We need areal debate on what is going on in Cuba and the Castro regime's true character.
Since Cuban blogger, Yoani Sanchez, landed in Brazil, she has been facing protests from pro-Castro regime. In Feira de Santana (BA), these militants have gone as far as to prevent the exhibition of the documentary "Cuba-Honduras Connection" where the blogger is one of the interviewees. Besides defending the Cuban government, such demonstrations boosted by UJS/PCdoB and other sectors, attack Yoani as being a "CIA agent" allegedly funded by the imperialism aiming to destabilizing Cuba.
These protests show part of the support that the Cuban regime still has in several sectors of the left. Other sectors, however, as the PSTU, do not integrate or support these demonstrations. And further, these other sectors advocate the need to open a real discussion about Cuba and what is the meaning of the Castro brothers’ government. This is the debate that the protesters who have been persecuting Yoani, want to prevent from happening.
Cuba in debate
What is Cuba today? A bastion of socialism which survived the débâcle of the so called "real socialism" in the 1990s, or a capitalist country with a dictatorship which has perpetuated in power through the repression and persecution of their opponents? Why does this debate arouses so many passions throughout the world? The first answer, undoubtedly, is that when it comes to Cuba, we are referring to a country that was the stage of one of the most important revolutions of the twentieth century.
The Castro regime still enjoys of the political authority and the prestige achieved by the revolution that in 1959 overthrew the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, and shortly after, expropriated the bourgeoisie. The first and unique Latin American socialist revolution has transformed the Caribbean small island known as the "U.S. backyard", in a country with social indicators comparable to those of developed countries. Land reform and massive investment in the social areas extinguished the capitalism plagues such as poverty, unemployment and illiteracy. It was for this reason and not less than it that Cuba has turned into an example for generations of socialist activists around the world.
Cuba, however, is not only an example of what is possible to achieve when the bourgeoisie and imperialism are expropriated. It is also a proof that everything that does not move forward, skips back. Cuba, a country ruled by a Stalinist bureaucracy since the very beginning, had the capitalism restored by the hands of the same leaders who headed the revolution. The three pillars of an economy in transition to socialism no longer exist currently: the foreign trade monopoly, the state ownership and the economic planning by the State.
The capitalism restoration imposed by the Castros’ dictatorship mainly as from the 1990s, brought back to the island old social problems, such as an increasing inequality, poverty and old capitalism wounds that had disappeared, such as prostitution that proliferates in areas visited by foreign tourists. In Havana, rich regions dedicated to tourism and the Castros’ bureaucracy live along with poor areas that are literally falling to pieces. In contrast, workers are forced to survive with an average salary of 18 to 20 dollars per month.
In 2011, the government announced the layoff of no less than one million and three hundred thousand workers of State Owned Enterprises and public service, as a way to "reduce" the public sector burden. The bitter truth, that the Castro regime defenders refuse to acknowledge, is that capitalism has long ago become a reality in Cuba, as well as the other ailments inherent in a capitalist society. They foster confusion and turn into only one thing the Cuban revolution and the Castro bureaucracy.
What remained in the country, beyond capitalism, was the one-party dictatorship control that does not allow any freedom of expression and any freedom of organization. When militants of the UJS/PCdoB prevent Yoani Sánchez either from talking or from making any debate about the theme, they are trying to block here in Brazil the same debate that cannot be made in Cuba. If they do not agree that there is now a dictatorship in Cuba, why do not they debate and present their point of view? Unfortunately, this subject is the one these activists fear so much. Far more than any alleged CIA operative.
Yoani and the democratic freedoms
After all, who is this character accused of being a "terrorist" by the Castros’ supporters? Yoani Sanchez is a philologist and has become well known when, in 2007, she began to publish the blog "Y Generation", with heavy criticism to the Cuban regime. She started to denounce the government persecutions and acts of intimidation and won notoriety in the major media around the world. She is a columnist, for example, of the Spanish newspaper El Pais and, in Brazil, she has her posts published by O Estado de São Paulo newspaper. Prior to immigration reform, her visa had been denied 20 times by the Cuban authorities.
The Castroist left accuses Yoani of being an "agent of imperialism", guided by the CIA and the U.S. government. To support such a thesis, they cite, for example, that the blogger has received awards of the international media as well as documents leaked by Wikileaks that would report meetings with the Cuban blogger with the United States government representatives. In her tour in Brazil, the blogger has criticized the Brazilian government's position in relation to human rights in Cuba, condemned the U.S. embargo on the island and even praised the latest Castro’s government measures: "the economic reforms that have been made are in the right direction”.
Protest against the Cuban blogger in Brazil
Any assumptions about her real motivations aside, the fact is that the blogger criticism is correct and is made from a real fact: the lack of freedom of expression and organization in her country. Is it possible that the Castroism defenders will also say that democracy prevails in the island? Would it be possible, for example, to organize a party that positions itself as opposition to the Castro’s bureaucracy as PSTU in Brazil? Or as PSOL? Or any political party or trade union organization whose objective is to organize the workers and people independently of the government? We know full well that this would not be possible in Cuba today.
The most perverse side of this case is that the lack of freedoms in the island leads to that the only opposition to the Castro bureaucracy which appears as an alternative to the Cuban people, is composed of the Right and the “gusanos” (the exiled who fled the Cuban revolution in Florida and who wish to recover their expropriated properties). Or Yoani, who, despite her correct demand for democracy in her country, has the bourgeois democracy as her political horizon (and being so, she praises the recent government measures).
The unfortunate position of left Castrism in Brazil, in turn, has its share of responsibility, when they deliver, free of charge, to the Rightist, the flag for democratic freedoms in Cuba. It is pathetic to observe, for example, the rightist Congressman Jair Bolsonaro, a fierce defender of the military dictatorship in Brazil, condemning the Cuban dictatorship.
It is high-time for the Left identified with Castroism to get rid of its stockpile of Stalinist slanders and accusations and start debating these issues in a frank way, with ideas, positions and arguments.