Monday, July 30, 2007

“A summer night’s dream”

That’s the title of a July 15 post on the blog Todo el Mundo Habla that contains an interesting idea: that Cuba’s dissidents should put themselves forward as candidates in the just-announced municipal elections, or in the provincial and national legislative elections to come.

The author is a 29-year-old Cuban who lives in Spain. The placement of just one oppositionist’s name on a municipal ballot, she argues, would be “a big step for the cause.” And even if they fail to get a single name on a ballot, “they would make themselves known in the neighborhoods and above all it would be a demonstration that they want to do something tangible to become part of a system that has to be reformed by Cubans from within.”

So she’s saying that the dissidents need to make themselves known among Cubans, that they need to show that they want to do “something tangible,” and that those who would join the system and work from within are worthy, and they advance “the cause.”

Her assumptions are quite different from those that prevail in Washington and Miami. Are they too harsh?


Anonymous said...

This was tried in the late 80s. The dissident who tried to run for Poder Popular was declared insane and was sent to the Mazorra psychiatric hospital, where he was tortured by means of electroshock. That kind of put a damper on the idea of dissidents running for office. See Charles J. Brown and Armando M. Lago's, "The Politics of Psychiatry in Revolutionary Cuba."

Anonymous said...
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leftside said...

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) "has been shown to be the most effective treatment for severe depression." It is used throughout the world (wiki).

What is the name of this dissident who was supposedly placed in Mazorra because they ran for Poder Popular? I only ask because Armando M. Lago was on the payroll of the US Government, through TV Marti's Office of Research. Many of Lazo's supposed dissidents were guilty of real crimes and all his case studies lived in the US.

Even if there is some truth there, I say it is all the more reason for a dissident (who is willing to undergo hunger strikes) to challenge the authorities on this count. If it were to happen again it would be the best propoganda the Cuban right could ever have. It would be a front page newspaper story denouncing Cuba's demcoracy as a sham. Unfortunately, we know this is unlikely to happen for a wholly different reason: Any dissident would get trounced at the polls and lose any veneer of legitimacy the international world has placed on them.

Mambi_Watch said...

Government opposition members on a ballot seems a natural progression, a step seen in other pro-democracy movements across the globe.

But, this is a big no-no in Miami.

For example, the famous Cuban dissident, Oswaldo Paya, is at times seen as a traitor by the most hard-line members here in Miami. This is mainly due to his latest manifesto which recommended Cuban exiles to play a limited role in a future democratic transition, but also because Paya's idea of a voter referendum is seen as giving legitimacy to the Cuban government.

The point here is that any dissident action taken and still associated with Cuban government rules is not tolerated.

As long as hard-line supporters against Cuba have influence within the US administration, any gradual and legitimate acts by dissidents in Cuba will be seen negatively.

That's why '08 elections are important.

Anonymous said...

Hey Lefty, The name of the dissident who was tortured via electroshock for trying to place his name on the Cuban "ballot" is Javier Roberto Bahamonde Masot. His testimony is contained in *The Politics of Psychiatry in Revolutionary Cuba* in the chapter titled "The Candidate" pages 51-56) BTW, you DO realize the author of this blog was once "on the payroll" of the US State Department? Does that make him a liar, too?

leftside said...

MW, your point is well taken about the views of those who dominate the public discourse in Miami. But I doubt this attitude has much sway in Cuba - even to sworn opposition members. The exile right simply has few in Cuba who take it seriously.

Anon, Mr. Bahamonde was not arrested for his electoral try. He was arrested under PC 208& 209 (illegal association) as a result of a protest in front of the Soviet Embassy. It is a charge that would not exist in a better world, however it is not unprecedented. El Salvador and Peru have very similar laws and regularly arrest outlaw Union members. The US tacks on charges to those in gang associations. And let's remember that the group Bahamonde belonged to is also openly funded by the US Government. If I were to work with a Cuba-funded organization in the US, I would be guilty of some very serious terrorism related charges... the same as anyone working for Hamas in the US in fact. The stupid laws go both ways, but I argue that 48 years of US agression is the root cause. When the US stops finding Cuban groups and drops its Plans for Transformation, then I'll be happy to denouce Article 208&209.

leftside said...

By the way, Mr Bahamonde was allowed to run in the elections - and apparently won about 30% of the vote. He was responding to a quote from Fidel that basically dared counterrevolutionary elements to run for election. He predicted their loss because the country is not against the Revolution.

Phil Peters said...

I don't think it makes me a liar ipso facto. Some would say it made me a liar when I was on that payroll. I'm happy to have readers judge for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Let me set the record straight.
My dad was put in prison and taken to a psychiatric hospital for writing a letter to Castro in 1971 to denounced that political and economical fiasco had taken Cuba into a hole.
He stated that because of following the Marxist doctrine, the country was led into hunger, misery, destruction and death.

My dad carefully chose those four words to make an impact and boy did he do! He was diagnosed as "crazy".

My dad held 3 University degrees, a bachelor, doctorate and an engineering degree.

There is plenty of evidence filed when the United Nations Human Rights Committee visited the island. My dad filed his case and later on he was detained at 5am in our home for working without a license as a photographer.

It was a government scheme to get rid of the opposition quickly and neatly. In Cuba you can be accused of anything and sent to prison.

My dad was forbidden to attained a job since 1980 because of his "proselytism" and spread of ideas to his co-workers. So he chose to become a private photographer and provide for his family. What a concept.

He did ran during the Poder Popular as THE FIRST Independent candidate ever to do so but was not allowed to present his platform. The vote was not anonymous. It was a raise your hand vote. The courageous neighbors who new about the platform voted for my dad. The rest were too afraid to do so.

I hope this clears up the confusion.

Michael Bahamonde said...

I was referring in the previous post to Javier Roberto Bahamonde Masot.