57 Years Later – Towards a New Contract for Cuba (Pt. 2)
57 Years Later: Towards a New Contract for Cuba (Pt. 2) / 14ymedio,
Manuel Cuesta Morua
14ymedio, Manuel Cuesta Morua, Havana, 8 May 2016 — The only certainty
in Cuba in political terms is that the government accumulates a lot of
power but lacks leadership. The kind of leadership required when a
country faces an economic challenge, or a cultural, sociological,
information, knowledge and generational one, plus the obvious dangers of
any new era. They could all be summarized, therefore, by the following:
how to manage the Government to maintain a political model that is
beneath the basic intelligence, the accumulated experience of Cuban
society and cultural pluralism?
Faced with this dilemma, the government has sacrificed the possible
options for a new leadership before the metaphysics of the Revolution.
But, 57 years later, can we speak, beyond a memory and a name, of the
Cuban Revolution? From the point of view of conviction—a psychological
support—there is no doubt it exists. It is this kind of conviction that
founds religions and that can only be respected in its specific
dimensions. But from the point of view of its initial proposals, the
Cuban Revolution has long since dissolved its only assumable scope: the
external independence and sovereignty of Cuba.
Those who defend the Cuban government using the record of the
Revolution, never satisfactorily answer these two questions: Is Cuba the
only country where healthcare and education are free? Is it legitimate
for current generations to express the need for another revolution? A
revolution that blocks the possibilities of other futures is not a
revolution made by revolutionaries.
But the revolutionaries do not surrender, not even in the face of clear
evidence that the Cuban Revolution no longer exists because, beyond its
convictions and proposals, it was, by nature, conservative. I offer the
example par excellence for the followers of cultural studies and their
relationship to political models: faced with three subjects that, by
their anthropological condition gave substance to every emancipatory
revolution of the 20th century, and within diverse societies, the Cuban
government launched an active defense that closed the possibilities for
a coherent social, political and cultural modernization, in line with
global dynamics: the movements of feminists, blacks and the homosexuals.
This was an early sign of the conservative nature of the 1959 project.
Moreover, the closing of Cuba with respect to the initial freedom that
in the ‘60s of the 20th century citizens around the world began to
respond to, the freedom of movement, was the hallmark of this
conservatism that disconnected Cubans from their foundational dynamic as
a country. And the Revolution’s reaction in the face of the impact of
technology was and is antediluvian: witness the political impact on the
regime of technological processes that are democratizers in their own
right. Nor today, in Cuba, are these matters are discussed—present here
despite and against the policies of the state—but they have been
incorporated for a long time into the reality of most nations, from
Haiti to Sweden.
By its nature, the Cuban Revolution is the last expression, in the 20th
century and so far in the 21st, of the criollo modernization project,
with its two clearest models: the expanded model of the
plantation-economy export-power, and the restricted model of
farm-bodega-control, more anchored in the structure of the Spanish
conquest of the Americas.
This project of modernization began its long march with the hegemonic
invention of Cuban in the 19th century. And this criollo conservatism
was updated through a dictatorship of social benefit that created, with
the Cuban Revolution, the second Jesuit state of the Western Hemisphere,
after the state of the same kind founded by Dr. José Gaspar Rodríguez de
Francia in Paraguay in the 19th century.
Now, facing a crisis, it has no more economic imagination than that of
the restoration of old models: the development of tourism, that was
Fulgencio Batista’s celebrated project cut short, and the development of
a port, this one in Mariel, which was the most “modernized” project
possible for the Spanish metropolis.
The most important achievements of this Revolution, then, have to do
with its ability—taking as a starting point its own definition of
itself—to arrest poverty at the limits of misery exhibited by many Third
World countries, and with its confrontational visibility with the first
power in the world: the United States. This was a never a project for
These success of image and minimal cohesion fed a certain romanticism on
both the left and the right, often at the edge of political obscenity,
of the darkness of history before 1959, of cultural racism, and of a
vision of post-imperialist borders for its constant opposition to the
policies of the United States. They masked the conservative structure of
the society encouraged by the Revolution, and the revolutionary
imperialism toward the Third World: in the form of ‘missions’–military,
medical and educational.
The conservative revolution, for 57 years, has triumphed. This allows us
to understand how it became a movement of diminishing expectations, how
it made the ration book a virtue, how it made a desire for modernization
counterrevolutionary and exchange with the United States a problem of
national security. This latter, taken to the limit, has meant a cultural
weakening of the country in the face of the challenge represented by the
United States in terms of the cultural continuity of Cuban society—we
could speak of the cultural ripe fruit—and an exhaustion of the Cuban
project in its inability to project and continue its policies in an era
of full globalization. To the extent that this criollo project has tried
to identify itself with the fundamentals of Cuba, it also endangers the
viability of the nation.
As a criollo project, with one foot in the structure of colonial Spain,
the Cuban Revolution is a project of hegemony and domination that has
legitimized the “counterrevolution,” only the one made by the
revolutionaries in power.
The original 1959 contract updated itself in 1961 styling itself as
socialist; and updated itself again in 1976 with a Constitution that
established the hegemony and superiority of the communists; it broke in
1980 with the events at the Peruvian embassy and the resulting Mariel
Boatlift; it updated itself again in 1992, with the admission of another
moral universe within the Communist Party with the laicization of the
state; and it broke again in 1994 with the Malecon Uprising in Havana;
and it is trying to re-update itself with the liberalization of the
markets in food and other areas, which subsequently are distorted.
Throughout all this time, the government has done one thing and then the
opposite to remain in power, regardless of economic, social or political
practices that have been in absolute contradiction with earlier or later
ones. All in the name of the Cuban Revolution. Every one of these
“revolutions” and “counterrevolutions” carried out by a power ever more
divorced from society and that allowed them, finally, in 2002, to
rethink their organic relation with citizens.
Yes, “Within the Revolution, everything,” but “within the
counterrevolution, also,” is the epilogue of the political process
launched in 1959.
Incapable of criticizing its fundamentals—unlike representative
democracies, the Cuban Revolution does not permit a discussion based on
its pillars, which explains its lack of democracy—the government
undertook a constitutional reform in 2002, an authentic political
counter-reform, which was the ultimate and definitive rupture between
the criollo project and Cuban citizens.
On constitutionally declaring the “irreversibility of socialism,” the
government pulverized the constitutional precedents of the founding of
Cuba. From our origins as a national project, these assimilated, without
contradictions, the unity of subject and sovereign that is the base of
the modern citizen. Subject to the law, sovereign to shape it, we Cubans
lost with this counter-reform the condition of citizens and the organic
relationship with a state that only knows and cares how to justify itself.
Starting from here it became clear that for the state we Cubans are only
a source of duties, not of sovereignty. Thus, the republican nature of
Cuba is dissolved, establishing a political “contract” to block any
future contract. An aberration that must have few precedents in the
constitutional history of the world.
If we want to understand, then, why the relationship of Cubans with
their state is fundamentally cynical, when it should be an ethical
relationship, the reason can be found in this static fluidity that the
Cuban Revolution has established with society, based on the assumption
that what is, is not, but should continue to remain as if it were, to
achieve mutual survival amid the blackout of our future and the
suspension of all strategic perspective.
The complicity and mutual deception that the society-state comes to
forge, over the span of 57 years, that modus vivendi has dissolved more
than one hope and has placed the country at a dead end. Corruption as
a zone of shared tolerance both by power and by citizens, in the midst
of a vital tension, is a clear example of the progressive national
collapse and crashing demoralization of the decent foundations of
The last definition of the Cuban Revolution, offered by Fidel Castro on
May Day of 2000, is reducible to the phrase, “change everything that
should be changed,” when a revolution is defined by changing everything,
only confirms the diagnosis: for 50 years the Revolution has made a
costly transition from justification based on its essences to
justification based on its circumstances. In this sense,
“counterrevolution” and “revolution” are vacant words fixed in the
general vocabulary of society for the purpose of psychological control.
Outside of this—and only for a tiny minority of honest men and women who
have a sense of communion in the work and defense of a past that doesn’t
contradict the answer to this question: What, ultimately, is the Cuban
It is this: Power and its circumstances defined both by a rogue state,
which was updated, at the recently concluded 7th Congress of the Cuban
Communist Party, with a bad monarchic joke: Our bipartisanship will
bring together the same surnames, Castro Ruz.
From this irresponsible rogue state we must move to the responsible
reconstruction of a national project that is anchored in something less
metaphysical and more promising: a democratic state governed by the rule
Part 1 of this article is here.
Source: 57 Years Later: Towards a New Contract for Cuba (Pt. 2) /
14ymedio, Manuel Cuesta Morua – Translating Cuba –