The Reality of the Single-Party System in Cuba

Elio Delgado Legon

HAVANA TIMES, Feb 25 — Another of the big lies used against the Cuban Revolution to assert that democracy doesn’t exist in Cuba is so-called “single-party system.”

It’s said — wrongly, and with deliberate intentions — that there’s a single party in Cuba. The truth, though, is that there is no political party in Cuba, at least not the kind that’s known for running candidates in elections.

The Communist Party of Cuba (which gave itself that name through the decision of its delegates at its First Congress) could have also been called, for example, the Cuban Revolutionary Party, like the one that Jose Marti founded to organize and lead the war of independence against Spain. In other words, it wasn’t a “traditional” political party.

Nor is there a traditional political party today in Cuba, but a selective organization, one in which only the best revolutionaries can belong, since it is the organization that looks after the welfare of workers and of all the people. It therefore has the prestige and authority to require the government at all levels to carry out those measures that benefit the working people.

This is a party that is organized so that it can impose its authority and ensure the smooth functioning of this more just society that we Cubans are building.

The structure of the Communist Party of Cuba resembles a pyramid, with the Central Committee, Political Bureau and the Secretariat on top.

Each province has a provincial committee, and in each municipality is a municipal committee.

Each exerts its control and its demands so that the governments at those levels meet their obligations.

Moreover, in every workplace there is a rank-and-file party organization that monitors the work of administrators and management.

At all these levels, people who are not party members rely on the party members and support them, because they know that the primary mission of these activists is to defend their interests, hence the work of the party involves all citizens.

For example, the “Guidelines” document adopted at the Sixth Party Congress were discussed and enriched by all the members of the organization and by all workers in their unions. They were also analyzed with all citizens through mass organizations, which collected thousands of suggestions to enrich the language of the document that was approved by the congress.

These guidelines will govern the country’s economic policy for the next five years, while the government, along with the entire economic structure, will be required to implement them.

Article 5 of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba clearly expresses the functions of the party in stating: “The Communist Party of Cuba, a follower of Mart’s ideas and of Marxism-Leninism, and the organized vanguard of the Cuban nation, is the highest leading force of society and of the state, which organizes and guides the common effort toward the goals of the construction of socialism and the progress toward a communist society.”

Cuba’s Communist Party does not nominate any of its members to run as delegates (for city councils) or deputies (to the legislature). It is the people, gathered in neighborhood assemblies, who propose the candidates – regardless of whether they are party members or not. They consider only their moral standards, prestige and their capabilities to execute the job.

The Cuban political system is based on participatory democracy so that every citizen has the right to propose candidates and to oppose any proposals they deem unacceptable. But that’s a topic for the next article.


10 thoughts on “The Reality of the Single-Party System in Cuba

  • I love Cuba and their people of how they are!! It is the most wonderful nation as well as Dominicans and other caribbeans.. people should be more welcome and friendly towards each other, then this would be a real peace!

  • yes it was more about production, not about the people! However it should be the other way round, it should be People who really matter!

  • I really think that cuban government worth is their people and their intellect, that is so true how are the people- that they is the government! I am so proud that they were able to have their proud and withstand so many years after the blockade… that’s a truly heroism! I think many nations have something to learn from them, especially their warmness towards other people.. and the community they have, I think that if leaving by yourself, you won’t be able to achieve anything, but if leaving with everyone like the one man and helping each other and educating, you will be able to achieve a lot! That’s so true they have to be themselves and not to copy the american system, and maybe they should open for a world more and make their own projects.. and links with the other government such as Venezuela truly shows how really the cubans are! They need some help and willingness of achievement! with the rest of the other World!! Viva la Cuba

  • Of course what you have described here, Elio, reflects how the PCC ought to work, rather than how it does. Still, I have hopes that Cubans, including many of those within the Party, want to facilitate a genuine economic and political democracy; after all, that is why the Revolution took place in the first place, and has always been the ideal of those– even most of the utterly dunder-headed bureaucrats and doctrinaire ideologues–within the Party. It is just that, like us all, they are part-and-parcel of their environment, their milieu, and have yet to transcend it. I think we can all agree that a nation’s true wealth is its people; therefore, the goal of any government should be to develop and facilitate the growth and development, both physical and intellectual, of all citizens. When some techniques have not worked, and stand in the path of actualizing these ideals, then they should be abandoned, and new institutions and techniques built in their stead. Don’t know if these should be Grady’s co-ops (or Fourier’s Phalanteseries!), but I suspect Cubans will find their own way. They definitely should not try to copy U.S.-style democracy, which is now utterly failing (in part, due to corporate “personhood,” but also in part due to contraditions which existed from the very founding of our noble experiment). I suspect Cubans have a rich history of intellectual resources of their own on which to draw for their own, unique, solutions.

  • Mr Delgado, do you even believe a single word of what you wrote here?

    In 1989 the same stuff would have been blasted out by the leaders of the German Democratic Republic. A year later, they were gone because they had lived a lie.

    Sleep well!

  • That was a bad article….. It took them 53 years of misery to realize that their system was corrupted and was a total failure? There is not one industry that has been successful in communist Cuba in the last 53 years.
    The missing statement was that Cubans are not allowed to vote for any political party other than the communist, and that’s called a totalitarian regime. Government penalizes discrepancy and silents anyone who tries to go against them. So maybe Elio try to write something more objective and realists to Cubans needs.

  • thanks Elio, a necessary explanation, in view of all the rubbish that is written about the Cuban system, especially from the north – the role of the PCC is very poorly understood outside Cuba

  • Elio, are you kidding, right?

  • Sorry but this article reads too much like all the articles I’ve read in Granma.
    It’s all positive with no mention of the more than obvious faults of the PCC, the worst of which is the top-down manner in which it functions which makes the original intent of democratic rule from the bottom a lie.

    Cuba is Leninist and not democratic for that reason and unless and until reforms are made to make it a bottom-up society , Cubans must live lies.

    I am one to always counter those in theStates and elsewhere who point out the faults of the Cuban society unfairly especially those who never factor in the 50 year U.S war on Cuban society but your unquestioning defense of the indefensible totalitarian form to which the Cuban PCC and electoral system has descended is even worse.

    You are no better than the Soviets who made socialism a dirty word in the minds of 99% of the ( admittedly dumbed-down) U.S public .

    Shame on you.

  • This is a good article. It lays out the traditional idea of how a socialist republic ought to be run. This idea, unfortunately, is inherently defective.

    The Marxist-Leninist idea of the party was forced upon early revolutionary states, beginning in 1917 with Bolshevik state power. Now that the vanguard party was in power, and especially with the almost incomprehensible set of problems that needed immediate attention, a way had to be found to implement a new mode of production and carry on defensive war, all at the same time.

    A non-authoritarian vanguard party was out of the question. Even the revolutionary anarchist workers had to be crushed by the new state because their line would have allowed the rapid victory of the imperialist invasions and the counter-revolution.

    Even more relevant, centralized economic planning and administration had to be accomplished using the Marxian formula of full state ownership of all things productive, for this was the inherited idea of how socialism was to differ from capitalism. But here was the great flaw, and here was the real reason an authoritarian political party is needed under the Marxian formula. Once all productive property comes into the hands of the state, private property rights are abolished and market forces are decommissioned automatically. In this new situation an authoritarian party and a vast bureaucratic apparatus is needed to keep national production going.

    Elio’s article paints an accurate, rosy picture of the Marxist-Leninist party. But full state ownership socialist states are an experiment, and the experiments to date–and particularly in Cuba–have both positive and negative results. What we may now conclude is that the one-party “selective organization” model proves that the Marxian formula of full state ownership is false . . . but partially true.

    What is needed in Cuba is a PCC in which ways to propose tweaks to the traditional mode of production can be proposed and debated without fear of expulsion and/or any sort of retaliation. This unfortunately may be impossible because the incorrect core principle of full state ownership socialism always generates bureaucracy, political and social absolutism and inner-party authoritarianism.

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