Cuba: The Haters

By Michel E. Torres Corona on May 27, 2023

Jose Marti, Cuban National Library, photo: Bill Hackwell

Every national identity is built on the basis of values and anti-values, of antithetical binomials that in their dialectic contradiction forge a specific form of collective existence: revolution and reaction, freedom and oppression, independence and annexation, solidarity and selfishness.

The preponderance of one or the other elements in these binomials defines to a large extent what we could call, romantically, the “spirit of the people”.

With love and hate we can also establish that contradiction that, still latent in our way of assuming ourselves as Cubans, produces different meanings and interpretations of how we should be, both socially and in the subjective dimension.

That antithetical binomial, love-hate, also gains special relevance in the revolutionary sphere: what makes a person part of the Revolution, his capacity to love it or his capacity to hate it?

In Jose Martí, whose ideology is central to the Cuban identity, we find a constant preoccupation with the love-hate binomial. Already in his adolescent poem, Abdala, he establishes a causal-functional relationship between both terms: Love, mother, the homeland / Is not the ridiculous love to the land, / Nor to the grass that our plants tread; / It is the invincible hatred to whoever oppresses it, / It is the eternal rancor to whoever attacks it (…).

Many years later, however, in an article published in the newspaper Patria, on May 21, 1892, he would write a sentence that has transcended until today: “Men go into two camps: those who love and find, those who hate and undo”; to which he would later add: “And the fight of the world comes to be that of the Hindu duality: good against evil”.

After his bitter experience in the quarries of San Lazaro, Martí confesses that he does not know how to hate, and later, when he organizes the Necessary War of Independence, he emphasizes that it should be a war without hate. Does this mean that Martí disowned that feeling?

For him: “People are made of hate and love, and of more hate than love; but love, as the sun that is everything, burns and melts everything”. Hatred was there, but the guide should be love, especially since the Apostle was not thinking of battles but of victory, which gave those blinded by hatred the opportunity for unworthy revenge. And it was not for revenge that he took Cuba to war but for justice.

In his famous message to the Tricontinental, in which he raised the slogan of creating many Vietnams, Che Guevara spoke of hatred as a factor of struggle, inasmuch as “a people without hatred cannot triumph over a brutal enemy”. The terrible asymmetry between the resistance of the Cubans and the imperial aggressiveness -another antithetical binomial- signaled the need to find in that situation of vexation the forces to reverse it.

Nevertheless, in his equally famous letter to the editor of the Uruguayan weekly Marcha, known as El socialismo y el hombre en Cuba, Che would write: “Let me tell you, at the risk of sounding ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love. It is impossible to think of an authentic revolutionary without this quality.”

Incoherence? Not at all. Hatred can be a factor of struggle, but never the compass of the revolutionary.

Every now and then we come back, as a people, to think and reformulate this antithetical binomial of love-hate. If we look at our history, we will understand that this dialectic contradiction does not annul any of the terms it encompasses, but there is a preponderance for love, from an ethical point of view. If we abjure hatred, we will be weak, but if we let it guide us, we will lose our way, we will become sick with resentment. We will be, in a word, haters: beings that are simply incompatible with the spirit of the Cuban people, with the revolutionary quality that has always been its highest stage.

Source: Cubadebate, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – US