The political and electoral system put in place in Cuba in the name of a socialism that has never existed, on which bureaucracy placed its bets and with which it has always won, has distinguished itself for its representative and indirect character, like that of the representative democracies that it has always criticized in other countries.
That indirect and representative form, where those at the bottom only count when its time to vote for candidates that have been predetermined by the top – except in the case of district delegates – of whom all that is known is a small biography, has only served to depoliticize constituents and make them lose interest in politics, which is nothing more than a way to manage issues that concern everyone, be they political, economic, fiscal, labor, judicial, or social.
Since no one is elected for the policies they would put in place to resolve issues in the community, the region, or the country, people simply don’t discuss politics nor do they vote for a specific policy. Thus far, those elected are the one’s who are “best trained” to make and defend the policies that have already been established by the Government-party. This has been the essence of the “socialist democracy.”
Given that the vast majority of Cubans have left politics in the hands of the same people who have governed this country – under a single party and in a single direction – for over half a century, they have decided and continue to decide all our destinies.
It’s time for Cubans, regardless of our ways of thinking, to begin taking care of politics, making it work for all our interests and pulling it from the stagnation into which it has been plunged. We should do the same with the economy, to extract it from the high levels of centralization that have characterized it. The point is not to be consulted about what should be done; it’s to make ourselves the deciders of what occurs.
No one explains what the Party’s Central Committee’s announced new electoral law proposes
The last plenary session of the Party’s Central Committee approved the establishment of a new electoral law. There are no doubts that it is necessary, but no one explains what the new legislation proposes or how it will impact citizens, if we will participate in its drafting and if we will vote for it in referendum or not, as it should be due to its importance.
Meanwhile, independent civil society demands a new constitution, rule of law, a multi-party system, and democratic elections, and the left, additionally, urges the delivery of a more direct democracy, increased public control, and more effective forms of participation and decision-making.
How will we Cubans participate in the discussion process regarding the new law so that politics doesn’t continue to take care of us and instead it is us who takes care of politics?
How to reconcile that new law with the demands of a great part of Cuban society? Why link it to the negotiations with the United States when it deals with a topic that is solely the responsibility of the Cuban people? Will a new electoral law be democratic or just a patching up of the previous one aimed at keeping up appearances and prolonging the Party’s time in power? How can a new electoral law be conceived without having previously changed a Constitution that has various antidemocratic articles such as the following?
- Article 5: establishes the rule of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) over the society.
- Article 53: restricts the freedoms of expression and press insofar as it advances the interests of the socialist society, a socialism that also lacks a precise definition.
- Article 54: limits the rights to assembly, protest, and association to existing organizations that are subordinate to the PCC.
- Article 74: establishes indirect elections for the offices of President and Vice-President at the hands of the National Assembly of People’s Power.
- Article 116: establishes that Provincial and Municipal Assemblies are responsible for indirectly electing mayors and governors.
How can a new electoral law be conceived without having previously changed a Constitution that has various antidemocratic articles?
How to discuss and approve a new electoral law in a country whose political climate does not allow free expression of different ideas or the right to form political associations to defend them.
Regardless, relative to the electoral system, Chapter XIV of the Constitution is sufficiently ample and imprecise to allow for almost anything, even when it seems to contradict other aspects of the Magna Carta, it would be too hasty to draw conclusions for now, given that there are also many other articles that would justify an electoral law that would be entirely democratic.
Regarding this with an optimistic eye, which would not be supported by the actions of Raul Castro’s government in this area, it would be possible to expect that this announcement could be a prelude to others, essential for the creation of a climate of national dialogue and confidence needed for the longed-for process of democratization to open up.
Consequently, we should practice politics, organize ourselves and continue to demand, through every possible track, the creation of a political atmosphere that will be conducive to a necessary national dialogue without exclusions; the establishment of thorough respect for the freedoms of expression, association, and election; the beginning of the works toward a new democratic Constitution that will be approved in a referendum and will allow for the establishment of a rule of law; and continue to push for the complete liberation of the country’s forces of production from all the bonds, regulations, and monopolies imposed by the salaried state forces.
Take care of politics, or politics will take care of you!
Translated by Fernando Fornaris