For Cuba It Is Time
Since 1959, the Cuban Revolution has survived uprisings, the Escambray Mountains War, the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Missile Crisis, the threat of nuclear war and the U.S. Embargo. In that long process the cost to the Cuban people has been terrible – more than 100,000 human lives lost, oppression, loss of freedom, loss of human rights and 20% of its population forced into exile. The misery is without precedent in Cuban history, leaving a legacy of moral disorientation which is damaging to the process of approaching change because all of this has damaged the identity of a large number of its people. The confusion and disorientation shows how history can affect the identity.
With the devastation of the human spirit and censorship of free thinking, claims of progress in health, literacy and revolution are unmitigated frauds. How can such educated people live in the misery of today’s Cuba?
With the death of the longest ruling dictator in this hemisphere’s history, the myth and symbolism die with him and condemn his successor. The spectacle of the funeral, for a mass murderer, was equal in pomp to that of a prince of the Church. We watched prominent personalities and world leaders of repressive regimes, some of the resentful left and terrorists, many who trained in Cuba. Some recognizable television and news media representatives were also present. However, it is important to note, that not a single representative of a free Cuban newspaper was present, none from independent television or radio outlets as we would expect to see in a civilized country. The real Cuba and the free press, forbidden for six decades, remained silent, yet continued to dream.
It is unlikely that the world media will mention the “Ley Mordaza,” a law which calls for penalties of up to 30 years in prison for any Cuban caught telling the press of any human rights violations in Cuba. Edmund Burke, an 18th century Irish statesman, wisely said, “ The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Undeterred, Cuban freedom fighters continue and, in an unprecedented campaign, stated “I do not cooperate with the dictatorship and I want change.” Despite the persistent oppression of the regime, the dissidents state that they won’t be intimidated. No one outside of Miami and some Eastern European countries hear of such events because of the blackout of the Cuban media. Still it inspires great admiration, with some hailing the greatness of a hero who recently passed comparable to George Washington because of his great commitment to the Cuban people.
The continuity of the regime in Cuba or the alternative of state capitalism without political freedom as seen in China is not what the Cuban people want. There is now way to predict when and how the changes will take place in Cuba but change is coming. In 58 years the lack of hope and happiness has prevailed and the Cuban children have dreamed of leaving for foreign lands only because they saw no future in their own land.
The free enterprise system offers the only way out for the new Cuba. The many years of government abuse cannot be overcome easily. It will be difficult and painful for a time, even during the transition. History will be unforgiving of the man that denied Cuba its glory and buried the Cuban people in misery and kept the country in backwards conditions. Journalist Henry Hazlitt stated a reality that many do not see or do not want to see. He said, “The communist leadership cannot allow private property because that will eliminate the most solid base of its system and that will restore individual freedom and end their tyranny.”
We didn’t have a solid civic response or political responsibility in March of 1952 when the Batista coup interrupted the constitutional rhythm of the Republic. This gave way to the mythology of Castro and his revolution. Most top Cuban historians feel that the myth of the “necessary” revolution and the invincibility of the commandant is over and buried. With Castro’s death, it is a reality. This is an important stem in the maturing of the Cuban Nation and its people after 58 years.
Our American, European and Latin American friends may not understand how a nation with such amazing entrepreneurial talent could have supported the socialist wave. It is a paradox that we also cannot understand.
In this historical moment, it is necessary to accept realities, learn from our mistakes and give priority to the constitutional approach with individual liberty and personal responsibility as a base on which to build free enterprise and a representative democracy. The defense of the patrimony is essential in the recuperation of the national identity. The Cuban exiles have preserved the past which is necessary to control the future and essential in the reconstruction of the new Cuban nation. As Vaclav Havel, former president of Czechoslovakia, stated in one of his essays, “Communism was not destroyed by a military force, but by the human spirit.