In a passage about today’s elections, the Communist Party newspaper “Granma” says that “every citizen has the right to a single vote […] regardless of [his] political position.”
DiariodeCuba, Hildebrando Chaviano Montes*, Havana, 19 April 2015 — The daily Granma, in its Wednesday, April 15 edition, brings a timid message of opening hidden in an article about the Cuban electoral system. The mention that “in the process of electing delegates to the Municipal Assemblies the vote is characterized as being: free, equal, secret, direct, nominal and preferential (Prieto Valdes and Perez Hernandez)” may not call the attention of many readers.
However, the mentioned authors make a contribution to the Constitution of the Republic itself when they explain that “every citizen has the right to a single vote and of equal value, without regard to race, religious belief, skin color, political position.”
The passage, although incomplete in my opinion, obviously is supported and inspired by Article 42 of the Cuban Constitution which says: “Discrimination on the basis of race, skin color, sex, national origin, religious belief, and any other offense against human dignity is proscribed and prohibited by law.”
The substitution, however, of the phrase “any other offense against human dignity” by the more specific “political position” is noteworthy for being the first time that there appears in the official organ of the Communist Party an admission that different political positions exist in Cuba and above all, that they have equal value.
The express recognition by the mentioned jurists that Cuban political thought is not a single one but is rich in its diversity, as in any other country on the globe, is the first public gesture that could lead to a lifting of the strict blockade on ideas imposed since 1959. Some may think that the Government is manipulating a sensitive topic in order to ingratiate itself with old and new friends, but at this point speculating with pretty words does not seem smart.
Moreover, and at the risk of being accused of being a dreamer, naïve and even a collaborationist, this could well be the antecedent of future changes announced in an obsolete Constitution whose roots date to 1917 and which stopped being justifiable many years ago, above all in Latin America, a natural environment in which Cuba seeks to insert itself but where the left is not entirely red but more pink, generally respecting the market economy and democratic institutions.
“Chavista” Venezuela constitutes the exception to the political pragmatism of the Latin American left; taken by the hand of Castro I, it jumped into the abyss into which apparently Castro II does not wish to accompany it; he increasingly distances himself from his predecessor, undoing as he can the inherited absolutist framework.
Triana Cordovi in Economics and Prieto Valdes and Perez Hernandez in Law, are for the moment isolated authorized voices whose academic discourse has nothing to do with the Real Socialism defended with shouts and blows in Panama a few days ago.
All of Cuban society is obligated to force the necessary changes. In the same way that according to those illustrious professors the votes of those who have a different political position are equally valid, so is the candidacy of anyone who does not profess the Communist faith.
Discrimination on the basis of political ideas is as offensive to human dignity as racial discrimination; a change with respect to the official discourse tempered with the current times would go a long the way to replace the absurd ideological hatreds with tolerance and civilized dialog among all Cubans, for the good of all Cuba.
*Translator’s note: Hildebrando Chaviano Montes is an opposition candidate for the local People’s Power; the regime allowed his candidacy but his “biography” (the only campaigning allowed) identifies him as a “counterrevolutionary… funded by foreign groups.”
Translated by MLK