FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush’s Cuba Detour

by TARIQ ALI

 

Bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan, obsessed with Iran’s rise as a regional power (a direct result of the wars in the aforementioned countries) the State Department has woken up to the fact that South America is in turmoil. Their last major intervention in the region was a crude attempt to topple the democratically elected government in Venezuela. This was in 2002, a year before the adventure in Iraq. Since then a wave of Bolivarian unity has swept the continent, successful in Bolivia and Ecuador, creating ripples in Peru and Paraguay and, above all, breaking the long isolation of Cuba. It is this that is causing the panic in Miami.

This tiny island that has defied imperial intervention, bullying and blockade for almost half-a-century remains an imperial obsession. Washington has been waiting for Fidel to die so that they could try and bribe senior military and police officials (and no doubt some well-chosen party apparatchiks) to defect. Bush’s speech of 24 October is a sign of panic. They were so convinced that mega-bucks would do the trick that they had not done too much in recent years.

But yesterday we are told, without any sense of irony, that Raul Castro is unacceptable because he is Fidel’s brother. This is not the transition that Washington had in mind. It’s a bit rich coming from W, given his own family connections, not to mention the fact that if Mrs Clinton is nominated and wins, two families will have been in power for over two decades. And dynastic politics is now so deep-grained in official culture that it is being happily mimicked in tiny circles (the editorial chair of the neo-con mag Commentary has been smoothly handed over from father to son Podhoretz).

What has worried the Bush brothers and their clientele in Florida is the fact that Raul Castro has inaugurated a debate on the island encouraging an open debate on its future. This is not popular with apparatchiks, but is undoubtedly having an impact.

State censorship is not only deeply unpopular but has crippled creative thought on the island. The new opening has brought all the old contradictions to the fore. Cuban film-makers are publicly challenging the bureaucrats. Pavel Giroud, a well-known director explains how the censorship works:

“Censorship works here just like it does everywhere, except that because it’s Cuba, it’s closely scrutinized. It isn’t a national monopoly. Every television network and publication in the world has its guidelines for broadcasting or editing, and whatever does not fit the requirements gets left out. HBO in the States refused to broadcast Oliver Stone’s documentary about Fidel Castro, because it didn’t take the focus that the network wanted. So they insisted on another interview with Fidel. In other words, what Stone wanted to say about his interviewee didn’t matter — what mattered was what the network wanted to show.

Personally, I prefer that a work of mine not be broadcast, rather than be told to change my shots or remove footage. Nor am I interested in hearing their explanations. The mere fact of being silenced is so serious that the reason why pales in comparison, because it will never be a good enough reason for the person who is silenced … Banality and lack of creativity are favored everywhere. Turn on any music video channel in the world, and you’ll see that for every artistically worthwhile video, you have to put up with several others. the same buttocks writhing around the machista reggaeton star, the same seductive gestures by the “in” singers, the same slow-moving shots of love scenes at sunset, the same sheen on the biceps, the same sensual moves, the same phony little smiles. I think we in Cuba are definitely not the principal producers of these.

“The same happens in politics — there is opportunism on both sides, by the makers and by the broadcasters. The broadcasters know that a video full of praise for the system won’t make any trouble for them, and the creators know perfectly well that they will get on television much faster if they write a song, produce a video or film, or paint a picture in praise of a political figure”

That the Cuban system needs to be reformed is widely accepted in the country. I have been told often that the decision ‘forced on us by the embargo’ to follow the old Soviet model was ‘not beneficial.’ The choice now is Washington or Caracas. And while a tiny layer of the Cuban elite will be tempted by the dollars, most Cubans would prefer a different model. They will not wish to see an end to their health and education systems, but they do want more economic and political diversity, even though the model of the Big Neighbour under whose shadow they live does not exactly offer that choice.

TARIQ ALI’s new book, Pirates of the Caribbean: Axis of Hope, is published by Verso. He can be reached at: tariq.ali3@btinternet.com

 

 

 

More articles by:

Tariq Ali is the author of The Obama Syndrome (Verso).

Weekend Edition
January 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Dr. King’s Long Assassination
David Roediger
A House is Not a Hole: (Not) Caring about What Trump Says
George Burchett
How the CIA Tried to Bribe Wilfred Burchett
Mike Whitney
Trump’s Plan B for Syria: Occupation and Intimidation
Michael Hudson – Charles Goodhart
Could/Should Jubilee Debt Cancellations be Reintroduced Today?
Marshall Auerback – Franklin C. Spinney
Boss Tweet’s Generals Already Run the Show
Andrew Levine
Remember, Democrats are Awful Too
James Bovard
Why Ruby Ridge Still Matters
Wilfred Burchett
The Bug Offensive
Brian Cloughley
Now Trump Menaces Pakistan
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Keeper of Crazy Beats: Charlie Haden and Music as Force of Liberation
Robert Fantina
Palestine and Israeli Recognition
ADRIAN KUZMINSKI
The Return of the Repressed
Mel Gurtov
Dubious Partnership: The US and Saudi Arabia
Robert Fisk
The Next Kurdish War Looms on the Horizon
Lawrence Davidson
Contextualizing Sexual Harassment
Karl Grossman
Disaster Island
Thomas S. Harrington
What Nerve! In Catalonia They are Once Again Trying to Swear in the Coalition that Won the Most Votes
Pepe Escobar
Rome: A Eulogy
Robert Hunziker
Will Aliens Save Humanity?
Jonah Raskin
“Can’t Put the Pot Genie Back in the Bottle”: An Interview with CAL NORML’s Dale Gieringer
Stepan Hobza
Beckett, Ionesco, and Trump
Joseph Natoli
The ‘Worlding’ of the Party-less
Julia Stein
The Myths of Housing Policy
George Ochenski
Zinke’s Purge at Interior
Christopher Brauchli
How Trump Killed the Asterisk
Rosemary Mason - Colin Todhunter
Corporate Monopolies Will Accelerate the Globalisation of Bad Food, Poor Health and Environmental Catastrophe
Michael J. Sainato
U.S Prisons Are Ending In-Person Visits, Cutting Down On Reading Books
Michael Barker
Blame Game: Carillion or Capitalism?
Binoy Kampmark
The War on Plastic
Ron Jacobs
Whiteness and Working Folks
Cindy Sheehan – Rick Sterling
Peace Should Be Integral to the Women’s March
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
No Foreign Bases!
Matthew Stevenson
Into Africa: Across the Boer Heartland to Pretoria
Joe Emersberger
What’s Going On in Ecuador? An Interview With Wladimir Iza
Clark T. Scott
1918, 1968, 2018: From Debs to Trump
Cesar Chelala
Women Pay a Grievous Price in Congo’s Conflict
Michael Welton
Secondly
Taju Tijani
Trump: Of Shithole, Rat Hole and Monkey Hole
Robert Koehler
The Wisdom of Mass Salvation
Ann Garrison
Full-Spectrum Arrogance: US Bases Span the Globe
Louis Proyect
Morality Tales on the American Malaise: the Films of Rick Alverson
January 18, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Destabilizer: Trump’s Escalating Threats Against Iran
John W. Whitehead
Silence Is Betrayal: Get Up, Stand Up, Speak Up for Your Rights
Andrew Day
Of “Shitholes” and Liberals
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail