Political Marginalization and the Citizen / Dimas Castellano
Posted on June 20, 2013
Published in Curazao, issue 24
May 3, 2013
The marginality, an effect of exclusion, is a phenomenon that prevents
or limits the enjoyment of certain rights. It manifests itself in all
social relations, including politics. In these lines I circumscribe the
case of Cuba, where the revolutionary process swept civic participation
mechanisms and replaced by others, created and subservient to the state.
Citizens participate independently in matters of interest through civil
society organizations of which it is part. Also involved electing
representatives to positions in government; in this case there is the
risk that the elected turn their back to their commitments to the
voters, as repeatedly occurred during the Republic. Precisely this fact
served as an argument to the insurrectional process that took power in
1959 with a commitment to restore the 1940 constitution and call
The elections are important for the people as long as they express the
public opinion. But public opinion and electoral democracy are the
foundation of the building. Then comes the building, meaning, the system
of government as a hierarchical structure where power goes from the
majority to a minority. So depending on decisions made by that minority
whether or not they represent the best interests of their constituents,
we face a democratic or undemocratic government, demonstrating that
elections are necessary but not sufficient.
The seizure of power by the revolutionaries in 1959 provoked a violent
break with the established system. It replaced the Constitution of 1940
and with it the institutional base. Then the revolution, which has
become a source of law, swept away civil society and all the spaces that
were instruments of civic participation. The country headed towards the
totalitarianism that penetrated the entire social fabric, liquidated
political pluralism and thus eradicated the concept of citizen.
Seventeen years later, in 1976, a constitution was adopted that
legalized the marginalization of the people in politics.
Since then, Cubans were limited to electing district delegates.
Thereafter, where the destiny of the nation is decided, the Candidacy
Commissions created by the same power, decide the candidates for all
positions in government, from the municipality to the National Assembly
of People's Power; meanwhile the people are reduced to confirming the
propositions of said Committees. As an end result there exists a
government that has been predetermined. This explains the excessively
prolonged time leaders remain in positions of power, indicating the
nonexistence of democracy and evidence that the elections, as a
manifestation of popular sovereignty, are something that remains pending.
The Cuban case demonstrates that democracy — the best instrument of the
people to exercise their freedoms — is fragile. Its strength depends on
civic education, the rebuilding of civil society independent of the
state and the reconversion of Cubans into citizens; it is the only way
out of political marginalization.
Translated by Roots of Hope
27 May 2013
Source: "Political Marginalization and the Citizen / Dimas Castellano |
Translating Cuba" -