HAVANA TIMES — That whole business of “partisans of federalization” is a politically correct phrase used by Russia’s official media to refer to activists (some of whom have formed armed contingents) currently fighting the Kiev government in eastern Ukraine.
To tell the truth, I’m not sure to what extent the term is adequate, as I see that, in many cases, such “partisans” don’t appear to be too enthusiastic about the idea of continuing to be a part of the Ukraine – federal or not – and I see no connection between federalism and the express wish to become part of a different country.
The history of Latin America has known many civil conflicts in which one camp has held up the banner of the “federation” and the other the slogan of “unity.” I hope that, when all is said and done, the bloodshed spilt in those wars isn’t spilt in the Ukraine – any degree of bloodshed is always excessive.
I do, however, find the federalist model attractive, particularly for countries with a diverse ethnic and cultural makeup, like the Ukraine. The model can also be useful for political communities where diversity does not come into contradiction with the existence of a single nationality, as is the case of Cuba.
During a conference on the issue of human rights held in Cardenas, Cuba, Roberto Veiga (then editor of the Catholic journal Espacio Laical), spoke of the possibility of transforming Cuba into a “republic of republics,” that is to say, a federation of municipalities. Veiga considered this a desirable option for the future that was not very feasible today, since many Cuban municipalities would be unable to sustain themselves economically.
I think I have a solution for that problem. It would consist in transforming Cuba’s large public service companies (the electrical, transportation, oil, gas, telecommunications, Internet and even tourism companies) into inter-municipal properties.
They would operate as limited companies, but decisions would be made by assemblies made up of representatives of the country’s different municipalities instead of private shareholders. Every municipality would have a percentage of the vote proportional to its population. Profits would also be distributed on the basis of this system, generating opportunities for equitable sustainability.
This way, each of Cuba’s 168 municipalities would receive equitable profits that would go directly into their budgets, on the basis of common ownership over these companies, managed through local public institutions (which would be in touch with the immediate interests of the people).
If this were developed in conjunction with a robust system of cooperatives (in the production, distribution and consumption spheres), with local development, community economies and true micro-companies, we could then speak of a successful federalization with prospects for the future.
I believe the federalist model, born in Switzerland and the United States and radicalized by the anarchists, still has a lot to teach us, even in Cuba.