Guilty! / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez
14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez, Havana, 20 July 2106 – At the beginning of the
year evil was incarnated in the intermediaries, who were blamed for the
high food prices in the produce markets. At the end of 2013, the
boogeymen were those who worked for themselves selling imported clothes
and other merchandise. In February of this year the war against the
pushcart vendors reached its height, and today the enemy drives a shared
taxi, a person who in common parlance is called a “boatman.”
If there is anything that has characterized the Cuban system of the last
57 years it is its ability to find a scapegoat. When the agricultural
plans are not met it is the fault of the drought, the indiscipline of
the workers or the poor organization dictated by some low-ranking
bureaucrat. If in times of heavy precipitation the water supply remains
unstable in towns and cities it is because, “the rain is not falling
where it should,” as was explained to us in recent statements by an
official of the National Institute of Hydraulic Resources (INRH).
Urban transport does not work well due to “vandalism” and because “the
population doesn’t treat this equipment as it deserves,” they tell us.
Meanwhile most road accidents are because of the “recklessness of the
drivers,” and not because of the poor state of the roads and highways,
the terrible signage or the inventive measures taken by drivers to keep
their obsolete vehicles running.
The powers-that-be point their index fingers in all directions to accuse
others, but never turn it back on themselves. From time to time, to
display a certain tone of self-criticism, they come down on Communist
Party members themselves, and accuse them of not voicing their opinions
“in the right place and at the right time,” or they make some minister
take the fall for the failed policies in the areas of public health,
education or some other sector.
We citizens are the main culprits, according to what state television
tells us, for the presence of the Aedes aegypti mosquito that, for
years, has failed to yield to spraying or campaigns against it. Our
homes are the “main foci” of the mosquito, they spit at us from the
press, as if state and government entities were untainted redoubts of
cleanliness and order.
Emigration is also among our sins, because we go in search of “siren
songs” and let ourselves fall “into the hands of the coyotes,” declares
the Castro regime’s discourse. In this script it is third parties who
are always to blame; the migrants who protested in front of the Cuban
embassy in Ecuador were ‘scoring points’ with the United States and some
of them, once they are settled in our neighboring country to the north,
will end up sending “illicit funds” to their relatives on the island to
support a private business.
The easiest to find are the external enemies, like imperialism, “the
criminal United States blockade,” the conspirators “from the Latin
American right,” and even the “historic betrayal” of the old comrades of
Eastern Europe. This scarecrow to install fear is accompanied by the
demonized “counterrevolutionaries” in our own backyard, who are targeted
by all the insults the rude government machinery has created over almost
If products are missing on market shelves, television reports accuse the
“profiteers.” If a papaya has come to cost an entire day’s wages for a
professional, it is “the fault of the unscrupulous” who want to “profit
at the expense of the people,” or so they lecture us from the little
screen. In this apportioning of blame we have all been placed in the
center of the allegations.
Right now the government propaganda apparatus is taking on the drivers
of shared taxis, but tomorrow it could be the proprietors of private
restaurants, the teachers who offer private tutoring, or the water
carriers who sell their precious commodity in neighborhoods where the
pipes have run dry for weeks now.
There will always be an “evildoer,” an “irresponsible” or an “enemy”
that keeps the system from working in all its great manual-guided
humanity, its never demonstrated efficiency, or it supposed but still
un-proven capacity to make Cubans happy.
But the strategy of blaming others, in waves and programmed
installments, has a weak point. There comes a time when the culprits
outnumber the accusers. There is a second in which, from this side, from
the stigmatized, we agree with the rafters, the dissidents, the pushcart
vendors, the self-employed, the taxi drivers, the ousted ministers and
the vilified trinket sellers. At this point, where we have been for a
long time now, we have every right to point our index fingers at the
system that has condemned us to the perennial dock of the accused.
Source: Guilty! / 14ymedio, Yoani Sanchez – Translating Cuba –