They Have Never Ceased Being a Military Junta
By Jose Luis Garcia Paneque
Those who are older, from the generation of the 50’s and 60’s, are able to recall, with a bitter taste, the frustrated hopes. With the entrance of Fidel Castro to Havana on January 1959 it was clear that a new stage hd begun for the Cuban people. We were leaving behind 8 or so years of dictatorship, and 3 years of civil war which killed many our nation’s families.
Soon, any hope was painfully betrayed. Unconstitutional government would reign for more than 52 years, and any democratic practices would be indefinitely postponed. The promise of elections within a year started to fade, discourse after discourse, to end up being substituted by the slogan, “Elections? For what?”
For more than 15 years we waited, in vain, for a rectification and for the return to institutionality. And then on February of 1976 the regime passed a new fundamental national law which prohibited any sort of democratic and civil practices.
“With the Revolution- everything. Outside the Revolution- nothing,” was the slogan that accompanied such practices.
It was a clear warning to those who dared think with independent minds. There weren’t even hopes of having a civil president, for during the first years of the Revolution those positions had been taken over by key soldiers and all central power resided in the hands of only one person who would be:
– President of State Council and all Ministries
– First Secretariat of the Cuban Communist Party
– Commander in Chief
What was left?
Nothing. The Cuban government simply became a military junta. Their objective was crystal clear: in an authoritarian and totalitarian government there is no room for a government run by the people, for the people. However, they pretended to give off that image with the installation of the new constitution. But we must be very clear in stating that any sort of citizen initiative is excluded. A perfect example of this is the Varela Project- a project stemming from civil society and which complied with each of the requisites stated in the Constitution. The regime responded in the most unconstitutional form and in order to not recognize that civil project (which was completely legal), they armor-plated the Constitution, making it unviable for any sort of democratic future in Cuba.
What we currently see is the continuation of that same process. The Cuban government has never ceased being a military junta, and ever since Raul Castro ascended in power the same process has been kept intact, seeing as how soldiers from the military have taken high-ranking government positions. If, during this process, a stronger militarization of the State occurs due to the sever crisis which the country faces, it would simply just be an increase of a method which has always been used by the regime. The re-militarization of key positions proves that there are not signs of willingness to make any structural changes, and much less towards any sort of democracy. Simply and flat out, the regime is adapting itself to the circumstances and to threats, therefore shutting the door on any possibility of reform within its nomenclature.