Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Perez Roura's plan

Armando Perez Roura, Miami AM radio king and head of Unidad Cubana, issued a statement on the Radio Mambi website in the name of Unidad Cubana and its constituent groups. It is called “Plan of Concrete Steps for Change in Cuba.”

The statement was to be issued at an event at Miami’s Manuel Artime theater Monday night. But according to press accounts and people who attended, it was not issued there because Mr. Perez Roura said the lighting was bad and he could not read it.

Hate it when that happens.

The Diario las Americas story is here; the Herald’s is here. At Babalu, they posted a nice reflection on the event that didn’t name the speaker, didn’t mention the statement, and seemed to be based on a concern that people would ridicule the event, the audience, and everything.

I hadn’t realized that el exilio vertical, which really, really knows how to dish it out, needs to be handled delicately. But no matter, let’s deal with their ideas, starting with the positive.

The statement calls for a “prohibition on evictions from housing in urban and rural areas.” Good for Unidad Cubana. There is no elaboration, but maybe we can guess at the reasoning. Maybe it reflects the idea that if you deal with Cuba’s property issues by threatening to throw people out of their homes, you encourage people in Cuba to circle the wagons, you reinforce the worst stereotypes of the exile community, and you make change less likely. Note to Secretary Gutierrez: if you are to the right of Mr. Perez Roura, it’s safe to change your position. The Administration would do itself a big favor by disavowing its commission’s vision of Cuban “tenants” being evicted from their homes.

Now for the rest.

The statement is based on the assumption that change is coming soon to Cuba and calls for consensus among all Cubans on steps to take to “avoid last-minute improvisation” when the opportunity to ensure “freedom, justice, and peace” arises.

The statement was released without any sign of support from anyone or any group in Cuba, or even any connection with anyone in Cuba. Maybe the reason is that, among its calls for legal and constitutional reforms; special tribunals to judge military commanders, interior ministry officers, and others responsible for the “Cuban national tragedy;” establishment of an electoral process; and more, it includes a call for the ilegalizaci√≥n permanente – a permanent legal ban – of the Cuban communist party. And also the “re-establishment” of political parties and non-government organizations, but only those “whose programs express respect for private property, a fair market economy, respect for human rights. and a representative, multi-party democratic system.”

This is interesting. Step one in establishing democracy is to ban the existence of a specific political party. That doesn’t say much for Cuba’s future democracy or the confidence of its proponents who issued the statement. And who would certify that parties and private organizations support, for example, a “market economy?” What if a future Cuban party advocates, for example, maintaining complete government operation of health care, education, and other social services? Sounds like socialism to me – so, would that party qualify? Who would decide?

While the Helms-Burton law says that the United States will not recognize as democratic any government that includes Fidel or Raul Castro, it places no such conditions on participants in Cuba’s political debate. It defines a “transition government” in Cuba as one that “has legalized all political activity” – “all” – and sets the stage for elections “with the participation of multiple independent political parties.”

Things are getting interesting in Cuba. Each day seems to confirm again that Fidel Castro will not return to office; the latest sign comes from Bolivian President Evo Morales. Generational change is a certainty, economic reform a distinct possibility, a national debate on economic policy a new and intriguing development. As things stir and possibilities of change loom, the debate outside Cuba is getting more interesting too. Sadly, Unidad Cubana’s statement accentuates its distance from the Cuba of today and, I strongly suspect, from the Cubans who live in Cuba today. Except, that is, those who embrace the idea of regulating speech and banning political parties.

6 comments: said...

Unidad Cubana should be banned from Cuba. It pisses me off that people like this who control the US Embargo have to restrict my freedoms for their own self interests.

Unidad Cubana is meaningless in a any post-Fidel Cuba scenario but they refuse to admit it.

They think they can just sail into Cuba the day after Fidel's death? I think Raul and the Cuban coast guard might have a few surprises for them.

Henry Louis Gomez said...


Those concrete steps are not the "declaration of Miami" Unidad Cubana has had those concrete steps on their web site and as their tenets for quite some time.

I would have gladly linked to the declaration if it had been posted on their web site, but they are notoriously bad about updating it. You'll notice that there was no mention of the event on their site.

And Rob, you still say you aren't an activist? UC says they want to ban the communist party and you say you want to ban UC.

Flip sides of the same coin in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Phil -

Thanks for your thoughtful reflections as always. You provided a lot more information about this than the HERALD did its few lines of reportage.

These people obviously want to return Cuba to the way it was when they were in charge of it during the Batista dictatorship. No one in the US complained about human rights violations on the island than.

Likewise, I'm sure they're all out supporters of preventing this Cuban father from bring his daughter back to the island with him. They'd like to use this little girl the way they used Elian Gonzalez in their incessant war against the government of their homeland. Sad.

I've taken the liberty of sending out your comments to another thousand people through the CubaNews list.

You link Larry Luxner's excellent but very expensive CubaNews to your blog. How about linking the Yahoo News group which has been active for over seven years as well? URL:

Thanks and keep up the stimulating conversation.


Walter Lippmann

leftside said...

This notion of banning the Communist Party is not some fringe idea or something the US Government is necessarily opposed to (despite its lofty pronouncements). The US claimed to establish democracy in Iraq, but immediately banned the Baath Party and denied members from working. The US was supposedly for democracy in Haiti but kidnapped the most popular politician in the country. We used to draw up hit lists of Communists in the Southern Cone of South America and Asia...

To achieve the kind of counter-revolution the exile community longs for, the CP and other existing mass organizations must disappear. This is why they felt they to include this. What scares me is that if they are actually willing to print this in their declaration, then there are very serious forces who think this is achievable. It is only achievable with a US military intervention.

Phil Peters said...

Henry, the Diario las Americas story says the "concrete steps" are "part of" the Declaration of Miami. Maybe the whole thing includes the statements that the Herald reported. If the text of the whole thing appears, I'll post it.

Walter, in fairness to the Herald, I don't think any text was available when they wrote their story. I found it the next day.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Walter Lippmann said...
No one in the US complained about human rights violations on the island than.
I strongly disagree with you and the reason is here:

I am afraid US Department of State were so concerned about the human rights violations under Batista's dictatorship that they decided cut all help or assistance to the tyrant and provide Cuba a new dictator.... a much worst one!!!
If we will say the truth let say the whole one.