Yunior Smith, a young Cuban television news presenter, set off on his way to the United States through the Central American migratory routes, those dark corridors that pave with poverty and desperation a robust network of illegal economies, geopolitical tensions and government corruption. . Before making a decision so unsurprising in the historical and social plane, but extreme for his life, Smith went out from time to time on national television, with an impeccable suit and tie, to deny that there were political prisoners on the island, to criminalize the protests of last July 11, defaming and blatantly lying about well-known figures of political dissidence, and reciting the eternal totalitarian poem that blames all our ills on the Washington empire and its obsession with our string of sufferings and misfortunes.
Through your social networks, Smith explained the reasons for his escape, which are nothing more than the reasons that make Cuba a failed country, clearly unjust: rampant misery, permanent surveillance, simulation. Like another individual shredded by an impersonal propaganda machine, Smith will quickly be replaced by a new kid fresh out of journalism classrooms willing to lie, it doesn’t matter, in principle, whether he consciously or not, in exchange for a bit of instant popularity. and somewhat ridiculous that television always brings. His face varies, but the gestures and words are the same, because the figure of news anchor is already built, what is needed is not a person, but a fresh body to fill that box.
The depigmentation of the subject, however, occurs under a strong process of individual commitment. The person is still responsible, he has to be, for renouncing his particular voice, for allowing the rhetoric of death of triumphalist power, always undefeated, to be grafted onto his throat. The idea that in totalitarianism there is no other remedy than to obey is due to the disastrous influence of that tableau full of archetypes that is 1984. Milan Kundera wisely detected that Orwell’s novel reduced “a reality to its purely political aspect” and this aspect “to what is exemplary negative”. And he continued: “I refuse to condone this reduction on the pretext that it was useful as propaganda in the fight against totalitarian evil. Because this evil is precisely the reduction of life to politics and of politics to propaganda. Thus, Orwell’s novel, despite its intentions, is itself part of the totalitarian spirit, the spirit of propaganda. It reduces (and teaches to reduce) the life of a hated society to the simple enumeration of its crimes”.
The singularity of totalitarianism consists, on the other hand, in the fact that belonging to the repressive apparatus in any of its phases does not necessarily free you from also becoming a victim, and that the victims who are not part of the repressive apparatus, but rather that resist it, are not exempt from reproducing the ethical and cultural presuppositions of totalitarianism. Not in vain did Cioran warn us of this terrible atavistic drive: “What luck to have as a contemporary a tyrant worthy of being hated, to whom you can consecrate a cult against the grain and who, secretly, you want to resemble!”.
There should be a transitional justice process in Cuba that materially and symbolically repairs the multiple victims of the regime over six decades, points to a process of national reconciliation as a political horizon and, adhering to the rules of law applied in experiences of administrative and legal dismantling of similar dictatorships, will establish criminal charges outside the emotional impulses of revenge and popular resentment. Otherwise, we tend to set the permitted limit of involvement with the totalitarian lie at that point where everyone abandoned the project, and there will always be someone who was less involved than you, and who also considers you an accomplice.
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Another issue is social guilt, and how we Cubans could build the future foundations of our collective morality beyond the law, that is, the rites, codes and conventions in which we would recognize ourselves and through which we would establish our possible interpersonal relationships, the ways of custom.
In a submissive and colonial vision of that metaphysical procedure that is the weight of conscience, many civil society actors believe that Yunior Smith’s acquittal or not involves the permission or denial of his entry into the United States, but it is not It is the gringo border police that has to decide what place the presenter’s past actions and words would occupy within his closest community, nor how to process them, much less why forgive them, since the only important question that remains as a country, and it is not an anecdotal or conjunctural question at all, it is the question of how we could do, and how Yunior Smith could do, so that we would forgive him, which also means, of course, to forgive us. Forgiveness is built from two ways, who asks for it and who grants it, and both parties require the same degree of humanism, ecumenical reserve and commitment to the redemptive possibilities of man. If an echo of Christian roots resonates in this idea, it is because he has it.
I have asked myself many times – because I have suffered it, and because I have been tempted not to – if I would be willing to forgive the spokesmen for the regime who have willingly defamed me on national television, who have written with total impunity in newspapers and pages of the state press, or even those who have interrogated me and even kidnapped me on one occasion. After regretfully throwing away my thirst for revenge, I have come to the conclusion that I could do nothing but forgive them. They are, of course, complicit, but forgiveness is the only way he could finally defeat them. The understanding that in some sense they are also victims, and their inclusion with full rights in the possible republic project that I yearn for Cuba, is what would rid me (us) once and for all of any totalitarian lag and would annul the application, under other forms, of the same biopolitical procedure that has subjected me (us).
in the obese mea culpa de Smith highlights the fat of the adjectives, the sententious phrases and the bombastic rhetoric, a method that the presenter had already brought more than learned and from which he has now only reversed its direction. Darts that went against Miami now go against Havana. There is not a jump as abysmal as it seems between his words of yesterday and those of today. Smith continues to move within the totalitarian dialect, and on the border of the United States he has uttered the code words that would allow him access to the cabal of exile. He has spoken in an intermediate place from which normally nobody utters anything; either people express themselves when they have already arrived, or when they have not yet left, and that unprecedented singularity is what allows us to access the broken individual who does not know, neither his time nor his country allow him, to find the language of his pain, the situation that could turn him, after all, into a person, someone who has given up talking to the fiscal receiver of Big Brother. You have to get that reference out of your head.
More than an individual —as Calasso tells of an Italian girl who on a television program said that she wanted to be publicity, so that the whole world would look at her— the Zeitgeist, or spirit of the times, has spoken through Smith. The press and congressmen in Miami, making Orwell’s mistake, have equally reduced life to politics and politics to propaganda, and like Kundera, I am not served by the argument that such a record has any use in the fight against totalitarianism, because, moreover, it does not have it at all. Moral reason needs a fair translation into historical reason. The pain of exile has also been forced to be told in the dehumanized jargon of the tyrant Castro.
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