Government was capable of satisfying the growing needs of the population, as the old Marxist manuals said, including legal and moral ones.
- That a dialogue of national reconstruction be achieved between the internal and external opposition forces, with ideological acceptances on both sides, since, if the exile forces wanted to participate in that process, it would naturally imply the end of the US embargo.
- That US policy itself requests Biden to review the Cuban case and that said request yield positive measures regarding Cuba’s social behavior and, above all, regarding the trade embargo.
- That the economic and political situation in Cuba worsen to the point that the United States intervenes on the island. This last option would be the most dangerous and regrettable, not only for the Cuban citizenry, but for the sovereignty and political history of Cuba, since Washington would again flagrantly intervene in it.
The latter largely depends on what happens before in two distant geopolitical theaters: Ukraine and Taiwan. As is known, Russia and China, which threaten those territories, advocate a multipolar world –– contrary to the current unipolar world where the US exercises a planetary hegemony–– each pole with its zone of influence, and determined by a power military. If the multipolar world arrives, which would diminish the planetary importance of Washington, we already know what the US zone of influence would be.
I don’t know what catalytic situation could facilitate collaboration between the Cuban government and the exile. Right now it’s like a fairy tale, but sometimes the future is hidden in the folds of reality.
And that the Cuban government evolve, be capable, not only of defining in countless meetings of the Communist Party how it wants Cuba to be in order to govern it, but also that it listens to the earth, to the reality of ordinary Cubans and is capable of doing progress to the country, despite the economic embargo. This is not an easy thing, but if we were to achieve it, even if it were just a little, we would have ceased to be, for the first time in our history, dependent on a foreign government.
Regarding an evolution of Biden’s policy towards Cuba, we must consider the bad position of the president on the national and international scene. That “Cuba is not a priority” would be a very possible answer, as well as a real one for the situation in the United States.
So, Paula, we have finished the exercise in the number of words granted. I hope they were worth it, and without a doubt, I firmly believe that we will see Cuba change, although I almost fervently hope that it is not for the worst because we know, unfortunately, that this is the path that has been most traveled.