Monday, December 8, 2008

If you want to get a sense of why all three Cuban-American Republican incumbents in South Florida sailed to re-election last month (one comfortably, the other by a landslide), why Washington DC pays obeisance to Miami, the real capital of Cuba, and why resentments run deep in this most bitter of family feuds, read Roger Cohen's NYT Magazine cover story. The Cuba of Cohen's story isn't so much a totalitarian death trap as an abattoir of numbing boredom, closer to Milan Kundera's The Joke than Czeslaw Milosz's The Captive Mind (the title of which accurately captures the sense in which lines for moldy bread and an institutional suppression of Internet activity has squelched the imaginative life in post-Castro Cuba):
But of course Cuba is not totalitarian East Germany. Fidel has been nothing if not a brilliant puppet master. He once said that some revolutionary fighters “let their enthusiasm for the cause overwhelm their tactical decision-making.” Not Fidel, whose training as a lawyer has been evident in his mastery of maneuver and brinkmanship, not least in his dealings with the United States. There have been hundreds of executions, especially in the early years, but he has never been a bloodthirsty dictator, a Caribbean Ceausescu. Nor has he tried, in the style of some despots, to sweep the past away; he has merely let it wither.

“There’s a very intelligent repression here, a scientific repression,” Yoani S├ínchez, the dissident whose blog is now translated into 12 languages, told me. “They have killed us as citizens, so they do not have to kill us physically. Our own police is in our brains, censoring us before we utter a critical idea.”
Sanchez, who's about my age, has allowed a number of her blog posts to get translated at Babalu Blog.

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