Amid a crisis that involves corruption in his inner circle, the heavy fire his government is facing from various sectors of the Biden administration and the melee with the European Parliament, López Obrador announces a trip to Cuba .
To dress up, the trip includes other countries. But the center of his attention is the island, an example of authoritarian governments in the world.
He will surely take the opportunity to take stock of his health, which has not been going well lately. Surely there will be new demands for Mexican oil, new credits and more aid to the beloved Caribbean dictatorship. Mexico does not send aid to Ukraine, a country kidnapped by Russia. Mexico sends aid to Cuba, a country hijacked by its government.
In Cuba, he will most likely be told that he will not be able to win the 2024 elections with the press against him. Coercion and threats did not have the desired effect. As they did before with the press (Millennium is the clearest case), the government begins to insert its bishops in the radio, Epigmenio goes with Ciro. For die-hard Cubans, this is not enough: we must find ways to censor, to close spaces to criticism, to tighten the clamps. The other question on which the dictatorship will insist is that of the secret services. The famous Cuban intelligence apparatus, whose intelligence is reduced to miserable acts of espionage and treason. More details? Jorge Masetti contributes a lot in his book fury and delirium (Tusquets, 1999), essential reading.
The President visits Cuba. Will they receive it with honors after López Obrador gives the microphone to Díaz Canel during the Independence Day ceremony? Will Raúl Castro take him fishing like Fidel took Carlos Salinas de Gortari? I don’t think, what the former Cuban dictator likes is Mexican golf and baseball. We should not be surprised if we see him posing with ball players.
The trip will have negative effects for our battered democracy, no doubt. The lessons that Cubans can draw in dealing with the opposition are very clear: beatings, repression, silence and prison. And in a second order: espionage, blackmail, threats. How do Cubans maintain order 62 years after the revolution? Censorship, denunciation and prison. López Obrador will pay homage to this model in Havana.
Of course, there will be a lot of Martí and a lot of Benito Juárez. Cuba has exported revolutions to Central and South America, but that doesn’t count. Díaz-Canel recently expressed the island’s support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but those are details. The important thing in the speech will be respect for the rights of others, etc., etc. Mexico practices the hedgehog resource (acts defensive, feels attacked, reacts to criticism with thorns).
Cuba is a dictatorship that supports invasions: it supported the Soviet invasion of Prague in 1968, it supports the Russian invasion of kyiv fifty-four years later. They are consistent in their authoritative gestures. The same our country, decades of support for the Cuban dictatorship. One day, I hope not too far away, when the island is liberated, the Cubans will ask the Mexicans for their unconditional support for the dictatorship. Thank you my brothers”.
Mexico has never been innocent in its relationship with Cuba. We are using the uncomfortable island connection to pressure the United States. misunderstanding with the Cubans: we support your revolution in exchange that you do not bring your revolution to Mexico. Fidel Castro and Gutiérrez Barrios have forged a kingpin relationship. In the 1970s, young Mexicans arrived in Cuba seeking guerrilla training (one of them, Subcomandante Marcos). Cuba trained them at the same time as they reported to the Mexican government. When they were ready and returned to Mexico, Cuba gave full details of their disembarkation so that they could be apprehended at that time or released, but under supervision. It is the great relationship of fraternal cooperation that our governments will honor.
The main problem of the country is the excessive concentration of power in the person of the president. It took us thirty years to remove powers and create checks and balances in the presidency, but now we are repeating this authoritarian vice. The central concern of the presidency is not to reduce poverty, nor health services, even less educational excellence, but to preserve power. Cuba lives in misery, but they know a lot about maintaining power. For good and for bad. Hence the trip.
How curious that the president’s utopian aspiration, in the field of public health, is Denmark and not Cuba, which was previously an obligatory reference. There was no leftist leader who had not received first-class hospital care on the island. The Cubans exported doctors at very neoliberal prices. It is likely that Mexico will announce the purchase of the Abdala COVID vaccine from Cuba because the Mexican vaccine (developed in the United States) is not yet ready. But health will not be the focus of meetings in Havana. The central thing will be the retention of power.