Human Rights in Cuba

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A phony ‘civil society’
JOSÉ HUGO FERNÁNDEZ | Miami | 10 de Enero de 2017 – 10:48 CET.

We know that in totalitarian regimes history does not unfold gradually,
but rather suddenly, in fits and starts. And as totalitarian efforts
spawn more losses than gains, not much more can be expected of the sham
civil society concocted in Cuba’s pro-government spheres. This is yet
another monster designed to pursue the same strategy as always:
perpetuate an archaic power, but with a facade making it acceptable in
the eyes of institutions and dimwitted or ideologically sympathetic
“progressive” governments around the world.

Apparently improvised, Havana is now teeming with new associations,
foundations, and civic and social organizations that are acting (or
think they are, or wish to seem that they are) as mediators between
citizens and the State. Suddenly we are seeing a range of different
interests of individuals “represented” in an environment in which
presentation as an individual and, even worse, as a group, was always
considered politically objectionable.

Cunning, institutions and certain figures affiliated with the regime
have moved to capitalize on certain issues that constitute priorities
amongst altruists, and also among hypocrites and phonies around the
world. Orchestrating the handling of such issues, they have manufactured
the mannequin of a “new civil society,” with a body of individuals and
the dictatorship’s malicious head.

From environmental awareness to sexual or religious choice; from
accommodating people with disabilities to the protection of certain
animals; from antiracism and feminism, to the salvaging of traditions…
from the serious to the light, from the banal to the transcendent, from
a fondness for Harley-Davidson motorbikes, or playing dominoes, to
winegrowing, or even a nostalgia for ballroom dancing… anything under
the sun can be successfully exploited to manipulate views off the
Island, and to control the behavior of people on it, through the
“spontaneous” association of individuals in “non-governmental”

We have already witnessed the farce of self-employed Cubans marching,
organized to celebrate Labor Day, almost as laughable as the gays and
lesbians who demanded for the “Five Heroes,” and certain
mediators of Orula whose snails prophesy according to the orders of the

Perhaps not all those who have joined these new associations,
foundations, civic and social organizations, should necessarily be
viewed as knowing accomplices of the trap laid by the regime. Some are
sure two-fold victims: of the deception itself, and also of the climate
of economic hardship, political helplessness, institutional vacuity and
collective uncertainty in which they were born and raised, and where
they still live.

Perhaps it is too much to ask people who for several generations have
been stripped of their most essential identities, and trained to be
docile automatons, to rise up with wisdom and responsibility to lay
claim to their individual rights.

The truth is that we should not expect them to assume with the necessary
depth the role that should belong to them in civil society, simply
because they do not know what it is. Most do not even know what those
two words together, “civil society,” mean as a concept, and, of course,
neither do they have any idea how they should proceed in terms of
organizational practices.

Of course, as one truth does not necessarily exclude another contrary
one, it is likely that though harmful for the moment, the new policy
morass contrived by the regime’s kingpins will likely up blowing up in
its face. Even so, this is not reason enough to celebrate it, nor to
accept it with a tragic spirit, but rather only to view it with the
caution it merits. For, though at first glance it appears to constitute
another example of idiosyncratic local color in Cuba, it is surely
brewing up a poison that will have to be dealt with in a future
democracy, when a genuine independent civil society can finally play a
real role.

Nor should we forget the efforts that have been made by some peaceful
opposition groups to bolster the organization of the kind of genuine
independent civil society the country needs so direly, and is loudly
demanding. Nor should we forget the viciousness with which the regime’s
repressive forces attack the slightest of this, demonstrating, as is
known all too well, their absolute contempt for any efforts that are not
designed by them and to serve their interests.

Source: A phony ‘civil society’ | Diario de Cuba –

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