Can the Cuban Government Solve the Crisis Without a Democracy?

By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez

Umbrellas. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – The crisis that Cuba is suffering today is far too serious to be overcome with superficial changes. “Continuity” is the road that has been traced by Communist leaders, with the basic changes needed to adapt the situation to this historic changing of the guard.

The reaction has been immediate: the population with the means to do so is fleeing en masse, emigrating because they don’t have the slightest hope that there will be any improvements in the short or mid-term.

Cuba needs to urgently change, but the government remains blind to the problem, not recognizing our reality or the failure of its policies. In the face of this bleak landscape, they have not only one route (like they stubbornly pretend), but at least three:

1) Continuing down the road of continuity until crisis becomes social chaos and the government needs to turn to violence against the people in order to keep it in check, which will only deteriorate values further and lessen the chance of coming out of this crisis in a constructive fashion.

2) Urgently promote an opening in the national economy for Cuba’s private sector (like in China and Vietnam), which would get the economy up off the ground again, as well as foreign investments and also develop forces of production.

3) Promoting change both in the national economy and politics, heading towards a democracy with a mixed economy.

The first option is SUICIDE and STATELESS. What I would graphically describe as “Voltaire syndrome”: a sharp reaction that some politicians, or political groups, suffer from, holding aggressively onto power like prey in the jaws of a violent fighting dog, famous for biting and not letting go. This is the very same reaction Machado had after 1929, Maduro today, Ortega and many more. That’s exactly what is in the works with the new conservative Constitution.

Statue. Photo: Juan Suarez

The second option is only constructive in an economic sense; unfair and counter-productive in the political sphere and ambiguous for society, with important achievements up until today, in a “trade-off” of rights. Because it implies holding onto the lack of basic human rights, which ensure justice and full human dignity.

However, this second option could be positive in the long-run here in Cuba because it would inevitably lead towards the gradual democratization of our society as one achievement would imply and demand the other, which can be pushed by empowered groups which are institutionalized today but will inevitably interweave with politics, read here workers and entrepreneurs. And it will force national reconciliation.

It is the third option that I believe Cuba desperately needs, but it would involve patriotism, altruism, letting go of the power that we don’t even see today in the Communist Party’s leadership. A political body that has been hijacking the sovereignty of our people, starting with Article 5 in the current Constitution and the new one on its way.

Instead of voting for a conservative Constitution of continuity on February 24th, we should be voting in a referendum to decide on which of these three options is the best path forward. That would be a really just and democratic process.

Similarly, nothing will be gained with the Communist Party’s unfair monopoly control of the media, where Cubans only get wind of the pro-government campaign to vote Yes. All electoral options should be given the same opportunity to create a debate and propaganda.

If this were the case, then I have no doubt that the first option (which the Communist Party is imposing on us today) would receive the least number of votes. I would confidently venture to say that they wouldn’t even win 20% of the vote. And relating back to the third option, it’s success depends on the political and communication skills of those of us who defend it, of our ability to overcome the damage of six decades of manipulation relating to democracy and a multi-party system. On our ability to not scare Cubans with hate and radicalisms.

Ladies taking a breather. Photo: Juan Suarez

The Cuban people need a democracy, but they fear it subconsciously and that’s why they lean more towards being scared and repeatedly manipulated. It’s normally the case that Cubans don’t understand what a democracy is until they leave the island and see it with their own two eyes abroad. The Cuban people have been broken time and time again, but they are our people and we need to help them.

However, the government’s resolution is completely undemocratic and so they will impose the first option upon us like they have been up until now, the new Constitution being the most eloquent form of this.

They are doing this under the authoritarian system they have created, which is politically, economically and socially dominant, even amidst this climate of crisis. Plus, we can presume that the YES vote will win as a result of repression and inactive and active social control mechanisms, even though it drives our country further into the ground.

This is the path that the Government has chosen and the die has been cast. Able to choose a democratic path, they opted for CONTINUITY, which means we’re stuck in the same poverty, exodus of Cubans and basic human rights violations which are essential for the population to live a dignified life and grow.

This is why I AM VOTING NO. No matter how little my vote actually counts for!

Osmel Ramirez

I'm from Mayari, a little village in Holguín. I was born on the same day that the Vietnam War ended on April 30, 1975. A good omen, since I identify myself as a pacifist. I am a biologist but I am passionate about politics, history and political philosophy. Writing about these topics, I got to journalism, precisely here on Havana Times. I consider myself a democratic socialist and my main motivation is to try to be useful to the positive change that Cuba needs.



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