If you don’t offer solutions, don’t you dare to use the weapon of criticism–that’s what some people tell me who, themselves, don’t offer a single remedy either. Their tone reminds me of the boring Pioneer assemblies I had to attend during all my years of school. When it came my turn to speak and my observations boiled over from personal things to criticisms of systemic things, someone would stop me and brusquely point out that a true revolutionary would offer solutions: Don’t complain. Exercising judgment must be done in a constructive way, they would warn me, and with time I understood that it wasn’t a call to a worthwhile discussion but rather to conformity.
These interrupted critiques involved those problems for which not even proponents of the “useful critique” have a solution. My slight knowledge of economic issues doesn’t allow me, for example, to venture an amendment to the unjust economic duality in which we have lived for fifteen years. Nor do I have the scientific background to know how to resolve the wretched issue of the marabu weed growing everywhere. Lack of experience in politics keeps me from being able to predict how effective the words of John Paul II would be: “Let Cuba open up to the world, and the world will open up to Cuba.”
My citizen’s sense of smell, however, has led me intuitively to discover the SOLUTION. Only freedom of opinion will allow those who can advance remedies to dare to do so. The economist who keeps a plan to restructure the Cuban economy in his drawer needs guarantees that he will not be punished for expressing his ideas. All the political, social and foreign projects that are hidden because of the possible reprisals that their creators could suffer demand a space for respect.
Let everyone speak, no matter whether in complaint or in support of a proposal designed to address the problems. Announce publicly that every Cuban can say what he thinks and propose solutions from whichever political stripe and ideological orientation he believes in. Then they will see how the balsams appear, as complaint gives way to proposal, and how bad the chronic squashers of criticism will feel.