The end of the end of revolution in Cuba: NY Times article

The End of the End of the Revolution – Castro’s Cuba at 50 – NYTimes.com

By ROGER COHEN Published: December 5, 2008

… . Cuba’s dissidents are marginalized. The press is muzzled. The print organ of the regime, Granma, named after the cabin cruiser that bore Fidel, Raúl, Che and their followers from Mexican exile to Cuba in 1956, is a study in Orwellian officialese. State television is a turgid propaganda machine. Cuba can show “The Lives of Others” at its annual Havana Film Festival, where a few thousand people see it, but that remarkable study of the all-hearing Stasi in totalitarian East Germany would never be shown on national television. Too many Cubans might want the movie renamed “The Lives of Us.”

But of course Cuba is not totalitarian East Germany. Fidel has been nothing if not a brilliant puppet master. He once said that some revolutionary fighters “let their enthusiasm for the cause overwhelm their tactical decision-making.” Not Fidel, whose training as a lawyer has been evident in his mastery of maneuver and brinkmanship, not least in his dealings with the United States. There have been hundreds of executions, especially in the early years, but he has never been a bloodthirsty dictator, a Caribbean Ceausescu. Nor has he tried, in the style of some despots, to sweep the past away; he has merely let it wither.

“There’s a very intelligent repression here, a scientific repression,” Yoani Sánchez, the dissident whose blog is now translated into 12 languages, told me. “They have killed us as citizens, so they do not have to kill us physically. Our own policeis in our brains, censoring us before we utter a critical idea.”

“You know,” Sánchez said, “when a nation gets on its knees before a man, it’s all over. When a man decides how much rice I eat a month, or whether or not I can leave a country, that country is sick. This man is human. He commits errors. How can he have such power? Like a lot of people of my generation, I have willed myself to stop thinking about him, as a therapy. I think there will be relief when Fidel dies. We will breathe out. The mystical and symbolic weight of his presence is very heavy, for his opponents and even for his supporters. It’s hard to right his errors while he’s still there.”

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