Nicaragua Was Freed From a Regime Modeled On That Of the Castros /
14ymedio, Julio Blanco C.
Posted on October 11, 2014
14ymedio, Julio Blanco C., Managua, 27 September 2014 — I follow with
eagerness – almost bordering on addiction – the news out of Cuba. I
suppose that my nationality has a lot to do with that because probably
no one better understands the reality of the Island (apart from Cubans)
than we Nicaraguans.
Here we suffered a regime modeled on that of the Castros, which among
other “pearls” imposed on us:
– A terrible State security system, so that all we citizens were
suspected of being traitors and counter-revolutionaries.
– The rationing card, such an unpleasant memory.
– Indoctrination of students at all levels of education.
– The division of society into the good and the bad. Everything within
the revolution and nothing outside it was the slogan. Whoever opposed
the regime was a pariah, a subhuman, a stinker who deserved not the
least consideration or respect. Those “elements” had to be persecuted, –
silenced, beaten, intimidated and ultimately annihilated.
– The brutal and ruthless persecution of every communication media
disaffected with the regime. This they could not completely achieve,
maybe for lack of time, therefore some emblematic media like the daily
La Prensa and Radio Corporacion survived the burning.
– Bank nationalization and the forced socialization or transforming into
cooperatives of all means of production, which involved a massive
confiscation of private goods.
The list is much longer; I do not need to tell it to Cubans who have
suffered first hand for so many years a tragedy so similar but at the
same time much more extensive than ours.
My interest now is focused on the transition that Cubans are
experiencing, because we went through something very similar, although
here everything was quite fast due to the fact that it was not the same
government that carried out the changes, but another one.
For the people of my generation who grew up in the midst of so many
shortages and limitations, that period of the country’s “normalization,”
above all that of the economy, was something almost magical.
The most irrelevant things were all eventful. I remember as if it were
yesterday when we began to be happily flooded with junk food. First
there was Pizza Hut, then McDonald’s returned after an absence of
several years, then Burger King, Friday’s, Subway, Papa John’s and so
many other chains that were little by little turning up in the country.
Big hotel companies like Best Western, Intercontinental, Hilton, Hyatt
and others arrived, too.
And private national and foreign banks reappeared, and excellent
customer attention again became a priority, not like when they were
state-owned and little was needed for the employees to bite the
And the private universities and colleges (these never disappeared)
multiplied for every taste and pocketbook.
And many corrupt and inefficient state businesses were privatized and so
many others disappeared. Maybe the most significant was Enitel, the
embarrassing equivalent of Cuba’s ETECSA telephone company. The change
was positively colossal, and soon came competition, and now there were
other options for cable, telephone and internet.
Rationing and lines and product scarcity ended, and the giants of the
food industry and commerce landed: Walmart, Pricemart, Cargill,
Parmalat, Procter and Gamble, and there follows a very long etcetera.
And the first mall opened its doors with dozens of stores and modern
movie theaters and its food court and its enormous department stores…
but that was nothing, because soon there appeared others even better.
And refueling became a guilty pleasure because the convenience stores
are as pleasant as small supermarkets and small restaurants, all in one.
And the public transportation payment system changed. You no longer had
to carry a mound of coins, just recharge the electronic card.
And suddenly one day, a growing number of establishments began to offer
free wi-fi; even the government installed it in some public parks in all
the provincial capitals.
All this, which for us has been fascinating, is completely
incomprehensible for someone who has not lived it and been
systematically diverted by the State from everything that smells of
progress and development however insignificant it might seem.
Maybe one day, sooner than later, Cubans can go through all this, too,
and feel that strange satisfaction that is given by knowing “now we are
like all the rest,” that we are no longer “different” in the more
negative and abject sense of the word. In fact, they are already
immersed in a stage of transition – very sui generis – but transition in
Hopefully the weight of reality will finally make the regime understand
that it can no longer contain the floodgates of “normality” because
Cubans have made too many thousands of holes in the dam, and the waters
of creativity and private initiative flow with increasing force.
* Julio Blanco C. is a lawyer in Diplomacy and International Relations.
He lives in Managua.
Translated by MLK
Source: Nicaragua Was Freed From a Regime Modeled On That Of the Castros
/ 14ymedio, Julio Blanco C. | Translating Cuba –