Domingo, 22 de Septiembre de 2019
Última actualización: 18:50 CEST
12 figures reflect on the last 60 years

'No revolution can claim to last for 60 years without falling into a contradiction'

Abilio Estévez, writer. (EFE)

Can we still talk about "revolution" in Cuba?

If I'm not mistaken, the word "revolution" defines a "radical change of something", and there is no person or country that can endure radical change for 60 years. No revolution can claim to last for 60 years without falling into a contradiction. I find it obvious, embarrassingly so, that there has been no revolution in Cuba in many, many years. And not only because of this length of time, but also because when the effort for the transformation of economic, political, and ideological realities finally seizes power, the revolution becomes institutionalized, stagnant.

Once what they call "freedom" is achieved, walls are lifted to defend it; armies are equipped, and sophisticated espionage agents are trained to maintain this freedom. A powerful external enemy is sought and found, which makes it possible to classify, persecute, crush wills, imprison and even shoot those who disagree, because they endanger equality, freedom, and, of course, the sacred values of the nation. When a revolution lays claim to absolute truth, and decides that nobody can have his own opinion, or refrain from lending it his support, as Todorov said, it has already become the opposite of what its initial aspiration aspired to. This is the inevitable moment when the rebel becomes a bureaucrat. And control by a sole party, the inability to disagree, constitutes totalitarianism. The desire to say NO, which gave rise to the movement, now requires saying YES.

If there was ever a noble attempt to improve the lives of Cubans, the conformation of the Almighty State, the possession of power (which implies, logically, personal ambition and the fear of losing it) altered this very soon. I realize that these are truisms, and I'm sorry. But, perhaps it is not a bad idea to remember these commonplaces when reflecting on a period this long during which a people has been controlled: 60 years! 60 years of saying YES.

It is difficult for me to identify exactly the date on which the Revolution began its process of paralysis. It is a process, which means that it unfolds over time. Maybe in 1961 when Fidel Castro said that bit about "with the Revolution, everything, against the Revolution, nothing"? Or perhaps when the forced labor camps (UMAP) were created for the "reconversion" of Catholics, homosexuals and other "misfits"? Or how about 1968, with the so-called Revolutionary Offensive and the justification of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia? This was an important year because, in addition, it saw the state intervention of small businesses and the recognition (and stigmatization) of Fuera del Juego by Heberto Padilla, and Los siete contra Tebas by Antón Arrufat.

In any case, by 1971, with the First National Congress on Education and Culture, the ship had stopped, definitively.

What should be salvaged from the revolutionary period?

The truth is that I don't know how to answer that. The so-called "Revolution" is now the "Ancien Régime". What would be fair would be to build a country that nobody was obsessed with fleeing from.

How would you describe what Cuba is going through today?

I don't know the Cuba of today well enough, and I don't feel capable of classifying a long period that is quite unclassifiable. Besides, organizing, defining and determining are not among my strong points. I am reminded of a wonderful novel by Joseph Conrad, when he was at his peak, entitled The Shadow Line, in which a young captain dares to set sail with a crew of sailors who have the plague. On the high seas, the vessel suffers is paralyzed by a dead calm. And the men die ... And the boat goes nowhere...