By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES – Cuban president Miguel Diaz Canel (who the Communist Party appointed for us) recently made an announcement during a meeting with some Cuban immigrants in Argentina which quite a few people have interpreted as an eventual dialogue with Cuba’s diaspora community, next April.
The topic has sparked a great debate on social media and among oppostition groups, each taking their position in favor or against this dialogue. Even establishing their conditions.
Honestly, I don’t think the Cuban government feels pressured enough to sit down and enter a real dialogue with its diaspora community and negotiate a way out of the national crisis, which would be fair for everyone and the most constructive thing for country. There’s still a long road ahead until this happens. This event isn’t new, it will be the fourth time since Fidel promoted the first in 1978.
Just like there is a radical group within the opposition that still dreams of sweeping away all the Communists, Socialism and everything else, to then rebuild capitalist glory, the Communist Party is still clinging onto them being the salvation that has to stop Imperialism and Capitalism from taking over Cuba again, no matter what the cost. While these positions continue to be as steadfast as they have been up until now, there will still be a power tug-of-war and national paralysis, because both sides feed each other.
I believe that it is just another of the Cuban government’s foreign policy maneuvers, where they simulate a dialogue with alleged representatives of the diaspora community. However, they will only be talking to emigres tied to the system via programs of preserving their ideology and indoctrination that Cuban consulates across the world promote and carry out. There aren’t many who dance to this beat, nor do they represent the majority, but they will act as if they were in a Machiavellian theater performance.
Nevertheless, if a miracle were to take place and Diaz-Canel really surprises us by making a truly inclusive call to the diaspora community, it wouldn’t be smart to ask, demand or condition the dialogue with impossible things, which are too much for the government to give up, in the current scheme of things. We can’t confuse this opportunity with a resounding victory.
They are facing tough times and they need to govern with a minimum of economic space, but they haven’t been overthrown or anything of the sort. We have to demand the essential basics of all the things we are looking for, namely the things that will facilitate our struggle and open up the path for change that Cuba so desperately needs. The demands should be so basic and simple that if the government refuses, they look awful in the eyes of the international community.
Bearing in mind the fact that this dialogue would only be with the diaspora community, not with the political opposition, we could perhaps focus on the five following points:
1) Effective citizenship for everything, including civil and political rights which have still been cut short on the island, such as the right to take part in parliamentary elections and referendums. Passports should at least cost the same as they do for Cubans living on the island.
2) No Cubans banned from leaving or entering their own country, there is nothing that justifies such restrictions.
3) That at least free civil association (civil society) be allowed in Cuba and with ramifications for the diaspora community, if feasible: whether these are called non-governmental workers’, feminists, ecologists, human rights advocates, anti-racism, artists, opinion group unions, etc., as well as the official ones. And to top all of this off, to include a human rights institution which would be the equivalent of the “People’s Defender”, chosen via the same electoral process and cycle as lawmakers are, with a direct vote, but nominations from civil society.
As the diaspora community has a right to influence Cubans with alternative websites and be concerned about Cuba changing, because they are still Cubans, they can help us a lot by demanding another two things:
4) That freedom of speech be respected, at least on the Internet; that alternative websites aren’t blocked on the island.
5) That every political prisoner is released, the practice of banning travel ends, as well as repressing and criminalizing dissidents and independent journalists.
If we achieve all these points, our peaceful struggle for “everyone and for everyone’s wellbeing” will be closer to reaching the finishing line.