Miércoles, 3 de Junio de 2020
Última actualización: 17:28 CEST
Constitutional reform

The Unfeasibility of the Sole Party in Cuba


It is striking that the Communist Party of Cuba, after almost six decades of standing as the only political association allowed in the country, dedicated an article, on Saturday 25 August, in the newspaper Granma, to explain the premises that inspired the decision to permit only one party. The task was placed in the hands of Yisell Rodriguez, who enumerated five reasons to demonstrate the non-viability of a multi-party system in Cuba. I will address four. 


"The political associations existing up to 1899 lacked programs to solve the country's problems. The two major political parties that arose after the 10-Year War rejected independence. And, during the neocolonial period, 60% of frauds were carried out during vote counts…"

Nothing of that articulated demonstrates the non-viability of a multi-party system, and certainly does not demonstrate how a single-party system would have yielded different results. Geraldo Machado, although he did not attempt to declare his model irrevocable, did try to realize the totalitarian dream of unifying the parties into a single one: his. Although he was not successful, he managed to fuse three of them, a record for his time and an augury of today's one-party policy.


"Under Yankee domination, the multiple-party system gained strength, but in the elections of 1901, only those age 21 and older who knew how to read and write, and had assets greater than 250 pesos, were allowed to vote."

Rights are acquired by means of struggle. The 1901 elections, from which the illiterate and poor were excluded, were organized under difficult circumstances, and under foreign occupation. Nevertheless, the Constitution of 1940, under a different set of conditions, endorsed, in its Article 20, the equality of all Cubans before the law, and in Article 97 established the right to universal, egalitarian and confidential suffrage. Yisell Rodriguez, in Granma, seems to imply that if a sole party had existed in 1901, young people, the illiterate and the poor would have had the right to vote. 


In the "free elections to which Cubans had a right, fraud prevailed, and multiple parties offered no guarantee of democracy," while foreigners held 75% of the country's productive capacities.

Multiple parties are not a guarantee, but rather a requirement and result of democracy, something non-existent under single-party regimes. As for the 75% of the country's productive capacities in foreign hands, it is omitted that the Constitution of 1940 also spurred Cubans to manage more companies and recover two thirds of the sugar industry, while fomenting industrialization and establishing Cuba among the three countries in the region with the highest standard of living. 


"Political and administrative corruption was promoted."

The existence of political and administrative corruption does not demonstrate the uselessness of a multi-party system. There were corrupt politicians, just as there were men who did things well or poorly, but who were honest, like Tomás Estrada Palma, the first republican president; or Manuel Fernández Supervielles, mayor of Havana in the 50s, who committed suicide after failing to fulfill his promise of furnishing the city with water; or Eduardo Chibás, meanwhile, who got into politics branded a millionaire, and left poorer than when he started.

It is more difficult to fight corruption with a single party, as is demonstrated by the efforts in Cuba today, where corruption has transcended political and administrative channels to become widespread corruption under the single party system.

In closing

Political parties are associations of a part of society, not all of it. Over the course of history, different people and groups have founded parties to represent their interests. In 1878 in Cuba the Constitutional Union Party and the Liberal Party were created; the former represented the sentiments of Spaniards, while the latter defended those of Cubans. At the end of the 19th century there was the Autonomous Party and the Cuban Revolutionary Party; one espoused autonomy, the other independence. In 1899 the Cuban Socialist Party was created because the interests of workers were not represented by the existing ones. In 1947 Eduardo Chibás founded the Orthodox Party because the Authentic Party did not satisfy some of its members. Fidel Castro, after the assault on the Moncada Barracks, founded the July 26th Movement, as his insurrectionary ideas were incompatible with those of civic associations. 

 How was it possible to represent, in a single party, both pro-Spanish and pro-Cuban ideas, those of the autonomists and those favoring independence, of the workers and the bourgeoisie, the orthodox and the “authentic”, those for armed struggle, and those preferring a civic fight? The conversion of one part into a representative of all constitutes a negation of political freedom. And for this to occur force must be used to destroy other political parties, or to subordinate them. 

As all social phenomena and processes are related, when this happens, it is generally accompanied by a monopoly over the economy, from which arises a "perfect" totalitarian model, with the decisive drawback that society begins to decline, because it is freedom that spawns progress.