Cuba Needs Dialogue not Violence

Pedro Campos

Martirs of the Bay of Pigs. A trench of our socialist revolution. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, April 14 — Cuba is living through complex moments.  The exhaustion of “state socialism” is leaving a trail of difficulties for a large part of the Cuban population, creating expectations and swelling the ranks of the discontent.

The same government that we’ve had since 1959 has just attempted to “update” its economic model — without political reforms — which seemed more like a copy of the neoliberal recipes used to save bourgeois states and corporations at the cost of massive worker layoffs, the elimination of subsidies and social programs, and increases in taxes on those who earn least.

The Guidelines of the Sixth Congress (April 16-19), which sought to endorse policies already being executed, are now being revised due to the more than 600,000 recommendations for deletions, additions and modifications, as well as questions and concerns raised by the rank-and-file/grassroots.

Sixty-five percent of the sections are undergoing modifications, according to statements by the former US President James Carter, who said he received that information from the Cuban government during his recent visit to Cuba.

They were more than a few Cubans who warned the government/party of the eventual consequences of a massive layoff of workers being combined with macro-economic readjustments that continue being carried out, on top of all the problems and difficulties suffered by Cuban society.

The events in the Middle East, and especially those in Libya, reiterate the point that imperialism doesn’t have friends, only interests.   These occurrences have conclusively indicated that they are willing to stick their noses wherever they find a plausible justification that can count on international backing.  To provide them with such an excuse in Cuba could only serve the historic enemies of the Cuban people.

It thus remains clear that to incite internal conflicts, and especially to incite violence in today’s Cuba, is something very dangerous.  That doesn’t mean that people, groups or segments of society who feel they have fewer rights and whose interests are affected shouldn’t struggle for these, but this must be done through peaceful and democratic forms.  To guarantee those rights of everyone, the revolution was carried out against Batista.

To identify and solve existing political, economic, religious, racial, sexual, ecological, gender and  other problems, and to present proposals and to work peacefully in search of solutions has nothing to do with stirring up conflicts, and much less with inventing them.

A heterogeneous opposition

However, in this complicated situation extending across the country, the television, radio and the official press under the control of the ideological apparatus of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) have been unfolding a campaign to try to discredit the opposition, “linking” its disparate elements to subversive activities of imperialism and its intelligence agencies.

It is an antiquated Manichaean method of demonization and harassment that unites the lack of space for disagreement with the isolating of people.  This is what could indeed stimulate acts of repudiation and violence, as occurred in past epochs, only to bring about desperation and extremism.  Violence engenders more violence.

Photo: Elio Delgado

Put on trial and sentence those found to have worked for enemy intelligence or who have practiced terrorism, but don’t treaten all peaceful dissent that demands reforms as imperialistic subversion.  True democracy respects minorities.  In the opposition there are mercenaries and opportunists, as have also been revealed among the official ranks, but it would be a serious error to judge everyone the same.

If what is sought is to frighten dissenters to prevent eventual protests from leading to the creation here of a situation similar to that of Libya (which is succeeding); instead, this will sour the improved internal political atmosphere achieved with the release of prisoners, exaggerate the real significance of that opposition, and generate a mass rejection among people that results from the obvious manipulation of television programs.

Sensible people within the opposition, though treated without differentiation, have rejected the calls by rightest Miamians for internal uprising.

If what is sought is to justify the continued limits placed on access to the Internet and other modern communications technologies in the belief that these were the causes of the revolts in the Middle East, this would be ignoring that the real origins of political revolutions lie in exclusion, oppression and the lack of freedoms to which the opponents are subjected and to the dissatisfaction sowed by the authoritarian regimes.

Haven’t the promoters of this campaign noted that to concentrate national attention on those people is to sidetrack the country from what President Raul Castro defined as the main current enemy of the Cuban revolutionary process: our own errors and the current confrontation with corruption and bureaucracy?

That type of political campaign in search of enemies is counterproductive.  It serves the worst and most backward forces; it benefits the very opposition that is victimized and handed publicity; and — in the event of violent actions initiated by any side — it assists the darkest forces of imperialism.  The effect could be disastrous.  Such imprudence must have a limit.

It has already been said: matters of national security should be analyzed comprehensively.

We are in different times.  The situation has changed.  The methods to prevent a Libya in Cuba have to be of a different type.

Healthy dissent, constructive dialogue

The reasonable action to take would be to confront and resolve the democratic and civil liberty deficits of our current political system and to create conditions for a national dialogue under the principles of mutual respect and tolerance.

Havana bus stop. Photo: Elio Delgado

For this to occur there would have to be the participation of all Cubans having something to contribute on the future that we want “with all and for the well-being of all.”  Both demands have been made for years from diverse angles of society and from within the very core of the revolution itself.

In connection to the events in Libya, the ministry of Foreign Relations, in a public communiqué (published in the Granma newspaper of March 21, 2011) expressed: “For Cuba, conflicts should be solved along the path of dialogue and negotiation, not through the use of military force.”

However this conflict was generated precisely because of the exclusion of other political sectors as well as the absence of dialogue and democratic methods of government.  We hope that this vision for international conflicts will be the same for internal ones.  Let us be far-sighted and avoid the double standards that we so often criticize others of using.

Let those of us who agree on the need to prevent something similar here begin the dialogue and work together to improve our political system.  It would be an effective, revolutionary and less costly form of paying homage to the declaration of the socialist character of the revolution and the victory at the Bay of Pigs.


To contact Pedro Campos: [email protected]