THE ROAD TO PEACE IN CUBA: TO EDUCATE FOR PACIFIC SOLUTION TO CONFLICTS.
There are two ways to solve conflicts and differences inherent to human condition: violence and pacific methods. Universal conscience goes, in spite of everything, toward pacific solution of confrontations, even when authoritarian ones, fanatics and extremists who have survived an era already gone, try to take advantage of the supposed peace weakness to impose ideologies, religions or decadent ambitions by force; or simply with the purpose to stay in power without submitting themselves periodically to the sovereign will of citizens.
Cuba does not have violent ethnic or religious conflicts and it does not endure separatist or annexationist disputes. Thank God. But this doesn’t mean that Cuba lives in peace because to live in peace is not only the absence of war. Peace is a state of the soul and a social state favouring inner harmony and civic friendship. Cuba not only wants peace but it needs peace.
The road to peace in Cuba.
Peace is not a stop but a road. And every road has a direction. The road to peace should be built if we know where to start and where to go. For building a road to justice and peace in Cuba it is essential to identify the deep causes of the conflict, the root-cause of the problem, and the real foundations of peace.
If local conflicts are pacified and calmed superficially; if underlying disputes and confrontations are hidden, the road to peace is turned into a swampy short cut. To build peace does not mean to domesticate conscience or drown the truth in propaganda or criminalize discrepancy.
There are two ways to face conflicts: as an opportunity to destroy the adversary or as an opportunity to grow with him through the decriminalization of discrepancy and the search for consensus for unity in diversity. The first way leads directly to a standstill and violence. The second way leads to renovation, civic maturity and creativity.
Violence is not only war, beating, wounding or imprisoning people. It is also the media “firing” without the right to reply; the organization of acts of repudiation to arouse the masses against the different ones; to discredit the others; to disregard the dignity and the fundamental rights of every human person; even more: to disregard the different ones by considering them non persons. Violence is, moreover, the fact of not recognizing the opponents as interlocutors, threatening them with revenge and segregation. Exclusion can convey different kinds of violence. Those who promote, allow or foster these attitudes in themselves or justify them in others are accomplices to violence and they are involved in it. Even so, the violent ones should be reproached, alerted, summoned to dialogue and social coexistence thus inviting them to abandon such stances and to be a part of peace dialogues in a climate of mutual confidence. Let’s say only a few examples when democrats sit at the table to dialogue with the violent ones: Ghandi with the regime of Great Britain; Mandela with the regime of Apartheid; Walesa with the military dictatorship of Jaruselski; and more recently, the government of Colombia with FARC-EP. We all are invited to get back to the road to peace.
The five stations toward peace.
The road to peace in Cuba could have these five stations during the rough climbing to the heights of plural coexistence and inclusive democracy:
- .Identification of the kind of conflict.
- Search for the deep causes of conflict.
- Personal and institutional attitude facing conflict.
- Pacific solution to conflict.
- Education for peace.
Sometimes we find in Cuba persons of goodwill, pro-government ones as well as opponents who choose pacific methods, defend the necessity for citizens’ peace, however, they reject to sit at the negotiation table by arguing that violent ones and oppressors don’t enjoy legitimacy for the dialogue that leads to pacific transition. This road which fortunately is not widespread glides along the dangerous slope that leads to violence which no one wants; it is very difficult to stop when it is no longer under the control of those very persons of great goodwill but poor education for peace and less training for pacific solution to conflicts.
That is why we consider very necessary to implement the universal knowledge in Cuba’s present situation; this knowledge exists and it has been experienced in the whole world. We propose to specify each one of these steps:
- 1.Identification of the kind of conflict.
According to the specialist we have consulted three kinds of conflict can exist: the pseudo-conflict, the real conflict and the underlying conflict.
Pseudo-conflicts in Cuba: There are pseudo-conflicts among persons who aim for the same thing but they disagree on the means, methods or details of the road. The real needs of the parts are not affected, they rather coincide with the ones considered troublesome, thus it is necessary to grow up regarding tolerance, to overcome lack of communication and distrust, to look high and far to the common ends and to look for consensus respecting each other; to prevent discredit and cooperate whenever possible. This is happening in the bosom of civil society and also among pro-government ones; even between both groups in some points concerning the good for the Fatherland and the roads for peace and progress for all Cubans. Here is a reach source that could demythologize the pseudo-conflicts and stop wasting energy and time getting bogged down in a flat ground.
Real conflicts in Cuba: These are the conflicts that emerge when satisfaction of needs, rights and legitimate aspirations of one part of the people limit, ignore or modify the needs or the status quo of the other part. It’s been already a long way in which a considerable part of the Cuban population have seen their rights violated and their basic needs unsatisfied, whereas the ones who defend those rights and look for the growing satisfaction of those legitimate aspirations to progress are considered criminals. This is the real conflict in Cuba and it is necessary to focus on it in order to find a pacific and inclusive solution, listening and taking into account the contribution of all, in a respectful negotiation; inclusion, not by assimilation but in order to recognize the rights of the different ones to have a space.
Underlying conflicts in Cuba: It happens when the real conflicts are intended to be ignored, silenced or postponed by means of plenty of slogans, promises, propaganda and superficial, insufficient and excessively slow reforms. It’s true that violent demonstrations or fratricidal confrontations are not abundant due to Cubans’ mood, their love for Cuba and their infinite patience. Thank God. Nobody wants or need that; but to disregard the real conflicts or to maintain them underlying in a wilful way is very dangerous and ethically unacceptable as well.
2- Search for the deep causes of conflict.
The second step, after identifying and accepting explicitly the typology of conflicts, is to look for the deep causes, the root-cause of the problem with the help of everybody. For that purpose, a Commission of History is necessary also known as the Service to the Historic Memory or Commission of Truth which should try, with experts from both parts, to rebuild the historic becoming out of what is left from the truth that both parts contribute and acknowledging honestly the mistakes that both parts have made. This process of truth, memory and healing is indispensable to get to the root-cause of the conflict. We Cubans can do it. We should do it.
- 3.Personal and institutional attitude facing conflict.
The third step would be to cultivate attitudes for peace:
Personal attitudes: We find in Cuba at least three personal attitudes facing conflict: the ostriches, the ones who like confrontation, and the ones who like proposals. The first ones alienate themselves, hide themselves, escape abroad or inside themselves. The second ones do not escape but they stir things up, they attack, discredit, emphasize the flaws, promote what divides us, they follow the dynamics of personal complexes and exaggerated leading roles and they believe that every competence means to win and eliminate the others. In the third group are the ones who don’t run away; they act with honesty, civic-mindedness and nobility; they respect the different ones and they don’t attack anyone verbally or physically because they believe that the one who attacks others is the one who will lose. These are the proactive persons, the ones who look for points in common inside the difference; they don’t intend to discredit anyone; they don’t promote what divides people; they give more attention to the things that unite people; they build consensus and small alliances among the different ones patiently with no indulgence or submissiveness. To cede in a negotiation does not mean losing or betrayal. To cooperate in fair things is not submissiveness; In brief, the act of negotiating in order to solve conflicts respecting the human rights of every part is not weakness but true civic strength.
Group or institutional attitudes: In Cuba, like in other countries, there are inclusive and open groups, projects and parties; and there are also groups, projects and parties with sectarian and exclusive attitudes. There are groups that place their own interests or the interests of one part in the centre of their attitudes and they don’t take into account or respect the interests and rights of the other parts even if they are minorities or persons who disagree. And there are also groups and projects that look to and focus on Cuba as a Nation with room for everybody. We recall a famous phrase which is currently in force; it was stated by one of the Fathers of the Constitution of 1940, senator from Pinar del Río, José Manuel Cortina. He was appointed Coordinator of the Constituent Assembly and the works were stuck because there was an out-and-out defence of partisan interests so he had to moderate the situation and he cut the Gordian knot when he said this very current exhortation: “Parties out, Fatherland in!”
In order to maintain a proactive attitude like this, it is necessary: to acknowledge the conflict, to set out to create a minimum indispensable climate of trust, to express clearly the core of the problem to be solved, to formulate with clarity its deep causes, to understand the stand of the others, context and history, will and capacity to propose solutions, to negotiate them in a reasonable give-and-take and to know how to support the values and view of the future that would bring the pacific solution to the conflict.
- 4.Process of dialogue and negotiation for peace.
Pacific solution to conflicts is a difficult, patient process, sometimes unstable and vulnerable. Therefore it is necessary to assure the process of negotiation, to strengthen its weak points, to prevent confusion or lack of transparency and to foresee the rules in order to prevent stagnation, delay, deviation and manipulation of the dialogue and negotiation.
That’s why the fourth step of the process to find a pacific solution should have the following issues clearly stated, previously negotiated and approved by both parts:
- a.To determine the ends and goals of the negotiation.
- b.To establish the itinerary or stages, points of the negotiation.
- c.To agree the norms and dynamics that will govern the debates and the way agreements will be approved.
- d.To present the appointments of the representatives of the parts and the appointments of mediators, guarantors, consultants, experts and witnesses.
- e.To define the schedule for every stage and for the process in general.
- f.To establish the relations and consultations with the highest instances or with the ones represented.
- g.To define the relations with the Media during the process.
- h.To choose the seat or seats.
- i.To monitor the agreements and implement them.
- j.To evaluate the process and its results systematically in order to rectify errors and prevent stagnation or endless processes.
Finally, even if this or other itineraries for peace are covered; if these resources and methods are accepted to find the pacific solution to conflicts, this will not be enough though it would be a great and definitive step. It is absolutely necessary to accompany and complement this road to peace in Cuba by a deep, systematic and genuine process of education for peace.
We have said it other times and we repeat it in this main topic: Cuba suffers from a civic and ethical illiteracy and an anthropological damage which must be already acknowledged, treated and healed. We believe that education is the only and best means to build peace in Cuba and in the rest of the world. Only with systematic education citizens will be able to live that process in their persons, in their families, and in the groups of civil society. Only with education for peace citizens will not be shocked with the road to peace and they won’t be suspicious about the methods used by negotiators; they will want to save victims and victimizers as well, without avoiding truth or serene and magnanimous justice. That is why they will not condemn dialogue and negotiation attempts a priori. Only with education for peace citizens will be able to be active participants and will be competent evaluators of the process; they will guarantee the maintenance of a steady and lasting peace.
It’s true that education for peace is a slow and patient process but that is another reason to start already and give it the maximum priority. In this sense, we have held that Cuba needs 15 minutes to complain and 45 minutes to find solutions; so we dare to propose the former itinerary for pacific solution to our conflicts for debate in independent civil society and in the State official structures; and also some topics to design an elementary program of education for peace.
These could be, among others, and waiting to be able to draw up a more detailed educative plan, some fundamental ideas:
- a.Education for citizens’ empowerment: self-esteem, competence and confidence.
- b.Ethical and Civic Education: values and virtues, inclusion, tolerance and State-citizen relations.
- c.Education on Human Rights: civil and political rights; economic, social and cultural rights.
- d.Education on communication techniques, parliamentary debate and group dynamics.
- e.Education to carry out representative roles, arbitration, mediation, negotiation and prevention of conflicts.
We express our full confidence in the capacity and sensitivity of Cubans from civil society as well as the ones holding official responsibilities to take on these challenges which put the pacific, inclusive and prosperous future of our Nation on the line.
Pinar del Río, 8 September, 2014
Feast of the Virgin of The Cobre
Mother of all Cubans.