Political Marginalization and the Citizen / Dimas Castellano

Published in Curazao, issue 24

May 3, 2013

The marginality, an effect of exclusion, is a phenomenon that prevents or limits the enjoyment of certain rights. It manifests itself in all social relations, including politics. In these lines I circumscribe the case of Cuba, where the revolutionary process swept civic participation mechanisms and replaced by others, created and subservient to the state.

Citizens participate independently in matters of interest through civil society organizations of which it is part. Also involved electing representatives to positions in government; in this case there is the risk that the elected turn their back to their commitments to the voters, as repeatedly occurred during the Republic. Precisely this fact served as an argument to the insurrectional process that took power in 1959 with a commitment to restore the 1940 constitution and call elections immediately.

The elections are important for the people as long as they express the public opinion. But public opinion and electoral democracy are the foundation of the building. Then comes the building, meaning, the system of government as a hierarchical structure where power goes from the majority to a minority. So depending on decisions made by that minority whether or not they represent the best interests of their constituents, we face a democratic or undemocratic government, demonstrating that elections are necessary but not sufficient.

The seizure of power by the revolutionaries in 1959 provoked a violent break with the established system. It replaced the Constitution of 1940 and with it the institutional base. Then the revolution, which has become a source of law, swept away civil society and all the spaces that were instruments of civic participation. The country headed towards the totalitarianism that penetrated the entire social fabric, liquidated political pluralism and thus eradicated the concept of citizen. Seventeen years later, in 1976, a constitution was adopted that legalized the marginalization of the people in politics.

Since then, Cubans were limited to electing district delegates. Thereafter, where  the destiny of the nation is decided, the Candidacy Commissions created by the same power, decide the candidates for all positions in government, from the municipality to the National Assembly of People’s Power; meanwhile the people are reduced to confirming the propositions of said Committees. As an end result there exists a government that has been predetermined. This explains the excessively prolonged time leaders remain in positions of power, indicating the nonexistence of democracy and evidence that the elections, as a manifestation of popular sovereignty, are something that remains pending.

The Cuban case demonstrates that democracy — the best instrument of the people to exercise their freedoms — is fragile. Its strength depends on civic education, the rebuilding of civil society independent of the state and the reconversion of Cubans into citizens; it is the only way out of political marginalization.

Translated by Roots of Hope 

27 May 2013

The Constitution of La Yaya and the Future Cuban Constitution / Dimas Castellanos

1352037605_conztituicion-300x168On the 29th of October of 1897 in the pasture of La Yaya, in Sibanicú, Camagüey, the drafting of what would become the last mambí Constitution came to an end. The resulting text represented a qualitative leap forward in Cuba’s constitutional history. This was due to the inclusion, for the first time, of a dogmatic part that included the most advanced individual political and civil rights at the time: habeas corpus, freedom and confidentiality of postal communications, freedom of religion, equality before taxation, freedom of education, right to petition, inviolability of the home,  universal suffrage, freedom of expression and the right of assembly and association.

This result was determined by multiple causes; particularly because the always-present interdependence between development and individual freedoms in every social project is reflected in the constitutional history of human rights. continue reading

For example: the Magna Carta imposed by the English nobility on John Lackland in 1215, the Habeas Corpus Act of 1674, the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the United States’ Declaration of Independence of 1776, and France’s Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen of 1789. These, among other documents, spread at a global level, along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and the International Covenants on Civil and Political Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, put into force in 1976.

Cuba’s constitutional history began in the colonial period with the Project for an Autonomous Government in Cuba, drafted in 1811 by Father José Agustín Caballero. In 1812, Joaquín Infante, an attorney from Bayamo, drafted the Constitutional Project for the Island of Cuba, and in 1821, priest Félix Varela drafted the Project of Instruction for the Politically and Economically Autonomous Government of the Overseas Provinces. Later, during the wars of independence, in a context of contradictions between military and civil law, Cuba’s constitutional history was enriched by the mambí legislation.

On the 10th of April of 1869, the Guáimaro Constitution, in which an emphasis on civil law was imposed, was signed. This Basic Law based on a tripartite division of powers, gave the legislative power to a House of Representatives that had the authority to appoint and depose the President of the Republic in Arms and the Commander-in-Chief. The executive power was in the hands of the President, and the judiciary was independent.

Despite the facts that it was created during the war of independence and that the House of Representatives was granted authority over the Republic’s sovereignty, the Constitution’s emphasis on civil law? allowed for the rights and freedoms of all Cubans to be protected? in Article 28 as follows: “The House cannot attack the right to freedom of religion, freedom of the press, peaceful assembly, education and petition, or any inalienable right of the people.” According to Dr. Oscar Loyola, in Guáimaro, the possibility of a military dictatorship, always latent in a historical process of this nature, was programmatically eliminated.

From the 13th to the 18th of September of 1895, at the rebirth of the war of independence in Cuba, a new Constitution was drafted in Jimaguayú, which reflected the experience gained from The Ten Years War. As M. Sc Antonio Álvarez expressed, three groups of interests intersected in this document: predominance of military power, José Martí’s principles and an exacerbated anti-militarism, between those who had a pact of interests reflected in that the highest authority of the State was concentrated in a Council of Government with powers to dictate all matters relating to the civil and political life of the revolution; in other words, this body had executive and legislative powers. Article 24 limited the validity of this Constitution to a period of two years.

In compliance with this article, a new Constituent Assembly met in La Yaya from the 13th to the 29th of October. The resulting Constitution readopted the civilian character from Guáimaro. It consolidated the organization of power in civil institutions, and closed the cycle of the type of constitutionalism that had resulted from the wars of independence (Guáimaro, Baraguá, Jimaguayú, and La Yaya), which, obstructed by the American occupation and the imposition of the Platt Amendment, gave way to the Republican Period. The best evidence of the scope and importance of La Yaya is that the civil and political rights enshrined in this document were readopted and enriched in the constitutions of 1901 and 1940.

The advocates of the supremacy of militarism wondered: Why did the Basic Law include a dogmatic part whose immediate purpose was to serve as judicial instrument during wartime? The answer to this question had been already answered in several writings by José Martí, for whom the Republic had become the definition of the democratic soul of the nation.

Martí established a logical genetic relationship between war, independence, and the Republic, where the first was a bridge to reach the last one.  This is why he clearly defined the purposes of the war, so that after that conquest of immediate independence, these then would become the seeds of tomorrow’s long-lasting independence. He believed that, in times of victory, only the seeds that were planted in times of war thrive.

In his speech, “With All and for the Good of All,” delivered in November of 1891, Martí said: “Let’s close the doors to a Republic that is not founded on means worthy of the decorum of men, for the good and the prosperity of all Cubans!” In April of 1893, he expressed: “That is the greatness of the Revolutionary Party: that to found a Republic, it has started from a Republic. That is its strength: “that in the work of all, are the rights of all.” In the Montecristi Manifest, he wrote: “Our motherland must be built, from its roots, upon feasible ways that are self-born, so that a government that lacks truth and justice cannot lead it to the path of favoritism or tyranny.”

The post-1959 events are what best proves the importance of the civil law emphasis of the Constitution of La Yaya.  After 17 years of government under The Basic Law of the Republic of Cuba, the Constitution of 1976, which abolished the Constitution of 1940 and made political and civil rights were subject to the legitimization of the Communist Party as the maximum leading force of the State and society, was approved; something alien and contrary to the day when a new Constituent Assembly, elected by the people, assumes the task of drafting a Magna Carta that includes our constitutional heritage and shapes it into the reality of today’s Cuba and of the winds blowing across the universe.

Originally published in El Diario de Cuba

Translated by: Chabeli 

1 November 2012

Why the UBPC Cooperatives Failed / Dimas Castellano #Cuba

cpa peopleindexLast August, the Cuban Council of Ministers approved a new General Regulation for the Basic Units of Cooperative Production (UBPC), which was complemented by a packet consisting of 17 measures. The purpose, according to the daily Rebel Youth on September 23, consists of liquidating the dependency of those with respect to state enterprises.

The original Regulation issued in 1993, although it did not recognize the legal character of the UBPC, which is to say, the capacity to acquire rights and contract obligations, stipulated in its foundational points the correlation between production and income and the effective development of management autonomy.

The breach of those and other positive aspects was reflected in the poor results. Of the 170 thousand hectares that the existing 1,989 UBPCs possess, almost 40% of their lands remain idle; although their extent represents 27% of the agriculture surface of the country, they produce only 12% of the grains, tubers and vegetables and 17% of the milk; only 27% have satisfactory results; the rest, to greater or lesser extent, present difficulties; in the year 2010 15% of the UBPCs closed with losses and another 6% did not even present a balance sheet; and their losses exceed 200 million pesos.

The UBPCs were created when it was demonstrated that the concentration of the country’s arable land in the hands of the State had generated disinterest of the agricultural workers, the generalized debasement of agricultural products and enormous expansions of vacant lands infected with the marabou weed. A deplorable picture aggravated by the loss of the subsidies provided by the socialist countries of Eastern Europe.

In that context the country’s authorities decided to convert a part of the unproductive state lands into cooperatives, but without giving the requisite freedoms nor waiving the monopoly of property. The ignorance of the essence of cooperativism and the subordination of economic laws to ideology explain both the cause of the failure and the effort to repair that decision with the recent measures.

The Declaration of Cooperative Identity, adopted in 1995 in the 2nd General Assembly of the International Cooperative Alliance (ACI), defines the cooperative as an autonomous association of people who voluntarily join to address their economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations by means of a business of jointly and democratically controlled property.

In accordance with this definition — of an organism like the ACI, that since1985binds and promotes the cooperative movement in the world — the UBPCs are not classified as true cooperatives since they were not created voluntarily by the owners of land and means of production but emerged from an agreement of the Communist Party.

In spite of the new General Regulation (Resolution 574 from August 13, 2012) the UBPCs will count on legal personality; the power to elect the administrators for the majority of the General Assembly of Partners; to buy products and services from any legal or natural person; to establish direct contractual relations with the input provider companies; and to decide the percentage of the utilities to distribute among the partners; other vital aspects are still missing.

Again it is the State and not the agricultural workers who make the decision to join in cooperatives. If it is added to that that those workers are not owners but usufructuraries (a kind of lessee) of a state property, it is not difficult to envision that we are facing the beginning of a new failure and therefore the need to implement new reforms, good for the current government or good for the successor, until the UBPC members become collective owners of the land they work.

The virtual lack of agricultural cooperatives before 1959 is understandable because of the advances in the sugar industry since the end of the 19th century which had generated enormous landholdings through the dispossession of thousands of small owners. What is absurd is that with a revolution that declared itself socialist, cooperativism, akin to that social system, has been absent and in its place they have experimented with arbitrary and subjective forms applied vertically by the revolutionary State.

Before 1959 there were in Cuba some hundred thousand landowners, to whom were added another hundred thousand to whom the Revolution delivered ownership titles with the First Law of Agrarian Reform of 1959. Those two hundred thousand farmers constituted the basis for the development of a true cooperative movement. Nevertheless, the concentration on the part of the State of 70% of the arable land was a coup de grace to a process of association that had contributed much to the Cuban economy and society.

The first manifestation of state arbitrariness in the agriculture cooperativization was the creation in March 1960 of the sugar cane cooperatives in areas that previously belonged to the sugar mills. Nevertheless, the decision to monopolize landownership made these businesses become property of the State. Then the true cooperativism was limited to a few associations formed over the base of private farmers.

Fidel Castro himself once expressed: “those cooperatives have no real historical basis, given that the cooperatives are really formed with the farmer landowners. In my judgment we were going to create an artificial cooperative, converting those agricultural workers into cooperativists. From my point of view, and maybe applying some of the verses of Marti, slave of the age and the doctrines I favored of converting those cooperatives that were worker cooperatives and not farmer cooperatives into state enterprises.”

Not satisfied with most of the soil in the hands of the State, instead of promoting voluntary cooperativsm, there began a process aimed at diminishing the quantity of independent farmers. In May 1961 the National Association of Small Farmers was created, and a policy aimed at trying to “cooperativize” the 200 thousand farmer owners began. Farmer associations were created, then came the Mutual Help Brigades and next the Cooperatives of Credit and Services (CCS),made up of farmers who maintained ownership of the land and the means of production but lacked legal character.

cpaindexAfter 1975, with the thesis of the 1st Congress of the PCC concerning the need for cooperativization of the land, the development of the Cooperatives of Agricultural Production (CPA) were promoted, formed by farmers who united their farms and other means of production “voluntarily” as a means of socialist development of the countryside.

At the end of 1977 the number of CPAs was 136 and in June 1986 it was 1,369, representing 64% of the farm lands, at the same time that state ownership had increased to 75% of the arable land due to the reduction of volume of land in the hands of private farmers.

The results were not long in coming; Cuba has to buy from outside agricultural products that are perfectly growable in our soil, as is the case with the coffee that we have had to acquire in Vietnam, a country that Cubans taught how to reap the grain. That’s why insisting on reforms of the cooperatives without permitting the farmers to be the ones to voluntarily organize and without counting on the collective ownership of the land that they work, is to insist on failure.

Published Wednesday, November 21, 2012: http://www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/14133-por-que-fracasaron-las-cooperativas-castristas

Translated by mlk

November 26 2012

The Worst Evil of Bad People is the Silence of Good People / Lilianne Ruiz

Antonio Rodiles (left) leading a panel discussion at Estado de Sats

Antonio Rodiles continues to be held in the dungeons at Acosta and 10 de Octubre streets, for 9 days now. Perhaps the political police won’t free him before they trial they intend to hold, to avoid the bruises from the beating they gave him becoming public.

Socialist legality is a set of traps to bring down anyone who does not follow the path of the regime. A peaceful protest can be translated by a prosecutor into “disorderly conduct.” Similarly, if a man does not passively allow three State Security officers to beat him — officers in plain clothes who never identified themselves as authority before the blows began to fall — “revolutionary law” translates an action of legitimate self-defense by the victim into “resisting arrest.”

But it was not an arrest which State Security (DSE) agents carried out against Rodiles and a dozen people waiting outside State Security’s Department 21 — after having exhausted other avenues such as calling 106, the police information number — for the authorities to give them information on the whereabouts of Yaremis Flores, who was arrested with similar arbitrariness that same day.

It was an attack and not an arrest that the DSE agents carried out.

They did not communicate to Rodiles who they were, nor that they were going to arrest him. No police officer with a badge and arrest warrant showed up. Simply three men in plain clothes without the mediation of words attacking Rodiles who, according to Revolutionary law, “shouldn’t resist.”

There are too many cases of opponents of the regime who are driven to jail through some legal trap: Darsi Ferrer, Jorge Vázquez Chaviano are just a couple, there are many more.

Rodiles is the leader of Estado de Sats. As Ailer Gonzalez, his partner, explained to me once, the space took the name Estado de Sats from the Anthropology of the Theater, by Eugenio Barba (Odin Theatre). Estado de Sats is the movement of negation that leads to action: to cast the first stone you have to pull back your arm. The action takes place in an organic way. In a country uprooted from its vital centers, to talk and exchange ideas, images — art and thought — is an alternative that the powers-that-be recognize as “dangerous.”

Since last August, just after the arrest of Rodiles during the funeral of the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement Oswaldo Paya, the repressive organs of State Security have tried to block the realization of Estado de Sats in multiple ways. From a siege around the site to block the audience from attending, to the arbitrary arrest of Professor Dimas Castellanos and of the poet and photographer Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo.

Rodiles himself went, at the time of those arrests, to State Security’s Section 21 to demand the release of those arrested. In the words of a member the Cuban Patriotic Union (UNPACU) who was arrested by this same Department 21 of State Security, the agents told him “Even if Rodiles turned out to be the second coming of Padre de las Casas*, he was going to jail.”

This is how they intend to do it: through traps and sheltered by a “legality” that always protects the State and never the rights of the citizens.

On Wednesday, November 7, when they arrested Rodiles a wave of mass arrests of opponents took place in Havana, with virtually no communication because they cut off the phones of many of the detainees and their families and friends.

Rodiles’ father appeared before the police in a T-shirt bearing a decal for the liberation of his son and this caused a scandal for the authorities.

Faced with the pain of others, we must remember that if we do not share the responsibility of preventing the purposes of those who are creating the human rights crisis in Cuba, the deceptions of these regimes could continue to thrive in the heyday of dictatorships.

There is no State, no Church, no institution, no ideological, political or religious excuse to violate human rights. The extreme left-wing communist States have found a systematic way,  protected by their Constitutions, to carry out these violations of human rights which are their only guarantee for perpetuating their own political power.

*Translator’s note: Padre de las Cases was an early hero of Cuban history.

November 16 2012

Sunday, September 2, at 5 pm in SATS: Literature of Liberty: With Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo and the winners of the Cuban New Thought Contest / Estado de Sats, For Another Cuba

Today Sunday, Sept. 2, at 5 pm in SATS

Literature in Liberty:
With Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo and Cuban New Thought contest winners
(e-Maro, Frank Correa, Orlando Freire Santana, Dimas Castellanos)

Ave 1ra %46 y 60 #4606. Miramar, Playa. La Habana.

This meeting is rescheduled as we could not hold it yesterday, Saturday, September 1st at 7:00 pm because of the arrest to Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo.

OLPL’s message of liberation:

We will continue meeting as Estado de Sats, neither threats, nor arrests, nor repudiation rallies nor police operations will stop us.

We are free citizens and we want another Cuba, there is not brute force that can beat that!

SATS Update:

It is now 4:20 pm and a large police operation is deployed around the headquarters of Estado de Sats.

Yoani Sánchez complaints from Twitter (@ yoanisanchez):

#Cuba this “fateful weekend” does not end. The graffiti artist El Sexto just sent me a text saying “I am a prisoner” :-(

#Cuba Also arrested were Luis Eligio de @ OmniZonaFranca and his girlfriend Kizzy

2 September 2012

Oswaldo Payá, a Part of Our History / Dimas Castellano

From: europarl.europa.eu

Yesterday, Sunday the 22nd of July, through a telephone call from a friend, I learned of the tragic death of the leader of the Christian Liberation Movement, Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas in a traffic accident that occurred in Granma province.

The versions about what happened are dissimilar and will surely vary. What will not change is the loss of one of the most consistent, best known and most honored Cuban opposition figures, author of the project with the greatest impact, the Varela Project.

Payá, regardless of any differences with his project or personal leadership, will occupy a place in Cuban history for his work of more than two decades, his persistence, for his remaining in Cuba and many other things.

The greatest tribute is to continue his work, that is the fight for the democratization of our country.

July 23 2012

The Harvest of 2012 or the Last Call / Dimas Castellano

“It seems that every year is the first harvest the country has ever done. Every year we start fresh, even though we’ve been producing sugar for more than 200 years. If we are talking about the need for change, the first thing we have to change is the routine.” So begins, “Attacking the problems and not waiting for the autopsy,” a report by Sheyla Delgado Guerra, published on Monday, May 30th, in the newspaper, Granma.

The Guidelines of Economic and Social Policy, adopted at the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party in April last year, set out among the central tasks, to increase the production of sugar and the derivatives of the cane, a branch of the economy where it is assumed Cuba has long experience. However, the results of the 2011-2012 harvest confirmed the failure of that purpose.

The harvest, programmed to produce 1.45 million tons of sugar (a figure that was produced in the late nineteenth century), finish milling on April 30th. There was enough sugar cane and 98% resources needed to produce the programmed amount of sugar but, according to Sheyla, the same problems occurred as in previous years: industrial breakdowns, operational disruptions, difficulties in the supply of cane, unstable grindings, aging of the raw material, poor quality of repairs of agricultural machinery, late harvesting, poor technical skills of staff and poor utilization of potential capacity. As a result the milling did not end on the date set by central planning, not was the programmed figure for tons of sugar achieved.

This was confirmed at the meeting to review the results, held 29 days after all the plants should have completed the milling. Although as in previous years, the amount of sugar produced has not been published, in the meeting it was admitted that the setbacks of this season were higher than results obtained. According to Sheyla’s report, the cane not ground because of the late harvest in 21 of the 46 centers participating, together with the low capacity utilization and failure of planned efficiency are among the main causes of the terrible result.

This time, although all the cane needed was grown, to the point where they could have crushed more than the planned amount, the production of sugar fell short again. In the industrial phase only 60% the capacity is used, a figure even lower than the harvest of 2010-2011, and of course lower than was planned for this crop. While there was a modest over-fulfillment in the production of white sugar, in terms of direct target it barely reached 8%. In addition, seven of the mills which after being inactive for several years, produced 54% of their potential, which is why some 27,500 tons of sugar was not produced.

To this is added the low yields due to weather conditions in May, for 29 days after the scheduled closing several plants were still milling in the rainy season, which accentuates the sugar decline, which is nothing new, the same thing having gone on more than two decades; the 1998-1999 harvest could not exceed 3.8 million tons of sugar, a figure lower than that produced in 1920, when it exceeded 4 million tons.

The failure is higher if one considers that the country has dozens of schools and agricultural research centers throughout the country, which have graduated thousands of engineers and technicians in these fields, and that this time, from the beginning of the harvest, nearly all the resources were available to fulfill the plan, all of which indicates we should look elsewhere for the source of the failures.

Reforms related to sugar production, like the rest of those that have been implemented, do not have the depth required, nor do they move at the speed that the situation demands. Clearly, the lack of interest of the producers — the workers because of low wages and the proprietors because of the constraints imposed on them — is present in the results of the current harvest as in the previous failures.

The essence of the problem is that the reforms introduced by the Cuban government start life subordinated to the ideology and the interests of power, so the proposals therefore perversely preserve an obsolete model that has consistently proven to be nonviable.

Adverse outcomes of central planning, manifested in the 2011-2012 harvest, should be the last call, which will definitely draw attention to the aspects that the reforms have ignored so far. I am referring to the urgent need for profound changes to include, once and for all, the ownership structure. Since half a century seems sufficient to indicate the gap between managers and owners, between command and control and employee participation, aspects which in turn imply reforms in the area of rights and freedoms, to validate the previous.

It would be useful to proceed with these changes and not continue pointing fingers at the “deadbeats” as one of the senior officials did when he appeared on May 29 on Cuban television. Having participated in the meeting to review the harvest, he said, “I’ve told you, they have to change,” something that has become the custom year after year.

Posted in June in Diario de Cuba.

Translated by: Hank Hardisty

June 11 2012

Why Doesn’t the Land Belong to Those Who Work It? / Dimas Castellanos

With the title “The Land Belongs to Those Who Work It,” the newspaper Granma published an editorial on May 17, in commemoration of “Peasant’s Day” from which I have selected three points that invite reflection.

One: The Agrarian Reform was a basic need for economic liftoff.

An affirmation that I share, since the concentration of large tracts of land was, and is, in addition to a generator of social injustice, a major obstacle to the diversification of agricultural property, roots, the sense ownership and development.

In the beginning, in the sixteenth century, large tracts did not hinder the formation of a class of small owners. It was the growth of the sugar industry, accelerated by the Haitian Revolution, which ruined the economy of this neighbor island, which led to the fact that from the late eighteenth century Cuba occupied the number one position in the production and trade in that product. That leap accelerated the conversion of cattle ranches common estates — haciendas — and multiplied the number of mills by promoting the growth of small and medium ownership. It was from 1860, due to increased production capacity, that the larger mills swallowed up the smaller ones, leading to the separation between agriculture and industry and the emergence of the figure of the tenant farmer. However, these transformations did not lead to the concentration of large land areas, as the tenant farmer, who settled on tens of thousands of farms, supplied the necessary cane.

It was in the late nineteenth century, resulting from the struggle for raw materials, where the competition between mills for more land originated, from which emerged the modern large estate. This process accelerated after 1902 with the orders issued by the Government of Occupation, which authorized the investors to purchase and expropriate land for railway lines and to install new plants. As a result, the penetration of foreign capital concentrated in about 180 mills, a fifth of the country, as reflected in the 1946 census. Of a total of 159,985 farms, fewer than 12% had 76% of the land, while 24% of the remaining area was scattered in 142,385 farms, with their respective owners.

That anomaly so vital to the Cuban nation, attracted the attention of illustrious figures of our history, from the Bishop Espada in 1808 to Manuel Sanguily in 1903, passing, among others, José Antonio Saco, Francisco de Frías, José Martí, Enrique Jose Varona, Martín Morúa Delgado and Fernando Ortiz, who argued for the need for small and medium land ownership and the existence of a national middle class. However, the social struggles, the measures taken by the Republican leaders, and the brake on large estates, endorsed in the 1940 Constitution, were insufficient to reverse the ownership of land to those who worked it.

Two: It was precisely the Agrarian Reform Law that defines the Cuban Revolution.

In his legal brief, History Will Absolve Me, in 1953, Fidel Castro — taking into account the adverse effect of large estates and in order to win the support of the peasantry — proposed to grant land ownership to all who hold parcels of five or fewer caballerías (one caballería equals about 33 acres). This project, launched in October 1958 during the insurrectionist struggle, formed the basis of the First Law of Agrarian Reform, which liquidated the estates in the hands of Cuban and foreign companies, benefiting some 100,000 farmers and defining the 1959 Revolution as advanced, agrarian, and democratic.

However, 40.2% of the confiscated lands remained in state hands. Then, with the Second Agrarian Reform Law of 1963, the thousand farms that had more than five caballerías went directly to swell the collection of state land, which increased to 70% of the country’s arable land. So sudden was the turn, that if the First Law was allowed to define the Revolution as advanced, agrarian and democratic, the Second Law marked it as totalitarian, in concentration an amount of land greater than that possessed by the great estates that had been confiscated.

In 1974, the fifteenth anniversary of the Agrarian Reform Law, the chief of the Revolution urged the peasants to tackle “higher forms of thinking about production, since the course of development of the country can not be stopped, since the growing needs of the population necessitate a constant modernization of our agriculture, and an optimal use of all the land ” [1] .

With this supposed end, they developed a process of induced formation of cooperatives, through the creation of Embryonic Cooperatives, Mutual Aid Brigades, the Credit and Service Cooperatives (the only ones in which the farmers retained ownership of the land and means of production, but they lack legal status), and Agricultural Production Cooperatives; meanwhile state ownership rose to 75% of arable land.

Three: The Law established the principle that the land belongs to those who work it.

Given the decrease in production and efficiency brought about by State ownership, Raul Castro, in his speech in Camagüey on 26 July 2007, acknowledged the shortcomings, errors and indolent or bureaucratic attitudes as reflected in fields infected with the marabou week, and argued that the rising cost of food in the international market forced us to produce it in Cuba. However, nothing was said of the unworkability of the State-owned large estates, nor of the fact that in privately owned lands the marabou week is kept under control. At that juncture they enacted, in 2008, the Decree Law 259, for delivery of vacant land in usufruct*.

If usufruct consists of enjoying the use the property of others, in this case the huge properties of the State, and the land becomes idle, what is the reason for the private producers, who have demonstrated the ability to produce efficiently, to be tied to usufruct agreements — that is to be essentially tenant farmers — and for the State, responsible for inefficiency, to be the owner? Why doesn’t the land belong to those who work it?

Translator’s note: Usufruct is the right to use and enjoy the profits of something belonging to someone else. In Cuba, Decree 259, of 2008, established a system of limited term usufruct to turn over idle lands to people who want to work it.

[1] J. MAY. Two decades of struggle against landlordism. Brief history of the National Peasant Association, p. 21

21 May 2011

Tracey Eaton’s Interview with Dimas Castellanos

Tracey Eaton, a Florida-based journalist, has been traveling to Cuba for a long time, and more recently has been undertaking a series of interviews with Cubans ranging all across the ideological spectrum. He has now begun the work of subtitling these videos in English.

Here are links to Tracey’s blogs/sites: Along the Malecon; Cuba Money Project; Videos on Cuba Money Project; Video Transcripts; Along the Malecon News Updates.

Family and Migration / Dimas Castellanos

(Published in Laborem, voice of the Movement of Christian Workers/Cuba. Year 9, No. 36, October-December 2010)

There is a close relationship between the family and migration. The family is a group constituted by blood ties or marriage that, besides preceding other forms of social relationships, due to its functions constitutes the very marrow of society.  It is the school of love, of education and participation in people’s lives, while it gives its members company and security.  Migration, which is as ancient as the family, is a form of reaccommodation in order to survive when material and/or social conditions in the place of residence become insufficient to guarantee the conservation and development of life.

With the exception of the nomadic tribes that moved around with all their members, contemporary migration separates one part of its members, often a married couple.  It is a phenomenon that, becoming universal as globalization develops, affects the traditional functions of the family.  In the particular case of Cuba, the economic crisis, the lack of proportion between income and the cost of living and the prohibition on leaving and returning to the country, among other factors, generate individual as well as mass migration, as the Cuban family immersed in the struggle to satisfy its most elemental needs, when separated, loses a good part of the reasons that held it together.  This has occurred both before and after the embargo, before and after the Adjustment Law and before and after the “Battle of Ideas” and so it will continue.

Migration, with no possibility of returning, besides affecting the family–especially the youngest, who are the principal beneficiaries of its instruction, education and love–also affects the nation, since the flight of professionals is decapitalizing and aging our society.  Perhaps that is why John Paul II, in his homily to the family, told us, “Cuba, take care of your families so that you keep your heart healthy.”

Translated by S. Solá

January 17 2011

Social Criticism Widespread in Cuban Films / Dimas Castellanos

The 32nd Festival of New Latin American Cinema, which ended in Havana last December 2, showed that the seventh art is on the upswing in Latin America and that Cuba is no exception.

Among the over 500 participants, the Cuban films–independently of their themes, of their directors’ degree of success, and of the quality of the actors and scripts–for the first time all critically reflected the social reality of the country. This is proof that culture, even if it is subjected to being a prisoner of ideology, as is our case, by its nature and functions transcends even such a negative imposition. A short review, limited to the four fiction-category feature films that participated in the competition, is evidence of this.

Casa Vieja (Old House), by Lester Hamlet, based on the theatrical work of the same name by Abelardo Estorino, uses the narrative of an individual case, the return to the heart of the family of a Cuban after 14 years of living abroad, to reveal the negative effect the Cuban political system has had on the economic and moral penury in which society finds itself trapped.

According to its director, “it is a film that speaks about who we are and how I see Cubans’ life from the point of view of the affective compact”. With that vision, with heavy emotional weight, he delves into one of Cuba’s many current problems. The film, which had received the Grand Prize for the Best Feature Film Fiction Book at the VIII Pobre Humberto Solás International Film Festival, this time won the popularity prize, the Cybervote Prize of the Latin American and Caribbean Film and Audiovisual Portal of the New Latin American Film Foundation and the Jury Mention for Fiction.

Larga Distance (Long Distance), by Esteban Insausti, gives us the story of four friends who, because of the deep crisis produced by the disappearance of real socialism in Eastern Europe, could not keep their oath to never leave each other. Ana, one of the four, on reaching the age of 35 and no longer having friends to celebrate her birthday with, throws an imaginary party, evoking memories of old friends.

From a sociological point of view, it is a critique of the impact of emigration on Cubans’ lives, due to the inability of the Cuban system to provide opportunities inside the country. The life of her parents shows the persistence of problems through generations and the complete failure of the project to create a New Man in Cuba. In the end, social malfunctions resulting from the system have triumphed over resistance in return for the impoverishment and moral ruin of a considerable number of the sectors of society.

Boleto al paraíso (Ticket to Paradise), by Eduardo Chijona, was inspired by accounts of real events that happened in 1993, collected in the book Confesiones a un médico (Confessions to a Doctor) by Jorge Pérez Avila. The film tells the story of several adolescents who, as a result of their families’ material and spiritual poverty, link their destinies to run away from home in search of a non-existent paradise and end up getting infected with the AIDS virus and “enjoying” life in a sanatorium–a simultaneous pact of love and death.

Afinidades (Affinities) by Jorge Perugorría and Vladimir Cruz, with script by Cruz, goes into a facet of the administrative corruption of civil servants relating to the management of mixed (public/private) businesses, which is nothing less than the expression of the general decline of Cuban society since a salary stopped being the principal source of income; in it this sector is bureaucratic and invested with powers that allow it to enjoy privileges denied to the average Cuban, thanks to the almost absolute government institution of “property of all the people” under the control of a few. A benefit that leads to sentimental transgression and aggression against dignity, the deliberate manipulation of one’s fellow man. Although the film deals with a problem of contemporary life, in Cuba it is inseparable from the Cuban structural problem, caused primarily by contradictions inside the country.

Martí, el Ojo del canario (Martí, Eye of the Canary) from prize-winning director and scriptwriter Fernando Pérez, is a film inspired by the infancy and adolescence of the Apostle, the result of the search to answer the question, “How, in full Colonial times, was it possible for such a brilliant and high-minded figure as José Martí to have been created?” In my opinion, it is the best film of the festival, a combination of the sensibility, ethics, love and quest that define its director.

It is precisely Fernando Pérez who, with his concept of cinema as a way of seeing, interpreting and forming reality, has shown the potential for critical cinematography to promote critical thought among Cubans; a practical demonstration of intellectuals’ responsibility as aesthetes of change, critics of our deficiencies and sources of connection between our traditions and universal knowledge. The principal message, among the many this film offers, is an appeal to rescue our dignity.

The film has already won the Colón de Plata Prize for Best Director and Best Photography at the Huelva Film Festival. It just won the Coral Prize for Direction and the Artistic Direction Prise for Erick Grass and the Best Poster to Giselle Monzón. In addition the Alba Cultural Latin America First Copy Grand Prize (Ex Aequo); the Film, Radio and Television Prize of the Association of Cuban Artists and Writers; Prize of the Cuban Association of Cinematographic Press; El Megano Prize of the National Federation of Film Clubs; 2009 Caminos Prize of the Martin Luther King Memorial Center; Roque Dalton Radio Prize from Radio Habana Cuba; Cined Prize from Educational Cinematography; Vigía Prize from the Matanzas branch site; and UNICEF Prize.

Social criticism, which has been present in the history of Cuban fimmaking for several decades, has evolved from isolated appearances to becoming a general critical current, which doubtless has much to do with the critical conscience that is steadily gaining strength in our society and which is even beginning to be reflected in the most recent, but still weak, signs of changes in the circles of power.

Translated by S. Solá

(Published in www.diariodecuba.com on December 27, 2010)

January 3 2011

Work and Migration / Dimas Castellanos

(Published in Laborem. The Voice of the Christian Workers’ Movement / Cuba. Vol. 9, No. 36, July-September, 2010)

Work and migration are closely linked. If the former radiates the riches that sustain the material and spiritual life of man, the second serves to rearrange things when work is incapable of guaranteeing the preservation and development of life. With respect to the church, there are a number of documents that are required reading, among which the following encyclicals stand out.

The Rerum Novarum (1891) of Pope Leon XIII contains valuable reflections on the redistribution of the product of social work by means of a salary. The Pacem en Terris (1963) of Pope John XXIII proposes that the church must share man’s historical adventure. The Populorum Progressio (1967) of Paul VI approaches poverty from the point of view of justice and recognizes that the church must help overcome these problems. The Laborem Exercens (1981) of John Paul II says that the justice of a socio-economic system and its just functioning deserve to be valued according to the way in which human work is remunerated, that fair remuneration is the key problem of social ethics and that a fair salary is that which permits one to start and honorably support a family and ensure its future. From these proposals one can deduce that a salary is an important indicator of social justice, and that it shows if the economy is or is not in the service of man. The four encyclicals mentioned demonstrate the preferred option in favor of the poor as a basic element.

In Cuba, the lack of connection between income and the cost of living made a salary no longer the principal source of income, with terrible consequences for the economy, for spiritual life and for social relations in general. Contrary to this, official statistics gave out one of the lowest unemployment rates in the universe, while thousands of Cubans of employment age escaped from the country in search of better living conditions. This happened even when it had not been recognized that there were over a million excess workers.

Without human migration our makeup as a people cannot be explained. From the first inhabitants who arrive from the arc of the Antilles to the first half of the XX century, our country has been characterized by immigration. That trend took a 180 degree turn in the second half of the century. Our emigration, in contrast to the massive exoduses in other parts of the world, is a sustained and growing process that began in 1959, continued with Operation Peter Pan, with the departures through the ports of Camarioca, Mariel and the Guantanamo Naval Base and has continued in different forms that go from navigating an inner tube to abandoning a foreign mission, a phenomenon sharpened by the lack of any right to freely enter and leave the country.

The duration of this phenomenon, the sociological diversity of the emigrants and the damage to the nation are sufficient reasons to understand that the fundamental cause of this situation lies in the inability of the current model to satisfy the needs of the population. For this reason, the individual must be made the end and not the means, implying that salaries and property must be restructured, and civil rights implemented as well.

Repeating the words of Jose Marti: May all who want the nation to prosper help to establish things in the country so that every man may work in an active job that contributes to his personal independence.

Spanish post
January 20 2011

Reform without Freedom / Dimas Castellanos

The difficulty in understating what is happening in Cuba in the area of social change relates to the peculiarities of the current economic reforms. While the Guidelines approved by the VI Communist Party Congress have begun to be implemented, the government remains stuck in other areas, without which it is impossible to get results. This contradiction, which applies to the whole group of Guidelines, shows up particularly in the area of international relations.

Due to the systemic nature of social phenomena, any manifestation of the multiple contradictions contained in the approved Guidelines will be sufficient to lead to failure unless the rules of the game are first changed. I will refer to only two of them: 1- the need for financing and 2- the interest of the workers.

The first, because of the level of deterioration, obsolescence and destruction of the means of production in productive sectors, from agriculture and fishing to industry, requires an amount of investment that the Cuban state by itself cannot manage.

Without discounting the ideological solidarity of the Venezuelan government with Cuba, the great world-level financial centers demand democratic changes in Cuba as a prerequisite for the needed financial support. Among these are the European Union and the United States.

This shows the need for relaunching an internal human rights and civil liberties policy aimed at improving conditions for Cubans and, at the same time, changing Cuba’s image in this respect. This is what was achieved, partially, by the freeing of the political prisoners and the approval of the Guidelines. In addition to the insufficiency of these two measures, the decision to keep strict control over all dissident activities inside the country has led to a spiral of repression whose result conflicts with the need for external financing.

In the end, just before the suspension of the European Union’s Commom Position and the Carter visit to Havana as an indication of the beginning of a conversation with the neighbor to the North, the repressive internal policies have once again removed the possibility of external financing. As a result, Europe maintains its common position and the United States applauds the changes but considers them insufficient.

The other means of financing, insufficient due to the greatness of the needs but still considerable, is the possibility of allowing Cubans to participate as business owners in the changes that are taking place, so that part of the remittances from abroad are converted into capital. But this requires a substantial change in the totalitarian mentality of Father State, who insists that Cubans, inside or outside the country, only participate in what he decides and in the way he deems best.

The government wants domestic calm for the changes, but the decision to implement changes having been made at such a late date makes this impossible. So the alternatives are to permit a certain freedom of opinion, which the country needs for these very changes to occur, or to continue repression of everyone who thinks differently.

What is going to happen? I don’t think anyone can predict this without a high margin of error, but reflecting on some issues might help. In the first place, the inertia has been broken and the government cannot or has few possibilities of going back due to the level of social disagreement and the changes that are taking place outside the control of the state in international relations as well as internally.

All roads lead through the gradual implementation of human rights but, for this, interest in retaining the model that brought about the current state must be put in the background, to be judged by history, which will either praise it or denounce it depending on the option taken.

Translated by S.Solá

June 17 2011

Cuba: the Illogic of the Single Party / Dimas Castellanos

monumento-en-el-parque-central

(Published Friday May 27, 2011 on the site: http:www.vocescubanas.com)

The common characteristics that identify the human race also have important differences that cannot be ignored. The social character–the most defining and essential peculiarity of man–manifests itself in the diversity of associations that he creates for collaboration, promotion and the defense of his interests; reality that has its reflection in the philosophical concept of unity in difference.

As the etymology of the word indicates, political parties are associations not of all of society but of a part of it; as a consequence, any intent to convert a part into a Representative of the whole, with the diversity of interests and concepts that characterize it, constitutes a violation of the right to equality before the law and political freedom. For this reason every political party self-declared to be a sole force or superior force of society, in order to impose its will has had to violate the most elemental civil and political rights of the citizens: an act against the social nature of the human race, against dignity and consequently against social progress, which has let to the global failure of single parties throughout history.

In 1878, in Cuba there were created the Partido Union Constitucional/Constitutional Union Party and the Partido Liberal/Liberal Party, one of which represented the feelings of the Spanish and the other that of the Cubans. At the end of the XIX century, the Partido Autonomista/Autonomous Party was founded; it had a reform tendency and coexisted with the Partido Revolucionario Cubano (PRC)/Cuban Revolutionary Party (PRC), which supported independence. In 1899, Diego Vicente Tejera created the Partido Socialista Cubano/Cuban Socialist Party because the interests of the workers were not represented in the liberal and conservative parties at that time. In 1925, the Partido Comunista/Communist Party was founded by a group of Cubans who believed in that ideology. In 1947, Eduardo Chibas Founded the Partido Ortodoxo/Orthodox Party because the Partido Autentico/Authentic Party he belonged to did not satisfy part of its members. Fidel Castro, who came out of the Partido Ortodoxo, after the assault on the Moncada Barracks founded the Movimiento 26 de Julio/26th of July Movement, since his insurrectionist ideas did not fit the existing associations. Each leader or social group, depending on its interests, founded one single party; none proposed the absurd idea of founding several at the same time, which makes it ridiculous to justify the current single party state under the pretext that Marti organized a single party.

The Partido Comunista de Cuba/Communist Party of Cuba, self-proclaimed “superior guiding force of society and of the state”, after offering undeniable proof of its inability, such as the violation of the time limits in its own statutes for holding congresses every five years; of not respecting agreements made in previous congresses; of lacking personnel to rotate leadership roles; when it has been obliged to initiate reforms that violate declared principles, proposes to maintain the single party rule that is one of the causes of the failure seen.

Three recent facts demonstrate that the declared intention to change everything that must be changed does not include the single party system. In the Address to the VI Congress of the Communist Party on April 16, it was proposed that the National Conference to be held in January of 2012 have among its objectives to accomplish “for today and always” the content of Article 5 of the Constitution of the Republic, which sets out the single party system. The following day the President of the National Assembly of Popular Power said “it must be taken into account that this Party is really the political organization of the Cuban nation, the legitimate heir of the Party of Marti.” But even more eloquent was the article entitled “The Idea of a Single Party is the Legacy of Jose Marti”, published on April 8 in the newspaper Granma. Since this article proposes to attribute the authorship of the single party system to the most brilliant Cuban politician of all time, I will consider the direct quotations from Marti to demonstrate the absurdity of the arguments put forward in the article.

The first quote is taken from a letter written by Marti to General Maximo Gomez in July of 1882: To whom does Cuba turn at the defining moment, now near, in which it loses all its new hope at the end of the war, the promises of Spain, and the Liberals’ policy have made it hold? It turns to all those who have found a solution outside Spain. But if this does not work, eloquent, proud, moderate, profound, a revolutionary party that inspires, by the cohesion and modesty of its men, and the sense of its projects, enough confidence to quiet the longings of the country–to whom should it turn but to the men of the annexationist party that rose up at that time? How to keep all the fans of a comfortable freedom from following them, since they think that with that solution they at the same time save their fortune and their conscience? That is the serious risk. That is why it is time for us to stand up.1

Here, as we can see, Marti proposes the need for not the party but for a party, to attract those who would follow another party, which implies the existence of others. He does not propose to substitute or eliminate but to compete. Contrary to the article in Granma, he recognizes that “at a time when political struggle is expressed increasingly between political parties that are perfectly structured and organized a party is needed that would inspire confidence due to its qualities: cohesion in its ranks, the modesty of its members, the sense of its proposals.”

The second quotation was taken from the letter to Jose Dolores Poyo of November 1887: “At some other time our war could have been a heroic outburst or an explosion of sentiment; but having learned from twenty years of fatigue (…) the Cuban war is no longer a simple military campaign in which blind bravery followed a famous leader, but rather a very complicated political problem, easy to solve if we take into account its various parts and adjust our revolutionary conduct to it, but formidable if we pretend to create a solution without paying attention to its realities, or challenging them. (…) And what is most fearful about the revolution for the very ones who want it is the confusing and personal character with which it has been presented up to now; it is the lack of a revolutionary system, with clearly objective ends, that removes from the country the fears that the revolution inspires today and replaces them with a deserved confidence in the greatness and vision that the ideals of the war will carry with it in the cordiality of those that promote it, in the stated purpose of making war for a free and dignified peace, and not for the benefit of those who only see war as a way of achieving their own power or fortune.”2

Here no commentaries are necessary. Marti clearly refers to the need for an organization, in this case a party, in order not to repeat the errors of the past. But at no time does he speak of a sole party.

The third, dated April 30, 1892, says: “Unity of thought, which in no way means servitude of opinion, is without doubt indispensable to the success of every political program, (…) To open the thinking of the Cuban Revolutionary Party to disorderly thought would be as terrible as reducing the thought of a people composed of different factions, just as is humanity, to an impossible unanimity. If by its thoughts, and by its actions based on them, the campaign of the Cuban Revolutionary Party is to be efficient and most glorious, it is most necessary that, whatever the differences of fervor or social aspiration may be, there not be seen any contradiction or inflammatory reserve or vile partialities or regretted generosity in the thinking of the Revolutionary Party. Its thought must be seen in its deeds. Man writes himself with works. Man only believes in works. If we inspire faith today, it is because we do all that we say. If our new, strong power is in our unexpected union, we would voluntarily relinquish our power if we removed its unity from our thought.”3

In this quotation Marti emphasizes the need for unity of thought within the PRC as a condition for success, but he clarifies that this would be as dangerous as reducing its thought to an impossible unanimity. And he adds something that would be good to remember: Thoughts must be seen in deeds. many must write with his works. Many only believes in deeds. The idea of the unitary party seems to have only been in the mind of the author or authors of the article, since in the quotations used that idea is obviously lacking.

According to the article, once the Spanish power was eliminated and the American military occupation imposed, Estrada Palma considered the mission of the PRC to be finished and proceeded to dissolve the party, with which he mutilated an important part of the ideas of Marti, which foresaw using the Party not only in the war against Spain but also in the founding of a republic “with all and for the good of all”. In this conclusion the article confuses the ends with the means, since Marti’s proposal was to generate the Republic out of the war.

In the resolutions of the PRC nothing appears relating to its work after the victory, while its bases clearly define that the PRC is formed “to achieve with the common efforts of all men of good will the absolute independence of the Island of Cuba and to promote and help that of Puerto Rico”; and it is not proposed to perpetuate in the Cuban Republic “the authoritarian spirit and the bureaucratic makeup of the colony but rather to found in the frank and cordial exercise of man’s legitimate capabilities a new nation and sincere democracy capable of overcoming, through the order of real work and the equilibrium of social forces, the dangers of a sudden freedom in a society composed for slavery”; and that “it is not the objective to take to Cuba a victorious group that considers the Island as its prey and dominion but rather to prepare, with as many efficient means as freedom from the foreigner permits, war that must be made for the decorum and well-being of all Cubans, and to deliver a free country to the entire country.”4

Marti established a genetic relationship between War and Republic, in which the latter had to incubate from within the former. He project the founding of the Republic, which in his ideas was form and final destination, as opposed to the war and the party, conceived as intermediate links to arrive at it [the Republic]. For this reason, in the speech “With all and for the good of all” he said: “…let us close the path to the republic that is not prepared by worthy means of man’s decorum, for the good and the prosperity of all Cubans”5; and on December 5, 1891 he wrote to Jose Dolores Poyo: “It is my dream that every Cuban be an entirely free political man…”6

Let us examine other essential Marti ideas about the PRC.

1-While in New York in January of 1880, Marti presented a critical study of the errors of the Ten Years’ War in which he included the various factors that explained the failure and consequently pointed out its causes, among them the lack of unity among the revolutionaries, in which he deduces the need for an organization to forge it.

2- In June of 1882, in a letter to Maximo Gomez, he outlined the objectives of the PRC as follows: “…I only aspire that, forming a visible cohesive body all those selfless strong men appear united by the same serious and judicious desire to give Cuba true and lasting freedom, capable of repressing their impatience as long as there is no way to remedy the evils in Cuba with a probable victory in a rapid, unanimous and grand war…”7. Faithful to those principles, Marti separated from the Gomez-Maceo Plan in 1884 and wrote to the Generalissimo: “…But there is something that is above all the personal regard which you inspire in me, and even beyond all apparent reason: and it is my determination to not give an inch, through blind love for an idea for which my life is dedicated, to bringing to my country a regime of personal despotism that would be more shameful and terrible than the political despotism it suffers from now…”8.

3-In December, 1887 he notified Maximo Gomez that the country was stumbling toward war and that it lacked “a plan that unites it and a political program that calms it.”9. Precisely for this reason he founds the PRC, as an organizing, creating and controlling institution with a conscience focused on taking the place of spontaneity and immediate action.

4-In the Resolutions of November 1891, he stated that: “The revolutionary organization must not forget the practical needs derived from the constitution and history of the country, or work directly for the current or future predominance of any class, but by its grouping, according to democratic methods, of all the living forces of the country, for the brotherhood and common action of the Cubans living abroad, for the respect and assistance of the republics of the world, and for the creation of a just and open republic…raised with all and for the good of all”10.

5-On February 17, 1892, in Our Ideas, he said: “And it is not appropriate to ask if the war is attractive or not, since no faithful soul can be attracted to it, but to organize the war so that with it comes republican peace, and after it the upheavals that have had to be suffered will not again be justifiable or necessary…”11.

6-On April 10 of the same year, in the founding act of the PRC, he reiterated that the party be created: “so that in the achievement of the independence of today go the germs of the definitive independence of tomorrow” April 12, 1893 he said: “Greatness is that of the Revolutionary Party: that to found a republic, it has begun with the republic. its strength is that: that in the work of all, the right of all. It is an idea that must be brought to Cuba: not a person”13. It appears that the content of these two quotations led the author of the article published in Granma to think they referred to a supposed task of the PRC after the victory.

7-In the Manifesto of Montecristi signed jointly with Maximo Gomez on March 25, 1895, he stated that war is not “the unhealthy triumph of one Cuban party over another, or even the humiliation of one mistaken group of Cubans but the solemn demonstration of the will of a country that is fed up as proven in the previous war to launch itself lightly into a conflict that must end only with a victory or in the tomb”14.

The common point in the quotations taken from the Granma article, and in those I add, is that the founding of the PRC was conceived as an organizing, controlling and consciousness-raising institution in order to take the place of spontaneity and immediate action, encourage unity among the combatants, replace caudillism, personalism, and direct the war as a tactical necessity part of a larger strategy, as an intermediate link in order to give birth to the Nation and construct the Republic with all and for the good of all. Its functions were laid out so that from its center would arise the seeds of a definitive independence, not to represent a social class or the revolutionaries but all Cubans, not for elective gain, not to dominate and prohibit the existence of different parties after the victory, not to cancel out popular participation, not to declare that the street and the university belong to the revolutionaries, not the jail those who think differently. Realities that demonstrate Marti’s democratic and humanistic ideas are not only far from but contradictory to the practice of a single party system.

The unnatural character of the makeup of Cuba’s single party system is such that for its establishment they had to eliminate all the other political parties and the variety of existing associations, from which process emerged a “perfect” model of a totalitarian regime and, with it, stagnation and failure.

Even accepting the absurd thesis that Marti foresaw after the victory using the Party in the founding of the Republic, one would have to also accept the contrary thesis that, due to his deeply democratic philosophy, he would do it in competition with the existing parties, not by declaring on his own that his would be the only party. Neither did any of the delegates to the constitutional assemblies of Jimaguayú (1895) and de la Yaya (1897)–among which there were followers of Marti’s ideas such as Fermín Valdés Domínguez and Enrique Loynaz del Castillo–propose to include any article of that type, which demonstrates the absence of such an intent. Another resounding proof is the difference of interests and of social composition of the revolutionary groups in Florida, New York and inside Cuba, a diversity that Marti called on for the war but which after the victory manifested itself naturally in the variety of classifications and purposes.

For all of these reasons, the purpose of defining the role of the Communist Party as the organized vanguard of the nation in the coming National Conference should be corrected, for the good of all Cubans and in respect for Jose Marti. And in its place political differences should be legalized and the right to free association instituted, so that in the presence of other parties, the Communist Party might demonstrate or not its capacity to call itself vanguard, but above all, so that Cubans become citizens and play the active role that belongs to them in the destiny of the nation.

1 MARTI, JOSE. Selected Works in three volumes. Havana, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 2000. Volume I, p. 326.

2 Marti, Jose. Complete Works. Havana, Editoria de Ciencias Sociales, 1991. Volume I, pp 211-212

3 Marti, Jose. Complete Works. Havana, Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 1991. Volume I, p. 424

4 MARTI, JOSE, Selected Works in three volumes. Volume III, pp.26-27

5 MARTI, JOSE. Selected Works in three volumes. Volume III, pp.9-10

6 MARTI, JOSE. Selected Works in three volumes. Volume III, pp 24-25

7MARTI, JOSE. Selected Works in three volumes. V I, P.325

8 MARTi, JOSE. Selected Works in three volumes. V I, p.459

9 MARTI, JOSE. Selected Works in three volumes. V II, p.211

10 MARTI, JOSE. Resolutions taken by Cuban emigrants in Tampa and Key West in November 1891. Selected Works in three volumes. V III, p.23

11 MARTI, JOSE. Selected Works in three volumes. V III, p.65

12 MARTI, JOSE. Selected Works in three volumes. V III, p.99

13MARTI, JOSE. Selected Works in three volumes. V III, p.192

14MARTI JOSE. Selected Works in three volumes. V III, p.511

Translated by S. Solá

June 3 2011

Present Urgencies, Future Imperatives for Cuba / Dimas Castellanos

Last Thursday April 28, as part of the lecture series that regularly takes place in the Fray Bartolome de las Casas Room, Mr. Roberto Veiga, editor of the journal Lay Space, took as his topic “Present Urgencies, Future Imperatives of Cuba,” which was presided over by an emotional and illustrated introduction from Brother Manuel Uña, rector of the Dominican Center. Veiga began expounding on the theoretical assumptions of his thesis, structured around three core concepts: equality, freedom and fraternity.

Based on the beliefs of Father Felix Varela, he defined equality as the right that every person possesses, to have his merits and perfections appreciated. After that he delimited three kinds of equalities: natural, social and legal. The first one indicates the identity of the human being; the second one equal participation in social goods and the third refers to the assignment of rights and the imposition of rewards and penalties, that is, equality before the law. From this conceptual framework he failed to mention some vital aspects, from which I selected 12:

1. Racial equality, guaranteed by law but transgressed in daily basis. Regarding this matter he admitted the existence of a debate and established the need to facilitate it ,widen it and incorporate cultural and educational policies in order to solve it.

2. About the economic model he stated that the material and human precariousness we suffer damage freedom, equality and fraternity. Therefore, the need for its readjustment, for the decisive role of work to resolve full employment and make society more equal, fraternal and free; this represents a difficult task because it is impossible to be profitable with the current over employment.

3. About economic decentralization, he warned that it may increase the unemployment rate, generating more poverty and weakness. Therefore it is necessary to decentralize, at the same time creating means to ease the pain and to create jobs as soon as possible. Also, he considered that wide foreign and investment should be a priority every initiative coming from the citizens should be insitutionalized; for that purpose it will be necessary to establish fraternity as a social culture.

4. He considered that education should be free and obligatory up to the 9th grade, which, of course, led to the valid opinion of allowing this education to have a private variant. He also said that too much of a differentiation in basic education could originate an educational unbalance and lack of integration of the new generations. Therefore, the public school system should incorporate some academic freedom, pedagogical plurality and the possibility of learning religion and the most broad scope of philosophical, sociological, legal, economic and political knowledge.

5.He stated that to enjoy the equalities required by the human implies access to greater shares of freedom. But the current Fundamental Law limits the freedoms to be exercised in conformity to the goals of socialism and as a logical result the exercise of freedom is conditioned to this boundary. Mr. Veiga prefers a society that guarantees the broadest political and ideological spectrum, but assured that he would feel satisfied if we deploy all these ideals and means in a participatory and consensual manner.

6. He spoke of the crucial issue of political freedom, which limits citizens’ real capacity to act, especially when the citizen diverges from the official ideology. Addressing the question of how to guarantee the political freedom under such conditions, he considered that the best solution is to open the possibility to allow other political associations.

7. About the debate on the documents of the Sixth Congress of the PCC, said the ongoing dialogue process, mainly on economic issues, signals the existence of attitudes that can derail the path of achieving a consensus. On one side there are groups opposed to the government, with an enormous incapacity to recognize its legitimacy and to establish a dialogue with it. On the other side an official class that, in many cases, is afraid of any change and tries to strangle any debate. It is sad because we are living at the right time to jointly contribute to the search for a Cuba where we all can fit together.

8. In this regard, he stressed that a generalized agreement over the principles on which Cuban society should be based and the means to realize it, designed in a way shared by the population, could provide the national enthusiasm to devote to sculpting a community effort based on fraternity and diversity. At this point he reminded us that the Cuban bishops, in the Pastoral letter, Love Endures All Things, proposed a dialogue between Cubans, frank, friendly and free, not to get even and establish responsibilities, nor to silence the adversary and vindicate the past, but let the other to have a vast discussion; a dialogue not so much to find out the whys, but the what fors, because all the whys always discover a blame and all the what fors bring by themselves a hope. A consensus that could lead us also towards an important and necessary constitutional reform.

9. He stated the importance of the family for the formation of people and nations, its condition as the fundamental cell of the society, requires it to be guaranteed all the rights it demands and intensive support so that a responsible development can be achieved.

10. When referring to the political arena, which traditionally possesses a substantial influence in the social and institutional conduct of the country, he inferred the need for an institutional public network through which every citizen could fraternally contribute to achieve his or her freedom and equality and that of others, which he named the democracy of consensus.

11. He referred to the administration of the court system, which must gain relevance in comparison to the all other public institutions and offer a highly professional treatment, given its character as a guarantor of justice. Regarding the National Assembly, he stated that all candidates should be elected as a result of an authentic process in the heart of social organizations which represent different sectors of the population, and act as a catalyst between the society and the state. About this he said, “What I can say is that in the future this should imply that the people can directly elect the top figure in the government, as well as revoke his office, which would result in a widening of freedom and equality.”

12. To close, he stated that the current president , Raul Castro, has the historic mission of facilitate this process, but also he comprehends, he said, that there is a little time left for such a huge task.

At the end of his exposition, clear and precise, Mr. Veiga was rewarded by his audience with one of the most prolonged ovations in the history of that academic auditorium.

(Published in the Diario de Cuba (www.ddcuba.com) on May 13 2011.

Translated by: Adrian Rodriguez

May 13 2011