19 February 2007

Self Serving Intellectualism or Propaganda?

We keep seeing headlines like this:

Cuban intellectuals fearing crackdown take cause to Web

WOW! You say.

Not so fast. It’s all a not-too-slick PR campaign to make Raul look “reasonable” and “pragmatic” to the outside world because he allows “debate” and show that he’s in control would-be rivals on the inside.

"It's impossible," Perez, 43, recalled thinking. "How could a man whose past was so atrocious for Cuban culture be shown on television like this without explanation and even with reverence? He was the devil. A lot of people suffered tremendously because of him."

Who is Perez referring to? Fidel? Raul?

Why no, Perez doesn’t have a problem with Fidel or Raul. He’s talking about Luis Pavon who was he former head of the Cuban National Culture Council back in the 70’s and is now held responsible for branding some intellectuals as “counterrevolutionary” and blacklisting them.

Now, I’m no intellectual by any stretch of the imagination, but in the Cuba where I grew up, nothing happened unless Fidel Castro wanted it to happen. What kind of intellectual doesn’t realize that Pavon was just one of Castro’s thugs following orders? Does he actually think that Pavon was freelancing?

And another thing, Perez is 43 which means that he was 7 years old when the “Five Gray Years” started. Yet seeing Pavon on TV disturbed him so much, that he set out to clash with Raul’s regime.


Intellectuals in Cuba are a privileged class in a supposedly classless society. They get to have internet access, travel abroad, mingle with tourists, have cars, etc, etc.

Now, let’s assume that they are really protesting a potential government crackdown. If they are, they are doing do for self serving and elitist reasons. They haven’t protested about the repression of the ordinary Cuban people, just their own intellectual repression. If it’s a genuine protest, then its just a disingenuous attempt to hold on to their privileged status.

But nohing in Cuba happens unless the regime lets it happen.

What is more realistic is that Raul told a couple of these “intellectuals” to “protest” or they would loose their privileges. And they did.

There are a few different theories about why thie is happening.

One is that Raul is encouraging some intellectual dissent to see what “gusanos” come out so he can exterminate them. Mao did this at the beginning of the “Cultural Revolution”.

Another theory is that Valdes who is now the MisInformation minister wants to start reigning in the “intellectuals” like he’s doing with Satellite dishes and the internet. So he put this guy Pavon on the airwaves to send a signal to the intellectuals. Raul could have countered by allowing a “debate” to show Ramiro that he has the backing of the elite in Cuba.

Then of course, there’s the theory that its all a PR campaign to garner some international goodwill.

Something that makes this last theory more plausible is this incident that occurred last week at an International Book Fair held just feet form the “paredon” , a wall where Cuba’s patriots where put before to be shot, at La Cabaña Fortress:

…..poet Cesar Lopez--who also was blacklisted in the 1970s--delivered a daring speech before Raul Castro, Culture Minister Abel Prieto and other officials in which he urged authorities to allow the works of famed exile anti-Castro writers such as the late Guillermo Cabrera Infante to be circulated on the island.

Further Reading:

Cuban intellectuals fearing crackdown take cause to Web

Where reporter Gary Marx also interviews a real intellectual dissident.


Anonymous said...

you suck!

El Gusano said...

i guess the word intellectual brings out feelings of inadequacy in some..........