A police unit unexpectedly raids a house in a peaceful neighborhood in the US capital. The head of the unit captures Howard Marks while telling him: “By order of the pre-crime unit of the District of Columbia you are arrested for the future murder of Sara Marks and Donald Dubin.” It is the year 2054 and this is the first scene of the science fiction movie Prior Judgment by Steven Spielberg. It presents the most effective security system in the world, based on acting before a crime occurs. There is an old debate about why the Cuban regime has survived in extreme conditions. Why didn’t massive protests occur in Cuba despite total economic failure, while there are in Chile with a successful economy ?; Why in Cuba did hunger and systemic shortages not generate discontent and democratic governments lose power with a small increase in inflation? After 62 years, to say that Cubans love the revolution is food for fools.
The protests that are taking place in Cuba are unprecedented, they had never been massive, simultaneous and at the national level, there had never been looting, they had never destroyed official vehicles, they had never broken photos of Fidel Castro and they had never openly demanded the end of the dictatorship. The answer to the debate about the survival of the regime is not the charisma of Fidel, nor the health subsidized with money from others. Castroism, after consolidating itself in power by shooting many, managed to build a security system based on the same principle as Spielberg’s film: find out before, dissuade before and act before. The dictatorships of the Latin American right had repressive systems that openly murdered and disappeared. The Cuban dictatorship is different, it works with a preventive system that selectively represses based on intelligence that provides it with massive social control.
When the Sandinistas overthrew Somoza they suffered great frustration at finding the intelligence files. The assumption is that a very sophisticated system existed, but what they found were old photos, misspelled cards, and little serious information. The archives of the former East German state security were made up of millions of documents that 32 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall very little has been studied. Almost all the inhabitants had a token. The documentary Stasiby Christian Gierke shows these immense archives and gives an excellent historical and conceptual description of how the system worked. One of his principles was to “avoid killing” and for this he needed to spy on a massive scale. The 15,000 troops of the dreaded Nazi Gestapo were nothing compared to the more than 200 installations and hundreds of thousands of Stasi members, not counting informants. Cuban security was built in the image and likeness of the Stasi. Both countries were direct borders with their enemy, in addition Berlin and Havana were showcases of communism.
In Cuba, children spy on parents and parents spy on their children, prison guards spy on prisoners and the latter spy on guards, in short, everyone spies on everyone until the central principle of the system is rooted: “fear and distrust”. The Communist Party of Cuba has hundreds of thousands of militants and those who make up the committees for the defense of the revolution are millions. Spying ensures privileges and being discovered as a potential opponent ensures penalties of exclusion in food, health and studies. In Cuba there are not thousands of disappeared as in the Argentine dictatorship or massacres like those of the Central American military. The arrests are selective, torture must not leave a mark and some opponents, instead of being assassinated, die in “accidents” or “commit suicide”. The current protests outnumbered the shock groups beating up the ladies in white and, most importantly, they have brought down the extensive system of espionage and prevention. The Government this time did not even know; fear and its authority over those below weakened.
There is no possible solution to the social crisis because no one is going to subsidize the regime, Russia is tired, China does not give away and Venezuela is finished. In 1980 there was no famine and 10,000 Cubans requested diplomatic asylum at the Peruvian Embassy. The largest asylum case in the history of the world. Later, more than 100,000 Cubans left the island in the Mariel exodus. The 1994 protests on the Malecón, which Fidel Castro himself controlled, also demanded that they be allowed to leave Cuba and the solution was the rafter crisis that allowed thousands to escape from the island. The problem for the regime is that now the protests do not demand escape, but stay and that is why they demand freedom. Ejecting people is a good business for dictators, they take off internal pressure, receive remittances and use emigration as a diplomatic weapon: “if you impose sanctions on me, millions will emigrate, they will stop being my problem and they will become yours.” What is happening in Cuba is a blow to the Cuban immigration blackmail policy that Venezuela has also used.
Díaz-Canel’s speech calling for massive repression is a slap in the face to the patience that Europeans and Canadians have had with the regime. In addition, it carries enormous internal risks because it is a severe change in its security doctrine based on avoiding killing. The information about police officers who refuse to repress or others who abandon their uniforms make sense, something that somehow the Gramma he recognizes when he says that there are revolutionaries confused in the protests. There are already dead and missing, the question is then, will the Armed Forces go out to kill starving Cubans to defend a model that Fidel Castro himself recognized does not work? The protests have placed the dictatorship in the apparent dilemma of: “to kill or not to kill”, if they do not kill the protest grows and if they kill the regime commits suicide.
The farewell to Cuban communism has been too long and this is dangerous. These protests may not be the end, but they can be the beginning of the end. The solution is not to kill, but to reform. Cuba does not need a massacre of its people or a tragic end for those who govern. The way out should be to negotiate a democratic opening, allow independent parties and media, hold elections, reconcile with exile, open the economy to foreign investment, and liberate the entrepreneurial capacities of Cubans. In short, build an exit where no one needs to leave and everyone can return. The Castro brothers missed the opportunity to get along with Carter and Clinton and scoffed at the Obama deals. But it is never too late to correct. A few days before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Erich Honecker, East German Prime Minister, refused to carry out reforms and gave a speech in which he presumed that his country was the 10th largest economy in the world. Mikhail Gorbachev then said some prophetic words: “Life punishes those who postpone it.” What came next we all know.
Joaquin Villalobos He is a consultant for the resolution of international conflicts.
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