Letters to Our Conscience


Firmness and Constancy

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Life has taught me that firmness and constancy are the keys to success. The willingness to struggle for as long as necessary and do everything required to achieve our goals are the pillars of triumph—a year and a half of constant work to free my daughter from dependency on drugs and help her recover showed me this in the most convincing way. When other family members lost hope, I remained firmer than ever, and despite the indescribable anguish I felt at seeing her fall again and again into the cycle of self-destruction, the power of love and faith in the Lord energized the firmness and constancy that finally made possible her return to normalcy. For me, the process was extremely painful and extremely difficult; it took many sleepless nights, heart-wrenching decisions, painful actions, but finally, how sweet the victory, how great the happiness and joy. . .

Nations are a compendium of many people, and in their decisions, actions, and achievements they apply rules similar to those of individuals. No nation can grow larger and stronger unless it acts with firmness and constancy. . . . History has shown that opportunism and conformity are symptoms of a tragic nearsightedness in the face of tyranny and fanaticism, in the face of the megalomania of those individuals who litter the pages of history. Against baseness there is no alternative but firmness and total commitment to the fundamental principles of decency and human decorum. Those are the invincible sword to which those individuals have never had, and never will have, access. …

A few days ago my friend George Caylor, a brilliant columnist who lives in Virginia, wrote me about his indignation with Fidel Castro for his latest outrages against political dissidents in Cuba and the massacre by firing squad of the men who tried in vain to secure their freedom by hijacking a boat in Havana. Caylor also mentioned that he was happy that I was well out of the reach of the tyrant’s clutches—words whose sincerity I am very grateful for. The next day a news story on CNN showed a picture of Castro talking about these events, his face longer and more drawn than ever, his voice a bit shaky and halting, giving clear signs of the senility that makeup cannot hide. . . . There was the Comandante surrounded by several of his followers in yet another—probably one of his last—acts of pathetic megalomania, trying to justify the unjustifiable with his same mad insults to intelligence as always, with his tragic parody of quixoticism, with his absurd litany—this time four hours long, according to the news story. . . .

As a Cuban who lived eleven years under the Castro regime and has lived another twenty-three in exile, the minute the image of Castro came on the screen I suddenly felt once again the enormous weight of those years of frustration and pent-up anger at a life ruled by the absurd, at the enthronement of hatred and the pitiless manipulation of human weaknesses, at the pain and anguish of my mother on the countless occasions when she had nothing to give us to eat, at the fear that some spy from the state security apparatus would hear the things I whispered to my friends. . . . And to that weight was added mute indignation and grief for dead friends who had drowned at sea or been shot by the Communists at the border of the Guantánamo Naval Base when they tried to escape to freedom; mute indignation to see how the survivors of those escape attempts, and those who dared to dissent from the regime were sentenced to long prison terms and forced labor. . . . All those things have been followed by the latent indignation of years of exile, knowing that my country has been enslaved and my people subjugated by the absurd bloody insanity of Castro the megalomaniac and his government’s constant defiance of reason and human decency.

It is pathetic to watch those who are "politically correct," those who know nothing of the value of firmness and constancy, criticize and attack the United States for maintaining the economic blockade on Castro’s regime. It is true that the blockade has not managed to bring Castro down, but it has served to prevent Castro from realizing the dreams of expansion, subversion, and terrorism that led him to send armies to Africa, guerrillas to Latin America. The blockade has prevented Castro from financing who knows how many activities aimed against the democracy, stability, and order of many countries that he has always kept in his gunsights. Any other action by the United States would have been capitulation to the tyrant and validation of his dictatorship’s officialized hatred. In the past, criticism of the blockade came from the same people who recently, and only after the sentencing of the political dissidents and those recent firing squad murders, have broken ranks with Castro. . . . I would ask those virtuous Johnny-come-latelies: Where have you been all these years? . . . What blindfold covered your eyes, what earplugs blocked your ears so that you were unable to see or hear the reality of the thousands of direct and indirect deaths caused by Castroism, the hundreds of years of prison served by Cuba’s political prisoners?

We need to understand why Castro has had recourse again to internal repression, and has gone so far this time that he has lost the false image of freedom that he attempted to project via those dissidents’ limited activities. Castro must have felt seriously threatened by the growing popular discontent that recent hijackings of planes and boats have so tragically shown the world. Castro knows that he cannot unleash another of those cyclic mass emigrations that he used in the past as an escape valve from the pressure of that widespread discontent, for he knows that that would immediately guarantee that he would suffer the same fate as Saddam Hussein. . . . The Comandante is in serious trouble; the wheel of history and the wheel of time are slowly rolling over him.

It is for these reasons that I applaud the firmness and constancy of the blockade, because it keeps the pressure on Castro, and will make it possible that in a not-too-distant future Castro will join the ranks of Saddam, Breshnev, Ciaucescu, Hitler, Stalin, and so many other tyrants who are now mummified in the pages of history.

Below, I want to share a document which for obvious reasons is unsigned. It was recently sent from Cuba, and in few words it communicates the most genuine feelings of a marvelous people who even in tears demonstrate their traditional sense of humor, showing their profound love of life and their invincible hope in a future with freedom and liberty.

Dilemma of a Cuban on the Island of Cuba. . .

I was born in Cuba but a foreigner has rights here that I don’t have.

I’m free, but I can’t talk about what I think or what I dream.

I live in a democracy but in my lifetime I’ve seen just one political party, one point of view, one ruler.

I can vote in elections but there is only one candidate to vote for.

My education is free but I’ve had to work as a volunteer in the Schools in the Country to keep from being thrown out of the free schools.

My education is free but I can’t choose what I’m going to study.

I have a university degree but I work in a little private restaurant.

I work in a little private restaurant that officially doesn’t exist and can’t advertise because it will be closed down.

Officially, because of the "American blockade" we have nothing, but for foreigners the blockade doesn’t exist.

My mother used to tell me that in the old days, when there was nothing to eat, people would eat flour. . . . What’s flour?

My medical care is free, but in the clinics there are no medicines and the doctor in my neighborhood is always busy driving a taxi and the nurse makes ends meet as a prostitute, and since she’s always up all night, you can’t bother her during the day.

I have a TV set but there are only two channels and the same face is on both of them.

Sometimes there’s no electricity.

I like to bathe and be clean, but there’s been no water in my neighborhood for three years.

When I have a toothbrush there’s no toothpaste. When I’ve got toothpaste I don’t have a toothbrush.

I have one pair of shoes. Somebody stole the right shoe of my other pair. I’ve tried to find a one-legged man to see if I can buy the missing shoe, but it isn’t easy to find one.

I have a pencil, but no paper.

When I have a pencil and paper, I remember that we aren’t allowed to write.

They say you only have one life to live. Obviously whoever wrote that never lived in Cuba.

Here, you don’t live life, you observe it.

Sooner or later, freedom comes. We trust in God.

Thank you,

Juan San Emeterio