Cuba: a dictator on a state visit

What can Miguel Díaz-Canel, the president of Cuba, teach Mexico? With what merit or reason will he deliver, it was reported, a speech today in celebration of National Independence? The diplomatic decisions of President López Obrador would be disconcerting if they were not so obvious: it is not national autonomy to defend dictatorships such as those of Venezuela, Cuba or Nicaragua, it is indifference to peoples who are struggling to obtain minimally the same to which their own was entitled. López Obrador: to be an opposition, to express oneself freely, to be able to compete for power, and, when it is won, to hold it.

Díaz-Canel, the Cuban president, does not even reach the epic of his predecessors. Last July, due to the wave of opposition demonstrations that took place in Cuba (harshly repressed by the regime) we said that the only time I was able to interview Fidel Castro was on July 22, 1992 during the Ibero-American Summit in Madrid, at the time of the greatest international isolation of his government.

At that Summit, except for the dialogue with other presidents that then-President Salinas de Gortari gave him (practically his only means of communication with George Bush and then with Bill Clinton at that time), the reception that the other heads of state gave him. Fidel, including Felipe González, president of the Spanish government, had been harsh, cold, including public demonstrations against him in all his public appearances.

Castro that morning was visibly upset. Among other things, we talked about the death of Camilo Cienfuegos and that day Fidel said one of those phrases that could only be explained in the atmosphere of pessimism that surrounded him then: “If I had died then (like Camilo in 1959), today I would also be a hero”. In 1992 it definitely wasn’t.

Fidel died many years later, left power in 2008 and died in 2016. His popularity since 1992 had fluctuations, but the truth is that, in 62 years of government, the Cuban revolution has experienced the setback generated by a policy every day. anachronistic and that separates the discourse from reality, with a bureaucratized State incapable of meeting the minimum demands of the people.

We also said last July that a year before that interview in Madrid, he had been in Havana, to cover the anniversary of the assault on the Moncada barracks. It was assumed that on that occasion the government would somehow follow the opening line of the socialist camp, with the Soviet Union on which it had depended economically since 1962, on the verge of disappearing. That afternoon, after hours of waiting under the Havana sun, Fidel gave a long speech in which, on the contrary, he further hardened the regime (which months ago, as part of an extensive purge, had ordered the execution of the General Arnaldo Ochoa, coincidentally the closest to Gorbachev, military hero in Angola, and in favor of a gradual opening) and launched the so-called special period, which took the popular economy and rationing to extremes that had never been suffered before and whose consequences were drag up today.

When Fidel left the government, his brother Raúl, we said, tried to travel something like the Chinese path of development and in that context the agreements with Barack Obama and the reopening of diplomatic relations were reached, including Obama’s visit to Havana. The dream lasted very little, the regime did not open almost to anything. The thaw ended shortly after with the arrival of Trump to power, coupled with the weakening of the support of the Venezuelan regime for Cuba, already with Díaz-Canel as president.

Decades have passed and the system does not change. Cuba lives today with a population that is increasingly economically distressed, with a regime that is increasingly closed in political and economic terms, with a government made up of bureaucrats unrelated to contact with the people, and with a society that, due to tourism, for contact with exile, through social networks, even if they are restricted and censored, he knows that this is not his manifest destiny.

When the demonstrations took place last July, President Díaz-Canel accused the protesters of being counterrevolutionaries (the vast majority of them, like himself, had not even been born in 1959), said they were manipulated by the United States, held the responsibility for the situation to the blockade that began in 1962, and asked his supporters to take to the streets to “defend the revolution” and to counterattack, with whatever it was, his opponents. And so they did, leaving a few hundred incarcerated.

In the midst of that repressive wave, President López Obrador, whose sympathy for the Cuban regime is public, sent six ships with food, medicine and vaccines to the Cuban government and demanded that the United States end the blockade of Cuba (a useless measure, which ends up being an alibi for the regime), but he never asked the Cuban government not to repress its opponents and to grant basic, political, social and economic freedoms, violated for 62 years. And I endorse that support with the invitation to Díaz-Canel, a dictator on a state visit.

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