Present Urgencies, Future Imperatives for Cuba / Dimas Castellanos
Dimas Castellanos, Translator: Adrian Rodriguez
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
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
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