Speaking with one voice / Antonio Rodiles

ANTONIO G. RODILES, Havana, 4 February 2015 – Days ago the attorney Rene Gomez Manzano wrote an article about the similarities of the Roadmap formulated by the Forum for Rights and Freedoms and the four points of the Civil Society Open Forum. Upon hearing yesterday of the regime opponent Manuel Cuesta Morua’s remarks at the US Senate hearing on Cuba, it seems appropriate to me to point out as clearly as possible what are the points on which the two predominant positions within the Cuban opposition agree and differ.

The announcement by President Barack Obama last December 17 polarized the opposition into two trends. The essential differences between the two groups are not only about whether or not they support the measures launched by Obama, but the focus on how we conceive the transition and the kind of country we see in the future.

Both positions show our commitment to democracy, human rights and the end of totalitarianism. But are we giving the exact same same connotation to these terms?

Obama’s policy is applauded by those joined together in the Open Space, which has several visible elements:

  1. It gives legitimacy to the regime to restore diplomatic relations, that is it accepts the government as legitimate.
  1. There is no roadmap or preconditions for the political process although it mentions four points without fixing a methodology.
  1. It accepts that the transition process will be principally, at least at the beginning, in the hands of the political actors of the regime, which presupposes that they will be part of the future of the island.
  1. It considers that the democratic changes will come as an evolution of supposed economic transformations that the regime will be motivated or pressured to pursue from the new measures implemented.
  1. And something that has not formed part of the measures but that has happened in practice, it accepts that the Obama administration gives preference to those from the opposition and within the Island, who share this view.

Those of us who join together in the Forum believe that the political process must be based on a different logic:

  1. The Cuban regime is not a government elected by the people and therefore is not legitimate for representing a sovereign people, although for reasons of logical survival we have to accept certain rules. As a sovereign people, i.e. as Cubans, we have the right to demand with regards to the relations of democratic nations with our country.
  1. We do not conceive the future of Cuba in the hands of the political heirs and relatives of the Castro. We will not join the construction of a new authoritarianism that will continue the process of destruction of our nation.
  1. We consider that any political process must have full transparency in its objectives, must be well considered if it is to at least have some certainties at the end. Hence the Roadmap with the points raised.
  1. Human rights and the promotion of democracy, as primary objectives, should not be masked by other elements. They must be shown especially to the Cuban people, confused after 57 years of dictatorship, so they can decide in what direction they want to take this country.
  1. So yes, it belongs to Cubans, inside the Island and in exile, to find their way, giving space to the political actors of civil society to give direction to the real changes.

It is time to discuss with total clarity. The serious and direct debate should be in the maturation of the actors and the political scenario. The distinct visions about how to construct a nation are natural and healthy, but we can play our roles effectively only if there is a certain political confidence among the actors. Perhaps we do not form a symphony orchestra, although we could be a jazz ensemble, where everyone plays their parts without strident or abusive sounds.