Impressions of a meeting with our President at the FMC (+ Video)
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
The President spent much of the time he had to speak (because we spoke more) explaining what it means to lead a country that is blockaded and attacked by the media. At the same time, he reaffirmed what has always been the maxim of this Revolution, to move forward in spite of the blockade, not to stop in front of it.
As it happened to me when I had the opportunity to exchange views with Deputy Minister Johana Odriozola, I realized that managing the economy in the midst of a war like the one we are living through, without applying a neo-liberal adjustment package, requires tremendous effort and inventiveness, and is extremely complex.
Johana told us: “It is as if they wake up every day and say, how are these people still breathing? And wherever they find a vent, they plug it up”. The President confirmed this when he told us that we have just received important help with oxygen, which is so badly needed, “but I won’t say where it comes from, because if I do, they block it”.
Faced with this, I contrasted how easy it is to sit down to write with the aim of discrediting, sometimes even from other latitudes, without any real difficulty, prescriptions of what the President, or this minister or this organization or the other should do. It requires a tremendous dose of arrogance. It is good to give an opinion, but a little humility would be good for all of us as long as we do not cease in the exercise of criticism.
I noticed the commendable work done by so many people on a daily basis to move this country forward, in silence, women leading the industry, the police, science, agriculture, the National Program for the Advancement of Women. I realize the sterility of so many discussions in social networks that are exhausted in who is right about one issue or another, while so many work hard in all fields, including the social sciences, with much work and less words and vanity.
There is a very strong struggle in Cuba between the oppression and hopelessness produced by so many years of toil due to economic shortages and the desire to move forward with all the fairness that the Revolution has meant. This is a dramatic expression of the class struggle. It is the resistance to the violence of imperialism, concretized in advancing over the economic terrorism that is done to us. And, in short, as Ileana Macías says, “In my neighborhood, if there is food, nobody cares about anything else”.
Cuban women have emancipated ourselves tremendously. However, the tears there, of some of them, denounce that this equality has cost us to go head-on against a patriarchy that we have not yet managed to banish completely. We women have been the most important pillar of the Revolution because not only did we advance towards every trench in the vanguard, but also because we did so without ceasing to support the houses of all in the rearguard.
Those were the words cried by the one who coordinates an important working commission of the FMC in defense of women’s equity. The National Program for the Advancement of Women is perhaps one of the most advanced public policies proposed by any state in the world in this field.
In Cuba, any woman, regardless of age, profession, income level, skin color, feels entitled to speak to her President without any protocol whatsoever. To tell him what she thinks and feels without any filter. That is rare in a world like the one we live in, where most presidents come to power to represent the interests of untouchable elites.
There I did not see one more candidate in a clientelist play to capture votes. I saw a man seriously concerned about capturing the ideas and feelings of all, to fully assume his responsibility to the country, with a collective leadership style. For those who are so concerned about dialogue and democracy, the system is in very good health in that sense, although it also has important challenges ahead.
Popular wisdom sees: it knows how to differentiate between what is fair and what is not, because dignity and life are at stake. Ileana went from La Güinera to there, not to be right or to say the last word, she went to speak for her neighborhood and to ask for it. That is the wise thing to do and that is what she said. We are facing a leadership style of a vocation to listen and serve a collective project, a style inherited from Fidel’s school and unprecedented in today’s world.
This exercise of dialogue with various sectors of the population, of the highest leadership of a country, in fact, its President and also First Secretary of the PCC, speaks of a feature of Cuban socialism that has much to show the world in terms of democracy.
Let us bear witness to this, because the hegemonic media will not tell it. It is clear that I am not avoiding in this recognition the awareness of all the democracy that is still missing. We need to be in spaces like this so that the mirage of the fracture of consensus and the disintegration of the social fabric that we imagine in our rhetoric does not prevent us from seeing reality.