Friday, November 2, 2007

Elephant in a Dark House

For decades now, the Castro brothers and assorted hangers on have been doing their very own dance of the seven veils when it comes to the outside world. So I have to laugh when I see MSM media types expounding on how the Cuban people feel about anything, as they did last week.

I always get a kick when one of the hanging-out-in-the-tropics reporters musters enough energy to go and ask "the man on the street" in Cuba how he or she feels about anything. You are asking a captive population to be honest. Do they really think someone is going to say, "This fidel is a cabron, and this whole revolution is bullshit." For occasions just such as this or block meetings or elections, the Cubans have invented a strategem. They call it the doble cara. It means that you give lip service to what is required of you and keep your real thoughts to yourself, because if any of your real thoughts deviate from the party line you risk retaliation. Not all retaliation results in imprisonment. No, the great fear is that you will "señalarte," or "signal" yourself. Your life will be made more difficult. Maybe, you'll lose your job,or your children will have a hard time getting into university, or your spouse will be pressured at work. You could even lose your ration card, inadequate as it is. Perhaps an unruly mob will terrorize you in your home for 24 hours in an act of repudio.

So how can they possibly hope to elicit truth? Even those of us more in tune with the realities of life on the island are limited in our understanding. Think about it. You might know how your relatives in Havana feel, but what about people in the countryside? They are two different worlds. To what generation do they belong? There are differences there. You may have a direct link to a dissident, but do you have any idea how representative his pronouncements are?

There are no real elections. There is no free press. The population is generally cowed by very real considerations. Fear is so pervasive that it becomes apparent even in the contradictions of a recent survey, taken under God knows what conditions. Read Henry Gomez's analysis here. The stats speak for themselves. There is no real, quantifiable way to take the pulse of the Cuban people. In attempting to use the same methods they use in free society, the media is groping an elephant's leg in the dark and pronouncing it a cherry tree. And the so-called experts, they like the oracle at Delphi jump to interpret whatever foul emanation arise from the island.

In the end, you have to go with what you know and what you can logically surmise. Granted Cubans are a tad unique, but I'd say the odds of a people living with hunger, repression, and squalor for over forty years wanting a change are pretty high.

No comments: