Antonio García Martínez on what people taking to the streets are protesting.
For what it's worth, during the Obama administration, I visited Cuba with a U.S. tour company. We were required to register with the State Dept. as a humanitarian mission. Each of us had to bring 15 lbs. of consumer goods, e.g., OTC medicines like aspirin and antibiotic cream, toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, band aids, etc. The government had deputized the Catholic Church to receive and deliver these items to the locals.
We didn't see any Potemkin Villages and I returned home with no illusions. In Havana, we stayed at a nice hotel run by a Spanish hotel chain, but other than that we were free to wander the streets and talk to anybody we liked. My high school Spanish came in handy. There are two forms of money in Cuba, one for Cubans, and one for tourists. Our money was extremely valuable, theirs was practically worthless. The few stores where they were allowed to shop were almost devoid of goods. But at that time, people didn’t appear to be going hungry.
Our tour guide was surprisingly forthright in her disdain for how her country was being run. Yes, she made sure we received the mandatory speeches about "the Revolution.” And she didn't have to sugarcoat the fact that people get good medical care in Cuba, as long as you follow all the rules, because if you miss one of your mandatory pre-natal visits you risk losing custody of your infant. (Your baby belongs to the State, not to you.) She was also upfront about the hideous condition of housing in Havana, where you could wake up after a rainstorm with the ceiling on top of your face, because fixing a decrepit old roof was out of the question. She explained why the Cuban divorce rate is sky high: three unrelated couples with one child apiece cannot maintain intimacy while sharing a three-bedroom apartment with one kitchen and one bathroom. As our tour was ending, she asked if I could send her some books on astronomy for her son. He was very interested in that subject and NO BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE.
I also learned that Cubans cannot choose their professions. You work where they tell you to work. This explained the dead eyes of the hospitality staff at the hotel, who do their jobs flawlessly and without a glimmer of human feeling. Again, through our tour guide: every little girl took ballet lessons, every little boy played baseball, because these were the only two possible pathways to a prestigious career, that might also lead to the possibility to defect.
In Cuba, I met beautiful, industrious, kind, talented people, full of humor, frustration and rage, with nothing but good will for us Americans and tourists from all over the world. I could cry thinking about them now. These people were trapped, and they knew they are trapped. Back then, Castro was still alive, making his four-hour speeches. It was clear from their affect that they were waiting for him to die, in the hopes that things would improve. Things did not improve. I am so inspired and terrified for the Cuban people right now, taking to the streets. They literally have nothing to lose.
The totalitarian decadence of American leftists is never so apparent as when they reflexively defend the Cuban communist regime. Unless it's when they buy Che t-shirts on Amazon.
Thank you for writing this powerful article. The juxtaposition between true resistance in Cuba against a tyrannical government and America’s “woke” wannabe revolutionaries is astonishing. While reading the excellent comparisons you draw between the two, the following two quotes from philosopher Eric Hoffer come to mind that take it a bit deeper:
"They who see their lives as spoiled and wasted crave equality and fraternity more than they do freedom. If they clamor for freedom, it is but freedom to establish equality and uniformity. The passion for equality is partly a passion for anonymity: to be one thread of the many which make up a tunic; one thread not distinguishable from the others. No one can then point us out, measure us against others and expose our inferiority.
They who clamor loudest for freedom are often the ones least likely to be happy in a free society. The frustrated, oppressed by their shortcomings, blame their failure on existing restraints. Actually, their innermost desire is for an end to the "free will." They want to eliminate free competition and the ruthless testing to which the individual is continually subjected in a free society."
"It is doubtful that the oppressed ever fight for freedom. They fight for pride and power - the power to oppress."
Hoffer argues that fanatical and extremist cultural movements, whether religious, social, or national, arise when large numbers of frustrated people, believing their own individual lives to be worthless or spoiled, join a movement demanding radical change. But the real attraction for this population is an escape from the self, not a realization of individual hopes: "A mass movement attracts and holds a following not because it can satisfy the desire for self-advancement, but because it can satisfy the passion for self-renunciation.
Word. Freedom is fragile, and those who have never had to fight to secure it easily take it for granted.
My family is from the Soviet Union. Even now, Russia’s democracy is, in large part, a joke. America was supposed to be a shining beacon of freedom. I can’t bring myself to imagine what it will be if it continues on its current path.
Sometimes in life its important to KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid. Government Marxism has never worked. It never will.
Even voluntary communal living communities eventually fail, or become less "communal" - think the Kubutz in Israel. As a millennial I live in this reality where I'm shocked at how stupid my woke friends are (whom are all convinced they are super-geniuses). They all believe they really ARE superior simply because of their lighter skin. They embrace CRT whole-heartedly - it gives their egos a boost. I am also married to a man who still has an aunt and 1st cousins in Cuba, I've lived most of my life in heavily Jewish neighborhoods, and my father, who grew up in poor in an abusive home, is the most knowledgeable human about the last 500 years of human history I have ever met (inclusive of my university "history professors."
The number of people in my generation willing to destroy human freedom because they are too ignorant to really understand what they promote, too arrogant to believe their nonsense could ever impact them, and too lacking a moral compass to actually care what is right, is heartbreaking. Wokeness is for humans too lazy to wake up and actually try to make the world a better place, even in the tiniest of ways.
I live in a college town, so Che Guevara is still T-Shirt fashion. Never met Che. Just his T-Shirts which are way cool. For example, above the neck-line, you never see a chopped-off head. The most direct experience I've had with Communism was when I travelled through Montenegro. The people toasted me and marveled at me as I was the first American many had ever seen. It was like being Tom Cruise only not short. The hotel put me in a swell special room with cameras and microphones they had reserved for Americans to prepare us for future living with the NSA. I went to the hotel bar and not being served I used my teeny amount of Serbo Croatian to ask a local to buy a beer for me because I was an American and they wouldn't serve me. That was one great joke, and it went like this. On any given night, nobody was going to get a drink. Nobody. Or maybe one or two people should the whim come to the bartenders. The bartenders were Communists. They would be there tonight, tomorrow, next year whether they served anybody beer or not. I often wish the kids in the Che shirts could try for a semester to get served by a Communist bartender.
Our current elites are a evil group of corrupt incompetents. We must fight, and fight hard, to get back to the principles that made this country great. We must vilify those that despise and disparage our beautiful America. One nation under God with liberty and justice.
Bari, I am surprised you didn’t mention that yesterday Biden’s DHS Secretary said the US would not accept any refuges from Cuba even if they are legitimately fleeing political persecution. How is this not HUGE news?
Communist and Islamist govts are more fascistic and oppressive than your typical right wing Dictatorship so it is less likely that the Commies will be overthrown. I Haven't heard any "Free Cuba" from Cortes, Sanders, Omar and the Squad yet. I wonder why?
What is the over/under on the number of comments before we get the “Cuba is not real communism”?
The scariest part is that if America falls, where will WE go?
Thank you for sharing this powerful essay. I will forward it to my teenagers who as American citizens need a constant reminder to cherish the freedoms they have.
Surely the author meant to say that countries can commit an assisted suicide. After all, Assadregime in Syria has been on the Soviet / Rusky books since the beginning. Take this for example: most of you have heard of the demise of former Yugoslavia in a bout of tribal frenzy. One could infer that the country decided to commit "suicide". As the recently completed trial of the former leader of the Serbian secret police had shown, the person who was in charge of the said demise turn out to be also working for certain organization from Langley Virginia. I guess the CIA slogan to small, strategically placed countries is the same as Home Depot's: "You can do it, we can help!" This of course does not relieve any country of its ultimate responsibility for its own destiny. After all, any country that allows itself to become a pawn in the latest chapter of the cowboys versus Cossaks b******* has dug its own grave.
Cuba is sadly part of the same tragic cycle.
I wish Cubans all the best. They would do themselves a favor should they decide that any future free Cuba would keep the bans on "social" networks and American tech companies. After all, they don't want to replace informers with Alexas, or get a freedom to moderate instead of freedom of speech
It is good to ask ourselves: what is the biggest threat to democracy in America today?
A functioning democracy means that ALL CITIZENS, whatever their financial means, have EQUAL ACCESS to the fundamental right to VOTE.
Which party or group is currently threatening that right? Which party or group is engaged in a massive effort to re-write laws to give their own partisans power to overrule elections? Which party or group is purging members who stand up for the rule of law and fair elections?
Compared to what Martinez witnesses, our problems truly are "1st World".
The Cuban people have suffered immensely and for generations all because of an upper-income, white progressive fantasy.