Thursday, February 20, 2014

Communist Cuba to see rare political reform campaign

Communist Cuba to see rare political reform campaign

Havana (AFP) - A campaign seeking political change in one-party
Communist Cuba will soon be launched with backing from domestic and
international groups, a prominent dissident announced Wednesday.

The campaign seeks to gather the 10,000 signatures necessary under Cuban
law to submit a constitutional reform measure to the National Assembly.

"It is more important to change the nature of power than to change those
exercising power," dissident Manuel Cuesta Morua told reporters as he
unveiled the effort.

Cuba's constitution does not currently allow more than one political
party. The dissidents will likely press hard to have the communist
island adopt a multi-party political system.

Dissident groups are of several minds on whether economically devastated
Cuba should go back to its 1940 constitution, make changes to its 1976
current socialist model or just opt for a new charter altogether.

Cuesta Morua said the reform bid would bring together several Cuba
opposition groups and actively launch in May with events in Cuba, the US
states of Florida and New Jersey, Puerto Rico and Spain.

View gallery
Cuban opposition leader Manuel Cuesta Morua during a press conference in
Havana, on September 16, 20 …
In May 2002, the Christian Liberation Movement headed by the now
deceased political activist Oswaldo Paya introduced a similar initiative
in the legislature.

At the time, it was the single biggest public political confrontation
the Communist government had faced in decades.

But the National Assembly declined to take up the measure.

Instead, lawmakers adopted a constitutional reform stating that the
socialist nature of the Cuban regime was "irrevocable," suggesting no
political opening was possible under the current constitution or regime.

- Times better for change? -

"Today, we think conditions are better for citizens to support an
initiative of this kind," Manuel Cuesta said.

"Now, there is basically a political no man's land in terms of where the
government's legitimacy stems from."

There was no immediate public comment from the government led by
President Raul Castro, 82.

Cuba, which has been reluctant to allow significant political or
economic change, considers dissidents "mercenaries" in Washington's pay.

Cuba's infrastructure is feeble, and it is economically isolated. It
depends on its close ally Venezuela for subsidized oil to keep the
lights on in a nation of 11 million.

After five decades of the same regime, Havana controls the vast majority
of the economy -- though it has allowed more self-employment after
firing thousands from government jobs.

Shortages are widespread, with incomes averaging $20 a month. Corruption
is a major issue and stealing from the government and tourist facilities
such as restaurants is rampant.

All media are state-run and free speech and free association are not

Source: Communist Cuba to see rare political reform campaign - Yahoo
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