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    Between confrontation and dialogue

    Between confrontation and dialogue / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
    Posted on November 1, 2014

    14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, 31 October 2014 – There has been a lot of
    talk lately of the presumed improvement in relations between the
    governments of the United States and Cuba. In both countries there are
    tons of supporters for two antagonistic positions, which in summary and
    without a desire to simplify, can be reduced to two terms: confrontation
    and dialog.

    Rivers of ink and saliva have been spilled to argue both ways and the
    more reasons are put forward the further away the solution seems. The
    worst is when the passions lead to personal attacks and the dismissal of
    those who think differently. And so I renounce mentioning names here and
    refrain from appealing to disparaging epithets.

    If I were forced to choose I would vote for dialog. I resist confrontation.

    But it is not enough. We immediately have to respond to another question
    that introduces a new dilemma: an unconditional dialog or without

    The General President has insisted that he is willing to sit at the
    table as long as he is treated equally or, and it’s the same thing,
    under the condition that his legitimacy is not questioned. And of course
    without being asked to renounce the “bedrock principles of the Revolution.”

    What legitimacy are we talking about? If we refer to the number of
    countries with which the Cuban government maintains diplomatic
    relations, its presence in international organizations or its ability to
    dictate laws and enforce them across the length and breadth of the
    country, then we have no choice but to admit that the Cuban leaders
    enjoy a high level of legitimacy even though they are considered
    dictators, usurpers or repressors of their people, and that is very
    evident in lack of popular will expressed in free elections.

    Is there a universal standard of legitimacy for governments or do
    various interpretations of democracy and human rights exist? Perhaps we
    will have to admit that a government can imprison its political
    opponents, violently repress peaceful activists, fail to sign or ratify
    international treaties on human rights, deny or prohibit the legitimate
    existence of an independent civil society, oblivious to the power
    transmission created by the protection of the only permitted party;
    denying their citizens participation in the management of the economy so
    solicitously offered to foreign investors and that everyone has to
    recognize them because they have reduced child mortality to first world
    levels and for maintaining a universal system of free education.

    It is likely that once the biology performs its inexorable duty, it
    exponentially raises the possibilities of sitting down to talk

    If the norm for measuring legitimacy could change at the will of those
    seeking to be recognized as legitimate, then everyone would be in this
    game, from the North Korean regime to Al Qaeda, and if we look in
    retrospect we would also have to accept the Pretoria of apartheid or the
    Cambodia of the Khmer Rouge, not moving beyond contemporary history.

    But we are in Cuba and we’re talking about a government rigidly
    controlled by a highest leadership of octogenarians. Regardless of the
    promises of continuity made by those on the horizon as the relief team,
    what is most likely is that once biology performs its inexorable duty,
    it exponentially raises the possibilities of sitting down to talk.

    Because none of those who are going to occupy the government or
    political offices at that time, it is understood, will be responsible
    for mass executions, or thoughtless seizures, or even feel guilty about
    the Revolutionary Offensive of 1968, because in that year, if they had
    been born, they were children or teenagers. Opportunists who applauded
    in order to rise? Yes, but this is an accusation that does not carry a
    life sentence.

    I have not the slightest doubt that the most optimistic results arise
    from a dialog between the Cuban authorities and the now disunited and
    still weak civil society that could bear fruits comparable to Poland’s,
    to use a well-known example; still less if it is a dialog between the
    Cuban and American governments, in the absence of the independent civil
    society on the island and in exile.

    I can bet that “the ruling party” is going to negotiate with ferocity
    for the best pieces of the pie, whose most appetizing ingredients are
    the guarantee to not be judged and the possibility of maintaining
    control over the successful sectors of the economy.

    But I’m also sure that the path of confrontation—through maintaining the
    embargo, the inclusion of Cuba on the list of terrorist countries or the
    dismissal that assimilates the internal opposition into the “subversion
    financed from abroad”—only serves to consolidate the positions of the
    dictatorship both on the international and domestic scene.

    I would prefer not to have to choose, but I don’t want to keep waiting,
    and I am not talking about the future of my children, but of my

    Source: Between confrontation and dialogue / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
    | Translating Cuba –

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