The symbolic assault against Cuba
By José Ernesto Nováez Guerrero*
Sunday, May 30, 2021
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews
For decades, the big cartelized media have been practicing the permanent symbolic assassination of Cuba and its revolution. The great sin of the island, in the eyes of these hired assassins of the word, is and will be to try to build a social order different from the one that prevails in the contemporary world. Cuba’s main danger lies in its example.
The Cuban political process is rooted in a beautiful and complex symbiosis, where the ideals of sovereignty and social justice that make up the project of nationhood of the 19th century and that have in the figure of Martí one of their highest expressions, find their political form and definitive realization in the socialist practice emanating from the revolutionary triumph of January 1959.
The symbols that sustain the Cuban nation have a double revolutionary sense: the independence and liberal sense of the nineteenth century and the national and socialist sense of the twentieth century. Both senses complement each other. Between both revolutionary processes, as a nourishing bridge, stands the vital practice of figures like Mella, Villena, Guiteras, Fidel, etc. In their thought and action Cuba found its revolutionary reworking the project of a country that had been frustrated with the gringo invasion of 1898 and the subsequent political and economic subjection. These were a result of the penetration of the northern capitals and the treacherous Platt Amendment, which gave the powerful neighbor the right to intervene in the island whenever it considered it necessary.
In this double character of the symbols of the Cuban nation lies one of the spaces of dispute. Anti-communism rescues the symbols of the 19th century in what they are most liberal. It ignores that continuum of ethical aspirations that Cintio Vitier described so well in his book That Sun of the Moral World, which gives a unitary sense to the totality of Cuba’s revolutionary practice and aspirations.
But it also confronts the two Cubas, the one before and the one after 1959, presenting the former as the paradise of opulence that was only for a few and the latter as the image of destruction and ruins that it is not.
To construct this narrative, they appeal to actors of the counterrevolution that we could call traditional, but also to new operators, oriented to population sectors where the economic crisis, the emerging liberal ideology and certain errors committed in political practice have created moods that can be used as part of subversive agendas.
The work with young people, the sustained attack against culture and institutions, the greater awareness of historical dates and their symbolism demonstrate a more careful work at the time of constructing the narrative of subversion.
This symbolic assault counts, in the current Cuban scenario, on an important tool: social networks, mainly Facebook, where more than 70 percent of Cuban Internet users are currently located. This network, following clearly ideological matrixes, makes visible and reinforces certain contents while isolating others and arbitrarily blocking or closing accounts and contents that in any way reinforce the symbolic position of the Cuban revolution. This has been the case, for a long time, with information related to Cuban vaccine candidates or with the accounts of important news sites on the island, such as Cubadebate.
Behind all these processes of practical and symbolic subversion of the established order are the interests of big U.S. capital. Cuba represents a double challenge for imperialism: to have broken with its domination and to demonstrate that, in spite of the growing hostility, it is possible to advance in the construction of a more just society.
To wage the symbolic battle for the nation in these circumstances implies, above all, the clarity that building an alternative social project to capitalism requires a constant educational effort to make people understand and interact socially on a new logic. It is necessary, as Che Guevara pointed out, while building new relations of production, to form a new person, one where material stimulus and individualism are no longer the main engines of his social practice. It is a difficult task, but not impossible.
It is also necessary to understand the necessary process of renewing and visiting the symbols. These are not cold stone, but are the sap in which the projects of human beings are reflected, nourished and grow. Cubans are, like all peoples, a great mixture of past, present and future. Today the symbolic Cuba is as much Martí and Fidel, as the small bulbs of Soberana and Abdala.
* Cuban journalist, writer and researcher.