Deciding the Future of Cuba

Rogelio Manuel Diaz Moreno

rogelio-1HAVANA TIMES — On several official occasions, the Cuban leadership has made mention of the so-called “Conceptual Bases of Cuba’s Socialist Economic and Social Model,” without going into these in any depth. From what we can infer, the government has set up a number of mysterious commissions now working on whatever it is they understand by this.

It may seem like rather unimportant information, but we could situate it within a context where it becomes significant indeed. As we know, President Raul Castro stated that the system that had been in operation until recently had taken the country to “the edge of the precipice,” and that his government was implementing a series of reforms that would transform the country and bring about economic and social changes which could not have been conceived of a few years before.

We can point to the Guidelines of the 6th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (2011). We can also evoke the discussion surrounding the need to change or retain the 1976 constitution, modified in 1992 and 2001. We can do all of this before even touching the agreements reached by Castro and Obama, announced on December 17 last year.

So, it isn’t hard to imagine that a team of technocrats, military officers and other people close to Raul have been meeting for some time, cooking up the ideological, economic and political pillars of the system that is slowly maturing in our country. I have already voiced my clear condemnation of this eminently anti-democratic maneuver, and believe it worthwhile to reiterate the basic demands the government ought to address and which I have already expressed in a previous post:

  1. Explain, in detail, how they arrived at the decision of defining the new Conceptual Bases of Cuba’s Socialist Economic and Social Development – what need made them undertake this process and the plan they are following for their reforms process.
  1. Reveal the members of the commissions who have been carrying out the work related to these processes to date. The said commissions then should provide all interested parties with the information they have complied and the analyses conducted with it, as well as any other results from their work.
  1. A democratic consultation process that is representative of all citizens should be carried out to ask citizens whether they agree with this process, which is nothing other than establishing the principles and aspirations that will govern our nation under a new constitution. Secondly, the parliamentary process aimed at drawing up a new constitution as such should be subject to this kind of consultation.
Rayo St. Havana
Rayo St. Havana

Beyond this, I believe all citizens concerned over the destiny of their lives and country should urgently become involved in many different ways – people have to become informed and take part in developments, run to the plazas, the agoras, cyberspace, any public space. All workplaces, study centers and communities must become the places where the opinions that underpin the future of our nation must emerge in a free, participative and democratic fashion.

I intend to use this space and all others within my reach to defend this position. I invite, encourage and call on all people of good will to make use of their civic and human rights at this highly delicate and unique moment. If people become aware, if their concerns spread through contagion and the will to influence developments through one’s opinion and resolve becomes generalized, we may stand a chance to steer these “Concepts” and snatch them from the hands of those who have hijacked them.

In a debate as important as this one, everyone must expect their sacred right to express themselves, question decisions, ask questions and advance responsible proposals to be respected. The only restriction I defend is this one: that there be no room for a discourse of hate or discrimination. If these discussions are to take place and have any sense at all, everyone must feel confident of their right to contradict any conviction or principle exposed by an other, if their conscience so dictates. That should not lead to any commotion – it is a simple difference of opinion that have to be brought together in the search for a constructive consensus.

In such spaces, a number of the ideals that have defined the Observatorio Critico collective will doubtless be defended: the demand for the emancipation of all aspects of life, solidarity and equality among people, principles of respect towards the sovereignty of peoples, respect towards and care of the environment and others.

Without a doubt, we would also need for people to analyze a number of terms whose use and abuse weighs on us as a country today: socialism, anti-capitalism, anti-imperialism and revolution are some of these terms. Unfortunately, they only prompt suspicion in many people (who have heard them ad nauseum, but haven’t exactly seen them). Again, it was Raul Castro who said, directly and in person, that our society was at the “edge of the precipice.”

Camion-de-cosmeticosFreedom of expression, democracy, civil society, the right to information, property, exploitation and other words will be arranged into a different consensus. It would be ideal if these became familiar terms and for them to be defined scientifically, devoid of manipulation from any political camp, that they be framed within particular and general contexts. Knowing that, in the hands of the people, some precepts are achievements instead of threats, will lay the foundations for the nation’s development and prosperity. To socially acknowledge the egotistical and reactionary nature of other precepts will allow us to annul their worst repercussions.

If a political party, or more than one, must have any role within society, it cannot be exempt from scrutiny by the people. Under what conditions they can be granted the right to become a political agent, how, and what safeguards would be in place to protect society from abuses of power and corruption, are things to be decided collectively.

A document drawn up in secret by a group of people that serve specific interests can never be considered legitimate before the eyes of the nation. I hope this pamphlet-like post can act as a kind of introduction, an invitation to participate in the creation of popular, national and democratic guidelines, the exact opposite of what is being prepared for us today.
Photos: Juan Suárez

5 thoughts on “Deciding the Future of Cuba

  • So we agree that the answer to Cuba’s problems is democratic systems and processes ?
    How about the same for the systems and processes in the USA.?
    Cuba is Leninist, a state capitalist economy run from the top in an undemocratic fashion by a government that appears to be following the same path as have all the other Communist Party-led countries of the past in not developing democratic systems but instead preserving top-down power.
    The same can be said about the GOUSA. except it is private wealth and not government officials as in Cuba that runs things
    The two countries have much in common at present.
    At present being worthy of repetition for emphasis.
    We shall soon see what the future brings. .
    The USA is an oligarchic free-enterprise capitalist economy run from the top in an undemocratic fashion , the U.S. is

  • That’s just it John, the Cuban people have never been able to “create policy”. The system was, and is, about maintaining control and keeping power concentrated with the Castro’s. Failure after failure of this same government has created desperation and a spence of disenfranchisement in the Cuban population leading to a “take while the takins good” mentality? Or as we call it it in Cuna …”resolviendo “

  • The thought in your last sentence “..the lack of…..contribution” gave me pause .
    Absent a democratic base to the society: in the electoral system , in the economy , there has grown a me-against-the -system mentality amongst too many Cubans .
    Had they been actively and constantly able to help create policy, implement and correct it in all aspects of that democratic society, the will, the socialist need to contribute rather than grab what they can is just buried .
    It does not bode well that the state is conducting these plans in private .
    Absent the prior will of the people being determined by the elitist/ Leninist
    planners , that leadership will face taking the blame if and when things go wrong in whatever they come up with on their own.
    Thanks for a good article. .

  • A riveting and dauntless political undertaking that will take time, patience, popular support and world class financial creativity.

  • Some one always writes the rules. It does not seem at all odd that those that deem themselves in charge have set about to renew the conceptual basis of the “Socialist Economic and Social Model”. Even the American Revolution was cooked up by a few. It was not an every one contributes to the model crafting. These models survive the test of time or they die. This is where the everyday man votes.

    The recognition that the old Soviet Era brittle central command and control model is not working is an insight to celebrate. That does not mean that all aspects will be considered a failure, very much the opposite will be true. Much has been learned of economics of the modern state in last 100 years. Success and failure is observed easily.

    While wanting to maintain social justice and distributive benefits, the challenge is on the production side of things. As it turns out, a village can not long consume more than it produces. So the task is to incentivize productive capacity. The means are known, a more adaptive and fluid state needs to emerge. To avoid exploitation then incentives must be made available to the individual. The balance between what the individual keeps of his own effort versus what is handed to the state needs balance. What the state gives versus what it asks also needs balance.

    What Raul most dislikes of the current system is lack of personal initiative, of contribution.

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