Debunking the "Castro" Myth

NAda802074 at NAda802074 at
Sat Nov 6 14:36:58 MST 1999

Debunking the 'Castro dictatorship' myth

Democracy in Cuba: the 1997-1998 Elections, by Arnold August. Editorial Jose
Marti and Cuba-Canada Distribution & Pub. Co. 409 pp. $24.95.

Democracy in Cuba? According to the U.S. State Department, Cuba is a
dictatorship run exclusively by Fidel Castro and his security forces. State
Department spokesperson James Rubin insists "We are waiting for democratic
reforms [in Cuba]."

Of course, this is the same state department that fully supports the absolute
monarchies in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

It is also the same state department which considers the murderous regimes in
Jakarta and Bogota "emerging democracies." But that's another story.

Democracy in Cuba: the 1997-l998 Elections is a thorough but straightforward
documentary by Canadian scholar and journalist Arnold August. Democracy in
Cuba displays Cuban history and dispels the U.S./corporate myth of a "Castro
dictatorship" on that island.

August introduces the work by pointing out that one must put aside
"preconceived notions, biases and prejudices" about Cuba and its system.
That's a daunting task given the United States' 40-year policy of de facto
war, complete with blockades, assassination attempts and outright terrorist
campaigns against the Cuban people and its legitimate government.

Not to be deterred, August presents in detail a "rendering of the Cuban
political system from a historical standpoint" ... reminding the reader that
"Cubans (are) developing their own brand of democracy."

He points out Webster's definition of democracy: from the Greek "demokratia,"
"demos" (people) plus "kratos" (strength): Government by the people:
especially rule of the majority - nowhere does Webster refer to "multi-party
systems" so touted by the Bushes, Clintons and Albrights of the world.

In fact, at least as far back as 1885, Jose Marti (in exile in the United
States for supporting the first war of independence from Spain in 1869)
recognized the need for "one party" as the political expression of the Cuban

It's humorous to note that the Cuban exiles in Miami consider Marti "their
patriot" even as he rejected the U.S. system, stating, "Capitalists ... in
exchange for laws that are favorable to their undertaking, support the party
that offers those laws ... In the U.S. there are not parties of diverse
classes vying for power for government ... elections are quite costly ...
once candidates are elected they pay with their slavish vote for the money
which the capitalists lay out in advance ..." Sound familiar?

August dedicates the first half of his work to the history of Cuba, from the
Spanish conquistadors' brutal decimation of the indigenous peoples until the
"Triumph of the Revolution" in 1959.

He is brilliant in displaying the relationships between the slave
populations, the Creole elite and the Spanish landlords (the slave population
reached almost one-half of total population by 1820). Always in the forefront
of Cuban history is the struggle for one Cuban nation, nationality and state.

The author gives painstaking attention to the history of the personalities
involved from slave liberator and rebel plantation owner Carlos Manual de
Cespedes continuing through the leaders of "people's power" in modern-day

The work's second half is a detailed account of the development of democracy
in Cuba. The initial mass rallies in Havana were "an affirmation of the
principle that the only source of legitimate power was the revolutionary
movement," which continues to develop even now, in their current nine-month
election process.

Cubans have built their own system based on "maximizing local participation"
in what is known as "nomination areas."

Another level of democracy in Cuba that is unique are the "candidacy
commissions." "Accountability meetings" take place twice per year. Any voter
has the right to call into accountability any elected official at any time,
invoking the continued presence of people's power. Elections are void of
carnival-like conventions and the transparent bribery of candidates which
saturates the U.S. electoral process.

- Wil Van Natta

This article is reprinted from the latest edition of the "People's Weekly
World" newspaper.  Subscription info:
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