By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES – If there is one thing that we Cubans can all agree on, it’s the need for change in Cuba. This is something that not only the opposition or your average citizen who suffers the systemic crisis every day understands, but also the ruling Communist Party. It’s sparkling clear for all to see; things haven’t been working properly for a long time and they need to change.
Differences begin when specifying what kind of change is needed exactly for a better Cuba.
The Government believes it’s worth carrying on with the totalitarian one-party socialist system, and that only some superficial tweaks need to be made to institutions and the economy so that freedoms “granted” as gifts don’t affect the status quo.
It’s really not worth writing another line in this vein, it’s something that not even the government believes.
However, is the opposition the solution? This is something that is naturally assumed as logical, but there’s also a case against it. It’s a fact that the majority of the Cuban people don’t support the opposition yet, nor are they in love with their projects, even if they are moving away from the Communist Party.
In the past, this could have been attributed to a lack of information and freedom of expression, that the opposition weren’t able to reach the population with their messages and political agendas. But today, social media and the Internet more generally is the main form of media in Cuba, and while the opposition is present online, the reality is that they haven’t managed to garner too much support or followers on the island.
It seems that neither the Government, nor the opposition, are interpreting the need of Cuban people properly. The way I see things, this is because both opposing political sectors say that they work for the Cuban people, but then are hesitant to listen to their voices.
The Cuban people don’t identify with the continuity of the PCC’s Leftist radicalism, that oppresses them, nor do they identify with the continuity of radical “wipe-the-slate-clean-and-start-over” proposals for change, that are scary.
Two things are needed in order for a population to follow something new, which implies breaking away completely from the old that binds them and compromises them in a thousand ways. They need to fall in love with political proposals and they have to see them with some possibility of coming to fruition.
Unfortunately, the opposition doesn’t think about winning over the Cuban people when they make their policy proposals, nor do they propose political agendas that seem viable. It rather seems somewhat personal, personal ideals dressed up as public need. This is why the Cuban people “don’t fall in love”.
So, I would say the Cuban people are stranded, sinking into a limbo and without a guiding light. Furthermore, their civic spirit is too weak to need leaders or to create leaders on the way. It’s telling that when civil society surveys Cubans, most say they want change and they want this change to come from within the Government itself.
If the Government and opposition working together to lead the country were a possibility, it would be the best thing, because we have a great deal of potential as a country and people. Problems lie within ourselves, in the barriers created to divide us.
The PCC government refuses to recognize that the Cuban opposition exists and the Cuban opposition (just a sector, but it’s unfortunately the most visible) refuses to recognize the PCC government’s existence and that they actually have the power needed to carry on governing the island, even if their system is based on hardship and a lack of freedoms. It’s a kind of “political flat-Earth” view on both sides.
They both need to get with the times and get in touch with what the Cuban people really need and want. They need to recognize each other and open up a political dialogue and agree on a viable road map for going forward, where every Cuban has a place. This is more or less what the work of the 27N and the San Isidro Movement has been trying to outline, and this is why they are being ferociously attacked by both extremes.
It makes perfect sense that the PCC is offering more resistance to enter a negotiation for a New Cuba, as it holds complete political and military power in its hands, and it still manages to get a necessary amount of social control to “put out” a uprising. For now.
However, pressure is building both in and outside the island, in every direction, and it’s almost impossible to distance yourself and fool people for a long time in this age of globalization. If this is what we understand, the PCC’s ‘no’ isn’t a valid excuse.
It’s the opposition, from a stronger position in justice and Law, that has to be humble and pragmatic without giving up ground and being active in the struggle for a political democracy, economic freedom and full human rights. These should be the only objectives the general population are interested in at first. Let the rest be fought over by every political group in a democratic way, trying to win by a majority and winning over the public.
This means that we can’t get tired of proposing an agreed upon change that the Cuban people want, without hanging up our gloves though mind you, because the objective can’t be to overthrow the PCC, but to build a Better Cuba.
The PCC really doesn’t need the opposition to fix Cuba and guide it towards the three abovementioned objectives. In reality, the country has everything it needs to do this and can take complete credit, but power-hungry leaders stop this, and thanks to them, we are able to play a key part.
Instead of just being spectators or slow agents giving excuses to the PCC for everything remaining at a standstill, it’s better to push, apply pressure and even force them to do whatever needs doing for the change that most people truly really want. The time it takes us to build a Better Cuba is the same as the time it takes us to discover and accept our political reality.