The Recent Elections and a Multi-Party System
The elections to choose district delegates, held last April 25, confirm the existence of a sector of the population with different opinions, shattering the illusory thesis that the Cuban people have a single ideology, a reality that cannot be undone by the intense campaign in favor of a vote for the Revolution.
The relevance of what happened is even greater because in Cuba are no outside observers from other countries or other parties that may challenge the data. For example, on April 25, one hour before the polls closed, 467,851 voters had not voted, an abstention rate of 5.47%, while in the final data, published on April 30, that figure dropped to 354,324 or 4.14%, i.e. at the last minute supposedly 113,527 went to the polls. One fact is striking because the elections were held in non-working day with a strong compulsion to vote early. If, after that effort there was actually an attendance as high in the last hour, it could be interpreted as another manifestation of discontent.
Compared to previous similar elections, it appears that the number of Cubans who dared to not go,or to deposit blank or void ballots is increasing. In October 2007 these three categories totaled 870,688, while in April 2010 rose to 1,083,510, ie more than 212,822 voters took that route, which accounts for 12.65% of the Cubans with the right to vote. This is a reality that cannot be justified by claiming errors or ignorance, for we are in a country with high literacy, and people have also received an overdose of information calling on them to vote and explaining how to do it. In short, there is a nonconformist sector, which lacks the right of association to represent their interests and to participate in the destiny of the nation.
The plurality of ideas is a logical phenomenon, more so in a society where hopelessness increases, the economy retreats and wear on the political model is evident, as demonstrated by the many manifestations of civic engagement in the face of the debates promoted by the government itself, the street demonstrations of public dissent, or the increasingly common outspokenness of Cuban intellectuals living in the island, which show a consensus on the need for change.
This is more than one million Cubans who, although now absent from political participation, could be active, but lack space and independent institutions to do so; because the Cuban government not only does not know the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but has not ratified the agreements for these matters which impose on States the obligation to promote universal respect for and enforcement of rights and liberties, a key step for Cubans to be able to play a role in the destiny of their country.
The recently concluded elections are closely related to the ban on a multiparty system. The declaration of changing everything that needs to be changed, if true, can not exclude this vital issue. It is not about making the Communist Party the most democratic Communist Party in existence, but about bringing the same rights to other Cubans.
This is no single historical, legal or moral argument that justifies this measure. All political parties are composed of one part of the population, not all of society. In our history, from which emerged the first legal parties in the second half of the nineteenth century, parallel to the Liberal Party the Constitutional Union was established; when the idea of independence was not included in the existing parties, José Martí proceeded to found the Cuban Revolutionary Party for that purpose and not to prevent others; to represent the interests of workers, absent the parties of the late nineteenth century, Diego Vicente Tejera founded the Cuban Socialist Party (the first democratic socialist party of Cuba), with these same arguments in 1923 joined the Communist Association of Havana in August 1925 and the Communist Party of Cuba: When the Authentic Party left to meet the aspirations of a section of his own party, in 1948 Eduardo Chibas founded the Orthodox Party. All of which shows that political pluralism, the expression of diverse interests, aspirations and ways of thinking, constitutes a fundamental instrument for political participation of citizens and therefore their existence is a factor of social progress, which it does not exclude, but in fact implies.
It is even more absurd when the Communist Party does hold its five-year congresses for over thirteen years, which means that its own leaders and their direction lack any mandate awarded by the Congress, as the Party’s supreme organ. The Congress is required, in the first place, to bring legitimacy to its decision and it requires a free debate, at least with its own members. For the reasons stated above, the declaration that the Communist Party will become the most democratic, or that the role of the Party will be strengthened as the organized vanguard of the Cuban nation, cannot be understood just as the aspiration to play this role with regards to all parties that exist, when the Party a priori refuses to recognize the existence of any others; in short it is obviously absurd.
It is necessary to recognize the right of association, so that Cubans belonging to no party can participate as true subjects in the political decisions that affect everyone. In this regard, Article 5 of the Cuban Constitution, which endorses the leading role of the Cuban Communist Party, will need to be replaced by a multiparty system, as a social necessity.