The Regenerative Power of NO!

“This project has not been prepared by a Constituent Assembly composed of delegates elected through an electoral process with all the guarantees.” Source: Granma, Cuba’s major newspaper, owned Communist Party.

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Ariel Hidalgo, Miami, 1 December 2018 — A patriarchal group that has governed Cuba for 60 years is presenting a project for a revised constitution to become the law of the country. But this cosntitutional project has not been prepared by a Constituent Assembly, one composed of delegates chosen through an electoral process with all the guarantees of free and fair elections, as is supposed to be done in a truly democratic country. Rather it was prepared by a team of hand-picked editors.

The word ‘party’ comes from ‘part’, so it is clear that this project represents only a part of the population and not all the currents of thought among the citizenship, so it cannot really be considered the fruit of the popular will. This revised Constitution would reaffirm the violation of elementary rights of human beings, rights such as free association, free expression and the free activity of citizens to seek their own prosperity. The response of citizens before this consultation should be: No!

Our great problem as a nation is that we have spent our existence saying ‘Yes’ or, at least, shutting up when we should have said ‘No’. When a group of soldiers perpetrated a coup to overthrow a democratically elected president and abolish the Constitution, we did not throw ourselves into the streets to shout with one voice: “No!” And that was the beginning of our current misfortunes.

Then a group of supposed redeemers arrived and, in gratitude for our presumed liberation, we blindly obeyed everything they imposed on us. Why have free elections? Why reinstate the violated Constitution if those chosen by providence were there to guide us on a path of freedom and prosperity? If you idolize a caudillo and elevate him to an altar, that false god will rule your destiny with an iron fist.

This group that at other times has also persecuted and repressed citizens for their sexual orientation, for their religious practices and even for their artistic preferences, and who later had to tolerate even the veneration of a saint, the gay pride celebrations, and even erect a statue to John Lennon, has not ceased to be the same, but has had to yield to the swell of the people practicing civil disobedience in silence.

Now is the time to impose the right to think differently and to respect the different options and preferences of the population in spheres such as the economy, the social and the political, and for all us us to united in a single force to say ‘No’ to this constitution that they want to impose on us.

There are those who still believe that the correct attitude is to abstain, to refuse to go to the polls in response to the electoral consultations staged by the powers-that-be, that everything is a farce, that they will manipulate the counting of the votes and that the ‘consultation’ on the revised constitution will be legitimized by the attendance at the polls of those without power.

But this option to abstain has been chosen many times and has been repeated before the deaf ears of citizens for whom it is not easy to abstain in a country where one’s absence at the polling stations marks you as disaffected and where the pro-government organizations pressure you to participate, while it is less noticed to go and vote ‘No’ in the privacy of the polling place.

And today, in this world, abstention is nothing new in any country, but rather the most frequent response of a humanity tired of corruption and the lies of politicians. It is not seen as rejection but as laziness, a laziness that in a certain way also means acceptance, because those who call the elections win. That is why we must urge citizens to go to the polls and to vote ‘No’.

That Power will to manipulate the results is known, but with an overwhelming vote in favor of ‘No’ the truth would filter out through all corners and crevices, and run through different and unsuspected trajectories, like the flood of a river. And if the majority is reached, a vigorous minority will suffice to be impressive in a world where fear has always reigned, and where unanimity is demanded. And it will send a clear message to those who still collaborate with the regime, whether through fear, opportunism, or ignorance, among which there are officials, soldiers, and Party militants.

Let them know that the winds are already blowing in the opposite direction, announcing the proximity of a renewing storm. And if the fearful begin to lose their fear, and the opportunists to rethink their unconditional support, and the ignorant to question what until then they accepted blindly, that will be the beginning of the end of that world built on the basis of the lie.

Because no one governs without the consent of the governed, that is, of the people or a part of that people, and if this part finally decides to live in the truth, that world crumbles like night shadows before the luminous rays of dawn.

The campaign for ‘No’, could also bear an invaluable fruit: the confluence of the renewing forces that fight for change. The real fronts and coalitions are not made around a table, but in joint work and struggle. And there is no time more than now that requires the bringing together of all the opposition ranks in a single force capable of peacefully defeating ‘Yes’.

Because this campaign could not win any isolated group against a regime that has a monopoly over all the mass media. But in the face of a united front for ‘No’, it would be able to achieve victory. Our differences, our different projects and perspectives, a reflection of the polychromatic richness that we represent, far from distancing us, unites us like a rainbow in the defense of freedom of thought in the face of those who want to impose, by force, a sterile unanimity.

A consensual, measured call is needed, one that convincingly exposes the reasons for voting ‘No’, the fruit of the representative ranks of all currents of thought that, consequently, can be presented, alien to all partisanship and ideology, in the name of — and as the voice of — a whole civil society that until today has remained silent, gagged by censorship.

It could, with the cooperation of all, be published on all the networks, blogs and circulated hand-to-hand in neighborhoods, workplaces, universities, in theaters and seminars and other cultural activities, and thus expose Power’s manipulation of the results.

Such a joint document would not require its editors to gather at any meeting place, it would not take more travel than browsing through cyberspace, or more room to host delegates than a virtual site.

There is no need to fear campaigning for ‘No’, because it is a legitimate right to inform citizens about the other side of the coin of what the leadership wants to impose through coercion and fear. Because in a real popular consultation in which it is legal to vote for one of the two options, and Power has all the means to advocate for one of them, it must also be lawful to defend the opposite option.

Let us all be united in a single force capable of peacefully defeating the governmental proposal. Everyone vote ‘No’!


Editor’s note: Ariel Hidaldo is a writer and historian.

The 14ymedio team is committed to serious journalism that reflects the reality of deep Cuba. Thank you for joining us on this long road. We invite you to continue supporting us, but this time by becoming a member of 14ymedio. Together we can continue to transform journalism in Cuba.