By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — Samuel Farber’s article “How Cuba Could Turn Socialist“, published in Havana Times on November 2nd, has invited me to reflect upon the extremely important subject about our country’s future.
According to radical socialists, the course of our destiny is to insist on the same model and to make concessions to Capitalism but just as a temporary measure, which they will then be overcome once conditions are more favorable. According to extremist liberals, all we need is democracy, a multi-party system and liberal capitalism, because everything will be miraculously fixed with these magic ingredients. For moderates, there are many different options, as Mr. Farber has left very clear.
I would define myself as one of the latter camp and when I see so much uncertainty because people are sticking to the past, I want to shout at them: “To hell with the classics!” – they deserve our respect, of course, but they never deserve our dedication.
For example, radical socialists quote Marx so as to uphold and justify their dogmas; and liberals use him to reveal the mistakes socialists have made for not having stuck fast to his ideals or another doctrine. It’s a hypocritical stance because Marx wasn’t God and no matter how altruistic and sincere his intentions were, he couldn’t have ever imagined the modern landscape, which contradicts his hypotheses so greatly. Up until now, the “brightest” ideologist of the past that I have read has been Marti and he only drew out edges, ethical lines and visions without giving a method; unfortunately, he didn’t commit himself to political philosophy.
Humanity doesn’t get that we live in a new time and that a different kind of civilization is being forged within the heart of our societies. We are so engrossed in our own daily problems that we don’t see it. Everything is changing at a colossal rate and our ways of understanding society aren’t adapted to our real needs and demands. Cubans, in such a mess, so divided, so polarized, so damaged by political extremism, the least thing we should do is stop for a moment and analyze our historical responsibility.
The world has always gone one way and Cuba the other. When colonization took place, our focus shifted from Spain to lands rich in gold and silver; when Latin America took advantage of Napoleon’s disaster and became independent, we couldn’t follow in their footsteps. When we had our Republic, it was turbulent and coincided with the recognition of the US as a first-class world power, which “developed” us as part of their neo-colonial expansion. When we led our democratic-nationalist revolution so we could finally side with the world with a modern society, head on with our interests, the hero “rightly famous for the Revolution’s victory” took hold “of its noble objectives” and subjugated them to “his thirst for glory and power”. Wild capitalism was replaced by wild communism.
This is how we lived another half century and then the internet and high technologies era dawned, which we have only begun to place ourselves in with a two decade delay, the equivalent of lightyears in old times, because of the speed at which modern-day changes are occurring.
Because of all of this, as a people, we have ills that weigh heavily upon is, however, we have also taken the best out of this tumultuous history and got to where we are now with significant strength to achieve the social progress we need.
We are a uniform people, quite well distributed throughout the island, that all speak the same language, without xenophobia, or racial hate, or minorities and with a great longing to prosper so much that when we go to other lands, we grow and excel. We are literate, with a high level of education and a charming culture and even trade; a country without magic resources which promote parasitism, but with just enough to achieve the progress we need, along with our privileged geographical position and good lands.
What are we missing? Well, we need to rescue our sovereignty from the hands of the old revolutionary leaders, who have even become empowered today, and build something new and functional, in line with the country’s reality. It shouldn’t be the same as what the Revolution destroyed with the consent of the majority of the population, because it had serious problems; or the same as what has been built post-Revolution and that has also ended up creating even more problems.
It’s obvious that it should be the Cuban people who decide which course to take, but before we do that, we need to have a broad and deep conversation. There are some people who want to continue on with Marxist-Leninist socialism; there are some people who want to return to a democracy with liberal capitalism; and there are others who want a more moderate “Cuban” system, which only takes the best of both the projects we’ve experienced and suffered.
It’s normal that there are different political positions and we have to make sure that every political group has space to present its project for the country so that there can be a majority win; and this majority must be respected so that we can live peacefully and make progress.
Let this much needed vote take place and let it be the Cuban people who decide. It’s the fairest thing for everybody and it’s the only thing that we should be demanding from the Government today, loud and clear.
However, we need unity, good sense and civility in order to be able to achieve this. Negative feelings and bad habits because of the extremism we’ve lived, are swarming in our hearts which could prevent us from being effective in achieving what we want. Our tyranny feeds off of our weaknesses and nobody else can or should carry out our sacred task of setting the path for our country. The future of Cuba depends exclusively on us Cubans.