La libreta del hambre
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    FRANCISCO ALMAGRO | Miami | 10 Nov 2015 – 11:57 pm.

    ‘It is there, in the subjective judgments of most of the people where
    Cuban Communism has achieved its greatest and most sustained success.
    And where its enemies have failed.’

    Some years ago I was walking with a female friend of mine down a long
    Havana avenue. It was the early ’80s. The opening up of markets and the
    granting of some minimal freedoms led many to believe that the rationing
    card, known simply as la libreta, the book, was about to disappear. I
    remember that when I applauded the idea my friend stopped short and
    shouted, in the middle of the street: “Not la libreta! Please! That’s
    the only thing that guarantees us any security.”

    I stared at her. I couldn´t believe my ears. Even in those early days of
    what was bit of a boom, la libreta was a total joke. You could barely
    make it half a month on what they “gave” you. I’ve been mulling over
    that episode for over 30 years now. Security? What security?

    That subjective feeling of being secure is as vital to people as oxygen.
    No matter what you’re protected from, or how. You can be sure that your
    house is yours, that you have a doctor and a free hospital, that your
    health care is safe, and that – even if you lose some of your personal
    freedoms – there are enough police and government agents to protect you.
    It’s just this – security – that ideologies, politicians and even the
    great religions, seek to sell. The primary function of any institution
    or leader that seeks to fully win over the human heart is to provide his
    followers with the utmost sense of security.

    In a way, he who provides security holds the reins of power. And he who
    protects, rules. And the safer and more secure we feel, the greater the
    degree of autonomy and individual freedom we hand over to the Invisible
    Power. This is true of some cultures more than others, but almost all of
    them, regardless of their geographic location or era, have handed
    security over to men, and not to institutions. Nobody is immune from
    this tendency to surrender. Human beings, intrinsically attuned to
    detect danger and death, assign to a parent, a boss, a leader, a wife or
    a husband a measure of their own freedom in exchange for security.

    I have long pondered what my friend and hundreds, millions of Cubans
    fear if there is change: losing their security. Never mind that this
    security is as delusory as a nightmare, or that the ration book is
    woefully insufficient, that the hospitals are in ruins, and without
    doctors, that the schools are without teachers, that wages are paltry
    and the cities are falling apart. For millions of Cubans, even today,
    Cuba’s libreta and its hospitals, schools, salaries, and Cuban cities
    “have problems, but they’re secure.” Many feel they should not be given
    up for anything or anyone because it could all be worse.

    “It is there, in the subjective judgments of most of the people where
    Cuban Communism has achieved its greatest and most sustained success.
    And where its enemies have failed.” Like clockwork, some aging Cuban
    leader repeats, like a mantra: “The Cuban Revolution does not abandon
    anyone.” Now, we know that this is not entirely true, nor is it entirely
    false. The regime knows very well how to choose the recipients of
    emergency aid. Although it is insufficient, almost negligible, it is
    aggressively publicized in the mass media, day and night, until the
    average Cuban feels safe after a hurricane, an accident or some other
    calamity, including war.

    Meanwhile, with reference to the media, democracy is actually not a very
    secure place. “Why change things?” many ask. What the Cubans have heard
    and seen for over half a century is that in other countries elections
    are bought and presidents and representatives are assassinated.
    Elections? What for? Some time ago the Cuban regime bought the right to
    serve as the people’s paternalistic guardians, the quasi-divine and
    infinite right to govern. For this it used not only weapons and money –
    though there was plenty of that. Force and money does not win over
    hearts for long. Thus, the regime seduced millions of parents, children
    and grandparents with the failsafe message of filial love: paternalistic
    security. A “Fatherly State” that, although it hurts to maintain so many
    (Is that pain real?), cannot avoid it because it constitutes its very
    raison d’etre.

    Can anything be done for a people who, despite feeling like adults,
    cannot shake off the overprotective bonds that render them dependent,
    ineffectual, irresponsible … in short, that deprive them of their
    freedom? A people cognizant of the fact that they are constrained by an
    Absolute Power but, at the same time, feel like they owe it something,
    as if breaking with the Pater and setting off in search of their own
    lives meant betraying their own existence. Unfortunately, over on this
    side, we have not quite understood that, like the character in Orwell’s
    1984, with tears in his eyes and after suffering countless humiliations,
    many good Cubans remaining on the island are still capable of saying
    that they “love” you-know-who. Stockholm Syndrome, yes, but it’s still a
    kind of love, after all …

    By the way, over here politicians also make impossible promises to
    provide an illusory sense of security: mass deportations and
    unbreachable walls, full employment, and international supremacy, with
    the results visible in the polls. Therefore, an effort to effect
    change, to bring about social development, cannot be limited to the
    material sphere. The material dimension without the existential
    component, without a discourse of peace, reconciliation and convergence,
    is fruitless. The human heart is not transformed by cruises, cell
    phones, computers or cars. On the contrary, it tends to become hardened
    and insensitive. Real change will begin when a woman walking down a long
    Havana avenue asks, in amazement, why on earth her food is rationed. And
    when she asks this without hatred because in her heart there is no
    longer any place for it.

    Source: “Security” | Diario de Cuba –

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