Cubans in the Island and in the Diaspora, as well as many international observers, are today asking ourselves a question: What will happen in Cuba with Díaz-Canel as president? Many respond: We must wait. Other responses go from one extreme to the other, as is normal when the uncertainties of the immediacy of generational change, and the diversity of public opinion, lead to a complex range of expectations. And we believe that nobody, either in the top echelons or in the base, knows for certain what can happen in such a critical national and international situation. And so we consider that the worst thing would be to passively wait to see what happens. The best thing would be to not have to wait but rather to hear from the top the announcement of the progressive changes that our country needs. And the least bad thing would be to actively wait, that is: observing, evaluating, with a critical and proactive attitude, in what would become a proactive vigil, foreseeing, weighing and proposing.
Only facts and time can remove the veil of uncertainty about the future of Cuba. Time: because all the structural and profound changes that Cuba needs cannot be carried out successfully in a day, neither in a violent nor in a chaotic way. Time is the option for orderly, gradual and peaceful changes. But … time is finite. And patience and a crippling crisis, is also finite. Facts: because in politics today’s discourse usually goes one way while the facts on the ground go in a different way. Facts are the standards of truth and legitimacy, of the viability and effectiveness of every government. But … only those facts that can be measured, evaluated and led both by the government as well as by the citizenry, civil society and the international community.
Between the critical present that we are living in Cuba and the future that the vast majority of Cubans desire, there are concrete facts that can open the way to a free, prosperous and happy future or that can shut down even the most optimistic expectation. The choice rests above all with those who continue to hold an omnipotent and totalitarian power … although decadent and immersed in an increasing crisis. We all know, as does the government, that to keep going on as we are is not feasible to get out of the crisis. Therefore, with respect to those in power, it is not about having the political will, it becomes a political necessity … And as the popular saying goes: “necessity is the mother of invention.” Necessity obliges, and he who ignores it, loses.
And the choice is also in every Cuban man or woman, subject to citizen’s sovereignty by natural right. It is very difficult to exercise this right under totalitarian regimes, but it has not been impossible. Recent history in Europe, Africa and Latin America prove it. What seemed impossible only thirty years ago is already a reality that cannot be overlooked. What was unthinkable only ten years ago in Latin America is today in fact a correlation of forces acting jointly on all fronts. The world has changed, and Cuba must, has to, and can change. The opposite is to push it into chaos, everybody knows it.
Ten “vital signs” to evaluate the present time.
Facts need time. Time requires the exercise of a critical and proactive wait, and this engaged and active vigil needs to continually evaluate the “vital signs” of governance. To modestly contribute to this exercise in civics, and in critical and proactive awareness, we begin by suggesting some “vital signs”, among others, that could be useful to ascertain the state of the nation and of the efforts of the current leaders to respond to those vital and unpostponable needs:
1. Decrease in “broadband” repression, and freedom for political prisoners.
2. Renewal in the membership of the Council of Ministers in July.
3. Openness towards the private sector: Self-employment.
4. The way in which the consequences of unifying the currency will be faced:
a. Business bankruptcies
c. Social crisis
5. Balanced combination of measures to get out of the economic crisis moving towards development:
a. Greater openness and security for foreign investment, with participation allowed in the public and private sectors.
b. Development of small and medium enterprises with Cuban or foreign capital.
6. Civic and political education to allow for economic reforms to be conducted by the citizens themselves on the road to the necessary political reforms.
7. Creation of spaces that generate proposals and strategic visions for the new Republic: how we want Cuba to change.
8. Drafting of the contents of the reform and citizens’ positions in view of the announced constitutional referendum.
9. Establishment of mechanisms that guarantee citizen security, institutional non-violence and no revenge:
a. Processes to ensure historical memory, justice and peace, magnanimity and national reconciliation.
10. Positioning of the international community in relation to Cuba:
a. Primacy of respect and promotion of Human Rights over economic interests.
b. Proportional response in correspondence with the progress of the reforms.
Surely other “vital signs” or the concrete facts of a gradual process of structural change and reform could be added. These are just some initial suggestions to have some ideas for use in this stage characterized by observation, evaluation and critical proposals for governability and governance.
We believe that the most important thing is to be aware of the historical stage we are living in and of the opportunity that presents itself with this generational change and of the urgent need to respond with structural, organic and profound reforms to the growing crisis confronting the model that Cuba has lived through.
Exercising citizen sovereignty is not waiting passively for changes to be given from above and without our active, conscious, critical and proactive participation.
This is the historical responsibility of all of us that will define the future of Cuba.
Pinar del Río, May 20, 2018
116th Anniversary of the Republic of Cuba