The utility of Cuban prisoners

Ex-Cuban prisoners color coordinated for maximum photogenic value.

For whom are the [Cuban] prisoners useful? español

Enrique Ubieta Gómez

Translation: Machetera

So here’s the problem.  The ex-prisoners arrive in Madrid.  The press clings to them for a few days.  If they’re lucky, they’ll begin to live from their labors and not from subversive activity that was quite well paid.  Perhaps some will manage a post in cyberspace.  But, as the Cubans say, no es fácil [it’s not easy], in the midst of an economic crisis.  I have no idea how much they’ll be paid for their commentary (the offensive or threatening diatribes they launch at revolutionary bloggers), but if we don’t publish them, they don’t get paid.  Little by little, they’ll be forgotten.  They’re no longer any use.  In other words, they’re no longer any use for their former promoters, for U.S. imperialism.

The math is simple.  A counter-revolutionary in the streets of Havana is worth something, just not a lot.  They don’t inspire anyone.  Those who pay them prefer that they end up in prison or on hunger strikes.  Preferably moribund, or dead.  How many tales of kidnappings and 15-minute public beatings without eyewitnesses or physical traces has Yoani had to invent for herself in order to feed the chronic lack of spectacle or heroism suffered by her cyberspace “dissidence”?  Over what argument will the next media campaign be launched?  Fariñas will need to take a vacation before launching his, I don’t know, 25th or 26th hunger strike.  And he’ll have to keep a good excuse at hand.  But the Ladies in White have been left with nothing.  Without a social goal, in bureaucracy-speak.

In the midst of the extreme triumphal excitement surrounding the prisoner release one can begin to see the first signs of unease.  The demands of the multinational mainstream press and politicians in the metropolitan centers were dressed in humanitarian garb, but the objective was not the liberation of the mercenaries, but – through blackmail – avoiding their release.  What was desired – what is desired – is the toppling of the Cuban Revolution.  And one mercenary in prison is worth more than five in the street and ten in Spain.  Now they say nothing has happened.  According to EFE, Raúl Rivero, whose poetic pen is compensated by the networks of the U.S.-Hispanic rightwing (I’m talking about the rightwing Spanish PP [Popular Party] – not the rightwing PSOE [Spanish Socialist Workers Party]) insists that the freeing of the prisoners is “a unilateral decision” by the Cuban government that has not been influenced by conversations with the Spanish government and the Catholic church; it’s some kind of trick.  The PP is trying to keep the media show going as long as possible for the ex-prisoners on Spanish soil, through anti-PSOE skirmishes.

The Cuban Revolution knows how to converse, on any subject, equal to equal.  If Obama’s government should care to do so, it would find no obstacles.  However, the subversive escalation has not diminished.  On June 18th, USAID tendered $3,650,000 to finance subversive programs and networks in Cuba: $500,000 for those it calls “political prisoners” and their families; $1,500,000 to open spaces for “freedom of expression” (U.S. style, in Cuba); $500,000 to create or strengthen religious and spiritual groups aligned with Washington; $500,000 to promote private unions; etc.  This money comes on top of the $15 million dollars recently unfrozen for USAID’s Cuba program.  Is receiving money from a foreign government with the explicit proposal of subverting order within the country itself not an execrable and punishable act?  U.S. and European laws carry heavy sentences for those engaging in this crime.  No-one questions them.  Who would call them “political prisoners” or “prisoners of conscience”?

If the Cuban Revolution does not fall apart, nothing has changed.  And the old mercenaries are now useless.  They’re just another bunch of hungry mouths in Madrid.  New ones will need to be found, to substitute.  And of course they’ll be found.  And they’ll be arrested and judged, just like in any city throughout the world.  They’ll be the new media “heroes,” shooting stars in the firmament of imperial war.  The Ladies in White, new ones of course, and perhaps some of the old ones signing on “in support” for nostalgia’s sake, will march with their gladiolas in front of CNN’s or TVE’s cameras.  The circus will begin again.  The prisoners are useful for the empire, only for the empire, but Cuba will not tolerate impunity.  Once again, the Cuban Revolution has made a gesture of the highest kind of policy, that of humanism; but apparently Obama doesn’t have the political courage – the balls – to free the five Cuban political prisoners, those who did fight to prevent death on both sides of the sea.

Enrique Ubieta Gómez is a Cuban journalist; editor of La Isla Desconocida blog and managing director of the Cuban publication La Calle del Medio.  Machetera is a member of Tlaxcala, the network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation may be reprinted as long as the content remains unaltered, and the source, author, and translator are cited.

One response to “The utility of Cuban prisoners

  1. Saludos. Very well put. Don’t be surprised if one or more of the freed prisoners joins the wingnuts on Fox.

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