Since March 2013, the media machine that works like Macbeth’s witches, manufacturing prophecies that must be self-fulfilling, began to work to turn the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez into the end of the Bolivarian Revolution and into the economic crisis that would definitively hand Cuba over to capitalism.
Already at that time, which today may seem distant, unanimity in the global corporate press was complete. Its “experts” in the Cuban economy predicted that “a decrease (even if gradual) in ties with Venezuela would provoke… a contraction of up to 10 percent of the gross domestic product, producing a recession of two or three years due to a decrease in foreign exchange earnings, a depression in investments, foreign financial restrictions and more expensive imports, without reserves for paying the oil bill. Such a crisis would demand a “complex and painful” adjustment.
It didn’t happen, but the economic harassment to the Caracas government didn’t stop, even while a seductive Barack Obama was visiting Cuba, in the midst of a neoliberal counter-reform in the region, and addressing the Cubans by proposing to “turn the page,” meanwhile declaring Venezuela an “unusual and extraordinary threat” to U.S. National Security with the subsequent sanctions and destabilizing actions that that entails.
As he did in June 2009 from a Cairo University, an emblematic city for Islam and the Arab world, when speaking to the entire Middle East and in 2014 the soft emperor spoke from Havana to all of Latin America.
As I wrote then, a Lebanese friend suggested to me that in that speech the words Cuba or Cubans could be replaced to say Islam, Iran, Palestinians or Muslims; instead of quotes from the Koran (Muhammad’s word) they could be replaced by those of Martí referred to by the President of the United States and I could compare the impressive coincidence of phrases between both speeches. After that intervention at Al Azhar University came the “Arab Spring”, the collapse of secularized societies like Syria, the rise of religious fanaticism and U.S. support for the Islamic State and the laughter of its Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she learned of Ghadafi’s dismemberment. Already in 2016 the Palestinians were even worse off than in 2009, if that could be possible, and the Arab peoples now are the great losers of the “change” promoted by Obama himself who in Latin America meant the return of neoliberalism at the hands of the Macri, Bolsonaro and the interim President of Honduras, Micheletti.
But if Obama claimed to have renounced to the “regime change” in Cuba by betting on a progressive cultural change through a more open bilateral relationship – “how is (Cuban) society going to change, the country specifically, its culture specifically, could happen faster or could happen slower than I would like, said Obama, but it’s going to happen and I think this policy change is going to promote that”. And without taking a penny out of the multimillion-dollar subversive funds, Donald Trump has promised to end socialism in the Western Hemisphere during his tenure.
Not only are banks that carry out Cuban transactions fined billions of dollars, as Obama did by establishing records, but the medical collaboration of the island is being pursued all over the planet, tourist cruises are prevented, remittances are limited and shipping and insurance companies are pressured to make the arrival of fuel in Cuba impossible. But, according to high officials of the Trump administration, the objective does not differ from that of its predecessor and is constantly repeated by the media apparatus and its experts: “Cuba will have to adapt and that means allowing a more market-based economy,” a euphemistic and delicate way of naming the “complex and painful adjustment” that Cuba has had to go through, as was predicted in March 2013.
The year 2019 has marked the most aggressive stage in the history of the economic blockade of Cuba, the most extreme sign of which has been the implementation of Chapter III of the Helms-Burton Act aimed at repelling foreign investment, which not even W. Bush encouraged to implement due to the opposing positions of his European allies and Canada. But it is now well known that for Trump the only foreign policy opinion that counts is his own.
According to the political calculation that began the ferocious offensive against Venezuela and President Nicolás Maduro on January 23, by now Washington’s friends were supposed to be governing in Caracas, and Cuba would be on the verge of a civil war due to shortages of all kinds, or by implementing a “tropical perestroika” to the liking of Trump’s allies from Miami. All this based on the political control of a state with electoral weight and in dispute – Florida – for the November 2020 elections.
However, Maduro is still in the Miraflores Palace and Cuban economic difficulties has not prevented the island from continuing to consolidate the leadership of the new government of Miguel Díaz-Canel, through intense political communication, the announcement of measures that have strengthened the positive consensus of his administration and a protagonist popular will that have renewed national unity to face the new US aggressions. Triumphalism? No, if any people rejects triumphalism it is the Cuban people because there is a deep confidence in the capacities here to defeat U.S. plans, by renewing itself in the methods and affirming itself in the essences.
The Cuban President has stripped the U.S. strategy of “showing us as an incapable, inefficient government that will enable a social outburst,” and he adds: “the way out for us is to denounce everything related to that hostile policy. The media machine, very well-articulated on the Internet, works to make invisible the effects of the blockade and its alliance with subversion: The first creates serious difficulties and the second only blames them on the socialist system. As a friend commented to me: The Amazon burns and it is Bolsonaro’s fault, never is it the extreme exploitation provoked by capitalism, but diesel is scarce in Cuba and socialism is the culprit, in spite of the efforts of the United States to prevent its arrival to the Island; this is a perfect example why constant communication in all directions is decisive.
It is no coincidence that in such circumstances, on the eve of an intervention by President Díaz-Canel, to explain the effect of the U.S. measures and how the Cuban government is confronting it, the Twitter accounts of the main Cuban media, several ministries and dozens of journalists and communicators have been blocked. Freedom of trade and freedom of speech, sacrosanct principles of the dominant imperial discourse, are being set aside in the U.S. war against Cuba, but the world should not know.
Source: La Pupila Insomne, translation, Resumen Latinoamericano, North America bureau