Here are some indicators that show this civic growth:
1. Chieftainship still exists but we recognize that it is getting out of fashion and it is counterproductive.
- 2.Moderation in personal leading roles is finding a balance.
3. Team work is spreading as an indispensable option.
4. The need for common points to hold talks with national and international interlocutors is already a task that has been set in motion.
One thing that corroborates the previous point is that for the first time in more than 50 years Cuban civil society has been able to attain the following first four points of consensus:
- a.Unconditional release of all prisoners for political reasons including those who are under extra penal license.
- b.The end of political repression, many times violent, against the pacific movement for human rights and pro-democracy.
- c.Respect for the international commitments already subscribed by the Cuban government; ratification –without reservations- of the International Human Rights Agreements and to abide by the terms of the International Labor Organization (ILO) Agreements regarding labor and trade union rights.
d. Acknowledgement of independent Cuban civil society legitimacy.
What is unity and what is not unity.
The cleverest analysts and the ones who follow Cuban civil society growth objectively might find lights and shadows like in every contemporary society. There is not a real democracy in Cuba; we have not a normal system. A method’s error that is used very frequently by foreign observers and visitors is to analyze the situation in Cuba using the same point of reference used in systems with long-standing democracy. It’s a methodological mistake.
Unity in the path to democracy:
- is never unanimity but searching and building indispensable established agreed minimums.
- is not monotonic uniformity but polyphonic concert.
- is not the union of everybody in the same project but the articulation of projects in networks of civil society.
- is not finding unity of methods and means but to identify the unity of ultimate ends.
- is not doing something, everybody, at the same time but finding some common objectives, among some, as time goes gradually.
- is not to place parties, projects and leading roles above the Nation but to place the Fatherland as the common horizon; everybody should serve it but everyone should do it his own way.
No democracy in the world would be required to reach such uniformity. Let’s assume, for example, that American democracy asks republicans, democrats and independent ones to reach unity in all political topics; let’s suppose the European Union has got unity of stands regarding all topics or that the election of the Commission chairman has everyone’s support. A good example is when David Cameron recently disagreed with the election of Jean-Claude Juncker as President of the European Union.
The Church proclaims itself to be hierarchical and to be the messenger of a dogmatic creed; however, this unanimity of pastoral interpretations does not exist. Religions are communities which are marked by the diversity of languages, charismas, cultures and religious expressions. It is true that democracies reach points of unity in fundamental topics such as: two-party policies in the United States or consensus politics in the European Union or in regions like Latin America or Asia but these points are established agreed minimums which are looked for and built respecting the essential and basic diversity.
Toward a new model of unity
We have to acknowledge that still in the present stage of development in the growing Cuban civil society it seems that consensus is trying to be found by building unity around a project which is considered itself inclusive and to be the core which should draw together other projects gradually. It seems that everybody is looking for the wished unity but the method used is to call the others to join their own project.
We hope Cuba advances toward another model to build consensus. It could be a model not to unite many persons around one project but to articulate projects, weave spaces for communication and study so that established agreed minimums can be sought, identified and built among these spaces without abandoning or reducing the activity and identity of each independent project.
Since we don’t live in a democracy yet and parliament is not a multiparty parliament we cannot skip transition and a minimum consensus in civil society is necessary during this stage in order to advance and negotiate the changes in a pacific way without giving up anything which cannot be waved. We consider that this new dynamics of unity in diversity will be attained:
- if the diverse projects give priority to a common objective among their own objectives: the search for established agreed minimums.
- If the center is Cuba and not a certain project.
- If we abandon, consciously and with responsibility, damaging remarks and attacks to the different ones, knowing that politicians and their projects are not either perfect or absolutely pure.
- If we defeat fragmentation and the lack of communication by weaving spaces, meetings, dynamics of intercommunication, dialogues among projects and the patient building of consensus on minimal objectives.
We call this process “to weave social coexistence”.
The strengths and weaknesses to build democracy in Cuba.
We are not naïve and we should not close the eyes before our reality. One of the services to build democracy is to analyse reality systematically and objectively on which we can edify consensus.
Out of some of the analysis about present Cuban reality we can mention weaknesses and strengths to build a democratic system in Cuba.
- Anthropological damage.
- Civic and political illiteracy.
- Corruption and future mafias.
- The guiding minorities are qualified to lead the processes toward democracy because they have an education, a degree of consciousness and commitment.
- The ethical and civic reserve of our founders, national heroes and thinkers. Starting with Varela: “there is no Fatherland without virtue” and Martí: “with everybody and for everybody’s sake”.
- The power of recuperation Cubans have and it has been showed in several circumstances and stages for example: Constitution of 1940 and the 1940’s and 1950’s.
- The enterprising character of Cubans, yesterday and today. Here and in the exile.
- Humanism and remaining values that inspire and renew us today.
Eradicating the division myth.
It is necessary and urgent to dismantle the myth of naming division what really is diversity. It is also necessary to end the myth that democracy is only attained by unanimity, uniformity and simultaneous projects. We should oppose to the myth that Cuba needs a leader, a caudillo, a messiah who should lead us all to democracy.
Let us learn how to work as a team, to recognize gradualism as the safest and normal process toward all changes; let us learn to disregard our mutual defects and differences so we all can look at Cuba which is waiting for us. Civic education is not a school that only teaches soloists how to sing but an academy that also teaches us the polyphonic choral singing.
Let us learn the essence and consequences of democracy which was once brilliantly described by the British humor of Winston Churchill answering the ones who criticized and still today criticize the defects of democrats and democratic institutions and projects; he said: “Democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”.
The worst thing that can happen to Cuba, again and the worst thing that is happening today in the most ancient democracies in the world is not the lack of unity but the lack of credibility in the democratic institutions that exist to build the necessary consensus. Without democratic institutions, included the different political parties and organizations of civil society there will be not even the worst form of democracy. The lack of credibility in democratic institutions is the worst enemy of diversity and pluralism and even worse it’s the origin and the breeding ground for populisms, patronages and the new messiahs.
So if we devoted ourselves to create spaces for participation, dialogue and consensus in Cuban civil society instead of looking for an impossible and non-democratic unity, we could build, paraphrasing Churchill, the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried: political democracy, market social economy and the reconstruction of social fabric.
It seems there is consensus already regarding some of these points and others. It’s an encouraging sign showing that the pathway is open and we should be confident that the very talents and capacities of Cubans, women and men, can turn Cuba into a democratic, prosperous and free country.
Pinar del Río, 8 July, 2014.