“Totalitarianism” in Cuba and Venezuela

Santoculto writes:

Communists are even WORST than liberals limousine or gauche caviar.

Just lies lies and lies

It’s compulsive.

Defend totalitarian regimes like Maduro in Venezuela or Castro clan in Cuba look “smart” just for borderline lunatics/mattoid on “””humanities”””.

I would certainly agree that Cuba is a totalitarian system. However, it is more democratic than you think. For instance, everyone in Cuba must be a member of a labor union and there is a labor union for each type of job. For instance, a hospital might have people from 43 different unions working in the place. Really it is all one big union, but it has a separate branch for each type of worker. Doctors are in the Physicians Union, custodians are in the Janitorial Union, etc.

Also more things are decided at the local level than you might think. For instance, the recent revisions in the Cuban Labor Code were done by putting forth the proposed changes to all of the Cuban unions. All of the unions commented on what things they wanted changed and how they wanted them to change, what changes they would support and what changes they would oppose. It was only after massive consultation with all of the Cuban unions that the Labor Code changes were undertaken.

The elections are held at the local level, and every area has a local representative in the government. Yes, they are all part of the same party, but they do run against each other at the local level. And at the local level you can even have some pretty ferocious campaigns between the various CCP members who are running for the position. They give speeches, attack their opponents and compete on trying to serve the people better. I believe they even have campaign posters.

If you go to vote at the local level, you might have a choice between four or five people running, and they all campaigned against each other to try to get your vote. However, the elections are not money-based, so I sometimes think they are fairer than the money-based elections we have here.

There is quite a bit of debate in Cuba. The political science departments of the universities have been publishing papers calling for a modified multiple party system for some time now.

The debate about the limited capitalism that has been opened up has been quite ferocious. And right now there is a significant wing in the Cuban Communist Party who want to go the China/Vietnam route to socialism, sort of a “socialism with Cuban characteristics.” They are in a huge power struggle with those who see the China/Vietnam route as incipient capitalism and are determined to stop the others. No one is getting jailed, purged or even fired for having any of these views.

There are about 250 openly acknowledged dissident organizations, and there are probably only ~500 political prisoners in the whole country. As you can see, most of the dissidents are walking around free most of the time. Most dissident groups are small grouplets with very small numbers of people (maybe 10-20 people). So there are maybe 5-10,000 active dissidents in the whole country.

The dissidents are very much disliked by your average Cuban who considers them to be traitors. Actually it is a serious problem, as gangs of ordinary Cubans often form outside of the dissidents’ homes denouncing them. These are not organized; they are just local people who hate the dissidents.

Your average Cuban may indeed want change, but nevertheless the dissidents are generally despised as traitors working for the CIA (which is pretty much what most of them are). The dissidents spend a lot of time at the US Interests Section in Cuba (what we have instead of an embassy), and they get a lot of money and instructions from the US government folks in that building. The Cubans say they are collaborating with the US to overthrow the system, and that is exactly what they are doing.

There is a campaign called Socialismo o Muerte! (Socialism or Death!) in Cuba that has been going on for many years now. Many Cubans have been joking that it should be called Socialismo es Muerte! (Socialism Is Death!)  instead. Cubans have a great sense of humor and most people joke about the system all the time. Nobody who talks like that goes to jail. Cubans complain about the system all the time. It’s a national pastime like baseball. On the other hand, they do not really want to get rid of it. Probably a majority support the system, and everyone loves Castro who is seen as some father figure. Really most of the hardcore dissidents took off and most of the people who are left are regime supporters.

For many years, the US spent a lot of money on something stupid called Radio Marti, which was a CIA funded radio station out of Florida that broadcast nonstop anti-regime propaganda to Cuba. However, the regime has been jamming the signal from Day One so it is pretty much a waste of money. Nevertheless, many people can get the signal, but studies showed that of Cubans who could get the signal, only 2% listened to the political content. Many Cubans did indeed listen to Radio Marti, but they only listened to the baseball games! After that came TV Marti, but that was also jammed and hardly anyone watched that either.

A leading dissident is a young woman named Yoani Sanchez with permanent PMS who writes her own blog. She is very popular in the West, especially in the US, but in Cuba, no one reads her or even likes her much. She bitches about such horrible things as not having access to Blu-Ray disks in Cuba! Seriously. She gets money from the US and she periodically leaves the country. Recently she went on a tour of the US where she went around the country collecting money and giving speeches denouncing the regime. The regime let her go to the US and let her keep her money. Every now and then they haul her ass into jail and keep her for 1-2 days and then release her. So they just harass her a bit.

There is an online journal called the Havana Times that I recommend everyone read. It is written by local Cuban journalists often coming from a critical point of view, but that POV varies between attacking the regime from the Left to attacking it from the Right. Last time I checked, not much happens to those writers.

The Cuban regime does not lie very much. Their health figures have been checked by the UN and they were found to be correct. The regime is honest about many things such as the problem of substandard housing, especially in Havana. Party newspapers like Granma are full of discussions about problems in the country and what should be done about them.

Maduro is not a totalitarian. Venezuela has one of the freest presses on Earth, possibly the most free. The Venezuelan press is vastly freer than the press in the US or anywhere in the West.

And Venezuela has the fairest elections on Earth.

I am not aware that the Venezuelan regime lies much, or at all, really.

20 Comments

Filed under Americas, Capitalism, Caribbean, Cuba, Economics, Government, Journalism, Labor, Latin America, Left, Marxism, Political Science, Politics, Regional, Socialism, South America, USA, Venezuela

20 responses to ““Totalitarianism” in Cuba and Venezuela

  1. Santoculto

    Disgusting lies!!!

    You distort and no have patience to explain why a circle is a circle and why a square is a square.

  2. Johnny

    Also to add here, Cuba had sanctions on them even after the Cold War ended. This comes to the problem of lobbying in this country. IF we had a lobbying system in which there was total transparency and an opposing viewpoint could also be presented I wouldn’t have a problem with it. Instead it’s all done behind closed doors and through money. The Cuban American lobby has obsessed about Castro and their method hasn’t worked to change anything. They could have taken a breath and not just thought about themselves for a second and done something to make Cuba better and more willing to reform in the free speech department. Indeed unions and worker organizations are a great way to maintain some balance in any society as it allows people to get fair wages. This points to another conservative meme that is false, that unions destroy companies. What union is going to want the company to go down rather than take a pay cut for example? It’s usually a CEO and other officers who (with board approval) will pay themselves whatever they want to and pay workers as little as they can get away with. Is it just work based? Not unless the CEO is working 100 times better than the rest.

    As for Cuba, after the Cold War, what was the point of isolating them? Let’s see where their experiment leads them. Quite possibly they could end up as social democrats and by degrees resemble free capitalist societies. This is the problem with ideologues, they don’t ever consider ideas that don’t exist in some “pure” sense for them. No need for data or facts, but instead conclusions based on emotion. Cuban-Americans feel that they got a raw deal when Castro came to power and yet they’ve done pretty well in this country. This is really about revenge ultimately and luckily the younger generations have realized this and moved on.

    China has also had issues with free speech. Apparently critics “vanish” often, especially when they criticize top leaders. This is a bad thing without a doubt and even those in Hong Kong aren’t always safe. I don’t imagine Taiwan is eager to rejoin if this is going to continue. However, this doesn’t mean China can’t and won’t change. It’s inevitable. Prosperity will lead to more information flow and people will learn different ways of thinking. However, shutting countries off due to ideological differences is a sign of insecurity and I have no idea why we’re so insecure about “communism” still.

    All of this comes to the issue a balanced society in which people have some semblance of a say. Now to the average Tea Party enthusiast, they’ve come to believe things that are just said by other people and don’t appear interested in actual data. This is indicative of a faith-based worldview in which you take the word of leaders for granted because it sounds right. In fact, one might recall Dick Cheney during a VP debate years ago stating that if people didn’t believe him they could go to factcheck.com to verify his veracity. He meant factcheck.org, which actually indicated that he lied and quite often. Why did he say it? Because he knows his audience and knows they won’t actually check on what he’s saying. The Donald, Cruz and so on have all realized the same thing. Say anything and say it loud and it’ll sound like the truth to people. With Cuba it’s been, “they’re communists and suppress all freedoms and thus we have to starve them into change because Castro only understands force.” A real historical overview shows that in fact he was quite willing to work with the US until he realized they weren’t going to work with him. To be fair it was the height of Cold War frenzy and the Soviets were up to some pretty messed up things as well (Afghanistan is possibly their worst current problem legacy), but there could the US have kept Cuba as an ally and just let them experiment on their island? We’ll never know.

    • Jason Y

      I think free speech exists in the US, but you have to be able to deal with the fallout. As noted in other comments, students at a university, locals, etc.. hate anyone with an opinion. They’re jealous of such people, and they think they don’t have a right to say anything, thinking they’re a cunt, pussy etc..

      • Johnny

        Yeah I mean, I’m not saying we have complete free speech in the US, at least in the mainstream sense. This is the one thing conservatives are right about (and I include Fox News here as part of the problem), but they are wrong about its “liberal” bias as they presume that to mean anything they don’t like (and that liberal=wrong). However, we do have other sources. Problem is many if not most people don’t seem to get the full story, especially when the media is embedded with the military for example (this practice started back with Desert Storm). Since in the past the media was critical of American adventurism, they decided to bring them along but under controlled conditions and parameters. Thus, no body bags or coffin shots, no emphasis on civilian casualties and basically the Pentagon would control the narrative. I think it was Jean Baudrillard who referred to the Desert Storm conflict as a videogame war that cut people off from objective information.

        Well the thing with some students is that they’re young and idealistic. And on campus there is a high degree of sensitivity to everything (some people don’t want to be called something or other). Seinfeld commented on how when plays campuses there’s a pushback to some jokes for example. In some cases I would agree that some terms are offensive to most people these days (n word for example despite its continued use in inner cities). This is something that won’t change for a while, until AfAms are more absorbed, but really what’s the point of some terms other than piss people off? If pissing them off serves a purpose I can see that, but I don’t know that all speech is necessarily a good thing either. What’s more in the old days, people weren’t necessarily saying inappropriate things anyway. It’s just that things have towards a super sensitive zone.

        What’s strange is campus rape is tolerated more than offensive language, which is odd. By tolerated I mean the administrations and not students obviously. Still I prefer them to a Tea Party rally. Talk about new heights of intolerance. At least on campus the point is they don’t want to offend anyone while at a Trump rally the point is to blame everyone but yourself for everything wrong the planet. That and a desire to offend people with impunity. I imagine there’s something in-between that’s better in this regard.

        • Jason Y

          Campuses are hell-holes. Any mention of an opinion gets you labeled uncool, well gay is the word, but it doesn’t always mean homosexual, but nerdy. At the far end, you get called every bad name in the book That’s why college students are so quiet and tend to mind their own business.

          Nobody wants the spotlight on them, but it will happen if you spout any political opinion, you get marked worse than some witch (I mean bitch lol) at Salem.

      • Johnny

        It depends upon the situation. In class, I used to take a contrarian point and sometimes people agreed with me. One class we talked about Nabokov’s Lolita. I mentioned that Humbert had clearly suffered a trauma that left him in the past and thus he gravitated to young girls. A woman in the class took issue and felt the book excused child abuse. I didn’t take a position on this per se so much as explained the intent of the author. The Lolita character is depicted as advanced for her age and so on, but really it’s not a book about child abuse. I got the teacher’s unspoken agreement with a nod and most of the students didn’t agree with her. I mean it’s really about how well you articulate a point. Sometimes though there are demonstrations and things that aren’t thought through as well.

        Most of the time when you get your point across people listen and consider your opinion. And young people adapt faster to new ideas than old people anyway. So really it depends upon the situation.

    • Jason Y

      Yeah, but the US elites found they can make more money with the prison industrial complex, then they can by mildly educating blacks, and letting them do simple minded assembling jobs (as in Detroit).

      http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1998/12/the-prison-industrial-complex/304669/

    • Jason Y

      So who is right? What do the facts say? Was Cuba an exploited hell on Earth or was that an exxageration? It had to be somewhat bad, or why would a revolution have taken place?

      Could it be like South Korea or France, where people are fairly rich, but due to national pride they feel like they have to hate the US?

      • None of it makes any sense. The Castroites produce all sorts of facts and figures showing that it was a pretty fucked up place and then the exiles produce all these crazy figures showing that it was the Switzerland of the Americas. None of it makes any sense and I do not know what to think of it, but I suspect that the exiles are just making all this shit up.

        • Jason Y

          Exactly, left wing cause revolutions just don’t spring out of nowhere.

        • Another William Playfair Web

          I’m inclined to believe it was indeed “f*cked up”. My Grandmother was born there, and she had a brother that died before the age of one year old, from something that started off as a fever but then got worse. The roads were too poor to go to the Hospital. No doctor had enough resources/skill to treat them. They were a loaded family, too, so called “self-made” Basque Immigrants. Legendary Afro-Cuban Minnie Minoso’s parent(s) were sharecroppers on the family farm. Things were not great, why would there be a rebellion, then?

          I’d like to see statistics from both sides, I’ll do some research

        • May I ask you what year your Grandma was born? In the 1930’s? In the 1940’s? In the 1950’s?

        • Another William Playfair Web

          She was born in 1940. Her brother was born in March of 1943 and caught some sort of fever (a spring/warm weather type, it is at the extreme edge of the tropics, it was very 3rd world-ish if I may say so myself, it’s really a shame) and died on July 4. From what I understand it was treatable.

          Of course, we’re ALL f*cking PURE NON-WHITE. That explains it. The fact that people have such ludicrous ideas as what race/ethnicity is blows my mind, I guess if race doesn’t exist it’s easier to say Cameron Diaz and Evo Morales could be half-siblings, because, you know, race doesn’t have any real basis. This is becoming a complex for me. Sorry, I needed to vent.

          I guess it is possible that it was back when Sudden infant deaths occurred a lot. However, looking back my other grandmother’s family, they were poor Appalachian people but her parents never lost a child young in their six born between 1914 and 1936.

    • Another William Playfair Web

      Do you, or does anyone here know much about the Angolan(the African demonym)-Cuban relationship and the Civil War in Angola? Grenada as well? A lot of people are skeptical as to why the U.S. kept the embargo so long. The far-right politicians in the U.S. throw out red meat about how terrible it is, but very few people know much about the Cuban involvement in Grenada, a few more know about Angola, but that is seen as more Anti-Colonial than Marxist.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasion_of_Grenada

      • EPGAH

        Except they weren’t really doing it for anti-colonialism, they wanted to setup a Communist Satellite State. If they were truly fighting for freedom, they should be commended, but instead, they wanted to replace a mildly bad system with a worse system and stir up MORE trouble that didn’t need stirring up! Without Communist interference, the revolutions would have stopped and lives would be saved, right?

  3. Jason Y

    The dissidents are very much disliked by your average Cuban who considers them to be traitors. Actually it is a serious problem, as gangs of ordinary Cubans often form outside of the dissidents’ homes denouncing them. These are not organized; they are just local people who hate the dissidents.

    I think that’s human nature everywhere, hating what’s different. Try being a liberal in Tennessee, or be one who is open minded and has traveled to southeast and northeast Asia.

    There is a campaign called Socialismo o Muerte! (Socialism or Death!) in Cuba that has been going on for many years now. Many Cubans have been joking that it should be called Socialismo es Muerte! (Socialism Is Death!) instead. Cubans have a great sense of humor and most people joke about the system all the time. Nobody who talks like that goes to jail. Cubans complain about the system all the time. It’s a national pastime like baseball. On the other hand, they do not really want to get rid of it. Probably a majority support the system, and everyone loves Castro who is seen as some father figure. Really most of the hardcore dissidents took off and most of the people who are left are regime supporters.

    Actually, you can’t have a two party democracy in Cuba, cause the other side wants to install a far right regime which bows down to the US. A US style democracy isn’t possible in Latin America cause the right wing are all Nazis like santo-culto. They’re extremists. Likewise, the left wing are all extremists like Stalin.

    Yes, I’m sure the locals criticize Cuba without actually totally condemning it. I guess it would be like how some moderates in Tennessee might object to our place being “too redneck”, but might still love here anyway.

    • Jason Y

      Ironically, Cuba only exists due to the mercy of the US. It wasn’t the case though during the Cold War. The Russian threat of retaliation kept a US invasion or US backed coup from taking place.

      I suppose the US could take them out now, but they are afraid of the backlash of looking like “Genghis Khan” style Nazis so they leave the place alone. I’m not sure if they are still doing coup attempts against Cuba, but I know many were made against Venezuela.

    • Jason Y

      But jealousy plays a major role in the “Gook lover” comments.😆 The idea of some ordinary moron like me, seeing all the places Iv’e seen drives a lot of locals up the wall.

    • Johnny

      It depends. Some countries have extreme right parties, but most Latin Americans are pretty politically relaxed and remind me more of Europeans than us. By that I mean while extreme parties sometimes come some level of prominence, most of the time they are on the fringe. Multiparty systems are a better way to go anyway as they allow a spectrum and the rise and fall of parties. No system is perfect though and some would argue that people tend to devolve into two views anyway. Not sure I agree with that, but Cuba is likely to go into a transition phase IF we interact with them. If we go back to cutting them off then it’ll just be a pointless exercise as this seems to make them more defiant. Half the time I think the Cuban-American lobby just wants to insure that communism fails more than anything else which is a shame. If they’re system is so wrong letting them continue and evolve shouldn’t be a problem.

  4. EPGAH

    What really strikes me about these reports from Cuba is the sheer waste of the Castro regime.

    If nothing else the weather and scenery in Cuba looks downright idyllic. With a little Freedom of Movement, Enterprise and Expression it could easily rival Hawaii in terms of desirability and livability. Instead, it’s a cultural, economic and technological backwater, seemingly stuck somewhere in the mid fifties. Perhaps one day it will make an excellent 51st state. I wonder if the Castros would allow a vote on that? Or a “Commonwealth” like Puerto Rico? All the benefits of America, without tax or voting. And there are reports they come here and vote illegally anyways…

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