What are our democratic western values? Respecting the human life and people’s rights, isn’t it? Is it about the persecuted or about their despots, the terrorized or the terrorists?
Watching the presidents’ conference press in Havana it dawned upon me the same frustration I had living under the communists in Romania. The blatant statement of Castro that Cuba does not have political prisoners, a straight forward lie, reminded me of the same statement done many years ago by Ceausescu. Even the fact that might exist political prisoners would have tarnished the image of the “beloved leader”. At the time of the statement the father of a good friend of mine was beaten to death in jail for having a personal journal where he wrote, for his eyes only, about current events and poems. Raul lies like a communist, with a straight poker face, and maybe in his twisted mind the people who challenge him are not real political prisoners but deranged individuals that have to be interned for their own good. In the same time on the streets of Havana people were detained for short period of time by a regime that does not have money even to feed prisoners anymore. The Soviet sugar daddy is long gone, the “grand amigo” croaked and his successor would be probably deposed in several months after both were able to bankrupt an economy with one of the largest oil reserve in the world. So it’s nobody left to give money. Obama played nice. He did not challenge Raul as we, who lived under the communists, would have liked. At the time, we wanted somebody to tell straight in Ceausescu’s face that he lies but nobody did and lavished him in honors that he never deserved. The western democratic mentality is so different of the autocratic one in which it is a matter of pride to say one thing and do the opposite, turning the table, like Raul did, with debatable statements. In Romania for sure it was like this, a sort of a national diplomacy, short lived but practiced each and every time by the shrewd peasant that was Ceausescu. The Cuban brothers are not peasants and neither of their cohorts was poor. They tried somehow to improve their socialist resume but nobody in the country bought into it however the registry of tricks they practice is the same, learned from the long demised Soviets.
In my visits in Cuba I was accosted daily by lots of people who complained about the government and the Castro brothers. Knowing that people can be overheard by the secret service I neither wanted to start any political discussions nor to ask about the life conditions. So my surprise was even greater when I noticed that people came and talk simply because it was nothing left for them to lose; the older ones in whispers and the younger ones loud on the streets. Especially when they found out that I lived their life in Romania we were talking like “comrades in desperation”; I was not a “yankee” but somebody who would be able to understand their terrible life. They talked about the constant crisis they lived in the last 56 years, a non-stop crisis as they described, about the oppression and the “seguroso” who were watching them and the desperation that the brothers look to outlive all of them. Like us in Romania, they were looking for a sign of a terminal disease in the brothers that would change their life. America was “the best” and “forever” and Castro was just a thumb pointing to the ground.
Obama wanted to engage Cuba for good reasons. The opening would be probably the best crack in their system but would also offer a lifeline to the ruling families to stay in power capitalizing on the economic changes like it happened in the entire Eastern Europe. Overnight they would paint themselves as democrats and they will position their sons in lucrative businesses in Miami. And according to our democratic values this is the right way. But is it so?
The same inclusive democratic values we apply to terrorists. 6000 Europeans traveled to Syria and about 1500 returned. The Belgian security chief declared yesterday morning that the entire security apparatus was busy to do surveillance of these individuals and their cohorts and there were no other forces available to track leads and regular events, an explanation of why they had no clue about the bombings. Kind of a lame explanation but he continued by saying that is not much else to do and the situation is extremely grave. Are you kidding yourself? At the same time if the government does not catch anybody red handed the person cannot be arrested in spite that they know he is a potential terrorist. The Russians flagged Tsarnaev as terrorist, some of the French bombers were already followed and today was announced that one of the Brussels bombers was refused entry by the Turks and returned to Europe being flagged as terrorist. But the Belgians let him in because they could not cross-reference him being a bad boy.
Something is really wrong in this movie. Why these guys are let to roam free and spread terror in the world instead of simply jailing them? You want to go in Syria or Afghanistan, you must apply for permission, and if you don’t, when you get back you would get a free ride from the airport to a cushy solitary cell, with no TV, Facebook or even a lawyer, at least for a while till they figure out all your life and all your connections. You went in Syria, Afghanistan or God’s know where, you forfeited all your rights, and if you don’t like what is waiting for you at home, please stay in Raqqa forever. Is this not according to our democratic values? If not maybe buying flowers, marching in defiance and expressing sympathy for the victims’ families are our real democratic values.