14ymedio, Luz Escobar and Mario J. Pentón, Havana/Miami | 27 August 2020 — Thousands of followers of Alex Otaola have enthusiastically received the creation of the People’s Party, announced on Tuesday by the Cuban presenter living in Miami. This initiative wants to be an “alternative” to the monopoly exercised by the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC), the only one authorized on the island.
On the other hand, opposition groups within the island and in exile have been more cautious about the new proposal.
“The other opposition groups are not political parties, they are movements. None have presented themselves as a political party. There have been no elections or voting,” Otaola told el Nuevo Herald. “We have a plan for governance. We want to stand up to the Cuban Communist Party (PCC). People will be able to register, vote, participate. The other initiatives call for actions, I don’t think this is a reason for problems or divisions, it is something that comes together.”
“We want it to have its own leaders, that the people can decide, so that we can present ourselves to the world as the organized opposition that is proposing a path, a change,” he said.
Otaola assured that he “values, respects and admires” the work of the different opposition groups and that his initiative does not seek to divide, but rather “to join forces in a common idea, in what brings us together.”
As he explained to this newspaper, his “detractors” have begun to attack his initiative, “without analyzing it.”
The influencer said he has not received any response from exile and diaspora leaders to his proposal, but that “it is still early for that.”
Otaola stressed that his intention is not “to become a political leader, or to be the president of a party,” nor does he completely rule out being elected as a representative of the People’s Party.
Members of the People’s Party may be those “born in Cuba, or descendants of Cubans up to the third generation, regardless of their place of residence.” As explained by the new party, the organization will allow double membership during the first four years, “with the exception of those affiliated with the Communist Party.”
The website of the new party initially presented a list of “founders” that served as a reference to the creators of this project, but the list was later deleted.
Regime opponent Martha Beatriz Roque, a former political prisoner of the Black Spring Group of 75, told 14ymedio that the list included “the names of the people who they say are the founders” but later said “were the inspirers.”
“The fact that you inspire the party should be an acknowledgment, but in this case all the names are intermixed and people have called me and I did not know of the existence of the party although my name was there,” she said.
“I think that was not ethical enough to start with, it was not as beautiful as possible,” said the leader of the Network of Community Journalists and Communicators. “I am not a member of any party nor do I plan to be.”
Otaola said it was “a mistake” that was made when creating the list. “They are inspiring, ideologues on whom we rely to create this party. We do not want them to believe that we are disrespectful, but rather pay tribute to the best ideas within the opposition,” he said.
From Miami, Eliécer Ávila, leader of the Somos+ [We are More] Political Movement, said he was “very happy” that a “new political option” has been born for Cubans. “If we bring together some Cubans to fight for freedom, José Daniel Ferrer does the same with UNPACU and Otaola does the same with the People’s Party, there will be more of is in the fight against tyranny. From Somos+ you can expect all kinds of collaboration,” he expressed.
For the regime opponent and academic Manuel Cuesta Morúa, “any attempt to unite Cubans wherever they are” is valid and positive “to try to promote change as a whole.”
“What I would like to emphasize is that, speaking of epicenters, all efforts from abroad must take into account that the epicenter of change is Cuba and these efforts should be aimed at supporting initiatives that can be promoted or encouraged within Cuba, to try to achieve democratic change,” he told this newspaper by telephone.
Lawyer Eloy Viera, for his part, explained to el Nuevo Herald that another “electoralist” party, as is, in his opinion, the one proposed by Otaola, “does not make a difference.”
“My biggest concern with what Otaola proposes is that it is not a party that seeks the union of Cubans, but rather to take for granted a group of issues that are still being discussed today and that directly affect Cubans who have to actively participate in a change in Cuba: those from within,” said Viera.
He also pointed out that the program they propose “aims to solve a problem at a stroke that does not admit a single legal solution, since the discussions around the matter are very disparate.”
Viera stressed that the program omits “the way to return sovereignty to the people.”
“They intend to offer a program of governance, which goes as far as considering the number of ministries, but it is unable to offer an institutional system that really says how the people are going to enjoy that sovereignty,” he said.
“In practice, even in the liberal system where you live [United States], popular sovereignty is only achieved through institutions,” he said.
However, he pointed out that as an “option that enriches the necessary diversity that must exist in Cuba” the project seems “respectable.”
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