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NON-DEMOCRATIC regimes base their ability on maintaining societal compliance, predicated mostly on one of two premises. The first is legitimation stemming from performance and results. The other is sheer brute repressive force. Totalitarian models are particularly inclined to need comprehensive schemes of social control, opposition inefficacy, and power arrangements that serve those ends. Communist Cuba never obtained legitimacy to govern based on performance-generated mass support. Authority has come, since 1959, through the leviathan of terror. The consistent string of public demonstrations on the island, since last summer, are palpable signs that Castro-Communism is decomposing.
The Cuban people have energetically challenged Marxist tyranny from the onset of the country’s totalitarian turn. Historically, this war of liberation has been, both, violent and non-violent. The U. S. has been, at times, an ally in that fight. Communist penetration of American institutions, particularly seats of political power, however, have proved to be detrimental to both nations. Spies and fellow travelers quite often depicted an inaccurate picture of Castroism’s nature and its threat to the Western Hemisphere. Consequently, America has not been morally consistent or logistically reliable in the cause for Cuba’s freedom.
For the last four decades, the monopoly of violence has belonged to Castro-Communism. Massive public demonstrations of political and social unrest are not new to Cuba. The storming of the Peruvian Embassy in Havana in 1980, where over ten thousand people crammed into its limited quarters in less than twenty-four hours, was a major challenge for the Marxist dictatorship. The immigration valve was once again opened. The Mariel Boatlift, a maritime escape hatch to the U.S., was Castro’s solution to quell a potential uprising.
The “Maleconazo”, a spontaneous popular uprising in Havana, 28 years ago, this August 5, was structurally alarming to Cuban communism. Most of the thousands of Cubans that took to the streets were young and born under Marxist domination. Chants of “Freedom” were rampant. The loss of Soviet subsidies ushered in the euphemistically ladened “Special Period”. The Castro regime resorted to its previously tried and successful strategy of state-facilitated exodus policies. The Cuban Rafter Exodus and, subsequently, the Clinton administration’s immigration deal which facilitated 20,000 plus annual visas for Cubans to leave the island was what followed.
In both crises, the Peruvian Embassy stampede and the “Maleconazo”, the social unrest that ensued, which in a totalitarian regime means political turmoil, a state coordinated open door immigration ploy mitigated the emergency. It should be noted that historical precedent established by the Castro-Communist regime, made leaving the country without regime approval, an “illegal” act punishable with several years in prison.
The combination of firing squad executions on demand and decades-long jail sentences were the norm during the 1960s and 1970s, although the immigration option was also used in Operation Peter Pan (1960-1962), the Camarioca Boatlift (1965), and the Freedom Flights (1965-1973). Terror and exile were the most efficient methods at the disposal of Cuban communism that served the pacification purpose. The 11th of July Uprising of 2021 (11J) and its aftermath has changed the game plan. 11J has placed the Castro regime in a position of checkmate.
Protests and public exhibitions of discontent with socialist tyranny has become a mainstay in any Cuban city. The degree of popular participation and the duration of these acts of confrontation with the dictatorial authorities has varied. However, the calls for freedom have become permanent, constant, and a part of daily life in post-11J Cuba. Demonstrations have risen to levels that have the Marxist regime worried.
Between July 14 and August 2, 42 protests have been noted by independent first-hand witnesses. This has occurred in over 30 Cuban localities across the island. The common denominator is calls for “Freedom”, “Down with the dictatorship”, and “F*** Díaz-Canel”. No end appears in sight. Plans for a national strike, set for an undisclosed date, sends shivers down the spine of Castroism.
The Cuban people appear to have become immune to the communist toxic traps to squelch rebellion. Prison sentences from 5 to over 20 years have been handed down to 11J participants. Those jailed, who protested on that historic day in the Summer of 2021, are being emulated. The unjust and brutal verdicts of socialist legalism are not lessening popular determination to be free. The immigration pill is also proving useless. The regime concocted Cuba-Nicaragua-Mexico passage to the U.S. is not minimizing the Cuban people’s resolve to stay and fight. Their position is steadfast. It is the Marxists in power, Cubans insist, that must leave.
Julio M Shiling, political scientist, writer, director of Patria de Martí and The Cuban American Voice, lecturer and media commentator. A native of Cuba, he currently lives in the United States. Twitter: @JulioMShiling // Julio es politólogo, escritor, director de Patria de Martí y The Cuban American Voice. Conferenciante y comentarista en los medios. Natural de Cuba, vive actualmente en EE UU.