Act of Repudiation
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    Dissidence and silence

    Dissidence and silence
    ARMANDO CHAGUACEDA | Ciudad de México | 5 de Abril de 2017 – 12:29 CEST.

    Status as a “dissident ” is not the product of any coherent calculation.
    It does not refer to a particular affiliation or a specific creed. It
    does not even necessarily stem from a primeval hatred of what they call

    It is everyday abuse, accumulated disappointment, insufferable
    humiliation, and, largely, chance, that turn a simple citizen into a

    You do not need to read Havel, but rather be the victim of an eviction.
    Neither do you need to embrace the ideas of Adam Smith, but rather
    witness an act of repudiation perpetrated against a classmate. You do
    not even have to train with the CIA. It suffices to descry, as an honest
    Communist (and there are many) the tremendous distance between utopia
    and reality.

    In a country where feigning and opportunism are distinctive hallmarks of
    the national psyche, you do not need the makings of a hero to become a
    dissident: the young teacher, struggling against dogma and weariness,
    who encourages critical thinking in his classes; the activist who fights
    every day with local bureaucrats to revive the fading life of her
    neighborhood; the poet who refuses to sell out, and disappears from
    congresses and catalogues; the humble and fragile woman worker who
    refuses to renounce her friendship with a neighbor, who happens to
    support the opposition. These are all dissidents. And not in a
    metaphorical sense: when the files are opened we will be astonished at
    the magnitude of the paranoia harbored towards these people. At the end
    of the day, it is always those in power who define the conditions of
    existence – and struggle – for who those who reject their plans and

    I write these lines after a debate with an old friend. Talented, he
    believes it possible to make the most out of a kind of dissidence
    tolerated by those in power. His texts, well composed, convey dreams of
    a participatory future and a country of citizens. He wants to be, at the
    same time, a Minister of the Prince and Tribune of the People. Reading
    it, I think back to those years when, together, we endorsed a sort of
    millimetric reform, in Havana classrooms and parks, for which we ended
    up getting a subtle scolding, some direct intimidation and, in the end,
    a one-way journey.

    But we are no longer those young men whose heretical inspiration, the
    fruit of indoctrination and disinformation, came down from Gramsci. We
    know, they have shown us, that there is something more: more freedom and
    injustice, beyond our small circles. We have seen the faces of the
    oppressor, the beaten mother, the humiliated prisoner and the corrupt
    official. We pay a price, of distance and displacement, for the wretched

    That friend, in an attitude that disturbs me, turns his back on dissent.
    He refuses to debate with dissidents, or to recognize them in his
    writings, or to ascribe any value to those who embrace this status as
    Cuban activists and intellectuals. His political choice blends with an
    ethical stance: to leave to their fate those who struggle, openly, for a
    better country – with the same rights and hope with which he persists in
    his dubious pragmatism, counseling those in power. I hope his decision
    serves him well, and yields some modicum of public decency in the years
    to come. If this happens, Cuba may not be fully free, but at least it
    will be more bearable. But if it does not, after having hidden
    despotism’s victims and resistors, his burden will be heavy. His, and

    This article originally appeared in La Razón (Mexico). It is published
    here with the author’s permission.

    Source: Dissidence and silence | Diario de Cuba –

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