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Cuba: Discussion on Democracy and Institutions

HAVANA TIMES — A group of Cuban intellectuals of various political perspectives presented a collection of essays titled “For a Consensus for Democracy,” which was the prelude to a broader debate organized by the Catholic magazine Espacio Laical.
The authors met with about a hundred persons at the Father Felix Varela Cultural Center to discuss the institutionalization and democratization of the island, each from their own political slant but in an atmosphere of mutual respect and seriousness.
Among the participants were Catholic, liberal and Marxists panelists – even a priest who is a descendant of Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, the first rebel who in the eighteenth century stood up for the independence of the island against Spanish rule.
Paradoxically, those most notably absent from this academic consensus building exercise for democracy was the Cuban government (which excludes itself from these debates) and dissidents (who were only allowed participation from the audience).
The end of taboos?
The discussions included topics that until recently were taboo in Cuba, such as the multiparty system, democracy, citizens’ participation in decision making, the unconstitutionality of some governmental actions, and political change.
Despite coming from varying ideological currents, there was consensus among the panelists concerning the need to go beyond clichés; instead they appealed for a form of democracy not limited to the “representative democracy” of capitalism or the “participatory democracy” of socialism.

Dario Machado is a well-known Cuban revolutionary intellectual and a member of the Cuban Communist Party. In this first instalment of a two-part translation of a commentary published on the pro-Revolution Cubadebate website, Machado takes up a key challenge of Cuba’s socialist renewal: harnessing the enormous and largely untapped potential of Cuba’s mass media to achieve a better informed and more participatory socialist democracy.more


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