The Needed Re-Formulation of Cuba’s One Political Party (Part II)

Vicente Morin Aguado

From the last Cuban Communist Party Congress in 2011.
From the last Cuban Communist Party Congress in 2011.

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban Communist Party (PCC) was not the architect of the Cuban revolution. The leaders of this triumphant revolution, rather, set down the foundational precepts of this one party, which rules the country today.

Fidel Castro has traced back its tenets to the Cuban Revolutionary Party (PRC), founded by Jose Marti in the United States.

When Cuba’s independence hero wrote the bases of the PRC in 1892, he affirmed that the final objective of this party was a republic “by everyone and for the good of everyone,” nothing resembling the rule of one class over all society and far removed from the idea that a one-party system was to be considered an ideal of the new republic, a set of doctrines that would set limits to the freedom of thought of his compatriots.

Article 5 of the PRC Bases reads:

 “The Cuban Revolutionary Party does not aim to deliver to Cuba a victorious group of people who look on the island as their prey and property, but to prepare, through every effective means afforded us by the freedom we have found abroad, the war we must wage for the dignity and wellbeing of all Cubans, and to deliver to Cubans a liberated homeland.”

Other eloquent phrases by Marti allude to the diversity and plurality of the political system he has in mind, which is to be free of doctrinaire or political sectarianism:

Bust of Jose Marti.  Photo: Caridad
Bust of Jose Marti. Photo: Caridad

 “Our revolutionary organization ought not neglect the practical needs stemming from the country’s constitution and history, nor should it directly work to secure the current or future predominance of a given class. It should rather work, through democratic methods, to unite all of the country’s living forces, for the brotherhood and joint efforts of Cubans residing abroad, to secure the respect and aid of the world’s republics, and in order to create a just and open Republic, grounded in the country’s territory, in the rule of law, in work and cordiality, constructed by everyone and for the good of everyone”  (From the Resolutions adopted by the Cuban exile community, headed by Marti, in Tampa, on November 28, 1891).

The Cuban republic came into existence at the close of 1902, after four years of US military occupation. The epilogue to this occupation was an amendment to the Cuban constitution, approved by the US Congress, which empowered the government of the United States to intervene in Cuba whenever it deemed it necessary.

The country, nevertheless, saw projects of an eminently nationalist and democratic platform, such as the one advanced by Eduardo Chibas and his Party of the Cuban People (also known as the “Orthodox Party”), whose members included the young Fidel Castro. Chibas’ charisma, coupled with his broad-reaching program (which emphasized the need to combat corruption), guaranteed him an electoral victory in 1952.

Camilo & Che.  Photo: Caridad
Camilo & Che. Photo: Caridad

It is not my intention to recount all of Cuban history. Suffice it to recall that then came Batista’s dictatorship, overthrown by the bearded rebels of the Sierra Maestra, who refuted the old axiom that “to do politics in the country, one should never go against the army.”

Cuban-American scholar Marifeli Perez Estable has said that “for the first time in Cuban history, the dominant classes lacked an armed force capable of protecting their interests.” I would like to underscore that this was especially true of their properties, particularly those owned by Cubans and US citizens.

The Rebel Army commanded by Fidel Castro laid down the foundations of the new party, whose foundational precepts were sketched out by the new leader and his closest collaborators. Then came the forced alliance with the United States’ rival, which took us to the First Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, held in 1975. It was a year of euphoria, as the declarations made at the time reveal:

 “The uninterrupted expansion of the power and influence of the world’s socialist system, the progress made by the international communist and worker’s movement in the rest of the world, the successes of different national liberation struggles, the changes which favor an international détente, the general weakening of imperialist positions around the globe, these suggest that the fundamental contradiction of our time, that between socialism and capitalism, continues to develop in favor of revolutionary forces.”

Following the dogma which was never abandoned by Stalin’s successors in the former Soviet Union, the Cuban leadership reiterated that Marxist-Leninist doctrine was infallible and considered socialism the result of a scientific – and thus inexorable – formula. History, however, took a different course, refuting this awkward interpretation of Marx, Engels and Lenin.

Havana Bay Tunnel.  Photo: Caridad
Havana Bay Tunnel. Photo: Caridad

As the years go by, the need for a new concept of party, sustained by the Left’s recent experiences in different Latin American countries and the successful reforms undertaken by China and Vietnam, becomes more and more evident.

The Cuban Communist Party must be re-formulated.

Without detailing the needed changes that the reformulation of the PCC entails, I will say that, if this organization aspires to be truly democratic, it shall have to accept the elimination of Article 5 of Cuba’s socialist constitution. The authority of the One Party shall be moral, based on its experience and wisdom, supported by the results it has obtained in forming cadres capable of leading the Cuban people.

The postulates from the constitution we need to retain are those which call for adherence to our country’s revolutionary traditions, characterized by solidarity, the widest socialization of the spiritual and material wealth we have produced and broad popular participation in government, guaranteed by institutions and for decision-making processes, as well as in terms of control over public officials.

Going back to the Fourth Congress of the PCC (held in 1991), I reiterate one of the basic postulates then affirmed: “our compass shall be the fusion of Jose Marti’s radical thought and a tradition of national and social liberation struggle, where socialism is the one alternative to underdevelopment and neocolonial domination.”

Socialism is the “sole alternative”, for me, because it guarantees the greatest possible quota of social justice, which is equivalent to authentic democracy. It needs to be saved.
Vicente Morin Aguado: [email protected]

4 thoughts on “The Needed Re-Formulation of Cuba’s One Political Party (Part II)

  • The problem with socialism starts with the coercive limits it puts on individual freedom under the guise of serving the many. The human spirit thrives on incentives. Poverty and misery is what socialism breeds as a societies productivity fails. As the poor souls in Venezuela are now finding out.

  • Vincente may wish to continue his studies of Jose Marti’s body of work. Marti also wrote,”Socialist ideology, like so many others, has two main dangers. One stems from confused and incomplete readings of foreign texts, and? the other from the arrogance and hidden rage of those who, in order to climb up in the world, pretend to be frantic defenders of the helpless so as to have shoulders on which to stand.”

  • Vincente’s idea of democracy is to have one party with an absolute monopoly on power in a totalitarian system.

    Wow. That’s not the solution, that’s the problem.

    Cuba needs freedom, respect for human rights and real democracy, where many different parties compete for support from the people. All ideas and policies must be freely debated and discussed in a free and independent press. Only then will Cuba solve the problems that have bedevilled her for 6 decades.

  • Vicente sounds exactly as a Scientific Communist teachers in Cuba. He may have been!

    Theoretically convincing, in practice vague, I fail to see if he is honest and brave, or if he is working with the communist party to extend the life of a communist ideology (which is not the same as a socialist ideology)

    I support him on the need to remove Article 5, but democracy needs to be seen in the streets.

    We print his article, distribute it door to door to 100 homes in Cuba, organize a catch up at the popular corner of “L y 23”, say 40 of us to discuss the article, (just talk) and if when we get back home we are not in jail or “done”, the communist party will be closer to leading an authentic democracy.

    If Vicente envisage the elimination of Article 5 and that people can be respected for expressing and struggling for their ideas, then Cuba will be working towards a democracy.

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