Vincent Morin Aguado

Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – Looked at both in a national as well as an international perspective, the duty of the left in Cuba is to preserve all the positive things that the Cuban socialist experiment has brought with it, as it struggles to move on towards a new model which – in the words of the currently fashionable jargon – is both prosperous and sustainable .

The right, masked or bare faced, has defined its approach quite clearly: a return to capitalism under the tutelage of the enormous power represented by the United States.

Apart from being political suicide, it is naïve to assume a new socialist model can be created by erasing the last half century of Cuban history, including its historic leadership. Only by accepting the past, with its successes and failures, can we build a better future.

Now – and this is a practical matter, for those governing this country today – we need to draw up a road map with access channels allowing freedom of expression to flourish within a broadly participatory society enabling the left to fulfil this duty.

The guidelines of the Sixth Communist Party Congress – plagued by inconsistency in their application – can only be viewed as a program of minimum reform, a first step towards “greater efforts in the mission to change everything that needs changing.” Even so, the scale of change – in my opinion –  will need to much greater than whatever is implied by whoever thought up this historical phrase.

Waiting for her turn at the clinic. Photo: Juan Suarez

We have seen political prisoners being released and yet still peaceful, law abiding  citizens holding opinions at variance with the official policy line, continue to be harassed.

The scope of self-employment has been expanded, going so far as to all what are even small business enterprises, while “operations” involving the police, restrict long-standing economic activities.

The Cuban press has said it will fight resolutely against the “secrecy” of the authorities, but when it comes to facing thorny questions that urgently need addressing because of their great political and social importance, it still sticks its head in the sand.

The current political process – a gradual one in accordance with the strategy of President Raul Castro –  does not, in my view, have many enthusiastic adherents among the various power groups, formed after decades of neo-Stalinist retrenchment.

A friend told me recently –  and I will repeat it – that today the social body of the Cuban nation has advanced beyond the body politic as a whole. And although we might naturally assume in such as situation that cart is now pushing the horse forward, the opposite is happening. The horse is digging in its hooves to brake the momentum of the cart. It is a paradox familiar in Cuban history. Nevertheless – to continue the analogy – as any farmer worth his salt will tell you, even with oxen – or horses- like these you still have to plough the soil.

I hope the usual suspects are not offended – I allude to no one in particular. I am referring to the body politic as a whole, which, naturally includes many exceptions. If that were not the case, the important steps taken so far, would not have been made.

I emphasize this paradox because of the peculiarities of our history these 54 years that have prevented the emergence of an alternative to the left, capable of proving a leadership able to ensure compliance with the enormous tasks in the making.

Internationally we face a giant with seven league feet, who – as Martí warned – desires nothing more but to put its boots on us. Such a Goliath exists, make no mistake, staking the earth, mumbling and threatening.

Photo: Juan Suarez

It is also good to consider the experiences of the New Left, especially in Latin America, whose revolutionary leaders are developing complex processes without sacrificing so-called bourgeois representative democracy.

Without the revolutionary work created up till now it would be impossible to attempt to undertake socialist reforms. The errors made, many of them, including those blown up out of all proportion by the media, are however no impediment to the impetus towards developing a genuine form of democracy, but certainly not one in which a single person is allowed to amass a fortune equivalent to the gross domestic product of some countries on a troubled planet in danger of extinction.

Socialism has failed so far to be truly democratic, but it is capable of being so because some of the economic concepts which underpin it are democratic.

Capitalism practices a formal democracy in certain parts of the world. But by its very nature, it abnegates at a political level the sort of democracy that is so essential for the present and future of humanity, so much in need of solidarity and common sense.

Engrossed in everyday life, trying to distinguish the forest from the trees, the left can not ignore the forest as a whole, which is precisely what is has undertaken to save.
Vincent Morin Aguado :

8 thoughts on “The Duty of the Left in Cuba

  • One of the few cogent criticisms of my point-of-view here at HT. If you charge that the governments that the US has chosen to back to replace the governments that were deposed have many times turned out to be greater human rights violators, I would have to agree. While it does not mean that, for example, Allende did not deserve to be overthrown, it was a mistake to support Pinochet. The US is good at knowing a bad government when we see one. We are not so good at replacing the bad guys with good guys.

  • The “erosion of basic rights” under the Sandinistas, Allende’s Chile and Venezuela is just in your imagination and your country’s. But even if it were true where is the logic in supporting Pinochet and the Contras who were infinitely worse, not to mention the leaders of the coup against Chavez who immediately closed the National Assembly. Your comments prove the point that your country shouldn’t be put in charge of judging human rights and democracy as you have no understanding of the concept.

  • Dan, you make the mistake of confusing the sometimes rabid ANTI-Castro sentiment in Miami with a non-existent resistance to leftist political beliefs. Most of my Cuban friends HATE the Castros, but openly reminisce about the safety of Cuban streets and the camaraderie they enjoyed in their Cuban neighborhoods. They have no fear to express their opinions which reflect a nostalgia for a simpler life. Yes, to openly support the Castros may get you a punch in the nose. But to say you miss Cuba, or Havana Club Rum or how easy it is to go to the doctor’s office is widely expressed. However, generally I find my Cuban friends on both sides of the Florida straits to be as close-minded to opposing political beliefs. Must be a Cuban thing. Yes, Americans are drunk with debt. There is a difference, however, between ‘borrowing’ to live a little better while you work your arse off to pay it back and schlepping around the world looking for sympathy and handouts to sustain a failed regime. Cuba’s Castro-style socialism does not work. It never has and it never will.

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