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Dissidence and silence
ARMANDO CHAGUACEDA | Ciudad de México | 5 de Abril de 2017 – 12:29 CEST.

Status as a “ ” is not the product of any coherent calculation.
It does not refer to a particular affiliation or a specific creed. It
does not even necessarily stem from a primeval hatred of what they call
“Revolution.”

It is everyday abuse, accumulated disappointment, insufferable
humiliation, and, largely, chance, that turn a simple citizen into a
dissident.

You do not need to read Havel, but rather be the victim of an eviction.
Neither do you need to embrace the ideas of Adam Smith, but rather
witness an perpetrated against a classmate. You do
not even have to with the CIA. It suffices to descry, as an honest
Communist (and there are many) the tremendous distance between utopia
and reality.

In a country where feigning and opportunism are distinctive hallmarks of
the national psyche, you do not need the makings of a hero to become a
dissident: the young teacher, struggling against dogma and weariness,
who encourages critical thinking in his classes; the activist who fights
every day with local bureaucrats to revive the fading life of her
neighborhood; the poet who refuses to sell out, and disappears from
congresses and catalogues; the humble and fragile woman worker who
refuses to renounce her friendship with a neighbor, who happens to
support the opposition. These are all dissidents. And not in a
metaphorical sense: when the files are opened we will be astonished at
the magnitude of the paranoia harbored towards these people. At the end
of the day, it is always those in power who define the conditions of
existence – and struggle – for who those who reject their plans and
policies.

I write these lines after a debate with an old friend. Talented, he
believes it possible to make the most out of a kind of dissidence
tolerated by those in power. His texts, well composed, convey dreams of
a participatory future and a country of citizens. He wants to be, at the
same time, a Minister of the Prince and Tribune of the People. Reading
it, I think back to those years when, together, we endorsed a sort of
millimetric reform, in Havana classrooms and parks, for which we ended
up getting a subtle scolding, some direct intimidation and, in the end,
a one-way journey.

But we are no longer those young men whose heretical inspiration, the
fruit of indoctrination and disinformation, came down from Gramsci. We
know, they have shown us, that there is something more: more and
injustice, beyond our small circles. We have seen the faces of the
oppressor, the beaten mother, the humiliated and the corrupt
official. We pay a price, of distance and displacement, for the wretched
circumstances.

That friend, in an attitude that disturbs me, turns his back on dissent.
He refuses to debate with dissidents, or to recognize them in his
writings, or to ascribe any value to those who embrace this status as
Cuban activists and intellectuals. His political choice blends with an
ethical stance: to leave to their fate those who struggle, openly, for a
better country – with the same rights and hope with which he persists in
his dubious pragmatism, counseling those in power. I hope his decision
serves him well, and yields some modicum of public decency in the years
to come. If this happens, Cuba may not be fully free, but at least it
will be more bearable. But if it does not, after having hidden
despotism’s victims and resistors, his burden will be heavy. His, and
everyone’s.

This article originally appeared in La Razón (Mexico). It is published
here with the author’s permission.

Source: Dissidence and silence | Diario de Cuba –
www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1491388174_30158.html

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