Exclusion, the Real Counterrevolution

The term “revolutionary” has a different meaning in the Cuba of today than we would find in any Spanish language dictionary. To deserve such an epithet it is enough to exhibit more conformity than criticism, to choose obedience over rebellion, to support the old before the new. To be considered a man of the cause, requires one to manage a convenient silence and to watch arbitrariness and excesses March by without pointing them out to the highest levels of responsibility. A word that once gave rise to thoughts of ruptures and transformations, has evolved into a mere synonym for “reactionary.” Paradoxically, those who believe in safeguarding the essence of the “revolution” are precisely those who show a greater political immobility and who promote — with more animosity — the punishment of the reformers.

Esteban Morales, who until recently enjoyed the privilege of appearing live in front of the TV microphones, learned of such semantic mutations by dint of suffering them. A Communist Party member, academic, and specialist on issues relating to the United States, he had the dangerous idea of writing an article against corruption. His questions dealt primarily not with the daily diversion of resources — as we call stealing from the State — which is how many Cuban families manage to make it to the end of the month, but rather the ethical decay that has established itself higher up, in the estates of power, where embezzlement and misappropriation reach lavish levels. He had the unfortunate experience of putting into writing that, “there are people in government and state jobs who are positioning themselves financially for when the Revolution falls.” It is a conclusion anyone can draw just by looking at the fat necks of the managers, the shiny Geely cars belonging to the officers of CIMEX corporation, or the high railings surrounding the houses of the commercial hierarchy, but Morales committed the audacity of pointing it out from within the system itself.

Imbued with the calls for constructive criticism, calling things by their name, speaking openly, Esteban Morales thought his article would be read as the healthy concern of one who wants to save the process. He forgot that others with similar intentions had already been labeled as divisive, manipulated from the outside, addicted to the honey of power, and ideologically deviant. For less than this, journalists had lost their jobs, students their places at the university, and economists, lawyers and even agronomists had been stigmatized. Once punished with an indefinite suspension from the core of the PCC, the previously trusted professor has started down a road that we know well where it starts, but not where it ends. Experience says that the route of sanctions is never traversed in the reverse direction. Those ousted eventually realize that those they used to consider the “enemy,” could at some point prove to be people imbued with the original meaning of the word “revolution.”

54 thoughts on “Exclusion, the Real Counterrevolution

  1. I think Morales got into trouble mostly not for pointing out corruption in high places — this is a recurring theme of the Castro’s but for daring to speculate that the nomenklatura is preparing to loot the economy once socialism is over. This is the fear — why the regime got everyone to sign the book that socialism is irreversible. There are no more successful models, unless you count China, which is definitely sui generis communism. Cuba is isolated, and can only keep on its present path by fear and intimidation.

  2. Cuba continues to oppress and jail people who speak up. The tactics of freeing some political prisoners recently is a ploy to relieve the power internal oposition has gained within the island. The Regime hopes that Las Damas de Blanco just disapear. The people of Cuba need to continue expressing themselves and standing up for their rights. We all need to continue to draw attention to the truth to what andd why things happens in Cuba. The Revolution has failed the Cubans and time to rally around a better cause. Orlanda Zapata will be included in Cubas written history as well as the slogan ZAPATA VIVE. I see a better future for the Cuban people thanks to blogs like this. YOANI ,you also will be included in Cubas writen history.


    ASSOCIATED PRESS: Cuba orders Chilean to appear in corruption probe-

    HAVANA — Cuba has ordered a colorful Chilean businessman with deep personal ties to Fidel Castro to appear in a corruption probe or face a possible arrest warrant.

    The decree gives Max Marambio until July 29 to appear before investigators looking into possible bribery, embezzlement, falsifying documents, fraud and other charges “in which the Chilean citizen stands accused.”

    It warns that an arrest warrant will be issued if Marambio fails to show up, a move that can also lead to the forfeiture of Marambio’s significant holdings in the country.

    The summons is the first apparent movement in the case since April, when a top Chilean executive who worked for Marambio was found dead in his Havana apartment after being questioned in the investigation. The cause of his death has not been revealed.

    Marambio’s office in the Chilean capital of Santiago told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the businessman was out of the country and would return in 15 days. It refused to say where he was, or whether he had traveled to Cuba.

    Chilean media reported several weeks ago that two lawyers for Marambio were being sent to Havana to represent him in the case.

    The summons naming Marambio appeared Tuesday in the Official Gazette, the weighty tome where the Cuban government publishes official decrees and laws.

    Marambio met Castro in 1966 while accompanying his father on a trip to Cuba as part of a delegation of sympathetic political leaders. He later became the chief bodyguard of Chilean socialist President Salvador Allende.

    After Allende was toppled in a 1973 military coup, Marambio sought refuge in Cuba, maintaining close ties to Castro and developing wide-ranging business interests. Rio Zaza, the company he part-owned together with the Cuban government, made “Tropical Island” brand juices and other products that were ubiquitous in hard-currency stores catering to foreigners and tourists. The brand has completely disappeared since the probe was launched earlier this year.

    The probe of Rio Zaza is one of several moves against high-level corruption. In March, Cuba removed veteran revolutionary Rogelio Acevedo, who had overseen the country’s airlines and airports, amid speculation that he had been caught up in a corruption probe.

    Esteban Morales, a senior pro-government intellectual, published a stinging essay earlier this year that called corruption a greater threat to Cuba’s communist system than the island’s small and fractured opposition.

    He warned that senior officials were waiting like vultures to snap up the country’s resources, much like the oligarchs who grabbed control of business in the Soviet Union following its collapse.



    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS: Cuba dissidents told Spain exile muddles US asylum-By PAUL HAVEN

    HAVANA — The United States appears to have modified a pledge to take in freed Cuban political prisoners, telling their relatives that it will be more difficult for them to apply for asylum if they first accept a Church-brokered deal to trade jail for exile in Spain.
    The warnings, confirmed by the family members of six imprisoned dissidents, come at a delicate time and could complicate the releases of 52 activists, journalists and opposition leaders arrested in a 2003 crackdown.

    Under a deal brokered by Cuban Roman Catholic Cardinal Jaime Ortega earlier this month, the communist government has already freed 11 political prisoners and flown them to Madrid. Nine others have accepted the offer and are expected to arrive in coming days.

    The rest of the jailed dissidents have either refused to go, or have not yet been contacted by Church officials. The Church has referred to exile in Spain as an “option,” but has not specified what will happen to those who refuse to leave the country.

    The family members of several dissidents who have not yet accepted Spanish asylum met Tuesday with officials at the U.S. Interests Section, which Washington maintains in Havana instead of an embassy. Other family members are expected to visit the Interests Section in coming days.

    After the meetings, the relatives told The Associated Press they were informed they would not be allowed to apply for asylum in the United States from Spain, but could petition for residence like any other would-be immigrant.

    “We came here thinking they would give us some option (of applying for asylum from Spain), but they won’t,” said Sofia Garcia, whose husband, Jose Miguel Martinez, has been serving a 13-year sentence for treason.

    She said she was told that if the family goes to Spain they would have to apply for residence in the United States through regular channels, a process that can take years and usually requires a sponsor.

    Teresita Galvan, whose brother Miguel Galvan is serving a 26-year term, said she left the meeting under the impression that by accepting the deal to go to Spain, her family would give up its right to later claim asylum in the United States.

    It means a stark choice for some of the dissidents, many of whom have family in the United States: Stay in Cuba and try to win U.S. asylum, or leave immediately for Spain and take themselves out of consideration.

    Gloria Berbena, a spokeswoman at the Interests Section, confirmed that individual meetings were taking place to answer questions the family members might have about seeking asylum.

    Berbena said the Cubans were being informed that any asylum applications from Spain would be handled differently from those made inside Cuba.

    “The process is different depending on where you apply from,” she said.

    Cubans applying for asylum in the United States can claim that they face persecution or danger if they remain in the country, something that would be harder to do if they have already fled to a friendly country.

    When asked if American diplomats were advising the prisoners not to accept Spanish asylum, Berbena said only: “We believe that Cubans should be free to make their own decisions.”

    The U.S. position on asylum outlined for dissident family members in Havana on Tuesday appeared to differ from what American officials have said previously.

    When asked at a July 8 news conference in Washington whether the released Cuban prisoners “would be welcome in the U.S.,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner responded: “Absolutely.”

    Asked whether America had added caveats to that offer in the meetings with dissidents, Berbena said the U.S. position had not changed.

    “Political prisoners and their family members in Cuba are eligible to apply for refugee status or humanitarian parole through the U.S. Interests Section,” she said.

    News of the meetings came as the Spanish Foreign Ministry announced that the arrival in Madrid of another group of Cuban political prisoners has been delayed. A ministry spokesman said eight prisoners and their families had been scheduled to arrive Tuesday but would now be coming in the next few days.

    The official spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with ministry regulations.

    Spain has told the former prisoners they will be given work and residency permits within three to four months. It has advised them not to seek the official status of “asylum,” because such a designation would bar them from making political statements and would make it impossible to return to Cuba for visits.

    One of the freed prisoners in Madrid, Omar Ruiz, told AP on Tuesday that he had not been in contact with U.S. officials but wanted to eventually resettle in Miami, where his wife’s family lives.

    Ruiz, who was serving an 18-year jail term for treason before his release, said he hoped his decision to go to Spain had not hurt his chances.

    “My idea continues to be to go there,” said Ruiz. “We will go as soon as possible.”

    Associated Press Writers Andrea Rodriguez in Havana and Jorge Sainz in Madrid contributed to this report.


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