A Proposal from the Possible / Miriam Celaya

The self-employed trying to catch a break in a ruined Cuba. Photo from Internet.

Editorial # 3-2011 of the magazine Espacio Laical (“The Challenge of Being Bold”; www.espaciolaical.net) is one of those essays to which one is grateful because of its timeliness, relevance, balance and respectfulness, but above all, because it contains within itself the quality–rare in our context–to overcome the temptation of the catharsis and the truths of Pero Grullo and target possible perfectly feasible ways to generate the pending national dialogue. A proposal to find solutions from the inclusion, tracing the wicked verticality that only serves “to contribute to the clarity of the political elite and to the consensus among them (…), but not to bring forward a great national consensus, capable to wholly present the wishes beating in the soul of the Island, thus actively involving the people in general.”

“The Challenge to be Bold” avoids the tired accusations aimed at those responsible for the national crisis, a debt that we all know too well, but that instead puts the magnifying glass on the immediate reality of our daily lives, with its load of dissatisfactions, frustrations and despair, though it does not constitute a lament in vain. On the contrary, it is a piece that stands out for its objectivity, calling attention to an essential term of this dilemma: the gradual adjustments demanded by the change in the socio-economic-political-legal model, and the urgency of implementing these changes because of “the insecurity that afflicts the lives of the Cuban people in general.”

A blatant contradiction of the reforms and official speeches is obvious in this editorial, when he argues: “We are progressing more rapidly (…) on measures that strip the State of responsibilities that it had wrongly assumed towards its citizens, but we are not thriving equally fast in the liberation of productive forces …. “, a proven fact that, in turn, leads some sectors to consider the “ongoing process of updates as an act of reaffirmation of the old political and ideological mechanisms” rather than a true transformation capable of reversing the crisis.

As can be inferred by the referenced text, the absence of true dialogue has been one of the “deficiencies” that have prevented “a more harmonious and speedy current process” (changes) in order to “minimize the dichotomy” between the gradual implementation of reforms and the urgency of their implementation, as well as between the process of dismantling government subsidies and the actual release of the productive forces.

All this leads to presenting a problem of capital importance, given the actual circumstances, which is still being delayed by the power elites–though it may not appear to be spelled out just so in the editorial–and that is “the need to also rethink the political role, and to seek the best way for the people to effectively participate in the community’s and the nation’s design”, which would involve outlining new venues and guaranties for anyone to express any criteria, and for the same to be debated in very diverse forums…. so that “the consensus reached in these debates are the projects carried out by the country’s authorities”; without a doubt, a proposal that exacts to break with the traditional government scheme of developing unilateral strategies from the ceding of power in order to impose them through a supposed process of popular opinion that invariably ends up “approving” the guidelines for whose establishment we are never called upon.

Finally, I must comment on the final paragraph of the Editorial, a real challenge to the Cuban authorities, when he proposes to openly discuss these issues at the National Conference of the Communist Party of Cuba (CPC) announced for next year. “We advocate for the CPC to assume such a debate and, in order to carry it out, to call once more on the people’s opinion, now through a bolder method of participation. Only thus will it be possible to answer to the people’s aspirations and to successfully achieve the process of changes inaugurated by the current President of the Republic”.

This time I think appropriate to acknowledge the authors of an editorial which, making optimum use of its title, constitutes a challenge summoning not only the government, but all of us; a lesson in respect and civility that should be found in all our media more often, an example that criticism and demands for our rights can be exercised from acknowledged and tolerated venues without having to resort to aggressive face-to-face antagonism and without falling into flattery or into accomplice complacency. Cuba’s plight requires that we all do what is necessary from and to whatever extent possible, considering each circumstance and from whatever position each of us occupies. Obviously, the “challenge of being bold” is one way to do it.

Translated by Norma Whiting

August 1 2011