End of Year Declaration / Rafael León Rodríguez

Rafael Leon Rodriguez, 30 December 2016 — One more year of the young third millennium is about to conclude and give way to the next, 2017, the fifty-eighth of the totalitarian and one-party regime that, under the omnipotent power of the Castros, has controlled the Cuban archipelago since the middle of the last century.

This year, which is now over, has witnessed important and hopeful political events on the islands, framed fundamentally in the real opportunity of an opening towards a new, prosperous and plural state of law.

The visit to Havana of the President of the United States of America, Barack Obama, last March, certified the political will of the head of the US executive branch of government to accompany us in this essential and urgent task.

The European Union, for its part, recently concluded an agreement with Cuba to try to leave behind the so-called Common Position and to make viable other political openings.

The refusal of the Cuban authorities to take positive steps in terms of civil and political rights of citizens — that promote their plural participation in the political and economic development of society — has stopped the start of this process of democratic opportunities.

The other significant event of the year that will soon end was the physical disappearance of Fidel Castro. The fall of the founder of the dictatorial regime began, actually, ten years ago, in July of 2006 when, due to health problems, he was forced to hand over power to his brother Raúl. This transit towards the end, announced in some way, concluded last November.

But in our opinion, all this recent history must be analyzed and projected in the future, which obviously does not imply erasing historical memory. Cuba and the Cubans deserve a better present and a hopeful future.

However, so far, the authorities are reluctant to take steps in the direction of respect for civil liberties and the human rights of society. Worse still, they have increased repression and harassment of peaceful opponents and open dissent. This reality, coupled with the uncertainty caused by statements by the US President-elect Mr. Donald Trump on migratory issues, which may have some effect on certain modifications to the Cuban Adjustment Act, have once again triggered a citizen exodus in all directions.

The country’s economic scenario also remains stressed, a victim of lack of productivity and government contradictions. Right now, President Raúl Castro informed the National Assembly that we are in an “economic recession.” The nation’s GDP decreased 0.9% in 2016.

The historical dependence of specific countries, as for example in recent times to Venezuela, paralyzes us when they suffer adverse situations. In these December declarations to Parliament, the president also assured us that Cuba would not return to the capitalism. Nevertheless, he called for work to boost foreign investment.

That is: the investment of foreign capitalists in Cuba. Then: capitalism in Cuba, but not of Cubans. Is not this a contradiction and an absurdity? In essence we continue to live under the effects of a systemic crisis that, of course, will only be resolved when the prevailing system changes. A system that has already provided evidence that proves that it has not been successful in those Western countries where they have implemented it. And we belong to that part of the world: the Western Hemisphere.

In recent years, Cuban institutions dealing with statistical issues have been warning of the accelerated aging of the population. And even, they warn about the decrease of the population, saying that we will never reach 12 million people. False. We are already more than that, scattered all over the world. Therefore, we must begin by recovering them through a necessary new law.

One Constitution that we contemplate recognizes all of us, through dual citizenship, with rights and duties as equals, without privileges of individuals, groups or classes. Beginning a process of democratization involving all the children of the Cuban nation and based on the United Nations Human Rights Covenants, which have been signed by the Cuban authorities and now are only awaiting ratification and implementation.

Then and only then, we will leave behind the crises and will begin a new era of progress towards modernity, prosperity and the common good, with all, for all and in Peace.