Because of the travel ban, I have never been to Cuba. I have been to the other nearby large islands, including Hispaniola, where I am permitted to travel. So I have to rely upon information that comes out of Cuba and other information I have obtained from outside Cuba, either from own observations and research or from what others have to say. As a species-being, I seek the truth and try to learn more every day as responsibilities and time allow.
I referenced this courageous writing from the critical Cuban left, “A reply to Raul Castro’s July 7th address to the Cuban Parliament,” by Pedro Campos, at page 33 of A Winding Path to Workers’ Gardens/Un camino de bobina a jardines de trabajadores. I want to make sure that I refer interested readers to Mr. Campos’ writing in a specific post. I think what he has to say is important both in substance and in its expression of the human spirit. He emphasizes the need for democratic socialism in Cuba. Part of the reason he feels this way is the need to better address the very real economic problems on the island.
I recognize what he says as being very important. I repeatedly make the point in my pamphlet that without democracy and civil rights, those in control in any authoritarian society can steal without being challenged. They can also, even if well-intentioned, make unwise economic decisions. I frequently cite Professor Bengeldorf’s book, The Problem of Democracy in Cuba, which in turn repeatedly makes this latter point based on Cuban history since 1959. In addition, she points out the efforts that have been made to provide health care, education, and for basic needs, while detailing the decades-long bedeviling problem of providing adequate shelter for all Cubans. These efforts are commonly referred to as efforts to provide economic “justice.”
In comparative reference to Hispaniola, which has no viable social safety net, I have also made the point that, considering the U.S. embargo and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Cuban government has done a relatively good job on economic justice issues. This type of statement about “economic justice” I never intend to undercut the other concerns about potential abuses and bad decisions that arise without democracy and civil rights.
I recently wrote my first comments at the well-known blog Generation Y, which is written by Yoani Sánchez, a peaceful critic of the Cuban government. I like the blog not only because Ms. Sánchez is a Cuban living in Cuba and an excellent writer but also because commenters at her blog may have strong opposing views. Thus, her blog is a forum for ardent exchanges and, as I look at it, the potential to learn through observing and even participating in a Socratic process.
I was writing my comments on a post entitled Merchant, That Dirty Word. Late yesterday evening I was challenged by another commenter. He had taken the time to come to this humble website and read some of the things I had posted. He specifically raised objection to a previous statement I had made in a comment to the recent major Boston Review piece on Cuba’s president (referenced in this earlier post, “The Critical Cuban Left”). He wrote:
Francisco Nejdanov Solomin you said quote “Cuba has managed to do quite well in terms of economic justice, sustainability, and agricultural productivity, all things considered, which you do not give enough credence to. ”
DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE THAT?? THAT “economic justice” ONLY APPLIES TO THE CASTROS, THEIR CLAN AND THEIR BOOT LICKERS!
I responded back late last night:
Yes I do believe that. It was a relative statement as far as economic justice and part of a balanced critique. There is no economic justice on Hispaniola. I talk about Hispaniola a lot in my pamphlet. I describe acute desperation there which I have witnessed. I have not been to Cuba. I am not a journalist but a concerned human being. (If the travel ban is lifted I may visit one day.)
Did I imply that there are not abuses in Cuba? No. I have been very critical generally of actually existing socialist unelected authoritarians the world over in part because of the very Animal Farm tendency to which you refer. The party leaders and members get to live better than the people. That is wrong.
Chinese princelings I know more about, for whom I point out reported abuses in the pamphlet footnote 1. I will read or watch everything you link and try to learn more. If I need to be more critical in the future I will consider that if it is important to the issue I am discussing.
I am not a propagandist. I am a supporter of brave people in Cuba who are dissenters on the democratic left. I want political democracy in Cuba and everywhere.
Thank you for commenting and for all the information you provide. I just read the two currency article you linked. Is there a place where I can learn more about your personal story? I want to understand your experiences.
I will continue to try to get it right, and I will also admit if I get it wrong. The more interaction U.S. residents are allowed with Cubans, the more accurate will be our perspectives. I have a choice to make as a species-being in a complex world of doing my best in solidarity with others, or being apathetic and staying down in a hole of isolated selfishness and alienation. I choose the former.
Peace be with you,