The Catechism According to Mujica

Socialism or Death

Socialism or Death

The language of diplomacy, although distant and calculated, gives us a glimpse of changing times. I remember that for years I could predict every word foreign presidents would utter once they arrived in Cuba. Never lacking, in the script of their speeches, was the phrase “the unbreakable friendship between our peoples…”. Nor was a commitment to total harmony between the political projects of the visiting leader and his counterpart on the Island. There was one path and fellow travelers could not deviate an inch from it, and so they made it clear in their statements. Those were times, seemingly, of complete agreement, no nuances, no differences.

In recent years, however, the expressions of the official guests who arrive have been transformed. We hear them say, “although there are points that divide us, it’s best to look for those that unite us.” The new expressions also include the declaration that “we represent a diversity,” and that “we come together in working together, maintaining our plurality.” Clearly, bilateral relations in the 21st century are no longer conceived with a monochromatic and unanimous discourse. They exhibit the variety that has become fashionable, although in practice there is a strategy of exclusion and denial of diversity.

José Mujica, president of Uruguay, has added a new twist to the discourse of presidents received at the Palace of the Revolution. He stressed that “before, we had to recite the same catechism to come together, and now despite our differences, we manage to be united.” Incredulous spectators on national television, we immediately asked ourselves if the doctrine to which the Uruguayan dignitary referred to was Marxism or Communism. According to today’s evidence, two presidents can shake hands, cooperate, pose together for a smiling photo, even though they have dissimilar or opposing ideologies. A lesson in maturity, no doubt. The problem — the serious problem — is that these words are said and published in a nation where we, the citizens, can have no other “catechism” than that of the party in power. A country that systematically divides its population between the “revolutionaries” and the “unpatriotic,” based purely on ideological considerations. An Island whose leaders stoke political hatreds among people without taking responsibility for these seeds of intolerance they consciously sow, water and fertilize.

This is Cuban diplomacy. Accept hearing from a foreign visitor what you would never allow someone born on this island to say.


32 thoughts on “The Catechism According to Mujica

  1. Monthly income in Cuba varies between US$400 and US$800.

    This includes subdiesed housing, transportation, medical insurance or tuition-free universities.

    Don’t trust the $20 stories but test it yourself. Yoani, the author of this blog, lives in a low standard apartment provided by the city of Havana. Similiar apartments rent in low-income areas in Detroit for US$300

    Write to Yoani and ask her how much rent does she pay? Then add US$300 to your caclulations.

  2. ***
    HI MARABU–#32. I read that $20. U.S. a month is normal income for Cubans. And that they can barely live on this amount. And that doctors, sugar cane cutters, and taxi drivers–all make the same amount. Not very rich in any country. Yoani writes about severe food shortages. Many Cuban children look poorly fed.
    HOLA MARABU–#32. Leo que $20. U.S. por mes es ingreso normal por Cubanos. Y que appenas puedan vivir con esta cantidad. Y que medicos, los quinen cortan cana, y manejaradores de taxis–todos ganan la misma cantidad. Yoani escriba de falta de comida severa. Muchos ninos Cubanos parezcan mal nutridos.
    John Bibb

  3. Marabu, if that is your attempt at wittiness then it is a major fail. You keep re-warming your anti-dissident spiel, but it doesn’t get any funnier with each try. Stop embarrassing yourself.

  4. Anonimo #31,

    Our ‘inspirational leader’ Mr Cameron was in India recently and expressed regret for the Amritsar Massacre. If he were to apologise for all historical atrocities committed by The British then ‘sorry’ would be his most used word however this is indeed a topic for another forum….

    I am critical of much of USA’s foreign policies particularly regarding Cuba and Latin America as a whole.

    In my criticisms of USA I use many adjectives but I’m pretty sure that I have never used the word ‘evil’.

    As for human rights violations, I would definitely agree that Guantanamo is not the only location in this world where they occur and I would say that USA is not the world’s worst offender.

    I condemn all such violations and that would definitely include those which have been committed over the years by the Cuban Authorities.


    I don’t know Cuba first-hand, but I am a frequent reader of this blog and also can do on-line research on Cuba. This gave mi an idea to start writing a book DISSIDENT’S MANUAL. The following is a part of the first chapter:

    You don’t have to be a dissident. You can go to chop sugar cane and earn a salary.
    What salary? A good question. Monthly income in Cuba, by Western standards, varies between US$400 and US$800. If you work really hard on sugar cane fields you may even land in the upper part of this scale. But think it well: for a very hard work, in scorching sun.

    As a dissident you will also have to work. But what a difference: just 8 to 15 hours a week!

    On your typical working day you will spent approximately 50% of your time on a modern laptop or a smartphone (you’ll get one for free, I’ll tell you how)
    with the other 50% going to the meetings and watching for broken windows at schools or asking people what food was served in the local hospital. And you will make more money then a machetero (sugar cane harvester)! Isn’t it worth it?

    Allright, the cost/benefit analysis does not stop here. You will carry some risks and it will only be fair to warn you what they are.

  6. OK, Nicky, you’re right, this is a forum about Cuba. The asides about the evil of the United States sometimes makes it seem otherwise.

    In order to comment on the atrocities around the world committed by the British empire, that would take a whole lot of other blogs.

    I just can’t help finding it hypocritical when people get their knickers in a twist over Guantanamo (not that I approve of what goes on there), when their own countries commit equally heinous human rights violations. Perhaps they don’t do it in Cuba, but do it they do!

  7. Anonimo #9,

    In my country adding a ‘y’ to someones name is a form of endearment/friendliness.
    It is meant in a good natured way.
    If either Helpy or Humby find this in any way offensive then I would ask them to please say so and I will desist.

    Do bear in mind that I have been referred to here as a liar and as a supporter of fascism.
    As I do not lie and as members of my family risked their lives in the fight against fascism last century, I do find this offensive.

    I read Yoani’s blog because I find it interesting and although I am critical of much, I do not disagree with everything she writes.
    Furthermore ever since I first set foot in Cuba two decades ago, I have supported a move towards greater freedom of expression there.

  8. Anonimo #9.

    I’m afraid you are missing the point.

    I could write here endless criticisms of the UK in both historical and present day context, however this is not the forum for that.

    This forum is related to Cuba.

    There is no particular huge link between UK and Cuba. The UK is one of the 95+% of countries which has normal relations with Cuba and votes against the embargo.

    UK has never attacked Cuba (unless you include the successful taking of Havana from The Spanish in 1762).
    UK does not occupy a piece of Cuban territory.
    UK has no embargo against Cuba.
    UK has no torture/force feeding camp in Cuba (although it is shamefully implicated in certain renditions etc).
    UK does not try to restrict its citizens from going to Cuba.
    UK has not trained up people who went on to commit lethal terrorist acts against Cuba.
    UK does not harbour terrorists who have attacked Cuba.
    UK has not attempted to carry out assassinations in Cuba.
    UK does not think it has the right to decide Cuba’s future….
    I could go on and on…

    I criticise USA within the context of its attitude and policies towards Cuba over the past century and also to illustrate the hypocritical nature of many of the comments of some of the US contributors here.

    On other matters I admire the USA and many people who are an inspiration to me, are from there.

  9. American Express has to pay $5 000 000 fine for accepting ticket sales to Cuba (quoted here #27).

    Let’s leave it to Cubans whether the trade embargo id good or bad for Cuba.

    But it is VERY BAD for Americans.
    Reason numer 125: American Express is not a charity. It will pass the bill on the customers, on you and me.

  10. And you should do a little digging. Romanian police are just as susceptible to corruption as any other police force.

  11. Romania is a member of the Western bloc, therefore their police is always a good police? What does that even mean? It makes no sense whatsoever.

    The person who uses the moniker “the man comes around” is Romanian. That’s why.

  12. I wonder why do you mention Romania, Anonimo #20?

    Romania is a member of the western bloc, therefore their police is always a good police, whether they take bribes or not. According to the Miami Doctrine (prevalent here) only cuban police can be a bad police.

    Please note that Romanian armed forces have been helping to bring freedom and happiness to Iraq and Afghanistan and they will help to bring freedom and happiness to Cuba if the Pentagon tells them so.

  13. Help,

    Thank you very much for your kind words. I hope you continue to post here as well. Have a nice weekend.

  14. Of course, the police in Romania have never heard of bribes, coercion, and framing others. Yah.

  15. The “friends of Fidel” worldview is similar to Adolf Hitler’s and Joseph Stalin’s and Comrade Mao’s

    “USA bad, USA conspiracy, USA neo-liberal conspiracy, USA neo-con conspiracy, USA control World Bank, everybody I hate is stooge of USA, I am brave little master race guy who will destroy USA”

    And then after they take over and destroy a country they run to the World Bank to beg for more money.

  16. Nick says:

    “I’m not in favour of certain of USA’s internal polices (the healthcare scam, gun laws, death penalty etc)”

    But he’s in favor of Cuba’s internal health care:

    And smuggling weapons to a North Korean nutcase who is threatening to start a nuclear war.

  17. Righto, that’s your schtick, Nick. Or, should I call you Nicky because you seem to love to add a “y” to the end of everyone else’s moniker?

    You constantly rail against the US, as if the US is the only perpetrator of evil in the world, and then you add things like “I don’t have any hatred in me, I don’t have anything remotely personal against…..” You get the picture. Funny, but I never, ever, hear you railing against your own country, primarily, on this forum. It’s always an aside, as in, well the UK has done this or that…., but it’s never the initial subject of one of your comments.

    I don’t know why you even read this blog if you find Yoani’s posts so dull and uninteresting. Oh, that’s right, you’ve anointed yourself the “arbiter of hypocrisy in chief.”

  18. Once again, interesting post. Indeed, the language of diplomacy is changing. It’s been more than two decades since the end of the Cold War; States can finally interact naturally.

  19. Annie #9,

    I have nothing remotely personal against the USA or its inhabitants.
    If I did then I wouldn’t go there.

    It has it’s good and bad points just the same as UK and Cuba.

    I’m not in favour of certain of USA’s internal polices (the healthcare scam, gun laws, death penalty etc) but then obviously USA was not put together for my benefit, however what really has a detrimental affect on the human race as a whole is USA’s foreign policy.

    But then The British also had a pretty offensive foreign policy back in the days of our own supremacy.

    All countries I’ve been to have their good points and bad points.

    The laughable farce we get from contributors here is their arrogant presumption that USA is on some sort of moral or ethical high ground in comparison with Cuba.

    Therein lies the hypocrisy, Annie.

    By the way Annie. Why post anonymously?
    Why not think up a posting name?
    Perhaps you can come up with something beginning with ‘H’ and join the gang.


    Is there such a thing as USA?
    Pleny of brilliant people live there, different races and backgrounds. The mix makes it interesting and intelectually challenging. The government spends a lot on R&D so much progress in science and medicine is made there. This is USA.

    In other countries the “USA” is blamed for wars, intervention, fiscal and mitilitary imperialism, abuse of human rights in a PRISM or Gunatnanamo style.

    This is not USA, folks.

    The military, bigest corporations and some financial institutions have taken over this country. The President has very, very little to say. So, if you don’t like PRISM call the NSA director by name (do you know his name? – See, this is how they brainwashed you). Do not call BAD USA.

  21. This latest blog post from Nick starts off quite dully but predictably AND slides off down to the usual dull and sullen conclusion.

    Blame the USA. I must rail against the USA. I try to hide my anti-USA agenda while claiming that “I quite like your country.”

    Nick likes to sling the word “hypocrite” around while ignoring the fact that he is one.

  22. This latest blog post from Yoani starts off quite interestingly but predictably slides off down to the usual dull and sullen conclusion.

    Its essence is inevitably mimicked by ‘Hypocrisy Hank’ (#3).

    ‘Socialismo o Muerte’ is a slogan. It is taken seriously by many in Cuba. Ridiculed by others.

    But lets face the facts:

    We live in a ‘Neo-Liberalism o Muerte’ world.

    The USA/developed world and its stooges, The World Bank and the IMF, will only lend money to the needier countries if these countries allow the usual corporate interests to come in and carve up their infrastructure like pumpkin pie.

    If these poor countries (already ripped to bits by centuries of exploitation from The British, Spanish etc) do not bow down and allow themselves to be ripped to bits all over again, then the powers that be say “let ’em starve”.

    If they don’t starve then some up and coming face in the US foreign policy think-tank will try to win themselves a promotion by suggesting the implementation of another of those smutty little embargos…

    This is the real problem facing those in the more disadvantaged parts of the world, but of course our ‘Generation H’ like to refer to this phenomenon as ‘democracy’.

    ‘Generation H’ say that don’t really like posting here, but that they feel the need to.

    Carry on posting til the end of the road fellas and here’s a nice slogan for you:

    Generation H…..

    ‘Hipocresia o Muerte’

  23. The Head of State of Urugay was in Cuba and he is right when he says “although there are points that divide us, it’s best to look for those that unite us”.

    Yoani, however, doest not care to give any examples of common interest between the two countries. What about the trade, export and import? What about cultural ties? Yoani lives just a few miles from Daniel Chavarria, but she doest not care even to mention him.

    What does she care about then? She says that in Cuba the “leaders stoke political hatreds among people”?

    Read your own blog, Yoani, your statement about your President, and then tell what do you expect. Flowers?

  24. Hank,

    Your last post says it all. It is perfect. I’ve never thought of it quite like that.

    Please keep posting.

    “Do what I tell you or die”, the national slogan and billboard of Castro’s Cuba.

    You’re right, “All you need is love” doesn’t quite fit in with that message.

  25. From the festering swamp created by the deluge of baseless, bigoted and bilious comments raining down on this site, a much clearer picture is emerging of who these fanatical posters are and what their (non)agenda stems from….

    I log in here for the comedy value of some the ridiculous and nonsensical cementarios.

    I post because I feel obliged to counterbalance the irrational distortions, misrepresentations and one-eyed, half-assed propaganda which proliferates here….

  26. Good morning to You, my name is Massimo live in Italy and I have heard of her, the first time, in a second national channel service. Intrigued I purchased his book “cuba libre” very well written, and especially the clarifier of many doubts about his country. One day I see his name among the guests of the Festival of journalism in Perugia, the city where I live, and I am very intrigued at the event. She has been extraordinary even when he had to subiro the attack of a group of Castro that ruined some of the event. I apologize, I didn’t think that in Italy they reached such a shame. Attack it that way was disgusting but both she and the Director of the press you were great. The hope for a better future for Cuba. I hope soon to get back to us … to continue to write now I’m reading “waiting for spring”. Continue like that!

  27. “Socialism or Death” that’s the crazy, fanatical message on the billboard captioned in Yoani’s post. The billboard shows a profile of the reigning king of all lunatics in his ridiculous fatigues and dunce cap. He’s all fired up and ready to start a nuclear holocaust.

    What a stark, horrible choice that madman forced upon Cuba. Be a socialist or die. That’s it, no other possibilities, case closed, end of story. Die, or be what I tell you to be.

    Around the same time, the Beatles were saying “All you need is love.” Maybe that’s why the Beatles were banned in Cuba for so long. “All you need is love” doesn’t quite fit with “do what I tell you or die.”

    I wonder how many Cubans did die and continue to die because they don’t want what the king of all lunatics forced upon them for the last 50 years.

    Help, you’ve articulated exactly the reasons and feelings I have about posting on this site. I don’t like commenting here any more than you do. I do it for similar personal reasons.

  28. Cuando una ideologia por mas buena que pudiera haber sido y que hasta ahora se ha provado que no funciona, y que por la fuerza se impone mediante un aparato establecido; su propósito original resulta inapropiado, obsoleto, represivo y arcaico.

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