By Erasmo Calzadilla
As I leafed through the books in a secondhand bookstore the other day, my eyes stopped on a shelf I always avoid: law. I have always thought that law books are a compilation of pedantries; however, this time I put my prejudices aside and found very interesting things there.
Among the books in that dust covered corner, there was one that seemed like a godsend to me because it goes straight to some aspects that have been lately discussed on this website about Cuba’s Socialist Constitution. Comentarios a la Constitución Socialista(Observations on the Socialist Constitution), by Fernando Alvarez Tabío, (Ciencias Sociales, 1985), analyzes each article of our Constitution.
Without wasting time, I went straight to the comment on the famous Article 5 of Chapter 1, which establishes the status of the Communist Party in the power structure of Socialist Cuba. It reads:
“Following the ideas of Jose Marti, Karl Marx and Vladimir I. Lenin, the Communist Party of Cuba is the organized vanguard of the Cuban nation, the highest leading force of the society and the State, and organizes and guides the common efforts towards the higher ends of the construction of socialism and the advance towards a communist society.”
To set out the reasons why the Party enjoys such a privilege, the author prefers to let Fidel himself explain this point from his “Seleccion de Discursos acerca del Partido” (Compilation of speeches about the Party), (Ciencias Sociales, 1975, p.103). There, the most famous of the Castro brothers as General Secretary of the Party states:
“The Party must have authority before the masses not because it is the Party, or because it has the power, or because it has the strength, but because it has the authority to make decisions. The Party should have the authority before the masses to carry out its work…, the Party inside the masses, the Party with the masses, but never above the masses.”
Is that clear? It was also clear for me.
What I do not understand now is that if it is true that it is the Party of “the masses” then why are its members not directly and solely elected by these same masses. Why is it not open to all “the masses” and why is its functioning not directly controlled by them?
In addition, if we already have the entities of the People’s Power (city councils, provincial legislatures and the national parliament) to represent the interests of “the masses,” why is it necessary to have two parallel institutions with the same function?