Cuba and The New “Abnormality”
By Ricardo Ronquillo Bello
June 20, 2020
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
It’s not normal, it’s not normal, it’s not normal… I was repeating as in the chorus of an endless serenade by a well-known Cuban politician several months ago. He was doing it when the coronavirus still seemed no more than a disturbing little strain licking itself with its appearance in a market in faraway Wuhan and its unexpected and mournful Bib bang was not spreading it at lightning speed across the four corners of the planet.
Normality versus abnormality, here is a question, we could define a peculiar Cuban Shakespearean drama, which feeds on strains, some as strange and imposed on us as the very COVID-19, and others very much made in Cuba, made in Cuban socialism, as much as they make us proud in some cases, or beat us Theophilus-like on the chin of our welfare in others.
Because of the above, while a good part of the world is heading towards the renamed “new normality” – despite the fact that the daily death of thousands of people and other misadjustments, which some romantically believe will be corrected by the arts of the coronavirus, discredit or unmask it – in Cuba we should better assume that the country, with its first phase of de-escalation, is advancing towards its new “abnormality”, yes, as you read it, abnormality.
In this regard, the aforementioned Cuban politician can be justified not “in part”, as the vocabulary of the Creole bureaucracy is accustomed to saying, but in all his parts, which he repeats, repeats and repeats, and it is not a “rattle” of any kind, that much of what we live, enjoy or suffer in this archipelago is definitely not normal, although some people might like to believe it or even make us believe it for sometimes very devious purposes.
Let’s take an example, of those that were heard in passing and unfortunately without any major media outbreaks, in the fight against the coronavirus: in Cuban prisons there were no cases of the virus detected and, consequently, no deaths. Compare this with what happened or what is still happening in other places, or with humiliating snapshots of prisoners in the region that have shaken the world’s conscience.
The same could be said of the gesture made by the Cuban Government and people – quite silenced, by the way, even by the powerful international media of the most benefited country – to the MS Braemar cruise ship passengers. A later report by Ignacio Ramonet would highlight Cuba’s rare horizon in the tragic fate of many of those strollers adrift in the ocean of selfishness and lack of solidarity framed by COVID-19.
It is not normal in this pandemic world -it was not so before and, despite all the good omens, it will surely not be so common in the future- that the human being comes first, that definition contained in all the documents that give shape to the aspirations of Cuban socialism in the 21st century and that, due to repetitions and hackneyedness, sometimes become pedestrian slogans.
It is worthwhile “baldly” to compare those two previous pearls with the Malthusian reason that spread throughout the world at the same rate as the coronavirus to try to defend that the economy – it would be better to say the capital of the powerful – should be above the value of any life.
From the philosophy of disposable beings did not escape even prominent nobles, from whom at least a rationality as high as their humanism would be expected. However, some calmly justify, without any charge of conscience, that throughout Europe the number of deaths from COVID-19 is similar to that which occurs in a very strong flu season. Something like that is pure waste to form so much international fuss for what is nothing more than a common cold.
It is also very suggestive that the proposals that the highest Cuban authorities are offering to their announced de-escalation – already in the first phase in most of the national territory – point more towards a new “abnormality”, than a return to the previous normality, which would be like continuing to carry old atrophys and vices. We had already made progress in the midst of the virus.
This is out of tune with the dismissive way in which it seems that the lessons of the coronavirus will be assumed worldwide, from which an infinite number of currents and conceptions could be armed, from the most reactionary to those that claim to humanize capitalism or warn of reconfiguring the role of states and public and private actors.
The new “normality” here would be to return to that situation, for moments of levitating resistance, in the face of the U.S. blockade, without really aiming -with forcefulness and rigor- at a program of national development that, although it does not prevent the criminals and growing branches, definitely overcomes them more successfully than in the past. It would be to continue to rely on boats to fill the plates and as many thirsty tanks.
The new normality would be to settle for the scandalous resilience of old knots, which tie us to worn-out and repetitive ways of overcoming serious structural problems. It would be to continue feeding the criminal chains as opposed to the legal and necessary chains between the public and private sectors of the country. It would be to ignore the modern rules of communication -based on closeness and transparency- in order to continue clouding them with prejudice and instrumentality. It would be, it would be, it would be…
And nothing that was announced in the country for the post-COVID-19 escalation resembles the above, because it would be to resort to the old and worn-out normality, when what we need is to rush, overwhelmingly, towards a revolutionary abnormality.
But,” the politician would say, “it would be blissfully normal, right, normal…, although it does speed up a little, as Formell would say.