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Underlying the idea “to change everything that has to be changed,” is a contradiction between the subject and the object of change. When Cuban communists turn this maxim into their new motto, that are thinking “everything that needs to change” in order for socialism to survive, and what they don’t realize is that for the survival of the nation what has to change is socialism.

When I say “socialism” I’m talking about the political, social and economic model with a limited dose of flexibility whose golden rule has four inviolable parts:

  1. The purpose of producing to satisfy the ever-growing needs of the population.
  2. That each contributes according to his capacity and receive according to what he contributes.
  3. That the fundamental means of production are socially owned.
  4. Implementing the dictatorship of the proletariat to eradicate the bourgeois class and to prevent new generations born under the system from resuscitating the appetite for property, the insatiable desire to prosper more than others.

To reject any one of these rules constitutes, according to Lenin, an unpardonable revisionism with disastrous consequences. What the Cuban Communists have not detailed in their Sixth Congress, and probably won’t detail in their upcoming Conference, is whether among what they propose to change is the ideological basis of Marxist-Leninism. If so, they are deciding once and for all to change the name of their organization and baptize it the Cuban Fidelist Party, or whatever occurs to them. This is where you go to find a guaranteed failure if what you are trying to change is human nature, far from the fanciful laws of history imagined in the nineteenth century.

24 April 2011

I already know that eternity has no end, or a beginning, but let’s be dialectic and apply the theory of relativity to the concept. If, from the time you begin to develop a notion that the country where you were born has a leader who remains in power until he retires and all our projects finish, then that, in terms of the finite of human life, counts as an eternity.

That’s why I felt a passing crisis of optimism when I heard Raul Castro announce that from now on, the government and party positions could only last for a maximum of ten years, which is the same as two periods of 5 years with only one reelection allowed.

All those I tried to fill with my enthusiasm stared at me with either pity or indignation. I even was upset with myself when I remembered that assembly which took place before the 4th Communist Party Congress in 1991 when they gave us permission to give our opinions on whatever we wanted, and I came up with the idea of proposing the same idea which has now been approved.  Is it possible that I was ahead of my time, as befits a great visionary?  Or perhaps it has to do with a measure which has been passed too late, for it should have done 20 years ago.

Had it happened that way, the then First Secretary would have had to start counting his term from that very moment, and in 2001 the second would have passed on to be the first, and, interestingly enough, in that same year Raul Castro would have finished his second mandate, supposing that he’d be undoubtedly been reelected in 2006.

Will we have to wait until 2021 to know the name which will be chanted and acclaimed by the delegates of the 8th Communist Party Congress, or will a hole open up in time and we will jump ahead, without any previous warnings, into another dimension?

Translated by Raul G.

20 April 2011

A few months earlier, when I was still a student in the seventh grade, I’d had my first major political debate with none other than my history teacher, a gentleman named Rodriguez, gray-haired and with an easy and passionate way with words. We debated about whether “this” was or was not communism. I remember that, in order to defend the Revolution from the teacher’s attacks, I explained that we were living a human process that proclaimed the slogan of bread and freedom.

My knowledge of geography was precarious, so I didn’t understand why my teacher asked me if I even knew what had happened, barely five years earlier, in Hungary, a place I’d never heard of, although it sounded to me as if it were some style of dancing. Repeating something I’d heard recently in a barber shop, my riposte to my opponent was that Cubans would never impose communism and that what had happened “in that Hungary” had nothing to do with us.

On the afternoon of April 16, 1961, in fired up with grief over those killed in the bombing of the previous day, and facing the imminent threat of invasion, Fidel Castro “let drop” the adjective socialist to describe “this Revolution of the humble, with the humble and for the humble.” Of course he also described it in the same sentence as a “democratic” Revolution, something that no one has ever celebrated as “the declaration of the democratic character of the process.”

At that time television was not as common in Cuban homes as it is today. I’m not sure if the event was transmitted live, much less if it was rebroadcast for the great majority who would have been at work at the time. The next day the newspapers did not announce that a new political destiny for the nation had been proclaimed, but rather that the country had been attacked.

History is rewritten with touch ups for the details that need highlighting, while the most uncomfortable are erased. The young people who will march in the Plaza of the Revolution this coming Saturday will perhaps have the idea that that memorable April 16, whose 50th anniversary they will commemorate shouting slogans and brandishing rifles, was a day people spent remarking, happily, on the declaration of the socialist character of the Revolution, but it was not. They spoke of a possible war, of survival, of death.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if the proposal to introduce a new political and economic system in the country had been made in a calm and measured way, after previous debate and allowing different opinions to be expressed, so that later, in a plebiscite, people could cast their votes. I imagine my teacher Rodriguez in this discussion, reminding everyone about what happened in Hungary, and others, ignorant like me, saying that that had nothing to do with us.

14 April 2011

"Where Past and Present Coexist"

A suspicious tourist billboard has now replaced another in a space traditionally devoted to ideological propaganda at the intersection of Carlos III and the Avenue of the Presidents. On this same site I’ve been tributes to Vilma Espin — the deceased wife of Raul Castro — protests against the imprisonment of the five Cuban Ministry of the Interior agents imprisoned in the United States, and a very historic one, where the comandante smilingly warned: So far so good!

What’s odd is that the message is very confusing. The idea that the past and present coexist in Havana could be contested by any Communist Party member, but what can’t be explained is the choice a photo of the Hotel Nacional, built in 1933, for the image of the present. Is there nothing to show from the Revolutionary present?

11 April 2011

Link to Original Blog in Spanish

Please help translate

Reinaldo Escobar (1947), an independent journalist since 1989, writes from Cuba where he was born and continues to live. He received his degree in Journalism from the University of Havana in 1971 and subsequently worked for different Cuban publications. His articles can be found in various European publications, and in the digital magazines "Cuba Encuentro" and "Contodos."

Desde Aquí/From Here is a personal undertaking born from the need to write about those topics that fill my head every day but that cannot find a space in the official Cuban media.

reinaldoescobar@desdecuba.com

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