Cuba faces and unprecedented juncture. Internal and external situations have connected in a way that is bringing about an unheard of and also critical scenario. Cuba should seek out a way out.
We are entering a new deepening in the systemic crisis inherent in the economic a political model that doesn’t work and one which has demonstrated its inefficiency and unviability. Despite measures to “updated” with cosmetic actions, it has demonstrated its fatigue simply because it goes against human nature. It is not just an economic or political problem, it is an anthropological issue.
The First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, Raúl Castro, has recognized this situation in the following manner:
“On July 26, 2018, while commemorating the 65th anniversary of the Moncada (attack on the Barracks), and on January 1 of this year while celebrating the 60th anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution, I warned about an adverse scenario that had come up with the resurgence of the euphoria and haste of our enemies to destroy the example that is Cuba. On both occasions I pointed out the conviction that the empire was tightening a siege around Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba. Facts have confirmed that assessment.”
The international situation can be described as the greatest menace in some 50 years:
“The current government of the United States, in its hegemonic ambition toward the region, poses the most peremptory menace to peace, security and the well-being of Latin America and the Caribbean in the last five decades.”
The worst news to cause great consternation and anguish on the people is stated in the following forecasts:
“…we need to be alert and aware that we are facing additional difficulties and that the situation could worsen in the coming months. We are not talking about going back to the acute phase of the Special Period in the decade of the 1990s in the last century; today’s panorama is different as regards to the diversification of the economy, but we still need to prepare ourselves for the worse possibility.”
Once again we return “to the worst.” Once again there is an invitation to get ready keeping in mind that we were not able “to prepare” when the Soviet Union fell 28 years ago. The message ends in a dead end: “There is no other alternative.”
The reiteration of crisis that we can never leave behind completely in a continual social experiment with human beings shows on the one hand that maintaining power is prioritized above anything else. On the other hand it shows total disrespect for differences and for the human condition.
The existing scarcity of goods and the fatigue caused by so many unfulfilled promises are hard realities which turn every affected citizen –due to lack of foodstuffs and medicines– into a harsh critic of the model. Some years ago average citizens would say facing urgent needs: “it’s because those in power don’t know about it, in this municipality, in this province there is much inefficiency and negligence.” This type of recrimination we had not heard for a while now. The people know, and now say so out loud, that the government is responsible for it, going as far as naming names. This is a verifiable reality in all provinces, in all corners, in the empty stores, in the never-ending queues, which often turn violent, which already, and frequently, have to be “organized” by the police. Polarization is going up and as people say: “things are not getting fixed.”
In the international arena, Cuba is losing allies in Latin America and in other places around the world. Cuba is isolated. Political changes in Brazil, Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia, and El Salvador, among others, have inverted the correlation of forces in the continent. UNASUR has practically disintegrated losing its headquarters and leadership. ALBA has lost some of its members and CELAC has not been able to meet even to this day not even on account of the Venezuelan crisis. Cuba lost the opportunity that Obama offered and now the government of the United States declares openly that it will do away with “socialism in this hemisphere.”
The way out: We believe that there is another alternative
The lining up in time of these internal and external conditions has built an unheard of scenario, truly grave. The official media tries to push out good news which are increasingly more propaganda and less news, more lengthy opinion articles and increasingly skipping the truthful situation in other countries. Frequently many Cubans have not established the connection between the economic crisis and the political crisis, between news from Venezuela and the situation in Cuba, between turns to the right around the world and the entrenchment called “continuity”. Continuity in politics is not to do more of the same with other leadership ways or with the use of new technologies. To achieve a possible and viable continuity it is necessary to do everything differently than the same old same old that has not worked in six decades, “change everything that needs changing” because it is a proven fact that it doesn’t work.
There is no possible continuity without renewal from failure: Renewal of the economy
An authentic continuity and renewal of the economy is one that keeps the objectives but changes models, methods, styles, and above all changes of mentality. Continuity of any and all economic models is not its structures and mechanisms, the only thing that should continue and should not change in economics is the goal and its recipient: to improve the quality of life of the people. It would seem as if in Cuba the objective of the economy is simply 30 pounds of food in the basic basket, or supplying water and power. All of this and all the spaces and projects that provide for the spiritual, the cultural, the educational, or the experiential, is not the object, but only means for people to be a bit more happy. Everything else, models and systems, relationship between market and State, property and wealth, taxes and investments, are only justified if they achieve this unavoidable objective: the common good, that is, to improve the standard and quality of life. And to allow people to live in peace, without the daily hassle, without an uncertain future, without a maddening noise, without a propaganda that distracts and bores. There is no perfect economic model but we must search for the one that works best, or at least one that works, in order to achieve the ultimate goal of any economy. Continuity in economics is to create a welfare framework for life to be good, filling and happy. All the rest needs to be changed if it has not yielded results in 60 years.
Renewal of politics
Continuity and renewal of politics are what keeps the ultimate goal of good politics: the search for liberty, justice, peace and the greatest possible development. All the rest are means to achieve this high and noble goal. Anything else that does not achieve greater degrees of these four pillars of democracy needs to be changed in order to achieve the goal of politics, which is to find coexistence among citizens and countries without violence, wars or repression. Anything that does not take us to this goal needs to be changed. There is not a perfect political system but we need to find the best functioning one, one that does not exclude anyone, one that recognizes and respects all the rights of all, the system that creates the greatest amount of space for freedom and co-responsibility, the one that grants the greatest in citizen participation, one that doesn’t need to make promises to gain time, one that doesn’t need to repress a part of the people, even if it were a minority, in order to hold on to power at all costs, a model that does not impose itself but one born of the common accord of all, or even better, those models that may be able to work together to achieve a consensus receiving the approval of the majority to respect and include the rights of minorities without satanizing or disqualifying them.
It is not possible not to change a political model that imposes a single ideology which self-proclaims that “only” this one ideology can achieve complete human development, and that that model is irrevocable and needs to be defended even up to armed struggle if it were necessary. To impose and to exclude, that is not continuity, but rather to lose the two and a half million who didn’t support the YES in the new Cuban Constitution. What to do with those that did not assent as well as those that being abroad didn’t have the right to vote? Well, include them, legalizing discrepancy, opening diverse political spaces, creating a breathable climate for pluralism, trusting in that it is better for Cubans to unite ourselves in diversity than to exclude us in discrepancy. Continuity and renewal in politics is to reach a social compact that is inclusive and participative, called democracy. All the rest needs to be changed because it has demonstrated that it divides, segregates, discriminates and represses, not only political participation, but even the expansion of the soul.
Renewal of the economic model and the political system is not enough, first of all because behind it all, it is necessary that we renew from the inside, let each citizen awaken and become aware that he/she needs, and is better for him/her to renew their minds, renew their soul, their spiritual life, redesigning their own life projects with a new breath of freedom, with a new assumption of their own responsibility, with new options decided in conscience. Ethical and civic education inspired in the values of the Christian matrix which forms the basis of our culture and the reconstruction of the family and of civil society constitutes “the trinity” of personal renewal.
To renew from the inside is more difficult and much more important and essential than outwardly changes. Cuba suffers from anthropological damage, that is, in the inner structure of people, in their lack of will, in their inability to think on their own, in their lack of emotional intelligence to inform their own feelings, in the daily incoherence between what we think and what we say or do. Self-renewal from the inside out means to stop, to reflect, to take the reins of our own lives, to exert personal sovereignty, to select in an independent and transcendent way our own life project, and one we have designed it, to defend it from all manipulation, be it from the State or from the market, be it from the media or from other people. The autonomy of our own personal project can only be enlightened by freely assumed ethics as a way and motivation for life. Each Cuban should seek their own way out, not fleeing from their country, but rather engaging their souls to walk in what Nelson Mandela called “the long road to freedom” to which we add: “and towards personal responsibility.” Freedom and responsibility are the light and anchor of the ship of our life.
The way out of all this, which the media calls a “complex situation,” is for people to perceive that as the crisis persists “the new special period,” or “things are bad” will not be solved looking for new suppliers of petroleum or to finance our economy from the outside, nor looking for foreign investors to come in, or with more plans and guidelines that try to achieve different results with the same models and structures as now.
The way out, the renewal, resides in looking for the ability and talent of Cubans in and out of Cuba to liberate their productive forces, their entrepreneurial drive, their freedom of business and property, their huge desire for progress and happiness, liberating them from decadent thinking, failed models, conservative mentalities, bureaucratic red tape, and “half-way” and cosmetic measures, or reforms abroad but with continuous shutdowns internally. We need to listen to the voice of our people, but to put it in practice not to entrench in more of the same. We need to be alert to the proposals people make because deafness and blindness are no good for the continuity of life or for the renewal of all that needs to be changed. The way out will be found when we discover where we want Cuba to go. If not, when negotiating through the labyrinth of our seach we may slam into a fake shut door. If we know where we want Cuba to go, that is, towards its full freedom, its hard-work prosperity and its reachable happiness, then we can make proposals and we will find the way out.
The Center for Coexistence Studies has recently published a book which we have called Cuba busca una salida (Cuba Seeks a Way Out) a compilation of six Reports of Proposals for Solutions in order not to remain in futile complaints, in destructive criticisms or in civic indifference. These have been published in our website (www.centroconvivencia.org). This vision of the future is only a proactive civic proposal that may be helpful to encourage public discussion within the wide plurality of opinions, so that in the future we may build on it all together. But time marches on and is running out. It is necessary to look high up, far away and quickly. It is once again more urgent to recall and follow what José Martí left us as homework: “To think is to foresee.” “In prevention lies the art of rescue.” “To guide is to prevent.” “Prevention is the essential quality in the constitution and government of the nations.”
Cuba’s way out is within all Cubans, those inside and out. Cuba’s way out should be the responsibility of all Cubans and lies in the total exercise of its freedom and responsibility, in its yearning for progress and happiness, and that is unstoppable. It is stoppable for a while. It can be delayed for another day; it is susceptible to be disguised for a time. But, let’s learn this once and for all, from the starting point of the experience of our own history and that of our brethren around the world: freedom and the yearning for happiness are unstoppable and unbreakable for all time. One day they appear and dawn. All that opposes these two goes against human nature and creates grave anthropological damage. Anything that goes against human nature, its full dignity and happiness, be it a political or economic model, has to be changed.
Let’s accept it: freedom and happiness, together with love, are the essence of the human condition.
Pinar del Río, Cuba, March 25, 2019
124th Anniversary of the Montecristi Manifesto