Prison Diary LVI: Decency and Decorum According to the Dictator – Part 2 / Angel Santiesteban

Discourse of the Dictator II

“President” Raul Castro, cynically, busied himself patching the leak, as we Cubans say, when in his speech he said, “I imagine the news in the coming days, in the great international press that specializes in denigrating Cuba and subjecting us to a frenzied scrutiny,” that is: their having a different opinion, as they have for the more than half century of the dictatorship, is an attack on the country, a subversive plan.

With complete shamelessness, he said, “We have become accustomed to living under siege and don’t restrict ourselves to debating the reality with total harshness,” which might seem like a joke had it not cost the Cuban people so dearly.

Later on, although it seems impossible, in increased the government’s audacity.

He spoke of the pain of twenty years, of the “increasing deterioration of moral and civic values, such as honesty, decency, shame, decorum, honor and sensitivity to the problems of others,” as if the great school of these losses wasn’t his mis-governing, for more than fifty years, a country that he has administered as if it were a private ranch, an extension of the Biran of his parents.

A subject people, that has been brought to a high level of poverty and human misery, where crime began to be a method of survival and stealing food from workplaces, in order to survive, began to be seen by society as acceptable, permitted, and as the years passed the act of stealing came to be called “struggle” and those who did it “fighters,” as he recognized in his discourse: “So, one part of society has come to see stealing from the State as normal,” as if it weren’t legitimate and they hadn’t stolen the lives of several generations.

That was the beginning of the amorality, they turned the country into that: a gold digger people, going to the West, risking everything to try their luck. Except that for the Cuban, any latitude looked promising, a better song than reality, like an unreachable promise offered by its leader Fidel Castro.

In this way, Raul Castro summarized the negative which had been known for years: it is an unstoppable epidemic. This, the massive number of Cuban prisons, overcrowded with young people waiting for the chance to get out and commit crimes, because they know no other way of life; there is no hope ahead for them or decent way to survive, other than to emigrate.

At the end of his speech he detailed, photographically, the Cuban society they turned it into, the “new pines that dreamed“; but never acknowledged their guilt, never admitted that we need another model, that fifty-four years are more than enough to understand that they are not offering a dignified path, and that it’s time to allow Cuba to start its ascent to economic development and human betterment.

In his speech Raul Castro asserted that screaming out loud in the street is bad behavior, forgetting that earlier it was they who screamed and called it “Revolutionaries defending the Revolution.” When they screamed “Worms! Let them go!” and handed out beatings and humiliations, their conduct then wasn’t improper. From the time we were children they trained us to scream slogans in the street in support of some national event, or to repudiate, in the world they programmed, those they classify as undesirable.

Illegal constructions, like the black market, have been the relief of the Cuban family, because their non-working government has not given them solutions to their needs.

How can they demand that people work full days when they don’t pay them for their real work? Their sacrifices, like during colonization, are paid for with trinkets.

One of Raul Castro’s great lies in his presentation was to assert that if society is warped and overrun with disorder and marginality, it has been, “Abusing the nobility of the Revolution which hasn’t resorted to the use of force, favoring conviction and political work.”

Don’t panic dear readers, it’s not a joke, although it could be in the genre known as “noir.” Later he urged State agencies, “the Police, the Comptroller General of the Republic, the Prosecutor, and the Courts,” to push even harder. That is, we should expect the prison population to grow even more than its already excessive numbers, the prisons will triple. It will be one great prison within the other floating prison.

Then, the ruler “meditated” on the negative demonstrations, thought about everything that had deceived the world, the specialized agencies, like the United Nations, and he had “the bitter feeling that we are an increasingly educated society, but not, perhaps, a more cultured one.”

Unfortunately this is Cubans’ reality, but even worse is that in his speech he didn’t recognize his inability to govern, nor even touch on the possibility of accepting some blame.

One comes to the conclusion that he presides over a putrid society that should force him to resign, to give way to a new formula that reawakens and steers the twisted path followed in this half century.

To retrace all our steps will cost us just as much as the distance we have strayed from the dignity and honesty of José Martí that we have lost.

But we must come to the conclusion that our country was corrupted, crime and marginality became widespread, by the work and grace of the Caribbean winds.

The Castros… they never had anything to do with this reality.

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats, Prison 1580

Editor’s note: This post is the second part of what Angel sent me when he was still in Prison 1580, in San Miguel del Padron. It refers to Raul Castro’s speech at the First Ordinary Session of the VIII Legislature of the National Assembly of People’s Power at the Convention Center on 7 July 2013. The first part was published August 5th.

30 September 2013

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