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Platitudes And Longitudes

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“How’s your ex,” a friend asked me a couple of days ago. I did not
immediately realize what he meant. Six years of marriage have cleansed
my dating history, and I tried to come up with a name that had once
meant passion and romance. As it turned out, he was interested in my ex-president, not a former girlfriend. I must have gotten lost in the ruins of my memory right after the hyphen.

Well, he should have asked about the girls. Most of them are doing
just fine without me. To be honest with you, I am silently thanking God
he had liberated them from what I would call a sort-of-life with an
insufferable nerd. But that’s just me.

My ex-president is doing what he’s always been doing. Talking. He
was a playwright, a dissident jailed for his opinion, a hero of the
Velvet Revolution. He was better at writing than talking and more
tolerable talking than governing. The Constitution prevented him from
actually exerting influence; he was a symbol of the past, and worked as
the prime PR representative of Czechia. His presidency ended honorably,
albeit ironically, since he was replaced by his most fierce opponent, Vaclav Klaus. The two could not be more different: a nuanced intellectual versus an economist-action hero.

Vaclav Havel, having once attracted the attention of the whole
Western world as a moral leader for change, is now leading whichever
irrelevant cause appeals to his sense of justice. I can’t disagree with
him on the rhetorical level. He is a good man and he is activising
other good men who have also lost office lately. This week, it’s been
an International Conference For Democracy In Cuba. Or, as one could
say, The Powerless Against Real Change.

Representatives of the Czech Republic, Slovakia,
Bulgaria and Estonia said that new EU member states should pool there
efforts in their policies towards Cuba. […]

“Cuba is one big
prison. The idea behind this conference should not be the violent
breakdown of the wall that is around this prison, but to ring the bells
on all the doors,” Havel said today.

“Another main theme is the
preparation for the transformation of the country,” Tomas Pojar, a
member of the humanitarian group People in Need, which organised the
conference, said.

The participants agreed for the need to list the names of those
who take part in the imprisonment, torture and other persecution of the
Cuban opposition. “These people should not receive visas to travel
abroad,” Pojar said.

Besides
Havel, Hrusovsky, Laar and Dimitrov, former Spanish PM Jose Maria
Aznar, former Canadian PM Kim Campbell, former Costa Rican president
Luis Alberto Monge, former Chilean president Exquiel Silva and former
Uraguayan president Luis Albert Lacalle signed the memorandum as did
many intellectuals and NGO members.

Dimitrov said that Vaclav Havel’s reputation can help advance the situation in Cuba.

The ICDC was formed on Havel’s initiative last year. The wives
and daughters of 75 dissidents currently imprisoned for their political
views in Cuba sent a letter of thanks to the committee on Thursday.

To offset my criticism, I have to admit that nobody does anything
for Cuba, not even my neocon heroes. However, talking just doesn’t cut
it. Signing declarations doesn’t either. And punishing the evil regime
by not issuing tourist visas to its representatives is as laughable as
UNSC declarations. Imagine: Castro’s goons are quite happy living on
the island and enjoying power they would never be able to practice abroad.
Imagine.

Again:

“The idea behind this conference should not be the violent
breakdown of the wall that is around this prison, but to ring the bells
on all the doors,” Havel said

In other words, Havel is perfectly happy expressing concerns, but to
actually do something about Castro’s murderous reign, that would be
unacceptable! Why, one must ask. If Castro was removed, there would be
no more conferences. And that is something powerless intellectuals
would never allow to happen.

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About Tomas Kohl

  • Eric Olsen

    excellent and interesting post Tomas, great to see you back – thanks!