Jueves, 17 de Enero de 2019
Última actualización: 01:21 CET

Without concrete steps towards a democratic solution to the crisis

Raúl Castro. (EL NUEVO DÍA)

Raúl Castro pledged to hand over the presidency in 2018 to a new leader who, according to the current Constitution, will be elected by the National Assembly of the Popular Power arising from the elections to be held this year.

He would be another president elected indirectly, not by a popular vote, but rather by the deputies: 50% proposed by the Party-Government, and the other 50% by the para-Party organisations and provincial and municipal delegates of the People's Power, as per the current electoral law.

Spokesmen for the Party/Government have stated that they are working on a new electoral law (still undisclosed as of May 2017, such that its prompt enactment is doubtful), which may involve a major change and fill the democratic space necessary between its approval and the election process, capable of guaranteeing genuine free elections.

Such a space must create a climate of national trust and tolerance, of the kind that does not exist today, and include new laws on the freedom of expression, association, political parties and a new multi-party electoral law that guarantees that the people and representatives of all political entities can express their views, participate in the electoral process, and access political power at the district, municipal, provincial and national levels, without harassment or repression.

Without this previous process of democratization, featuring guarantees on the exercise of civil and political rights, as recognized in the UN Charter of Human Rights, there will be no way to guarantee the necessarily democratic solution to the political, social and economic crisis in which Cuba has been immersed by a dictatorial system controlled by a bureaucracy seeking to perpetuate itself in power.

But the Government is doing none of this.

The various movements that promote participation in official elections, and the organization of a plebiscite, and other initiatives along these lines, succeed in demonstrating the absence of democracy, but fail to change the system.

Unless the elections that are already being organised for this year are postponed, and the current Parliament previously proceeds to adopt all these laws and mechanisms needed to ensure an authentic exercise of democracy, any substantial change in Cuban society in 2018 will be unlikely.

Without these steps the forthcoming elections will proceed as usual, and those proposed from above will elect those who tapped them, in a repetition of the same old farce of “socialist democracy” that we have been witnessing since 1976, to ensure that the Castro cadre remains in power, perennially.

The whole world should know that in Cuba there is no guarantee of democratic elections that allow the people and their various representatives real access to power.

The 1959 Revolution managed to overthrow Batista's tyranny because it was, they claimed, being carried out to restore the democratic Constitution of 1940 and the institutional course interrupted by the coup on 10 March, 1952.

Wise men say that, when one loses his way, if he wants to reach his destination he must return to where he went off the path.

Cuba strayed from the path of democracy, liberty and development in 1959, when, instead of re-embracing the Constitution of '40 and calling for democratic and free elections, as promised by the guerrilla leader from the Sierra Maestra, he claimed the popular triumph for himself, and, exploiting the political effervescence of the moment, advanced a populist-egalitarian-stateist program of “social justice,” at the cost of utterly upending all of Cuban society, in the typical style of Latin American caudillismo, combined with a Stalinist “dictatorship of the proletariat.”

What came next is all too well known, although told in various ways.

The answer is not to return, literally, to that time, which is impossible, but rather to pursue anew a restoration of the country's democratic life and foster the conditions for a new democratic constitutional convention.

Today it seems unlikely that Raúl Castro and the gerontocracy that surrounds him will act to undertake this task.

However, the internal economic crisis, the depletion of the system at every level, Fidel's death, the international protests in response to the massive, flagrant and systematic violations of the civil and political rights of the Cuban people; the crumbling of the economic support that the regime once received from Chávez, the decline of authoritarian populism in the region, the proven superiority of private and cooperative work systems over State-based models, and Cubans' gradual access to the Internet, have been furthering the idea of the need for change, among the governing elite and those destined to rise to power tomorrow, and, above all, among the Cuban people.

Let no one forget that these types of systems have always brought about their own deaths, in a kind of self-induced apoptosis, from within.

Consequently, the different opposition figures and dissidents should concentrate on continuing to demonstrate the unfeasibility, immorality and illegality of centralised stateism, especially its violations of human rights; support formulas for the popular economic empowerment of civil society, promote the widest possible access to the Internet, and prepare for the coming democratic change, thereby averting a cycle of violence.