Cuba is Not Brazil or Venezuela / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos
14ymedio, Pedro Campos, Havana, 24 May 2016 – The receding tide of the
populist wave in Latin America, in particular the delicate situation in
Venezuela and the ouster of Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, has
uncovered all kinds of speculation about the supposed relationship of
cause and effect controlling political-economic and social process in Cuba.
Those who are still waiting for the problems within the island to be
solved believe they can be resolved from outside, while the 'statist
fundamentalists' take advantage of the 'threat' to entrench themselves
in their anti-democratic and anti-socialist positions.
However, Cuba is not Brazil or Venezuela, in any sense. Its processes
have different origins, circumstances and dissimilar dynamics of
development and, therefore, an evolution that proceeds along uneven paths.
Suffice it to recall that this populist wave began almost 40 years after
the triumph of the Cuban Revolution of 1959, at a time of the sharp
decline, due to natural exhaustion, and the disappearance of the
socialist camp, and that Hugo Chavez came to power through democratic
means, subject to the general principles of democracy and its mechanisms.
Now, it is precisely the setting aside of these democratic institutions
and the assumption of authoritarianism that is at the center of the
reversal of that wave.
This has nothing to do with the emergence and evolution of the Cuban
political process, its origin and its authoritarian essence. It emerged
as an offshoot of the violence and social polarization inherited from
Batista's coup d'etat and the subsequent armed confrontation. This made
possible a government that went against the grain of the demand for
democracy that served as a base of support for the fight against the
Batista dictatorship and that was built on the confrontation between the
United States and the USSR, during the Cold War.
The "socialism of the Cuban state," which is neither socialist nor
Cuban, was not what inspired this wave, but it rode it for its own
benefit, encouraged the confrontation with "American imperialism" that
feeds the geopolitics of its subsistence and, in any case, encouraged
its authoritarian and state-centric tendencies that brought it to the
We mustn't forget that it was Chavez and his oil that made possible the
abandonment of the reforms forced by the fall of the socialist camp and
the subsequent so-called "Special Period in a Time of Peace" in Cuba—a
time of severe economic crisis after the loss of the Soviet subsidies.
We must also remember that the paradigms of the so-called 21st Century
Socialism, which originated and gave strength to this wave, were related
to democracy and participatory budgets leading to greater citizen
involvement in decision making of all kinds, with the direct
intervention of workers in the property, management and distribution of
wealth and the Marxist concept of the law of value, pushed by Hugo
Chavez, Heinz Dieterich and the People's Summit held in Cochabamba,
Bolivia, in 2006.
These fundamentals were never adopted by the Cuban
government-party-state and later were gradually abandoned by Chavez
himself in favor of state-centrism.
This phase of decline depresses the influence of the Cuban government in
the region and could affect the support that, for Cuba's state
monopolies, are represented by Venezuelan oil and the billions of
dollars Cuba obtains in "leasing fees" for Cuba doctors and paramedical
personnel hired out in "medical missions" abroad.
But from there to an assumption that the Cuban government is threatened,
is quite a stretch. To expect regional pressures in support of respect
for human, political and civil rights, yes; to imagine a regional
isolation similar to the 1960s, no. Suffice it to recall the new
scenario in Cuba-US relations and the possibilities for economic exchange.
"Only Revolutionaries can destroy this Revolution," Fidel Castro said in
November 2005 at the University of Havana. This is true: the most
dangerous enemies of the Cuban political process, who have been leading
it to stagnation and to the "abyss," are those who themselves are
entrenched in power and who stubbornly impede the advance toward the
democratization of politics and the socialization of the economy.
The political system defined by a dictatorship of the proletariat,
originating in Stalinist Russia and perfected by the guerrillas in
power, liquidated the opposition early on, eliminated its material base
of support by nationalizing everything, and excluded all of the
democratic mechanisms—multi-party elections and the full exercise of
civil and political rights, the recall referendum process, impeachment,
and a democratic constitution—essential to confronting authoritarianism.
These mechanisms must be created from below.
Thus, democratization will be a process, not an act, that demands the
creation of an atmosphere of relaxation and harmony that can facilitate
an inclusive national dialog; the recognition of fundamental freedoms;
moving to a new Constitution that is the fruit of the creation and
democratic and horizontal discussion of the Cuban people and approved by
referendum; promulgation of a new democratic electoral law; and the
establishment of a modern state of law with full functional and
informational transparency, under permanent popular control: a Republic
that is democratic, humanist and supportive, one in which there is room
Source: Cuba is Not Brazil or Venezuela / 14ymedio, Pedro Campos –
Translating Cuba -