Perhaps the years have softened certain desires, but I prefer a peaceful transition to democracy rather than a revolution. That is why I look forward toward the day after which, by the laws of life — precisely the common place — our current leaders cannot remain in power. It will be followed by a moment of confusion, of get-off-me-I-can-do-it-myself, a more than justified reason to work starting now for this moment and to try to avoid the evils that afflict many ex-socialist countries, far from public safety and democracy.
Democracy is a learning process. The legacy of years of the Republic is not enough, because between U.S. interventions, rough elections, political compromises and coups, it ended in a period when the “Authentics” governed, an authentic mess, as we know.
From that legacy, the myth of the superiority of the current system has been built, minimizing its weaknesses and amplifying its achievements. As a dogma, generations of Cubans have grown up listening to speeches where they are warned of the recurring imperialist threat, a return to the past, the despoiling of their goods, begging, child prostitution and all manner of ills. These ideas are rooted and are difficult to eradicate, especially because most of society is recalcitrant toward politics, their views are more immediate and urgent, but throughout their whole lived they have received massive doses of this propaganda of which something remains, even if it is only the clichés.
Because of this, I start from a belief that at the beginning of this process some of the youngest figures of the current government could even win a majority at the polls, even though that would contradict the currently high level of dissatisfaction. The greatest challenge to laying the foundations of a democracy would evaporate the illusions that control over the media has created. The massive power of the internet can’t be underestimated, although some still do so. Many people devote themselves to following their favorite artists, looking at pornography, or chatting on Facebook. But not all and not always. The government is very clear about that after the Arab experience.
It’s possible I’m distracted and don’t know the civic proposals, where legal paths to the establishment of democracy are itemized, and even though I’m an optimist and someone naive for my age, I know that we Cubans won’t be transformed into citizens en masses by spontaneous combustion; a good project could be inspired by José Martí’s republic, “with all and for the good of all.”
Such a project would fit Cubans, inside and outside the country, disposed to debate and respect what is decided at the ballot box, and much would have to be voted on in the coming years. Like any collective enterprise, no one will emerge a total winner. The negotiations that take place will be open, as open as any project will need to be that succeeds the secrecy of all these years. And the voting citizen has the last word.
August 17 2012