The Suboptimal Strategy

Armando Chaguaceda

A proposal from the Left on the draft Cuban constitution. Photo: Bradys Barreras.

HAVANA TIMES – Different analyses and testimonies about Cuba’s new constitutional reform have recently been published on official and alternative media platforms throughout the country. I would like to write about what is likely to happen with this process, instead of what I wish for.

If we understand the former to be what will happen, in keeping with the level of participation and political culture of the majority and the latter being a comprehensive and bold reforms process, with visible regulations, that don’t seem to bear any weight in today’s context.

On this occasion, I see there being three different outcomes/voting strategies relating to the constitutional reforms process.

The first being the official outcome, with high levels of participation and the constitutional changes being approved as a single unit.

The second, the opposition outcome, with a negative vote (which could be done in one of two ways: not going to the polls, or voting “no”) which is going to be very difficult because of problems with independent electoral monitoring, the anti-government movement and divisions between dissident groups themselves. This is the option I identify with, although I still have my doubts about just how viable it is in today’s situation.

A third intermediary outcome seems to be what most ordinary Cubans are embracing, which I have called “suboptimal” from a debate I had in Mexico DF just over a year ago. This path would call for decisive socio-economic changes, with some more or less comprehensive political changes. It would be in line with what recent polls have revealed ( and with references I have from colleagues and other citizens who are taking part in today’s popular discussion phase. Greater room for private enterprise, recognition of new emerging (business and social) actors, term limits, a separation of the State’s executive powers and the greatest modernization of public administration and local government autonomy to date, to name a few.

This could lead the country to having a different government to the one we currently have, via a kind of (instra)systemic modernization, without breaking away from the standard of loyalty to the revolutionary mindset. Instigators for this outcome could vote yes, pointing out on the very same ballot paper the specific points (as well as criticisms and/or proposals) for a related agenda which wouldn’t have any legal value but would be valuable, politically-speaking.

In a country where rulers’ and the citizens knowledge and respect for the law has been quite meek, it wouldn’t be a bad option for the people to try and make themselves heard in their complaints even though this doesn’t mean that their rights will be respected 100%.

If this does happen at the polls and the government accepts it, it would be an inaugural precursor to a government that would gradually evolve towards a more open authoritarianism, instead of the current model we have. Which might itself lead to the Kremlin’s chimes in the mid-term, instead of a Tiananmen Square.

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Armando Chaguaceda

Armando Chaguaceda: My curriculum vitae presents me as a historian and political scientist. I'm from an unclassifiable generation who collected the achievements, frustrations and promises of the Cuban Revolution and now resists on the island or contributes through numerous websites, trying to remain human without dying in the attempt.

Armando Chaguaceda has 143 posts and counting. See all posts by Armando Chaguaceda

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