Not So Foreign Affairs

Anybody catch this one earlier in the week?  I quote at length, but there’s much more:

HAVANA — A newly revealed U.S. diplomatic cable describes Cuban dissidents as old, riven by petty rivalries and hopelessly out of touch, with leaders so focused on funding their operations they have little time to mount any serious opposition to the government.

The April 2009 cable, which was marked “confidential” and apparently written by America’s top diplomat on the island, advises Washington to put more effort into supporting a younger generation of opponents of the Castro government, including artists, musicians and the blogger Yoani Sanchez.

That the Cuban opposition is small and isolated is not major news, but the fact that Washington has so little faith in the dissidents is surprising.

“Without some true epiphany among the opposition leadership and a lessening in official repression of its activities, the traditional dissident movement is not likely to supplant the Cuban government,” reads the April cable, which is signed by Jonathan Farrar, the top diplomat at the U.S. Interests Section, which Washington maintains instead of an embassy. “We see very little evidence that the mainline dissident organizations have much resonance among ordinary Cubans.”

Farrar names leading opposition figures like Francisco Chaviano, Rene Gomez Manzano and Oswaldo Paya, and others whose names are redacted, who are already in their 50s and 60s, describing them as “comparatively old.”

“They have little contact with younger Cubans and, to the extent they have a message that is getting out, it does not appeal to that segment of society,” the cable says, adding that while the longtime dissidents were focused on human rights and getting their colleagues out of jail, most young Cubans are “more concerned about having greater opportunities to travel freely and live comfortably.”

The cable also complains that the dissidents are disorganized and at each others throats, obsessed with money and with undercutting rivals.

“With seeking resources as a primary concern (of dissident groups), the next most important pursuit seems to be to limit or marginalize the activities of erstwhile allies, thus preserving power and access to scarce resources,” the cable complains.

Farrar adds that before the opposition can hope to win support among Cubans “they must first begin to achieve some level of unity of purpose as an opposition, or at least stop spending so much energy trying to undercut one another.” — Miami Hurled

Sounds as though the old regime (not “regimen”) has been getting lessons in community organizing from the Palestinians.  Or a bucket of crabs.

But what’s really interesting is how these same diplomatic observations could be applied to Miami’s Cuban American community, which, from this vantage point, seems as fractured along generational lines as Cuba’s.  In both cases, the hard liners find themselves no farther along pursuing their agenda than they were a half-century ago, and now they’re even more isolated by age and disposition.

It’s tragic in the classical sense, where the protagonist doggedly persists in a mission that takes him farther and farther away from his goal.  Of course, in the classical sense, the paradigmatic moment of tragedy is fully revognized by the protagonist, and here IRL, that hasn’t happened yet.  So far, only the audience seems to understand this.  We’re still in Act 2.

There’s no winners here (except for the Castro dictatorship).  The hard liners there and here might not survive to see the regime’s inevitable downfall.  We can only hope the younger ones prevail before they, too, grow too old and discouraged.

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2 Responses to Not So Foreign Affairs

  1. Hose B says:

    This isn’t news to anybody who closely follows events in Cuba, but it’s nice to see it in the mainstream. It’s also nice to see that the US diplomatic corps has as good a grasp on the reality of the streets in Cuba as we do here.

    Naturally, the hardliners here (MIami) will condemn this report as propoganda and call the Miami Herald “agents” of the regime.

    I hope your friend Sharpshooter reads this and weighs in……it speaks to what he and I were disagreeing over before, and as I noted at the time, it’s really a generational gap at work.

  2. Missing Lincoln says:

    Bucket of crabs. Say no more.

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