A CRITICAL LOOK
Por Luis Sexto
A few more thoughts
“Everything has been said, Mr. journalist. What more has to be done?” a reader alerted me in an e-mail message. I responded that everything has not been said, because “everything” has not been done. To “say” and to “do” hold a place in our dictionary according to the definition by our national hero Jose Marti. He said, “To do is the best way to say.”
Sometimes we reverse the terms, thinking it’s enough for us to just encourage work. No; I don’t think our problems —that our contradictions— can be solved with words. Those who have “say” —leaders, citizens, journalists— have recognized the necessity (or urgency) to modify the causes that negatively condition not only our words but also our actions.
Everything has not been said, because even in our society we live enmeshed in a thicket of rules, regulations, and restrictions. These sprawl out to produce indifference instead of promoting creativity and the desire to work. “Doing” is immobilized. Have you noticed that in our economy there might be, for example, an the open box in a store; and while it might be worth only ten cents, it requires of an infinite amount of paper work to return it to the supplier.
And let’s not talk about lowering a price. Our system of ordering merchandise apparently supports some people increasing prices on any product, unscrupulously, and pocketing the difference. Then too, goods are watered down and adulterated without any corresponding price reductions, swindling the customers and the government. But to reduce a price, so as to move slow-moving products or to stimulate demand, is almost impossible. A a veritable pilgrimage is required to a slew of “sacred places;” therefore things continue as they are – bureaucracy trumps.
I don’t wish to well over with irony, this is very serious. Recently we read in a newspaper that the only way to solve the shortages at the pork slaughterhouses in a certain province was to reduce production, despite the fact that butcher shops lacked enough meat and the high prices remained fixed. Did we notice then that that “solution” was irrational? How do you reduce production of deficient food with the purpose of lightening the load on establishments set up for food production?
But I don’t believe that the criticism falls only on those involved in meat production, distribution and pricing. The overly centralized rigidity of the economy at the social and national scale impedes mobility and a quick response to demand. We’re traveling down the road backwards.
There’s no doubt that it will take time to modify that tendency, which is now a part of our mentality, of going against logic. We prefer to prohibit peanut vending by any retiree — to whom it wouldn’t be granted in any case— before being concerned about making peanuts available to those people who want them. I’m saying peanut to “say” something.
Another reader told me recently that he was now bored with of my “philosophy.” I thanked him for having read this column up to now and reminded him of his right not to read it anymore. I, on the other hand, do not get bored writing these same things. Today is March 14, Cuban Press Day. On this date, more than a century ago, Martí founded the Patria newspaper. With this, he left us a guide as for the militant press: to point out, to alert, to suggest. I do not believe that he wanted us to simply repeat stories or be silent; but, rather, that we find a new perspective from the same point of view.
At the Jose Marti memorial at Revolution Square here in Havana, a sentence stands out on one of those green walls. It says, roughly, that the manner in which we defend certain ideas can make them seem unjust. With this in mind, I don’t believe that when defending socialism we have to remain silent when damage is being done; if we were to do this, it would not be socialism, it would not be just or beneficial. This is the point: everything has not been said. Let’s hope for —when its time comes— the exact word: action.