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The poor Cuban people

Most Cubans don't want democracy, but rather American assistance to improve their living conditions.


"Relieving the suffering of the poor Cuban people" is one of the standard lines wielded to justify the restoration of relations between Cuba and the United States. But this is an argument loaded with demagoguery, as it seeks to free from blame the main culprit, the Cuba people, and place it all on the tragedy’s protagonist, the illegitimate government of Raúl Castro, and its most intransigent dissidents, both on the island and exile.

But let's debunk this big lie once and for all. The Cuban people, as the mass majority that defines Cuba, its culture and Cuban identity, is absolutely and completely responsible for the situation in which they find themselves. They are the real culprits behind the fact that being born in Cuba has ceased to be a cause for "inexpressible celebration" and become an unmitigated disaster, as evidenced by the sharp drop in birth rates on the island. Nobody wants to give birth there.

A nurse who earns his living as a slushee vendor on the streets of Havana could not have said it better: "This is a country whose youth has no future".

The youth, and its parents, and its grandparents, have resigned themselves to having no future. In Cuba there has been no future for almost six decades now. 15% of the population has fled in search of one,  an unprecedented development in the country's history.

There are many internal and external factors which have made possible the prolonged survival of the Castro brothers' dictatorship, from the massive entourage surrounding the leader, to the special circumstances involved in the ideological confrontation between two political systems that sought to annihilate each other. However, following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the Castro regime's survival has been due to the Cuban people's lack of gumption.

Many stories have been written about the alleged courage of the Cuban people, but it's about time to dispel that myth. The courage of the Cuban people has historically been limited to a select few. The struggles against Spain, against Machado, against Batista and against Castroism, were always waged by handful of commendable people who sacrificed their lives, while the vast majority indulged in the rampant hedonism and pleasures of living in a prosperous country (which Cuba was under Spanish rule and much of the republican era), or in a country seduced by the chimera of social equality, with a promising future that never arrived, mired in its miserable, eternal present.

Havana's cabarets were full on December 31, 1958, with thousands of Cubans celebrating in style, before they were pillaged by a wild and opportunistic mob. The urban struggle in the island's streets was waged by very few, and the guerrillas in the Sierra Maestra and Escambray were just that: guerrillas that never numbered more than 500 men, despite the inflated figures Fidel Castro would later report in his stories of a heroic epic that never was.

When Maceo was killed in battle, his troops, hungry and poorly armed, were just a few hundred. His wife went suffered penury in exile, and Havana was passive as the mambisa (pro-independence) offensive struggled.

If we are dispassionate we have to recognize that if the United States had not intervened in Cuba as part of the so-called "Spanish-American War," we very well could have remained a Spanish colony.  The myth propagated by a grand historical narrative that American intervention wrested our independence from us, is just that: a myth that is not supported by the facts. Máximo Gómez himself would recognize that it was impossible to beat the Spaniards in a conventional campaign, which is why he devised his scorched earth strategy.

Only a few thousand Cubans took up arms across Cuba. As has been evidenced by examinations of history, the fight for independence was fought by very few. Cuba was a prosperous country, and most did not want war.

Moreover, Cubans serving in the Spanish army, Civil Guard, volunteers and guerrillas, numbered in the thousands; some sources say 80,000. To make matters worse, hundreds of blacks faithful to Spain joined the colonial troops. Perhaps the best known were the members of the black guard of Captain General Valeriano Weyler. Thirty blacks escorted him when he landed in Mariel, as part of its strategy of corralling Maceo, which would culminate with el titán’s demise.

When the exaggerations of Cuba's historiography are swept away, we find that Weyler was winning the war when he lost his command, following Cánovas’s death.

The western campaign by Gómez and Maceo had been a total failure. Some of the most important generals were dead or captured, and the only major city taken by the rebels was Victoria de las Tunas – where General Calixto García massacred Cubans who fought for Spain, most of them black, before leaving the city.

Under the light of real history, hidden under mountains of lies, it is evident that after the “shout of Baire,” what prevailed in the minds of most Cubans was the desire for autonomy from Spain.

Today, after Obama's capitulation to Raúl Castro's illicit government, the island's political landscape looks similar: most Cubans do not want democracy, but rather US assistance to improve their living conditions. Most of Castroism's enemies do not want to fight for freedom, but rather negotiate with the enemy to convince it to give it to them. Most do not seek happiness, for "happiness entails being free," as Pericles observed. Most want full stomachs and corporeal pleasures, perennial symbols of Cuban happiness. Most prefer to live under their subjugators than to run the risks involved in fighting for their freedom.

And why the hell should we be surprised? It's always been the same story with the poor Cuban people. Now they are clinging to hopes that restored relations with the United States will save them. Perhaps this is why Obama said that going to Cuba "will be fun."

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