Thursday, December 1, 2016

Regime to Cubans: Mourn Castro or suffer dangerous consequences of dissent or indifference

“The difference between the communist and capitalist systems is that, although both give you a kick in the ass, in the communist system you have to applaud, while in the capitalist system you can scream." - Reinaldo Arenas, Before Night Falls, 1993

Eduardo Cardet of MCL badly beaten, jailed and threatened with 15 years in prison 
Danilo Maldonado, a Cuban artist, was beaten up, abducted and continues to be detained for shouting "Down with Fidel!, Down with Raul!" live from the Habana Libre Hotel in the Vedado Saturday, November 26, 2016 at 5 a.m. Six hours later at 11:15am Cuban intelligence officials forced their way into his apartment, physically assaulted him and dragged him away. His story has received coverage in the media but there have been others, but not covered by the English speaking news.

The plight of Eduardo Cardet Concepción, national coordinator of the Christian Liberation Movement (MCL) in Cuba is especially worrying. In an interview published in ACI Press on November 30, 2016 Eduardo declared that the true legacy of Fidel Castro for Cuba is sadness and "misery of all kinds" and he went on to say that those communists praising Fidel Castro abroad "have wanted to have a regime of this kind" for their own country. Cardet went on to observe that although Fidel Castro had died that "repression has intensified" and that the mass exodus of Cubans "is a direct indicator that this is the true legacy of Fidel Castro, a painful legacy, a legacy of sadness, a legacy of misery of all kinds. There's really nothing positive. " The Christian Liberation Movement leader was also interviewed on Spanish radio where he outlined the measures taken by the Castro regime to pressure and manipulate Cubans into creating an image of Cubans mourning the dead dictator, but that in reality Fidel Castro "was rejected and hated by the Cuban people." Viewing the scenes in Miami of thousands of Cubans and Cuban Americans living in freedom taking to the streets to celebrate Castro's death would back up Eduardo Cardet's assertion.
In the early morning hours of today various police officials detain and badly beat up Eduardo Cardet and he is currently in a dungeon in Holguín, Cuba. Regime officials are threatening him with 15 years in prison for "meeting with people he shouldn't have during his visit to the United States last week." At 4:16pm the Christian Liberation Movement tweeted the above message in Spanish, "Urgent: Eduardo Cardet of #MCL will be taken to court for contempt, public scandal, resistance to authority and injuries."

These courageous activists are not the only ones being targeted but the Cuban populace has a whole is being pressured and implicitly threatened to mourn Fidel Castro or face the consequences. Cubans who have been caught playing music for example have had their sound systems taken away. Some Cubans at their work have been told to go out and participate in official mourning activities.

This is totalitarianism. An authoritarian regime will be satisfied with your non-participation in political activities and silence but a totalitarian regime requires that you take part and mouth the right words and sign the right documents

Some experts do not like to use the word "totalitarianism" because they feel it does not address the complexity of these type of regimes, but I disagree for one simple reason it provides an effective and brief description of how this type of regime operates.

The dictatorship in Cuba is a communist totalitarian regime and because of this it strives to control everything. Ta-Nehisi Coates, a correspondent for The Atlantic presented a classical definition of totalitarianism in his March 26, 2014 essay "The Meaning of Totalitarianism":  
Although it has been most often used to describe Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, the word “totalitarian”- totalitarismo - was first used in the context of Italian fascism. Invented by one of his critics, the term was adopted with enthusiasm by Benito Mussolini, and in one of his speeches he offered what is still the best definition of the term: “Everything within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.” Strictly defined, a totalitarian regime is one that bans all institutions apart from those it has officially approved. A totalitarian regime thus has one political party, one educational system, one artistic creed, one centrally planned economy, one unified media, and one moral code. In a totalitarian state there are no independent schools, no private businesses, no grassroots organizations, and no critical thought. Mussolini and his favorite philosopher, Giovanni Gentile, once wrote of a “conception of the State” that is “all-embracing; outside of it no human or spiritual values can exist, much less have value.
This is what is meant when one defines the dictatorship in Cuba as totalitarian. Under the Castro regime only one political party is legally recognized in the Cuban constitution, the Communist party. Private schools were closed in Cuba in the 1960s and all is controlled by the dictatorship and students who dissent, such as gather signatures for a legal citizen initiative like the Varela Project are expelled. There are no legally recognized independent non-governmental organizations in Cuba that are truly independent. The economy remains under control of the Castro regime with the military directly controlling 80% of the economy. Any foreign investors must enter into partnerships with the dictatorship. Workers salaries are paid by foreign investors to a regime agency that in turn pays Cuban workers in the local and devalued currency. Employers who have tried to pay workers directly under the table have been arrested and jailed. Critical thought can fall under the categories of oral or  written enemy propaganda and is punishable by prison. Also associating with persons with these ideas opens one up to a charge of "predilection to social dangerousness" and can also be imprisoned.

Hannah Arendt, the political scientist who wrote the opus The Origins of Totalitarianism offered further insights into how totalitarian functions at a lecture in Oberlin College on October 28, 1954:    

“If we look at it as a form of government, it rests on two pillars: on ideology and on terror. It is no tyranny because tyranny is lawlessness and because it is content with the political sphere in the more narrow sense of the word.” ...“Authoritarianism in many respects the opposite of totalitarianism. Totalitarianism possible only after all authorities broke down.” 
With the death of Fidel Castro, the great helmsman of the communist revolution in Cuba, although a non-entity in day to day operations of the dictatorship over the past decade still the symbol he represents now departed spooks the regime leadership. They are trying to strengthen their main two pillars: ideology and terror. Cubans are given a choice swear ideological loyalty to the regime or be targeted for terror that may include other members of your family.

There is a reason that totalitarian regimes have lasted so long.

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