Deciding to Change / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 25 September 2016 – If there is
something it is difficult to disagree with the Cuban government about,
it is the permanent defense of the people’s right to decide the
economic, political and social system that suits them. This principle is
put forward in every international forum attended by official
representatives from the island, and is shared by the majority of
In parallel, above all within Cuba, there is an intense campaign to
fight any intention to change the existing regime in the country.
Clearly, if the intentions to change “the existing regime” come from
another nation and are contrary to the legitimate interests of the
people, resistance to change is absolutely valid.
The question is whether that sacred right of the people “to decide”
includes the option to “change” the system, regardless of whether the
proposed changes coincide partly or completely, with some external proposal.
The first historical example in the case of Cuba was the change that
occurred in the early twentieth century when we replaced the colonial
regime, which subjected the people’s will to the will of the Spanish
metropolis, to a new system in which the island became a Nation,
established as a Republic. That change, imperfect, incomplete,
truncated, responded on the one had to the popular will and on the other
hand to the interests of a foreign nation, the United States of America.
The second example was the regime change proclaimed in April of 1961
when Cuba became “the first socialist country in the Western
Hemisphere.” That substantial modification, which had not appeared
clearly indicated on the revolutionary program that overthrew the brief
dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, was only submitted to citizen
consultation, through a vote, 15 years later, when there was no private
property left in Cuba, no entity of civil society, no independent press
media and only one permitted political party.
The millions of Cubans who, with their secret and direct vote, approved
the 1976 Constitution, where the new social regime was enshrined, which
also coincided with the interests of a foreign nation, the Soviet Union,
to support the presence of socialism “under the noses of imperialism.”
The USSR did not hesitate to offer everything: food, arms, troops, oil,
credits and whatever diplomatic and political support needed.
At the turn of the years to socialism in Cuba, the Republic passed away.
Although no one had baptized it pseudo-socialism or mediated socialism,
it has been necessary to add an “our,” at the risk of committing the
That system approved by popular vote 40 years ago does not greatly
resemble what is described today in successive guidelines issued by the
only legally permitted party, but the changes introduced have only been
discussed with the party membership and other representatives of certain
previously chosen institutions.
Among the possible commonalities between the Party Guidelines and the
interests of foreign nations, say China or the countries of the ALBA
bloc, could be a sterile exercise of political speculation, especially
in a globalized world where almost no country enjoys total freedom to
dictate laws while turning its back on the interests of the rest of the
The right of Cubans to maintain the regime is only legitimate if their
right to change it is also recognized. The desire for uniqueness, the
obsessive vocation of not resembling the other, of not coinciding with
the interests of anyone, would be a difficult caprice to satisfy and an
impossible one to pay.
Addressing regime change now, introducing changes to the regime or
leaving everything as it is, requires a prior exchange of opinions and a
subsequent approval. Only if there is freedom to debate and guarantees
of a free vote, would it respect the sacrosanct right of the Cuban
people to decide which system they wants to live under.
Source: Deciding to Change / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar – Translating