Reports from Cuba: How repression is exercised in today’s Cuba

Alejandro Armengol in Havana Times:

How Repression Is Exercised in Today’s Cuba

It could be said that the Cuban State rules with an extremely tight fist and doesn’t allow the slightest display of independence.

With a history of decades of crisis, it’s the roughest sector in Cuban society (working-class mobs given a repressor card and the green light to take out their frustration and envy). Such is the State’s favorite to do its dirty work: repression at its roughest ?visible beatings, insults and humiliation.

We can see a strategy with at least two clear objectives: to frighten the population and wipe its hands clean. Except for a small number of extreme cases, the regime has kept its armed forces out of its daily practices to scare the population, while it has made terror an everyday practice, but without an obvious link to the State. Thus, the government’s coercive apparatus presents itself as an institution that protects society and ensures order, and not as a mechanism to create fear and even panic.

The police and State security forces are there to protect protestors against the people’s fury. People who oppose the regime aren’t given long jail sentences ?unless they’ve overstepped the mark, after various warnings?, but are constantly threatened, arrested for a couple of days, “missing” for a few hours.

One of the problems with this kind of strategy (beyond the basic punishment, of course) is that the time comes when it becomes really hard to control.

That woman who insults and scratches, that man who takes to the street with a hidden piece of rebar, the people who form part of the mobs that attack defenseless citizens who are holding a peaceful protest, are a heterogeneous group. The are supposedly easy to control using these very same terror mechanisms, with small handouts, a financial or emotional gift and feeding their frustration and vices. However, it’s not very trustworthy, as it is very unstable in emotional terms and irrational in nature.

That’s to say, dangerous people who feed and live off chaos are unable to behave responsibly and take their own initiative.

We have to admit that the Cuban government has managed to keep its mobs in check up until now, but it’s hard to know just how much longer they will be able to do this.

A striking thing about all of this is that while most people who don’t agree at all with Cuban reality are adapting to today’s society, and we can talk about a traditional dissidence (mostly top-down and educated), a post-dissident phenomenon like bloggers and an opposition from the poorest and most disadvantaged groups in society ?with little education and on the verge of or already socially excluded?, repression continues to be out-of-date in all of its roughest forms.

As a last resort, “public repudiation acts” are the “perfect means” to silence any independent voice in Cuba.

In this regard, it could be said that the Cuban State rules with an extremely tight fist and doesn’t allow the slightest display of independence.

Where the opposition has evolved from a radical confrontation to disagreement, dissent and searching for their own lives, the government continues to be stuck on not opening the slightest political space to anyone.

Under the repressor’s lens, it makes sense that such a crude “no” to any kind of reform needs just as crude actions and mechanisms to keep them in power.

From the sharp and cold-minded State Security agent to the thug on the corner, always ready to beat a defenseless person, as the perfect way to prove their power.

Faced with the slightest threat, the regime closes its ranks. Terror is the only means they trust. The mob that beats and harasses people receives support from a police force that is ready to lock these people up and take them to court without due process, which always punishes decency.

However, we are witnessing a phenomenon on the decline, where the most basic and immediate form of repression is being left more and more in the hands of irresponsible and aggressive people by nature. Their behavior is the shadiest face of a monster with several heads, and it shouldn’t be seen in isolation: it is the life and breath of Cuba’s reigning system.

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