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HAPPY AT 90 MILES » Culture “only for the people”
Jul
12
2009

Culture “only for the people”

thepeople
It is tragicomic how in repressive leftist regimes the words “the people” is used to justify a supposed supremacy of the masses, while in fact being a license for a small privileged caste to repress others. (liberators often find themselves continuing the job of deposed tyrants) Even “the people” will be punished in the name of “the people” if need be.

I’m not talking about the genuine struggles in which workers have attained important rights through protests and other political means throughout the 20th century. In this sense, the use of the term “the people” has a long and honorable tradition of fighting the status quo for a more just society. My problem is with authoritarian leaders who abuse the term to lend validation to ruthless powergrabs and abuse of authority in the name of the people, die volk, or the proletariat.

When Chávez in Venezuela designates new political authorities above the rank of the newly elected mayors from the opposition, this does not, in the jargon of the Bolivarian Revolution, negate the wishes of the electorate. Rather, it is the will of “the people”, because “the people” have elected Chávez to do their bidding. In this case “the people ” can also be a synonym for their leader. Get it? In the Soviet Union, China and Cambodia, atrocities were committed on the people, by the people, in the name of the people. After “God”, “the people” is probably the second most invoked justification for violence and oppression. “Freedom” is a new recent favorite, as seen in Iraq.

In Cuba the Castros has been doing the will of “the people” for 50 years. So well indeed that all the non-people have been forced to flee by throwing themselves to sea in a slow purification process which surely has left “the people” in Cuba in such a state of unanimity that free speech is redundant.

Still, there are troublesome elements such as Yoani Sánchez, the tireless Cuban opposition blogger who obviously relishes being an enemy of “the people”, which is the reason for this post.

On the outside

On the outside

In her blog, Yoani reports that she and her husband were barred by state security personnel from assisting a concert at the Museum of Decorative Arts in Vedado. (The formerly posh section of Havana before the revolution) As soon as they arrived, presumed security officials (they refused to identify themselves) formed a barrier to stop them from entering, declaring that this space was only for “the people”.

Yoani notes how some friends in the crowd avoided greeting them, apparently afraid of being perceived as such, while others exited the concert in solidarity with her. In the end Yoani and her group heard as much as they could of the concert from outside the gates. In her post, she seems more bemused than bitter about the event, considering the panic with which they were treated.
What is this trivial offense next to the standing prohibition against her leaving the country?

Apart form her blogging, Yoani has put herself in the public eye by using an open mike event to actually critizise the Government. Ironically, being such a public figure, especially abroad, the regime can’t imprison her as they’ve done with several of her countrymen for lesser offenses without massively losing face. Yoani in jail at this stage has the potential for becoming a Mandela-like figure to the world, which is the least Raul Castro needs right now.

Read all about it on Yoani’s blog, or that of her friend Claudia Cadelo.

Comment.

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Written by IPH in: Cuba News,Freedom of Speech |

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