Friday, January 30, 2015

Do Obama’s measures promote democratic change on the Island?

Do Obama's measures promote democratic change on the Island? / Antonio
Posted on January 29, 2015

Diario de Cuba, Antonio G. Rodiles, Havana, 28 January 2015 — The recent
visits to Havana by American legislators and by Assistant Secretary of
State Roberta Jacobson, have reawakened controversy over the
transparency in the process of political dialogue between the Obama
administration and the Castro regime. So far, the aim of furthering a
previously determined plan has been evident, as well as raising the
profile of those political actors who support and conform to this policy.

Indispensable voices from the opposition movement have been
conspicuously absent from the meetings held. Equally apparent was the
reluctance to have a balance of opinions in these contacts.

On multiple occasions, in support of the new policy, the Obama
administration has posited the premise that the Cuban people should be
the ones who guide the process of change on the Island. This
pronouncement implicitly seeks approval for the new measures and opens
the door to strong criticisms of those of us who reject the
unconditionality — and the notable lack of transparency and consensus —
that have characterized the start of this process.

This premise, presented simplistically and with an added dose of false
nationalism, tries to label those of us who demand firm commitments to
the advancement of democracy and human rights,as individuals who are
incapable of assuming our political responsibilities — stuck in the past
or wanting foreign governments to come in and make the needed changes.
The administration's theory is curiously parallel to the old idea of
"national sovereignty" employed by the regime for so many years and
echoed as a part of the arguments of the self-declared "loyal" opposition.

Do Obama's measures promote the Cuban people's empowerment, insofar as
their civil and political rights are concerned? Can the opposition
generate a broad social compact, given the degrees of control,
repression and impunity with which the regime operates? Are there
guarantees that the new measures will generate a Cuban entrepreneurial
class in the medium term? Can Cuban society move toward a Rule of Law,
given the atomization, evasion and corruption in which the vast majority
of Cubans live?

If we are realists, the answers are obvious. The current Cuba only
functions through corruption and patronage. We lack the legal framework
that permits the empowerment of the people in any aspect. There cannot
exist any broad and extensive leadership by Cuban democrats and
entrepreneurs as long as the regime can maintain these high levels of
repression and social control without paying a large political price.
And a peaceful transition to full democracy requires such leadership.

Peaceful and sufficiently ordered transitions of despotic regimes to
democracies have occurred under intense international pressure coupled
with an effective internal push. Political results have emerged when
these regimes sense that their permanence in power is impossible and
they start to fear that a total social collapse will put them in
disadvantageous or dangerous situations.

The continued presence of the political heirs as a part of the new
system is one of the flashpoints in any transition. Experience also
shows that, in the majority of cases, this continued presence brings
with it an inheritance of corruption and a web of influences, and that
it ultimately hijacks the genuine interests in building full
democracies. To allow a transfer of power to the heirs correlates to
perpetuating the poverty of the Cuban people, and sacrificing the future
of our nation in the medium and long terms.

The dialogue conducted by the current American administration has not
achieved even the release of all political prisoners and the annulment
of their sentences. Many of the freed prisoners were released
conditionally and not to full liberty. Such is the case of the 12
prisoners from the wave of repression of 2003, released in 2010, who
decided to remain in Cuba and who now find themselves on parole and
prohibited from traveling outside the country. This dialogue also has
not managed to prevent further imprisonments and waves of arrests, such
as the ones that occurred at the end of 2014 and start of the new year.

To insist on the idea that Cubans don't understand fundamental rights
and that only basic necessities are their priority demonstrates
ignorance of our reality and gives a biased view of our genuine
democratic aspirations. Freedoms don't need to be explained; even when
they have not been experienced, the human being can recognize them. We
Cubans are not the exception.

A probable failure of this political process would be very harmful for
all concerned, but most of all for the Cuban people. The Obama
administration should combine effective pressure on the regime with the
consensual work of a large group of democratic actors from within the
Island and in exile. If the desired ultimate result is truly the
democratization of our nation, a change of direction is needed.

Translated by Alicia Barraqué Ellison

Source: Do Obama's measures promote democratic change on the Island? /
Antonio Rodiles | Translating Cuba -

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