In a move that astonished some but was not a surprise to many observers, the Cuban government denied entry to the country to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Mr. Luís Almagro. He intended to attend a ceremony to receive the Oswaldo Payá Freedom and Life Award, granted by the Latin American Youth Network for Democracy.
This fact has extraordinary repercussions for the regime, since Castroism wants to appear as a “friendly” dictatorship and a trustworthy actor in the international arena. By denying Almagro entrance to Cuba, Castroism, that is Castro regime, is shooting its own feet.
It puts at risk a strategy that regime has implemented in the last decade, which had its apogee at the reestablishment of relations between Cuba and the United States.
Former Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who was also denied entry to attend the ceremony, described the regime’s attitude as “sad, despotic, outrageous and silly”, and said that the decision shatters expectations of changes in Cuba after the “thaw” with the USA.
All of the aspects of this decision should be analysed. The first one, obvious and evident, is that internal control continues to be the regime’s top priority. The Castro dictatorship can even sacrifice its external image of friendly dictatorship in order to maintain the internal one of the unlimited power over the Cuban people.
Castro regime can limit an influence of foreign individuals and organizations on Cuba’s internal politics because the West pursues Realpolitik
The element of the strategy of the Castro regime is to limit an influence of foreign individuals and organizations on Cuba’s internal politics. It has such opportunity because the West pursues realpolitik in the relations with the regime.
Almagro’s choice of moral principles over political concerns, marks a sui generis precedent that could be followed by the international organisations, institutions and individuals.
Third and final, the biggest winner of this event is Rosa María Payá, the organiser of the ceremony and daughter of the activist whose name the prize receives. She forced the Castro regime to defend itself by making choices that were incompatible with its interests, and also hit its scheme of “the diplomatic normalization” with a powerful shot.
By forcing the dictatorship to choose whether to shoot itself in the foot or the head, the Cuban activist performed an excellent exercise of political jiu-jitsu, defined by Gene Sharp:
“By combining nonviolent discipline with solidarity and persistence in struggle, the nonviolent actionists cause the violence of the opponent’s repression to be exposed in the worst possible light. This, in turn, may lead to shifts in opinion and then to shifts in power relationships favourable to the nonviolent group. These shifts result from withdrawal of support for the opponent and the grant of support to the nonviolent actionists.”
The most typical example of this technique is called a “dilemma action”. This is precisely what Rosa María posed in front of the regime with this event.
Should the USA ignore the democratic principles for the sake of a false neo-dictatorial stability without thinking about the consequences?
The dilemma, then, transcends the limits of time and space: Should the USA ignore the democratic principles it aspires to promote in the region for the sake of a false neo-dictatorial stability and the advancement of a political compromise with Cuba without thinking about the consequences? Is this wrong vision that results in the proliferation of other electoral neo-dictatorships in the continent?
The answer seems quite evident after the incident with the Secretary General of the most prominent multinational organisation in the Americas. Policy of principles can only guarantee the democratic stability on the international arena.
Heels lead nowhere if they do not go according to the head. This is what Luís Almagro and Rosa María Payá did, and they unquestionably marched ahead of the events.
Omar López Montenegro is a Human Rights Manager at the Cuban American National Foundation.
Perth Herald Tribune joined the campaign “My Weekly Denunciation Of the Castro’s Dictatorship”, launched by the UNPACU and the Forum for a United America to raise awareness of the situation of the Cuban people worldwide.