Cuba Huts

By Eduardo Galeano (Long time Latin American socialist and anti-imperialist, author of THE OPEN VEINS OF LATIN AMERICA)

The recent wave of executions and arrests in Cuba is very good news for
the universal superpower, which remains obsessed with removing this
persistent thorn from its paw. But it is very bad news-and very sad-for
those of us who admired the valor of this tiny country, so capable of
greatness, but who also believe that freedom and justice go together or
not at all.

It is a time of very bad news: As if the perfidious impunity of the
slaughter in Iraq were not enough, the Cuban government is now
committing acts that, as Uruguayan writer Carlos Quijano would say, "sin
against hope."

Rosa Luxembourg, who gave her life for the socialist revolution,
disagreed with Lenin over the project of a new society. Her words of
warning proved prophetic, and eighty-five years after she was
assassinated in Germany she is still right: "Freedom for only the
supporters of the government, however many there may be, is not freedom.
Real freedom is freedom for those who think differently."

And: "Without general elections, without freedom of the press and
unlimited freedom of assembly, without a contest of free opinions, life
stagnates and withers in all public institutions, and the bureaucracy
becomes the only active element."  The twentieth century, and what we've
had of the twenty-first, has seen a double betrayal of socialism: the
abandonment of the principles of social democracy, which has peaked with
Tony Blair, and the collapse of the communist states-turned police
states. Many of these simply expired, without pain or glory, and their
recycled bureaucrats now serve the new master with pathetic enthusiasm.

The Cuban revolution was born to be different. Assailed by the incessant
hounding from the empire to the north, it survived as i t could and not
as it wished. The people, valiant and generous, sacrificed a great deal
to stay on their feet in a world of rampant servility. But as year after
year of trials buffeted the island, the revolution began to lose the
spontaneity and freshness that marked its beginning. I say this with
sadness. Cuba hurts.

My conscience clear, I will repeat what I have previously said both on
and away from the island: I do not believe in, and have never believed
in single-party democracy (including in the United States, where there
is a single party disguised as two). Nor do I believe that the
omnipotence of the state is a valid response to the omnipotence of the

The long prison sentences handed down in Cuba can only backfire. They
make into martyrs for freedom of expression certain groups that operated
openly from the house of James Cason, representative of Bush interests
in Havana. Acting as if these groups constituted a grave threat, Cuban
authorities paid them homage and granted them the prestige that words
acquire when they are forbidden.

This "democratic opposition" has nothing to do with the real hopes of
honest Cubans. If the revolution had not done them the favor of
repressing them, and if Cuba had full freedom of the press and opinion,
these pretend dissidents would be unmasked and receive the punishment
they deserve, the punishment of solitude, for their notorious nostalgia
for the colonial period in a country that chose the path of national

The United States, that indefatigable mill of world dictators, does not
have the moral authority to tutor anyone on democracy, though President
Bush could certainly give lessons on the death penalty, which he
championed as governor of Texas, signing
warrants for the execution of 152 people. But do true revolutions, those
that are generated from below, like Cuba's, need to learn bad habits
from the enemies they are fighting? The death penalty has no
justification.  Will Cuba be the next prey for President Bush's
state-hunting party? That's what his brother Jeb, governor of Florida,
when he said, "Now we'll have to take a look at our neighborhood." Cuban
exile Zoe Valdes hurled her demand via Spanish television that "they
bomb the dictator." Secretary of Defense, or rather Offense, Rumsfeld,
clarified the matter of whether Cuba was next on the hit list: "For now,
no." It seems that the dangerometer and guiltoscope, the instruments
used to select the Washington's next victims, are pointing instead to
Syria. Who knows? For now, as Rumsfeld says.

I believe in the sacred right to self-determination for people
everywhere and at any time. I can say this without any twinge of
conscience because I spoke out publicly each time this right was
violated in the name of socialism, to the applause of vast sectors of
the left-when, for example, Soviet tanks entered Prague in 1968, or
Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in late 1979.

You can see in Cuba signs of the decadence of a model of centralized
power that transforms into a revolutionary virtue obedience to orders
that come from above. The blockade and a thousand other forms of
aggression, are impeding the development of democracy in Cuba, feeding
the militarization of power, and providing alibis for bureaucratic
rigidity.  Current events show that it is harder than ever to open a
city that
was closed because it had to defend itself. But they also show that now
more than ever democratic opening is inevitable. The revolution, which
was capable of surviving the fury of ten American Presidents and twenty
CIA directors, needs the energy that comes from participation and
diversity to face the dark times that surely lie ahead. It must be the
Cubans and the Cubans alone, with no interference from outside, who
forge a democracy
for themselves and win the rights they lack, working within the
revolu tion that they made, the most profound on Earth, animated by the
greatest solidarity that I know.