The Fanjul earthquake

Manuel Alberto Ramy • 11 February, 2014

A wedge in the automatism to conditioned responses

HAVANA — Recently, Cuba recorded several seismic movements whose epicenters lay under the waters that separate the island from the state of Florida, where they were also recorded. These phenomena are due to the process of adjustment of tectonic plates.

But there are other quakes and “plate adjustments” whose intensity and effects I dare not calculate, but which, recorded in Miami, have had immediate repercussion. They’re shaking the traditional, aggressive and creaky floor. It makes sense: old structures are the most vulnerable.

The trigger was the interview granted to The Washington Post (WP) by Mr. Alfonso Fanjul, the Cuban-American billionaire who, while playing hard on the American political field, has done so while staying off the front pages. Alfonso Fanjul and his clan look at politics and act in them from the heights, from the viewpoint of the economic powers.

Now he comes out on the arena and says he’s willing to invest in the island where he was born, under two basic conditions: a permissive legislation in the U.S. and, in Cuba, legislation that provides sufficient guarantees for investors.

Fanjul’s statements to the WP come a long time after the two trips he made to his native country, one in April 2012 and the other in February 2013, less than a year between. To a great degree, they enabled him to feel reality. He touched the positive and the negative.

By keeping his eyes open and talking with ordinary people as well as functionaries, among them Cuba’s foreign minister and member of the Political Bureau of the Cuban Communist Party, Bruno Rodríguez, Fanjul apparently appreciated the possibilities of major business.

His opinions and disposition speak in favor of a change in his attitude toward the new reality that’s emerging on the island. It is not an ideological change, because he has always been an opponent of the government in Havana, a stance he does not deny.

Nevertheless, he rattled the floor under the fundamentalist Cuban-American sectors — Congressmen and lobbyists with a siege mindset — whose reactions are limited to tired slogans and are bereft of serious arguments.

I’m not going to expand on Fanjul’s interview (reprinted in Progreso Semanal/ Weekly) but will focus on one point that I haven’t seen mentioned in the many articles published on this topic. In my opinion, it is a key factor in the bitter responses heard from some Miami politicians.

Why do the politicians at the far right of the Cuban exile community react now (boldface and underlined) if they knew about Fanjul’s travels to Cuba ever since he boarded his first flight, two years ago?

Well, because the news was made public by the man who can be considered to be one of the most solid economic heavyweights in Cuban exiledom and with direct (not mediated) influence on and contact with the current White House and the powerful Clinton clan.

(Economic power and political ties have slipped a valid question into the noggins of the hard-line barons: Who are behind Fanjul’s travels?)

Am speaking here strictly from my journalistic perspective. The communications media in Miami operate on scientific-technical standards (psychology of communication) that are closely tied to the behaviorist school: the creation of an idea and/or basic image, negative or positive depending on the objective, the seeding of same and extension of same toward others to which they wish to add an identical value.

Thus, behaviorism creates in a reader an automatic response, either pro or con, according to the direction of the news medium. On the subject of Cuba, they’ve applied it strictly. Everything related to the island and its activities is bad, execrable, condemnable, accursed, etc. They sowed the seeds.

To achieve small changes in the essential idea and in the attitudes seeded it is necessary to introduce a wedge that paralyzes, that stops for an instant the automatism of the conditioned negative response, allowing the reader, viewer, listener or cybernaut to pause for a second and tell himself “Oh, let me see,” then wait and meditate.

Enter Alfonso Fanjul, a personality with all the attributes of power, whose trips to the island were, I insist, perfectly known by the people who once benefited from him and now attack him, a man with his own agenda who, by making those not-at-all-radical statements, drives a wedge into the established matrix ideas and prompts the public in general to think.

The public is the equivalent of votes; votes add links to or break chains of political machines established years ago for the purpose of being factors in U.S. relations and conduct toward Cuba. Clearer still: the power in the Miami enclave has existed thanks to the integration of the economic and political power and the communications media in which it has participated.

If only Fanjul had traveled to scout the situation, then returned and kept silent … but no, there he is, in the Washington Post, making waves almost one year after his latest trip. He went public. Now what?

If we add Fanjul’s personal impact and the persistent presence of information and articles in the U.S. press — beginning with Obama’s statements last November in Miami — that favor a review of U.S. policy toward Cuba, plus the analyses of think tanks that somehow participate in and influence government strategies, the dimension of Mr. Fanjul’s interview gains weight and density.

It is capable of overturning opinions and bringing others around to the degree that they could influence the voters in the important mid-term elections.

That is the crux of the diverse contradictions that Fanjul has raised, even if they omit the accusations directed at him for violations of various calibers, both in the U.S. and the Dominican Republic, where he also deals in sugar.

Life brings you surprises, as the song goes. Fanjul has been the biggest wedge thrust into the automatism of the responses, and he’s a wedge of the same wood.

Progreso Semanal/ Weekly authorizes the total or partial reproduction of the articles by our journalists, so long as source and author are identified.

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