Isbel Diaz Torres
HAVANA TIMES, Feb 12 — I followed the speeches and discussions carefully during the recently concluded National Conference of the Cuban Communist Party. “The creation of a more democratic society,” using the words of President Raul Castro, seemed a vital issue. Nevertheless, I found little that pointed to this being realized.
In the first place, the current president devoted much of his speech to defend the single-party system established here on the island. The problem was that this defense was based essentially on making a critique of other political systems while providing very little about the virtues of the Cuban system – neither of which contributed much.
When he spoke about representative democracy, the president called it a model that “doesn’t work either.” Should one therefore expect the situation to be better in a country governed by a single party whose membership is only a small percentage of the population?
In my opinion, such models of governance by parties (mono, bi, multi) are clearly mechanisms to usurp power from ordinary individuals. Their empty promises to be the faithful interpreters of the interests of the majority are, simply, impossible to maintain.
If the promises were sincere, politicians wouldn’t be so nervous at election time as they search for some maneuver to fool people into re-electing them. Instead, they would simply accept the popular assessment of their four or five years in office.
However, since this never happens, I understand that the problem is not the individuals who attain power, but in the system of power itself.
Perhaps that’s why I like both the terms “empowerment” and “self-emancipation”; both refer to processes that don’t ignore relations of power and that are constructed from individuals in solidarity with those around them.
But, back to the conference…
If the party was so interested in this so-called “democratization,” why did they agree to continue working without modifying the statutes of the organization? Why did they fail to shake up the current membership of the party’s Central Committee? Wasn’t this an inopportune moment either?
After so many months of working at the grass roots level of party organization, as well as in the upper echelons of power, it wasn’t possible to organize internal elections? Was it a question of lacking the time or lacking the will?
Instead, the conference authorized the Central Committee (115 members) to decide on the changes that this body deem appropriate and made the even smaller Politburo (15 members) responsible for “adopting and implementing the necessary changes to the regulations of the party structure.”
Incidentally, the conference also authorized the Central Committee to make changes in its membership by up to 20 percent during its current mandate.
In other words, they did just the opposite of democratizing the organization! They further centralized its already problematic processes. The Conference met for a few days ago to agree on the wording around a few items, and that was it. The serious work will be done later by those powerful few, but behind closed doors.
To be continued…