The Loyal Opposition / Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on March 15, 2014
I recently attended an academic event at the Felix Varela Chair. Lay
Space magazine opened the doors of the old San Carlos and San Ambrosio
Seminary for the public to freely participate in an exchange of ideas
about the reforms undertaken by the Cuban government. I would have had a
lot to say about the high scientific level with which they were
addressing the problems discussed there, but for now I prefer to focus
on a detail brought to light by a question posed by my colleague Iván
How is the “Loyal Opposition” defined? Loyal to whom, inquired the
independent journalist. According to the panelist Arturo López-Levy,
this concept finds its antonym in apostasy.
Although I collect them, I hate to fall into the facile habit of quoting
dictionaries, but I have no choice but to refer to the first meaning of
the term “apostasy” which is “the repudiation of Christ by those who
have been baptized.” In a wider sense it’s appropriate to use it for a
very wide range of meanings from resignation to treason. The trouble
with synonyms is that the equivalence of meaning between the two depends
on the context.
When the academic López-Levy attributes the adjective “loyal” to a
certain kind of opposition and uses “apostasy” to refer to those who
place themselves at the polar opposite of the opposition milieu, he is
crossing a frontier in which those belonging to one or the other group
end up identifying the loyal as traitors and the apostates as loyal… and
The blame for this confusion lies not with semantics, but with history.
When opponents from exile or from the island support the
blockade-embargo, including the Helms-Burton Act; when they receive
financing from the “black beast” which is the Cuban American Foundation,
or talk with that arch demon Carlos Alberto Montaner, they automatically
fall into the list of on apostates from the loyal opposition.
The same can happen to anyone using the microphones of Radio Martí,
visits the United States Interests Section in Cuba (SINA), or meets with
some representative of the U.S. government, the only one in the world
that has a legally structured program to overthrow the government of
Cuba. They are betraying the Fatherland! And are denounced by the loyal
What Fatherland? The other side responds. The one that finds Socialist
Revolution synonymous with the Communist Party and with the person of
Fidel Castro himself? Will it perhaps be this fatherland that those on
the other list claim to be loyal to? Does being a member of the loyal
opposition mean belonging to a group of people who are not insulted or
beaten by “the outraged people,” people who have never experienced a
repudiation rally, who have always been able to enter and leave the
country, and even give speeches at foreign universities?
People who have probably never been fired from their jobs, nor expelled
from their classrooms, nor even been visited by the “friendly compañeros
from State Security’s Section 21?? The ones who can count on an
untouchable space and aspire to one day be designated as legitimate
interlocutors from the powers-that-be?
Admission to this fiesta bears a high price, especially having the
prudence that, once accepted, to never bother the landlord by warning
him that out there are others dissatisfied, others with many issues to
bring, claims, demands. Political correctness is to ignore this populace
that fails to shed the nauseating odor of the dungeons and, better yet,
from the prestige conferred by the condition of academic blamelessness,
to accuse them of apostasy.
A socialist revolution is not a religious faith, “Revolution and
Religion don’t rhyme,” the poet Herberto Padilla warned us. The first is
the work of men, the second — I’ve been given to understand — has a
divine origin. Those who deny their faith don’t fear going to hell,
because they no longer believe in its existence. Those who disagree with
ideological convictions that once embraces are simply exercising a civil
and intellectual right that in my well-thumbed dictionaries is defined
as to rectify. What can we say about those who never believed and from
the start chose a different path.
I’m very familiar with another opposition that exercises a loyalty that
has nothing to do with the submission of pets. Loyalty to the most
pressing desires of their people, loyalty to justice and freedom.
14 March 2014
Source: The Loyal Opposition / Reinaldo Escobar | Translating Cuba –