Elio Delgado Legón
HAVANA TIMES — Here is my version of how President Obama might respond to an open letter by Osmel Ramirez published in this publication.
I am very happy to read of your interest in changing Cuba’s political system. As you well know, that has been my country’s intent for more than 50 years, but the method of trying to subjugate the Cuban people through hunger and disease so as to bring about this change hasn’t yielded the hoped-for results, as the Cuban people have shown infinite endurance. We had hoped they would rebel against their government, but the majority has demonstrated, on numerous occasions, that they support their revolution.
I know that, during my visit, I will be shown the Cuban government’s and people’s greatest achievements over the past 57 years, such as some of the numerous research centers (including the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Center), the Latin American School of Medicine, a grade school with smiling, happy children, as you write in your letter. I should however mention I have visited many countries and know many others from the information we receive from our embassies, and that no other country in Latin America could show me the kind of facilities you mention in your letter, or the ones you don’t mention whose existence I am aware of.
In your letter, you ask that we establish the holding of a referendum aimed at changing Cuba’s political system as a condition for the lifting of the blockade, but that would entail meddling in your country’s internal affairs and we know, thanks to intelligence, that Cuba’s political, economic and social system is supported by the immense majority of the population, as demonstrated by the approval of the 1976 Constitution, whose Article 3, Chapter 1, establishes the irrevocable nature of the system. This document approved through a direct and secret vote by 97 percent of voters, ratified every two and a half years through municipal elections and every five years with provincial and parliamentary ones, seeing a voter turnout of over 90 percent – something we don’t see in any other country in the Americas, not even my own, where, sometimes, only 25 percent of the electorate votes.
To be frank, I can’t look on my country’s democracy as an example to follow, for it has more weaknesses than Cuba’s. As to whether there is or there isn’t democracy in Cuba is subject to interpretation, for there isn’t a single democratic model and not one of these is perfect. As far as I know, Cubans participate in their country’s politics more than the citizens of other countries, including the United States, where those who vote have no additional participation in politics, and the decisions of Congress aren’t always those that benefit the population, but those that benefit the capitalists who paid for their campaigns.
I write this so that you won’t get any ideas we can actually do anything to produce changes in Cuba’s political system in the short or middle term. That is our final objective, to avoid that a country with a successful socialist system can offer the rest of America an example, but that is a long-term strategy, and it will succeed if we can have an impact on the new generations, who didn’t experience Cuba’s capitalist past, pushing them to adopt a consumer society like ours. I confess I don’t harbor much hope we will reach this objective.
Lastly, I want to thank you for your good intentions and your determination to help us reestablish capitalism on your beautiful island.