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February 24th marks the 126th anniversary of the Grito de Baire (Baire Uprising), an iconic Cuban national holiday which marks a signature rebellion in Cuba’s last and final war for independence, Radio, and Television Martí reported having had access to a “manifesto” most critical of the Castro-Communist regime and signed by former high-ranking military and state security officials. These institutions are crucial to communist control. Totalitarian models of governance cannot endure without their capacity to repress and under condition of subservience.
The Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which oversees Radio and Television Martí, is a publicly funded U. S. federal government agency operated through the United States Agency for Global Media, which broadcasts news in Spanish to Cuba. It adheres to high standards of journalistic integrity. Given the verification rigors faced before publishing news of this kind, it is forcibly held to strict precision. This point should dismantle serious notions of concerns for faux authentication.
Short of calling for the regime’s collapse, the text of the attributed document contains in its four points, a foremost condemnation of Cuba’s state capitalism operations, its moral contradictions, as well as a direct call for the disobedience of official orders to repress. These kinds of public statements in democratic regimes are not surprising and considered an elemental use of protected free speech. This is not the case in regimes of total domination. Communist countries universally adhere to the totalitarian modus operandi. This clearly demarcates expressions such as these as “subversive”.
The first point cites the signer’s opposition to the use of military force to suppress “just” protests and “demands” by the people. It adds that a “a Mafia caste” today issues “repressive orders against the population”. It calls for an end to societal “repression”, a society who wants a “dignified life”. The second consideration was a direct call for the cessation of compulsory military service by Cuba’s youth in this coronavirus era and highlighted how the real danger was “generalized famine” and that the conscripts would do better to help their families in the daily battles to satisfy the basic needs of survival.
The third factor specifically addressed in the referenced manifesto was the state-directed socialist mercantilist scheme, comprehensively run by the Island’s Communist military structure. GAESA, the Spanish acronym for Grupo de Administración Empresarial S.A., is the business conglomerate owned by the Revolutionary Armed Forces which directly controls more than 50 enterprises. Furthermore, each of these auxiliaries claim often their own sub-sections and subsidiaries.
Through this massive, mega-extended state-owned enterprise (SOE), Cuba’s military elite generals control and direct 70% of the Cuban economy. The group of former officials who signed this referenced document with its list of grievances, directly call out GAESA as the “financial core of the new mafia state”. After calling those that run Cuban communism’s major state-owned enterprise (GAESA) a “new exploiter caste”, they close out the third issue by stating that there is “no longer a revolution nor socialism to defend”.
The fourth and final point is an affirmative call for their former comrades in the military and the state security apparatuses not to use weapons against the Cuban people. “Our professional duty”, they said, “is to protect, not assassinate fellow countrymen”. The former military and political police officials now expressing dissent, according to the claimed manifesto, close the piece with an indirect reference to “Patria y Vida” [Fatherland and Life], a recently debuted political song that went viral within hours of its public release, and is composed and sung by Gente de Zona, Yotuel, and other popular Cuban artists.
Since the communist revolution’s slogan has always been, “Fatherland or Death”, the catchy and beautifully written tune, destroys the regime’s claims to legitimacy. The timing of this manifesto, along with the San Isidro Movement’s recent public challenges to the Communist regime by mostly young and non-politically active members of society, has resonated, both, inside Cuba and outside in the exiled Cuban nation. The viral musical protest song, “Patria y Vida”, has added to Cuban Communism’s woes.
If this document from high-ranking ex-officials of the military and state security complex is genuinely the expression of these former components of the Castro dictatorship, it could be the beginning of genuine evolution. Yet even if it is a regime-choreographed set up to weed out potential disaffections within these vital institutions of tyrannical power, it is a risky call for the Cuban regime. Either way, it reflects a brewing crisis, a potential conflict within the high echelons of Cuba’s despotic structures of power. Imponderables, sometimes even insignificant ones, set the stage for profound historical changes.
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.