Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"A new stage in the ideological combat"

Cuban official reaction to the American election has been sparse, from what I have seen.

Before the election, Fidel Castro wrote one of his reflections in which he said he was being careful not to make an endorsement, although he did allow that Senator Obama, in his view, is “without doubt more intelligent, cultured, and level-headed than his Republican adversary.”

Vice President Machado Ventura answered reporters’ questions about the American election last Sunday as he toured areas damaged by Paloma. The Obama election, he said, would be “interesting if it really demonstrates that there is change.” Regarding possible diplomatic contacts, he reiterated that Cuba “is willing to talk without conditions, on the basis of equality, we cannot accept negotiating anything with conditions…Raul has already said this three times, we’ll see if he says it a fourth time…”

Cuban media coverage has been sparse, too. The day after the election, according to El Pais, the U.S. election result was the third item on television and Radio Rebelde newscasts (in the latter case, the Obama story followed items on the 50th anniversary of a revolutionary event and unrest in Spain).

So far, without a doubt, the prize for the most interesting reaction goes to former government minister Armando Hart.

His essay in Granma, written just before the election, uses Lenin’s “What is to be done?” essay as a touchstone, and it gets real academic real fast. But before Hart takes that plunge, he discusses one aspect of the promised Obama Cuba policy – more Cuban American travel – and declares it a problem.

If [Obama] keeps his promise [regarding travel], a new stage in the ideological combat between the Cuban Revolution and imperialism will be born…to achieve the ideological vulnerability to which we aspire, it will be necessary to design a new theoretical and propagandistic conception regarding our ideas and their origin.

Among those who travel, there would be:

…“Cubans” who are against the Revolution or who simply left Cuba for other reasons and whom we cannot characterize that way. Add to this…Americans who seek to develop relations of some kind with our country. That is, we have before us the immense challenge of confronting a new time in the cultural struggle against the enemy.

Maybe he should have thanked President Bush for limiting travel, and keeping the need for “ideological combat” to a minimum.


Unknown said...

On Hart's article: well, duh. It seems to me foolish even to argue that travel restrictions do not benefit the camarilla as surely as they hurt the cuban populous. As you indicate (by giving him the "prize") the only interesting thing about these coments is that they are publicly vocalized at all in the "official organ" (love how that sounds).
On a general note, please keep up you great and informative work in this blog. I follow it daily an greatly admire it, as one of those "'Cubans' who...simply left Cuba".

Mambi_Watch said...

Ditto. The comments are very informative. And the post is a useful summation.

Anonymous said...

Phil, they are not saying the won't accept the challenge. At least, no yet and not Hart. I bet they will play the game, if there is some move in the US policy toward Cuba. The embargo and the hostility of the US toward Cuba has been, first of all, a real thing. Not just an excuse. Future topics:
- Guantanamo Base
- The Cuban five and the prosecution of Posada Carriles and the like
- Imdemnizations. At least cancelling them out with the Nationalizations of the early 60's.

A very important future narrative could be "now-we-will-try-again-what-we-couldn't-achieve-because-of-the-embargo". That will certainly find some echoes in a peculiar nostalgy that many old and middle aged Cubans have. There are several combinations for them to play if the US policy toward Cuba changes. But make no mistake Phil, that policy has been criminal. From the very begining. Since 1898 intervention, through 1933 with Sumner Welles, March 1952support to Batista, and specially after 1959. So, no bulling, no pressure.