A month ago, Cuba caught the attention of the whole world: the 11J was a trend in the networks and there were also those who took the opportunity to give false news and add more fuel to the fire. It is not the first time that this revolutionary island, which for many represents the last bastion of socialism and for others what is left to finish defeating any resistance to the empire, has attracted attention everywhere.
However, a few weeks after the protests, the subject was forgotten and the silence that became after so much noise only adds to the mystery: how much artifice and how much reality in the narration of events? What really happened and what is happening now in Cuba?
“The days that followed 11J were very difficult, because the impact of social upheavals in a country where tranquility surrounds us from dawn to dawn is very strong. We are not used to violence, vandalism, far from it”, says journalist Maribel Acosta, one of the three Cubans residing on the island with whom she spoke. page 12.
The Havana writer Zaida Capote also expresses: “For a long time in Cuba there was an extreme polarization in social networks and an effort to delegitimize the government on the grounds of human rights violation, often used by people living in countries where these rights are generally violated without it bothering them in any way”.
According to Capote, social networks and outside interests were two key factors in what happened: “With the support of US agencies, they seek to warm up the mood on the island, put into perpetual check any government proposal and activate international harassment. The registration of the 11J (two-day protests with a high dose of vandalism, police violence that appealed only as an exception to guns and in no case long guns, and the unfortunate death of one person) was news that in any Latin country America it would be diluted the next day, but when it happened here, everything was expanded by the mainstream media to create a virtual scenario that manages to confuse people”.
The writer, however, does not justify arbitrariness within Cuba with the following: “For a long time we have suffered from a chronic deficit of listening and political action, which is one of the main causes of this crossroads.” And he explains that the demonstrations were also due to economic anxieties, the tensions of the pandemic, the accumulated malaise and bad political decisions in the face of certain emergencies in society.
Acosta agrees: “The waves of hatred on social media were really terrible, but in Cuba there is also a social and emotional exhaustion and an exhaustion of everyday life that has been going on for many years.”
This wear cannot be analyzed without taking into account the large US blockade for 59 years, nor the extreme situation to which Trump led the conflict during his tenure: “Trump’s 250 measures against Cuba generated a huge exhaustion among the entire people and this is also linked to what happened,” said Acosta.
Capote contributes: “In those years the inability of the Cuban emigration with which we lived for a civilized dialogue became increasingly evident, and in networks and in daily practice, with the open support of the trumpist government, it became increasingly strong the violent challenge to the Cuban authorities. The intensification of the blockade and the financial persecution has taken the lack of means to obtain the basic supplies for people’s lives to unprecedented extremes, and this discourse has penetrated deeply even into emigrants who are related to their relatives in Cuba”.
The change of command in the United States did not change the situation: “Biden did not in any way contradict the fascist elements that promote extreme hatred and aspire to starve all Cubans. This, added to the pandemic and the general crisis that we are going through, including the collapse of tourism, has caused more and more suffocation”, guarantees Capote.
Historian Latvia Gaspe lives on the outskirts of Havana and was surprised to see 11J on TV and social media. “I knew that there was a sector of society that was not satisfied with the government, but I never thought it could come to that”, he says, and clarifies that although the events took place in several places, mainly in Havana, they arose from a part of the citizens: “It is a somewhat marginal sector with a majority of young people who live as they can in the city, many come from the countryside and do not have access to the food rationing that the State guarantees”.
For this historian The pandemic was also fundamental: “Remittances were stopped and this affected them because many do not work and live off what their families send them.. They also had to leave social life and spend more time on the networks, where the manipulation of opposition groups to the government is very strong”.
“We must keep in mind that these young people did not live in Cuba in the 1980s,” adds Acosta. “They are farther from the epic revolution and belong to a global world of fractures, identities and expectations of new generations where the ways of doing politics are very different. Therefore, we must look inside ourselves with a spirit of criticism, because today the visions of how to think politics based on culture, identities and the demand for greater social articulation are quite outdated”.
After 11J there were no more demonstrations and the situation in Cuba calmed down a little. Several countries collaborated by sending food and medical supplies, and a food module is being distributed to each person through the supply passbook.
For Capote, now is the time for his society to start solving the outstanding issues: “We have to refound socialism and rescue the Revolution from itself, because there will hardly be another one. Something that has become very clear now is that this can only happen with the mobilization of the people, but they will not mobilize with slogans, they will demand according to their needs and dreams, and the government will have to listen and act accordingly”.
the role of the media
What measures should be applied to achieve this? “The government has to give visibility to critical thinking, openly discuss problems and communicate sincerely with the people. It is urgent to review the role of the means of communication, for example, because today they are a shadow of what they should be and do not reflect the complexity that is Cuba”, responds Capote, who also says. it is essential to feminize politics and strengthen networks for the defense of rights.
“The battle must be fought from the social, economic and political aspects, because those who have never taken care of the poor in Cuba are the most combative in the media and on the networks, those who do not raise their voice against the blockade accuse the Cuban government, which juggles to give the minimum to everyone, to be fully responsible for the crisis. And neither the government of the country that suffocates us, nor any of the patriots who connect the networks will solve our problems or risk anything for the lives of the humble.”
Cuba is one of the only countries where there is a basic income to fight poverty, education and health services are free and everyone has a food card, but in recent times the quality of all these services has declined. However, the Cuban government that took power in 1959 was the only one that set out to minimize inequality with public policies. For this reason, for Capote it is essential to discuss what will be the ways to prevent inequality from growing and thus be able to regain the breath of justice in the Revolution: “This 11J not only saw fair and legitimate demands, but also, and very clearly, what they want to reach those who fight against Cuba”.
A month after July 11th, it is evident that the voices of those fighting Cuba are becoming bigger and more recognizable, because they have the power and the means to not only be heard, but also to be respected. But for a long time this island struggled not to submit to this and struggled on the margins of a system that never stopped oppressing it. Perhaps now is the time when revolutionary voices, always so muted, can finally begin to be heard more.