The Cuba Advocate

Year 58 of the Revolution

What Cubans know and Americans can’t explain

By Cord MacGuire

There are no terrorist bombings in Cuba. Nor is a sense of oppression as keenly felt there as it seems to be here on the streets of America. But then, there’s an awful lot of political confusion here that doesn’t exist in Cuba, either.

Many Americans have come to feel that their government is not only not representing their interests, but is actively working against them. Now, most Cubans may have a lot of gripes about their government, but they realize that it generally works on their behalf. There are few Cubans so bitter as to not respect the Revolution’s achievements.

But here, there is a tremendous cynicism about the two-party system, which is commonly understood to serve the needs of the wealthy corporations, with the needs of the people increasingly ignored. A majority of citizens consistently do not vote and there are a lot who openly express outright hostility to government in general. Moreover, many have retreated into super-individualism and simplistic patriotism, often grafted into a superstitious fundamentalism. There is a longing to return to a mythical past, which never really existed. Most of the “angry white men” who fantasize about Davey Crockett-type free militias protecting family values have been raised on a steady diet of mass television and Hollywood versions of our historical past. The people’s history hasn’t been quite as clean and simple as Pat Buchanan and his ilk would have us believe. The idea that life for most folks was just wonderful before the New Deal could only be foisted on a public whose cultural and political memory has been largely erased.

While Cubans suffer the real hardships imposed on them by imperialism, they are generally sophisticated and well-educated enough to appreciate the true nature of their predicament. Most U.S. citizens don’t seem to understand the material forces that are limiting their freedoms and living standards. Corporate apologists are glad to encourage the notion that “the federal government” is the cause of many of the social ills which actually arise from the free market. Capital wants to be freed of all the constraints and regulation which originated from the people’s political demands being enforced by the government. Democracy is about the majority gaining political leverage over and winning concessions from the ruling minority. The corporate-led attack on “big government” is designed to justify a rollback of democracy’s power to mitigate the market’s inherent tendency to destroy community. Violence and social decay are its inevitable result.

Market capitalism was overthrown in the Cuban Revolution. Since then, many social ills have been greatly overcome, if not eliminated in Cuba. There are very few murders in Cuba. There are more homicides in Denver in a month than in all of Cuba in a year. Women are empowered and safely walk the streets of Havana anytime of day or night. People are secure in their communal existence, in the countryside, in the cities, in the towns. In Cuba there are few police, and most of them are unarmed. America, as we know, is an armed killing field despite, or because of, the world’s most heavily equipped and funded police forces. Compared to Cuba’s relative tranquility, the streets of America are barely civilized. But this is unfortunately the case in all “free market” economies, as a glance at the news will tragically confirm.

Most Cubans know this. Most North Americans can’t explain it, because they are confused by the lies they’ve heard from the corporate media and corrupt politicians. The corporate media are free, only in the sense that they are free of virtually any civic or societal responsibilities for decency, fairness or truth. Indeed, any positive messages indicating collective actions or solutions to society’s crises are relegated to the media margins. It’s no wonder that fear and angry confusion are suffocating political debate in this country.

We need to promote Cuba’s achievements and support its just struggle to defend its rights as a sovereign nation. We do this, also, as a means of fighting the right-wing attack which threatens the gains we’ve won here at home. The Cuban Revolution is part and parcel of the centuries-long struggle towards freedom and equality, so much a part of building civilization. Cuba’s achievements are in the long tradition of previous democratic victories, such as the American Revolution of 1776 and the gains of the New Deal of the ’30s and the Civil Rights movement of the ’60s. But today these gains are under attack from the same right-wing forces which have attacked Cuba for 40 years.

[Cord MacGuire is a Boulder writer and activist.]

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March 3, 2009 - Posted by | B - Cuba Articles

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