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    What I Said at FIU

    What I Said at FIU / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
    Posted on December 9, 2014

    Translator’s Note: On Thursday, Dec. 4, 2014, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
    participated in a panel discussion at Florida International University,
    in Miami. The program announcement is here.

    Since the time of the Iron Curtain and Soviet socialism, the word,
    “solidarity,” has been one of value in anti-totalitarian use. Within the
    dictatorial models that communists have historically imposed every time
    they have taken power, it is impossible to socialize if not through the
    power of the State/God. Every social bond is regulated as deemed
    convenient by a regime that, on principle, politicizes all, but in
    practice depoliticizes society.

    There is no political life after the communist parties appropriate
    power, be it through bullets or ballots. This should be sufficient cause
    to ponder whether the communist parties — just like the fascists or
    racists or fundamentalists — deserve the right to play the democratic
    game. The parties that aspire to be not part, but all, have not
    demonstrated that they are capable of responding to or respecting the
    rule of law.

    In the face of such false en masse socialization produced by stagnant
    socialist systems, for the individual to be in solidarity is, then, a
    way of living in the truth, of involving oneself in the complex social
    fabric, of reacting against systemic injustices, of not abandoning those
    displaced by the utopia.

    In the face of a monolithic state that hijacks everything to the
    ideological spectrum, solidarity embodies the rediscovery of the
    individual, of his inner freedom and of his rights to manifest it, and
    also the revaluation of his dignity as a person, of his inviolable human
    condition. Solidarity thus became a secret word, subversive and redeeming.

    In Cuba, the prestige of this word — as all language that has been
    strip-mined by the State — is synonymous with dangerousness. Solidarity,
    a word derived from “sun,” [“sol” in Spanish] was forced into the
    counterrevolutionary catacombs. As with the term, “human rights,”
    solidarity suffered the stigma of clandestinity. I suspect that the word
    barely arouses sympathies in the average Cuban, who associates it with
    conspiracies incubated abroad and thus justifies his own humiliation at
    having to survive with his head bowed.

    Peoples learn from their tyrants. In that sense, the Cuban people are
    cynically wise. At this point in history it is almost unjust to ask them
    for more. We have sanctioned Castroism with our best spontaneous
    weapons, even while these same weapons make us a bit more complicit:
    silence, apathy, repression through inertia, pretending to walk the walk
    out of an instinct of self-preservation. Against a regime like that of
    the Castros, to peacefully preach solidarity is also to remember that
    all gospels end in a via crucis, in the deadly hands of State Security,
    an entity specifically dedicated to dissolving any trace of solidarity.

    Thus the preciousness of the least gesture of our many foreign friends.
    They observe us, and they work and take risks for Cuba, without the
    straightjacket of the Revolution’s compensatory myths: the social
    programs, the high professional level of our countrymen, and the
    stability gained by sterility of life in our olive-green bubble, which
    now is mutating from the color of military uniforms to the color of dollars.

    Thus the incalculable worth of the courageous acts of Cubans surrounded
    by Castroism everywhere. Blackmailing Castroism and academic Castroism,
    or both. Castroism of the bourse and of the beast, or both. Idiotic
    Castroism and ideological Castroism, or both. Castroism as
    anti-establishment therapy or sentimental, conciliatory Castroism.

    Not to fall into paralyzing pessimism, but there is scarce room for hope
    in this tragedy, and therefore hope shines brilliantly to the point of
    virtue. It is this State-sponsored thuggery that makes it so that not
    one leader of the pro-democracy movements in Cuba has not foretold his
    or her death, carried out with exceptional viciousness, as in the cases
    of Laura Pollán and Oswaldo Payá.

    The diasporization of our nation starts with our laziness toward
    fighting injustice somewhere else, as long as it doesn’t concern us
    personally. In fact, after it does concern us, many times we Cubans
    prefer to bury our pain and our injury, preventing some friendly hand
    from “politicizing” their trauma, presuming that doing so would make
    things worse for us.

    This is how we end up being, as a people, Fidelism’s most reliable
    source of governability, its raw material that will not betray it.
    Although, as I’ve already said, day by day we also vote in a plebiscite
    with our feet, which is one of the most constant behaviors that should
    be weighed in favor of the Revolution: we leave the Island, be it only
    to turn back; we leave, be it only to construct a new, post-national
    servitude, in which we know that politics continues being not part of
    our life, but rather a terrible “all” whose long, barbaric arm could
    reach our family in whatever corner they might be.

    Not one of my columns or photographs since my ostracism in Havana would
    have had the same impact if not for the solidarity, almost always, of
    the survivors of socialism. This never implied the most minimal
    interference with my content. I have not evolved as an accuser: it is
    possible that I am not even a democrat so much as an author interested
    in the ultimate. Thus before even knowing it, I was already free to the
    point of intolerability.

    I am not interested in correction, be it mental or corporal, and I am
    bored by any creation that from its genesis already defines its destiny
    (and its meaning). I am obsessed by the limits of provocation. My fury
    at, and autos-da-fé about, Cuba do not remain in the little fossil farm
    of Fidelism. Rather, they go seeking in the black holes of our democracy
    that never knew its value apart from the currency of violence, starting
    with the land destroyed in the wars of independence. These wars
    consecrated the gallons of spilled blood as a universal value, placed
    martyrdom over reconciliation, suicide over surrender, hate for our very
    selves mutated into hate for our Cuban difference: a civic poverty that
    plays out as tribalism and that, well into the 21st century, still
    seduces and traps us.

    There are many dramatic anecdotes of solidarity with the imaginary free
    Cuba, such that our desolation is inconsolable as a people living under
    an apartheid that the world does not recognize. As an emblem, I would
    like to mention an example exclusive to Cubans which we are careful to
    cite, for fear (at times average and other times downright miserable) of
    remaining in anyone’s territory, in or out of Cuba, as if we weren’t
    already pariahs in perpetuity, in or out of Cuba.

    I’m referring to legislated solidarity, to the very rare documents that
    have sought to wrest liberty from legality. In Cuba, of course, no
    citizen initiative ever pointed in such a radical fashion to a
    refounding of the republic as did the Varela Project. This enterprise
    received from Oswaldo Payá its genius of inspiration and perseverance,
    but it was also our great public march against the usurpers of the law,
    a milestone for future generations to know that all measures short of
    bloodshed were attempted, that there was no humanly possible way of
    telling the Castros that they are not welcome in our homeland, and that
    it is they and not some foreign power who have hijacked our sovereignty
    as a nation.

    Other documents of legislated solidarity — that also do not seem to be
    in fashion amongst a dissident movement that no longer pretends to be an
    opposition and even less to stop being an opposition and aspire to power
    through ballots instead of bullets — can be found in North American
    legislation. Stone me as the Castroites have always stoned me before and
    after Castro, but in the best of circumstances, it is an act of
    ignorance not to cite that the so-called Helms-Burton Act is actually
    named the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act.

    Beyond the technicalities of geopolitics, this document establishes the
    keys to repealing the North American economic blockade. The few sections
    that discuss normalization of Cuba-US relations — without being
    complicit with Castroism — are much more respectful of Cubans than the
    avalanche of editorials from The New York Times, or the campaigns by
    NGOs that from Miami to Washington DC want to capitalize on the
    pretend-changes in Cuba, on the auto-transition of power to power and
    not of law to law, of a tired Castroism to a dynastic, post-Castroism
    with the literal blood-heirs of the Castros at the helm.

    Section 205 of the Act lists in legal language the minimal
    characteristics needed to jump-start our delayed democracy: Legalize
    political activity. Liberate political prisoners. Commit to holding free
    elections. Establish independence among the branches of the State.
    Legalize workers’ unions. Allow free individual expression and a free
    press. Respect private property. Protect the rights of citizens on the
    Island and in Exile.

    In that risky context wherein a State capitalism is constructed in Cuba
    which is no less totalitarian than communism (which is another form of
    centralized capitalism), perhaps it would be pertinent for Cubans — with
    a voice empowered by their labor for liberty — to demand of democracies
    not just one but many laws for liberty — so that the Hierarchs of Havana
    — who would never sit at a table of reconciliation because they do not
    recognize their enemies as anything more than potential exterminations
    to be carried out — will at least feel some effective, legal pressure
    against their opaque tactics. Thus an unequivocal sign would be given
    that they do not bear any kind of legitimacy — because 56 years of
    governing in their belligerent, ill-advised and manipulative manner, are
    more than enough.

    Translated By: Alicia Barraqué Ellison

    5 December 2014

    Source: What I Said at FIU / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo | Translating Cuba
    http://translatingcuba.com/what-i-said-at-fiu-orlando-luis-pardo-lazo/

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