Cuba : the Power and Powerlessness of a Utopia

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If the concept of the State found its realization in the French Jacobean State, the notion of utopia finds it’s ideal representation in Cuba. Refusing a separation between « critical » and « positive » utopia, the forged concept of « effective utopia » illustrates it’s demonstrative value for the study of geopolitics. It reveals North American diplomacy’s tendency to wander, and begins to explain Cuba’s triple paradox: that one country could transform the Latin American-Caribbean zone into a zone of confrontation; that after the fall of Soviet communism, « Castroism » has resisted; and that at the heart of the communication between the two Americas, and between the American Continent and Europe, in the context of rising transnational forces, regional agreements, and globalization, a country can realistically hold on to the nation-state model, fight for the heterogeneity of the Latin American subsystem, and act as a destabilizing element in the international system. At the heart of this geopolitical analysis lie issues of cultural representation and insularity. The geographic isolation of this archipelago, which just fits into the political definition of an island, is integrated into the Cuban psyche as a part of the cultural heritage of Castro’s rule, and has also served to legitimize Cuba’s regional isolation. Insular nationalism is also a part of Cuba’s heritage, and was born from a political history of anti-North Americanism which developed after the last war for independence, and the original mix of the Santeria religion and Franciscan Catholicism. By identifying him in the collective subconscious with the Orula demon god (linked to Saint François d’Assise), this heritage helped Fidel Castro wage a crusade in the name of « Good », against the market societies of the world and their ultra consumerist vision. In a similar sense, he was also the leader of the cult of the State, due to the failure of the Liberals in 1917, and the continuous policy of redistribution inhibiting any future integration with pacified free trade zones. Finally, North-American diplomacy, because of its own culture, never has and never will understand Cuba’s particular heritage. It does not perceive that the notion of Realpolitik, as well as the national populist utopian dream, represented separation and distance for Fidel Castro. It will also never realize that the regime that it has fought against for security, power and grandeur, has been ideologically reinforced by the US’s strategy of isolation and accusation. Under these circumstances, Castro was able to build a utopia, isolate it and blame American imperialism for its economic failure. He was also able to use his power in geopolitical games in the name of « people’s rights », « fair wars » and freedom for the third world. Such actions took the form of support for terrorist groups, playing the favorite usher on the soviet chessboard in Africa, and the revolutionary soldier in Latin America. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, and at a time of declining faith in Cuban communism, Castro’s national populism was reinforced by the embargo that further supported his strategy of politically using Cuba’s insular situation. Without accepting the current development of certain « bourgeois » modifications to the utopia, he continues to stand against immoral aspects of the market society, and fights with a policy of terror the formation of any symbolic bridges with the US. Further demonstrating this tension, Cuban national policy contains as many elements that maintain heterogeneity in the Latin American-Caribbean subsystem, as elements that refuse to accept the legitimacy of the international system. In conclusion, Cuba is situated in a geopolitical situation that will not change until the total abandon of the utopian project. – Summary AFRI-2001