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The Uncivil Servant: Cuba, Another Perspective

Mitchell Abidor
December 21, 2014

by Mitchell Abidor

fidel-castroSO LET US IMAGINE two men in a café in Havana, discussing the opening of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the US:

The older of the two shakes his head in disbelief. “Raul sold us out. Can you imagine that he agreed to this without having the embargo lifted as a precondition?”

His friend nods and chimes in: “Right, and he didn’t demand that the U.S. military base in Guantanamo be closed down, or even the prison. Or that the U.S. swear never to violate human rights by engaging in torture. Or violate the rules of war by bombing civilian targets.”

His friend grows angry: “And Raul didn’t get them to promise not to engage in military invasion. We send doctors and teachers and they send the marines. And Raul didn’t get them not to walk all over their own people’s rights in the name of the fight against terror…”

“They talk about human rights, los cabrones, but they have a prison population that’s 25 percent of the world’s prisoners.”

“Yeah, they’re saying this year has seen a spike in our political arrests, but since 1980 their federal prison population has grown by 790 percent. And that’s just on the federal level!”

“And did Raul get them to ban the death penalty?”

“Or what about people thrown out of their homes? Did Raul get anything out of the yanquis about that?”

“And did he even ask that they stop polluting the world’s air?”

“And let’s just assume there’s no way he could have gotten Obama to promise that no more unarmed black men will be killed by the police.”

Por supuesto. But let’s be fair, a president can’t control every cop with a gun and a fear of blacks.”


“Fifty-five years we’ve fought to build a different society and now Raul just caves in.”

“You’re right. We never should have recognized them.”


Mitchell Abidor, a contributing writer to Jewish Currents, is the translator and editor of the forthcoming anthology of writings by Victor Serge, Anarchists Never Surrender, as well as the first English translation of Jean Jaurès’ Socialist History of the French Revolution, which will be published by Pluto Press in 2015.

Mitchell Abidor, a contributing writer to Jewish Currents, is a writer and translator living in Brooklyn. Among his books are a translation of Victor Serge’s Notebooks 1936-1947, May Made Me: An Oral History of My 1968 in France, and I’ll Forget it When I Die, a history of the Bisbee Deportation of 1917. His writings have appeared in The New York Times, Foreign Affairs, Liberties, Dissent, The New York Review of Books, and many other publications.