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Staging Civil Society

Staging Civil Society / 14ymedio, Manual Cuesta Morua
Posted on April 3, 2015

14ymedio, Manuel Cuesta Morua, Havana, 2 April 2015 — The Summit of the
Americas is the best opportunity for Cuba. For the first time since
1959, our country has and will take advantage of the occasion provided
by the international community to put itself in sync with the world.

Let’s review. In 1985 the Cuban government had an excellent moment to
link the country to the height of what was coming. Instead it decided
not to take advantage of perestroika and the opportunity it opened, at
some point, to stop the country’s structural crisis, although to do so
they would have had to recognize the structural crisis of the country’s

In all likelihood it would not have saved socialism if the government
had used the occasion to transform itself, but if would have saved, for
example, the sugar industry. By not making the necessary changes, we’re
left today with neither socialism nor sugar.

This second opportunity is better and distinct. Distinct, because it
continues the gradual process of returning to our natural geopolitical
space. Better, because for the first time the entire country is invited
to this process of integration.

None of the forums in this part of the world engage Cuba in its
entirety. Neither the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), nor the Community
of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) think about Cuba when
they use the mail to open their doors to the country. For them it is
about “thinking of the heights,” which only recognizes our nation
through the State. No more, no less.

With the VII Summit of the Americans, everything changes. The Americas,
half reluctantly among its Latin part, accept that those who disagree
with the regime and those who support it against all common sense are on
an equal footing.

This is a formidable challenge. Fundamentally for the democratic civil
society. There we can do what we have been taught from a young age at
all possible levels of education and what is projected almost daily in
the Island’s communication media and from the corners of official
politics, in those most hidden places of the Island. We can scream,
offend, exclude and continue to focus onmoral destruction of the
adversary, rather than on rational discussion of the arguments. We can
also say, as the political narrative in use accustoms us to do: them no,
us yes. That is, we can project ourselves in a negative way, adding
impropriety to the complaint. But this is not recommended.

The Seventh Summit of the Americas will surely be a space of wider
exposure and a more intense light than we have had for years. Surely it
can be considered the greatest visibility for Cuba at any time since 1962.

And we must take advantage of this in several ways: first, to vindicate
an image. The Cuban government has effectively sold, especially in Latin
America and more than a few U.S. circles, the idea of an incapable
people, kind of rundown without purpose or goals, just asking for
benefits, and doing it directly now that we can travel.

Second, to refine the language. The language learned for too many years
in Cuba is not a civil language of the civilized. They raised us on
insults, on low attacks, on the primary stories of tangled and foul
politics that are the ultimate negation of the civic that can’t be
understood without moderation, the choice of appropriate words,
tolerance and respect for the differences that make the world and civil
society. Civil society is basically this: the difference that coexists
with independent judgment and from social autonomy. The only thing that
makes depersonalization of the conflicts and the same differences
possible. Panama is bringing us the opportunity to close the cycle of a
long transition from uncivil language to civil language. It brings to
the Cuban government the chance to start this same transition. The
faster the better.

Third, to calmly assume the legitimacy of Cuban society itself. A
misconception, based on the political distortion that many States,
particularly Latin American ones, make of social life is that of
introducing the concept of representation, which is typical of parties,
corporations and assemblies, within the values or requirements of civil
society. Civil society can be managed by its representatives, but it is
not more or less legitimate because it represents sectors or grups. Its
legitimacy comes from the expression of different projects within
society. Thus, the nature of civil society is its diversity. The more
diverse it is, the richer it is. Thus, quietly: a voice is civil society
even though it does not have an army behind it.

Fourth, to send the best message of a civilized civil society: that of
inclusion. We have experienced firsthand a fifty-year exclusion, which
we repay in kind. A coherent defense of civil society is only possible
when we include others. This assumes the risk, like that assumed by
Yoani Sanchez, of including the Committees for the Defense of the
Revolution (CDR), an organization formed to destroy the civil nature of
coexistence from the most basic level, between neighbors and families,
within the vast concept of civil society; which means for the CDRs the
challenge of supporting citizens without spying on them.

Fifth, and finally, to leave behind the language of complaint and pain,
moving to one where ideas and proposals prevail. Possibly the
representatives of Revolutionary civil society, which answers to the
regime’s discourse, be it in their critical or contemplative vision,
will have an idea in one hand and stick in the other, aimed at our
heads. But the best thing for us is to have two ideas, one in each hand,
to share in a space where many, if not all, will be attentive to our
staging. This must be worthy of the best theater.

Source: Staging Civil Society / 14ymedio, Manual Cuesta Morua |
Translating Cuba –

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