On Miami's Cuban Connection, Stuck on the Palmetto and Critical Miami, all long since gone, Alex (now of Miami & Beyond) and I often, and, for a time, almost on a daily basis, debated Cuba's past and present. These exchanges were always entertaining and sometimes instructive (for both parties, I hope). Not quite Adams and Jefferson unbosoming their souls to each other and posterity, but not without interest as an example of the importance and even possibility of civil discourse among Cubans. Interest was also lent to our discussions by the fact that we were both equally stubborn (or committed, as Cubans see it) and refused to concede the last word to the other (we could hope as much for the McCain-Obama debates; we are sure to get it in the Biden-Palin one). The fact that we do not know each other and never exchanged so much as a private e-mail between us though thousands and thousands of words publicly, did not dilute the intense character of our exchanges. Ultimately, however, our differences were about approaches, not goals. We saw eye to eye on what mattered most — the malevolent role of Castro in our history and the need to finally consign him to our past.
That we also agree that the Cuban people are Castro's victims (not accessories after the fact that must be rendered in a pressure cooker), or that we both regard the survival of the Cuban people rather than their martyrdom at Castro's hands as the only victory which we can still obtain over him, is not in the least surprising to me. Sin pueblo no hay patria.
Though not surprised I was greatly gratified to see that our common concern for the Cuban people and interest in their survival would lead us both to condemn, independently and in equally forceful terms, those who welcome natural catastrophes as God-ordained opportunities to wreak their vengeance not on Castro but on the Cuban people.
At Miami & Beyond ["Nothing to Buy in Cuba," Sept. 12, 2008], Alex honored RCAB by quoting at length from our condemnation of those who dream of a Cuba free of all Cubans rather than a free Cuba for all Cubans. For my part, let me also declare my agreement with Alex's eloquent defense of our people's humanity and excoriation of those who deny it or hold it cheap.
From Miami & Beyond:
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Remittances are also subversive by nature, because they are the main source of wealth not provided by the omnipotent communist state.
A communist system has a foundation of total obedience. You will work for the state and you will work where you are assigned and you will receive the same salary as anybody else with the same job, regardless of productivity. To deviate from this system creates subversion. The increasing number of people who opt to stay out of the system are sending a big "F you" to the regime — something only a person that has shook the mental shackles can do.
A communist system has as its main principle the paternalistic responsibility of the state to support all citizens. Nobody can provide like the state do. The people who thanks to the remittances and the black market are able to live much better now realize that the state has failed. Most Cubans today know the state can't provide even their basic needs and it's up to them to procure their subsistence in the grey economy. Those Cubans are more free. So a doctor becomes a taxi driver and a dentist does work on the side. In a normal country this is a sorry state of affairs (and so it's in Cuba, let's be clear) but their motivation is self-betterment, they are taking an active, if desperate, stake in their own lives.
A communist system postulates equality. But remittances and black market income create a big gap between those who enjoy them and those who don't. Now, it's easy to say poor Cubans outside the hard currency circle will hate their luckier compatriots, but give them more credit. They realize it's working for the state what keeps them in poverty. If the state allows these policies of inequality, the state doesn't have their interests in mind and it's only interested in its own survival.
Black market and grey economy are illegal enterprises in market economies. In communist countries they are a form of survival and since they violate unjust laws, a form of resistance. When a Cuban is forced to quit his poorly paid state job and make a living hustling in the black market, they are resisting the totalitarian state who tells them "you can't do that, you have to work for the greater good", and in the process they are picking up the skills of self-reliance and entrepreneurship which will be invaluable in a future Cuba.
Disobedience, self reliance and subversion of the basic principles of the communist state. Even at the though price of giving hard currency to the regime, remittances make people more free.