By Pedro Campos
HAVANA TIMES — I want to revisit an issue I’ve dealt with in a number of my articles dealing with Cuban reality: popular sovereignty.
The island’s military regime adopts a reproachable stance that tramples on the sovereignty of the Cuban people by sitting at the negotiations table with the United States to debate human rights and democracy issues on the island. Such a debate should be freely and horizontally discussed by the people of Cuba and the results of this debate should be approved through a free, democratic and popular referendum.
However, those who wield power in the country, a country marked by glorious struggles for freedom, refuse to debate with the traditional opposition and the democratic Left. Debating these issues with the “enemy” is ok, doing so with the Cuban people isn’t – this appears to be the government’s slogan.
The attitude assumed by opposition groups in Cuba and abroad, who support maintaining the blockade-embargo and oppose Obama’s rapprochement with Cuba (because, according to them, the policy of blockade and pressure will make Cuba respect human rights and democracy, in the erroneous belief that the Castro government will be stifled by such measures), is equally reproachable and in violation of the sovereignty of Cubans.
This attitude recalls the philosophy behind the Reconcentration of Spanish general Valeriano Weyler, violent measures that were fiercely rejected by the people and Congress of the United States, to such an extent that some historians believe it was one of the main reasons behind the solidarity movement that led to the United States’ participation in the Spanish-Cuban war of 1898.
What these two options at either end of Cuba’s political spectrum have in common is the fact they flagrantly encroach upon Cuba’s national sovereignty. The two make the rights of the Cuban people depend on the stances and actions of a foreign government, and one which has intervened in the affairs of the country more than once. They both want to negotiate with the sovereignty of the Cuban people.
Don’t they know that the sovereignty of the Cuban people is not negotiable?
Two wars of independence weren’t fought in the 19th century and two bloody revolutions were carried out in the 20th (the revolutions of 1930 and 1959) just so we could end up negotiating our sovereignty with the United States. I want to make clear that I am not among those who deny the contributions made to Cuba by the people of the United States, which, to be sure, have not been fairly treated in our prejudiced history, characterized by both anti-imperialism and anti-Americanism.
Ultimately, I don’t know which of the two positions is more dependent on the empire, which of the two is more deeply connected to the Platt Amendment.
If those in government aspire to discuss these issues with the United States and not with the Cuban people, they evidently seek to remain in power and bring about a romance between State monopoly capitalism, dressed up as socialism, and US capitalism. This would pretty much guarantee the virtual economic and geopolitical annexation of Cuba by the great northern neighbor, by the same people who dish out so much anti-imperialist rhetoric in their speeches.
If for certain historical reasons those who came to govern this country were those that, from the US Congress, want to entrust the empire with the task of changing the situation in Cuba and make human rights and democracy effective on the island, then what appears to be guaranteed is the real annexation of the country by the United States.
The irony would be that “irreconcilable enemies” who are always asking for each other’s heads, both within the Cuban government and US Congress, in their own style and manner and on the basis of their own particular interests, would be acting like two mules working in tandem to haul Cuba down the same annexationist path.
In short, we are surrounded, and not precisely by water.
That is why it is so important to break out of this situation, and it seems that the only way to do this is for the nation to make headway towards democratization, in a process that will allow citizens to decide for themselves, together, about the most important issues, such that neither the group of military officers that seeks all answers to our current problems in an alliance with US capitalism, nor the groups of Cuban-Americans and their allies on the island, who want to entrust Cuba’s future to the United States, can continue to hold our fate in their hands.