Peace for All the People
The peace process in Cuban may serve as an example for Cubans, no matter what side they are on, of how, when the nation's interests are placed above personal ones, everything is possible - even miracles. Thus, reconciliation in Cuba depends on the conflicting parties' capacity to listen to each other. So long as the Cuban government insists on snubbing and dismissing its critics, without pausing to heed their grievances, protests, complaints and other manifestations of civic concern, the country will not be return to the path of prosperity and lasting peace.
Wherever there is hatred and fear unresolved by those wielding power, there cannot be progress towards social reconstruction. Even though there is currently no armed conflict, society is, nevertheless, divided by an ideological confrontation whose most visible and detrimental effects are the over two million Cubans and their descendants elsewhere in the world, and the dejection of those who have stayed.
Thinking differently has been considered a crime in Cuba for more than half a century, when, on the contrary, it should always be a reason to sit down and converse, rather than an obstacle. Those meetings, assemblies, congresses, conclaves and conventions (invariably featuring more of the same), where the only point open for discussion on the agenda is when to take a break in the afternoon, have poisoned the country's culture of debate.
The ex-guerrillas from the Sierra Maestra seized power and have retained it, with firing squads and jails as part of their monologue. They continue to be the same guerrillas they were back in 1959, harboring more faith in arms than in words, even though they fervently applaud the Colombian peace process. According to them, the FARC-EP in Colombia deserve to have the kind of access to political life that they deny anyone who thinks differently in Cuba.
What, then, about the rhetoric of inclusion, political will and equal rights? General Raúl Castro refuses to accept that society will always have critical voices, but that they ought not be considered enemies as a result. Cuban totalitarianism trembles before the idea of peaceful changes towards democracy and a market economy. The ruling class refuses to give up its privileges, preferring to open the door with the greatest wariness - and slam it shut again should they perceive the slightest threat to them.
Raúl Castro's speech before the General Assembly of the United Nations demonstrated that the actions of the US government to spawn an atmosphere conducive to improving relations between the two countries will never be sufficient. As long as this remains the case, the portrayal of Cuba s a castle under siege will be rolled out by Havana's communists to justify oppression.
It is evident that the Cuban government does not really repudiate a market economy, per se. After all, the economic system that it is seeking to implement, with the help of American capital, is nothing but a market economy, but of the worst kind, with none of the blessings of capitalism and all of its curses, which, added to those of Communism, prevent us from being very optimistic with respect to the island's future.
But it is not a crude and substandard market economy model that Cuba needs, but rather the institutionalization of the country as a whole, with inclusive laws that apply to everyone; a Constitution devoid of favoritism or ideological discrimination, respecting private property and the freedoms and civil rights recognized in any democratic society, which does not by any means exclude the much-touted right to public health and education; mercantile legislation adapted to the needs of a nation that aspires to grow to stand on its own two feet; and an electoral system that allows Cubans, on the island and abroad, to elect their government representatives.
Will Raúl Castro have enough political will to allow those Cubans who think differently to enjoy true equality? Hitherto it has not been a crime for people to aspire, individually or collectively, to a better government, but this aim can only be achieved by everyone working together.