In Cuba Too, Less Than 1% Decide

Pedro Campos

Raul Castro addressing the Communist Party Congress in 2011.

HAVANA TIMES —A slogan for mobilizing people in the US and the rest of capitalist world identifies the less than 1 percent of the population — composed of multi-millionaires — that possess the real political-economic power and that use this to decide everything important in those countries.

The Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (April 2011) adopted the “Guidelines for Economic and Social Policy,” which according to that body should rule the destiny of Cuba. These Guidelines were not put to the vote by the whole party or to a popular referendum; rather, they were voted on by few hundred delegates at the party congress – a number that doesn’t make up 0.05 percent of the country’s population.

This was done in the name of Article 5 of the constitution, which recognizes the lead role of the Communist Party in Cuban society. Nonetheless, this contradicts the spirit of that document and is in flagrant violation of the sovereignty, democracy and republicanism reflected in the constitution as a whole.

Moreover, that one article contradicts the specific letter of the law expressed in several articles, of which we can point to the following:

Article 1 states: “Cuba is an independent and sovereign socialist state of workers, organized with all and for the good of all as a united and democratic republic, for the enjoyment of political freedom, social justice, individual and collective well-being and human solidarity.”

Article 3 points out: “In the Republic of Cuba sovereignty lies in the people, from whom originates all the power of the state. That power is exercised directly or through the assemblies of People’s Power and other state bodies which derive their authority from these assemblies, in the form and according to the norms established in the constitution and the country’s laws.”

PCC Congress participants.

Today the entire political-economic-social system is based on “the leading role of the Cuban Communist Party,” which operates according to democratic centralism, where centralization takes precedent over democratization, consequently a small ruling elite determines and decides everything, not just in the party, but in society as a whole.

It is not by chance that those people who hold the main positions in the government and the Council of State also hold the central positions in the party.

It is from this center of leadership that come all the laws (in the form of executive orders), which are then discussed and approved by the National Assembly. No law is subject to referendum, as should be done in a system of true direct democracy.

But how representative is the National Assembly? The National Assembly is composed of less than 1,000 individuals, less than 0.01 of the population. Of its candidates, 50 percent are nominated from “above” and 50 percent from the electoral commissions controlled by the party in the provinces.

Though it is recognized as having legislative initiative, in practice the members are there only to rubber-stamp what is ordered from above.

Currently it is this National Assembly, with its quasi-appointed members, that elects the Council of State and the president of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers. The people do not do this through direct elections.

Therefore, I can say categorically that in Cuba too, less than 1 percent of the population decides the fate of more than 11 million Cubans, the more than 99 percent of the rest.

Protest art exhibition from a small town in southern Arizona.

It’s difficult under the current circumstances to establish a way to reverse this situation. Whatever is done should be attempted through peaceful means and through dialogue and negotiation.

The sectarianism and obstinacy of the party-government is preventing this from taking this route, unlike the democratic and socialist left, which isn’t tied to dogmas, prejudices or exclusion. It is an advocate and a proponent of national dialogue without exclusions.

In this respect, we recall that it was our colleague Felix Guerra (the poet, writer, journalist and forever communist) who in March 2009 called for a national congress.

Likewise, it was our colleague Felix Sautie (who is a journalist, economist, theologian and also a forever communist) who in 2007 wrote a book titled Socialismo y reconciliación en Cuba. Una mirada desde adentro” (Socialism and Reconciliation in Cuba: A Look from Within).

If we want that 99-plus percent of the population to participate in the decisions concerning their destiny, if we want the socialization and democratization of the economy and politics (the revolutionary process) to move forward — thereby reducing the chances for a return to the disgraced regime and an even more vulgar and foul form of capitalism — then there is no choice remaining for the non-dogmatic left than for us to promote this ourselves.

We must implement that dialogue “with all and for the good of all,” since the government-party is not accepting the challenge.

Allowing the right to spearhead the critique of the bureaucratic neo-Stalinist model, the struggle for dialogue, respect for the rights of all Cubans, for the democratization of the political system, for freedoms of expression and association, for free access to the internet, for freedom of choice by Cubans and for confronting the arbitrariness of “state socialism,” would be to guarantee the restoration of private capitalism, bourgeois democracy and the end of Cuba’s attempt at socialism.

For those who don’t understand, a number of citizens drafted and signed the Urgent Call for a Better and Possible Cuba so that we could prevent that from happening.

To contact Pedro Campos, write: [email protected]


19 thoughts on “In Cuba Too, Less Than 1% Decide

  • September 2, 2012 at 4:50 am

    ‘Griffin’ writes that I invented “a long list of opinions” for him. I actually carefully quote what he’s written as I am doing here.

    ‘Griffin’ writes that a “military-corporate alliance now rules Cuba”. Eisenhower famously and futilely tried to warn Americans about the growth of the “military-industrial complex” in the US. If he was able to see the current state of affairs, he would be turning over in his grave.

    Today, according to Wikipedia, it’s called the military–industrial–congressional complex, an iron triangle relationship between legislators, national armed forces, and the defense industrial base that supports them. The relationships include political contributions, political approval for defense spending, lobbying to support bureaucracies, and oversight of the industry.

    It manifests itself in a variety of ways. Profit rates of the top defense contractors substantially exceed those of comparable non–defense companies.

    When defense companies get into trouble, they can expect to be bailed out – Lockheed, Litton, General Dynamics, Chrysler, Grumman have benefited from this. They are not held to the terms of their contracts, subsidies are provided to keep facilities open and to finance ongoing R&D, loans and loan guarantees, government-supplied plants and equipment, tax breaks, and strategic placement of new contracts.

    Military-industrial dealings are ‘smoothed’ by personnel passages back and forth between government and contractors – the so-called “old boy network” and the “revolving door.” Upon retirement, thousands of military officers find immediate employment with contractors, while industry officials routinely occupy high-ranking positions in the Pentagon bureaucracy during leaves from their firms.

    Defense-related jobs serve as a major determinant of congressional defense decisions for both liberals and conservatives. Members of Congress strive to steer contracts and subcontracts to favored constituents, who reward them in turn with lavish campaign contributions, votes, and other payoffs.

    Most disgustingly, with corporations, military authorities, and members of Congress all linked in a mutually self-serving complex, there is little incentive to avoid going to war. Wealth, position, power, and perquisites all derive from the iron triangle. The best of all worlds in this context, then, is massive, ongoing preparation for war. With the nation well-prepared for war, national leaders launch more readily into military adventure, resulting in a perpetual state of war.

    Although the military-industrial-congressional complex is widely acknowledged to exist, never denied, there is absolutely no hope of doing away with it although it only benefits a handful of elites at the expense of the majority.

    Yet ‘Griffin’ insists that in Cuba the “emerging democratic movement will be seen as a threat to [the military-corporate alliance].” Not if it follows the American model, it would seem, that has learned how to effectively neutralize a democracy. Which of course is why folks like ‘Griffin’ continually claim to love ‘democracies’ – ones elites have absolute control over, that is, which of course is not democracy.

    On the surface, there’s not much to choose from between Cuban and American military-industrial complexes. Capitalist fat cats are careful to offer an appearance or veneer of democracy when it doesn’t threaten their control. The Cuban government, based on egalitarian principles, however, offers more of a possibility for changes that benefit the 99% than capitalist systems bases on greed and personal gain. It’s an obvious observation except for propagandists and self-serving ideologues.

  • August 31, 2012 at 8:55 am

    Wrong again, Lawrence. You invent a long list of opinions for me, and then call me the “propagandist”.

    I wrote that in a free democracy, the Cuban people would have the right to elect whomever they want: socialists, liberals, democrats, conservatives, marxists, greens… whatever. It will be their choice.

    The danger is this: without a free democracy, the growing authoritarian corporate-military alliance that Raul Castro leads will control all political and economic power and seal the fate of Cubans to live as slaves in their own land.

  • August 31, 2012 at 6:44 am

    ‘Griffin’ writes, “Did I say I want US hegemony over Cuba? Did I say I support the US embargo? Did I say I’m for America gunboat diplomacy?” Of course he didn’t say it, a propagandist would never say that. But the policies that ‘Griffin’ advocates, if allowed, will lead to US hegemony and gunboat diplomacy. Note he did not deny either, only he didn’t say it – typical propagandist. Let’s try direct questions. Do you support the Monroe doctrine and rule out using military might to enforce US policies in regards to Cuba?

    As for the embargo, I’ve written before that most Americans, on both the left and right, are in favour of stopping it, the right because they see it as marketing opportunities that have the potential of addicting Cubans to consumerism and undermining socialism. I think they are right in that regard and many find it a mystery why the US maintains its insane embargo.

    I assume, however, the US government fears this won’t happen and is unwilling to take even the slightest chance that socialism will survive in Cuba, offering to Americans a pointed example that another world other than capitalism is possible. I don’t see much logical thinking in assuming it’s the Cuban-Americans driving the ship – it’s the other way round – the government is supporting the Cuban-American opposition for their own purposes.

    ‘Griffin’ then resorts to left-bashing which one would assume is self-defeating on this website but I suppose if you listen to Fox News you lose your perspective on reality.

    ‘Griffin’ writes he is “merely offering my humble opinion that the Cuban people deserve freedom, sovereignty, democracy and human rights”. From what I read in the pages of HT, Cubans are quite able to do this themselves and doesn’t need an outsider’s help, so why is he really doing this? What he is not telling us – that his mere “offering” is within his fixed context of capitalism. Cubans are hardly unaware of that option, and their history has provided them with many ugly examples of its dangers. Griffin is NOT selling ” freedom, sovereignty, democracy and human rights”. He’s selling capitalism which he would have us believe, despite the myriad examples to the contrary, is the best way to achieve them.

    ‘Griffin’ then trivializes the embargo to affecting only rum and cigar exports, showing his ignorance? or selective facts? of what is actually taking place. I read on a weekly basis of the fines the US levies against businesses to enforce the embargo. In June of this year ING Bank NV agreed to pay $619 million to settle U.S. government allegations that it violated sanctions against Cuba and other countries. It was the biggest ever fine against a bank for sanctions violations. ING immediately closed its office in Cuba after the incident.

    Wikipedia notes, ” The embargo has been criticized for its effects on food, clean water, medicine, and other economic needs of the Cuban population.”

    ‘Griffin’ obviously doesn’t think these are important to have. It’s a good example of capitalist mentality. They don’t find it important for the 99% in their countries either.

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