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Havana, May Day.
In the darkness, with the moon still high over the statue of Jose Marti in the Plaza of the Revolution, a million Cubans and internationalist friends began gathering in the Avenida Paseo to march in solidarity with the workers and oppressed of the world. But this year the energy and strength of the demonstration took on additional meaning for the Cuban people as it reflected overwhelming support for the transition of a new generation of elected leaders who are committed to the continuation of the socialist principles of the Cuban Revolution. It wasn’t just in Havana either, in Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Holguin, Ciego de Avila, Cienfuegos and all the other cities people marched in large numbers with pride for what Cuba stands for and its example to the world.
Contingents this year featured institutions that make up the fabric of civil society including ministry of education, ministry of health and various hospitals, schools, medical research groups, cultural societies, national industries and the Latin American School of Medicine that has trained 28,500 doctors from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the United States mostly for free.
While there was little coverage in the corporate media about this display of unity and sense of purpose, what reportage there was insinuated that the people were marching on the orders of the communist party. Fernando Gonzalez, one of the Cuban 5 and currently the President of the Cuban Institutefor Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP), said that the continuous media lies about Cuba are because to recognize the truth about Cuba would be to admit their own defeat. “Nobody can force a million Cubans to get up at 4 in the morning, wait until 7:30 and then march enthusiastically in support of the Cuban Revolution.”
From the Ground Up -This is What Democracy Looks Like
On April 19 the Ninth Legislature of the Cuban National Assembly of People’s Power, by a vast majority, elected Miguel Diaz –Canel Bermudez the new president of Cuba culminating a long democratic process that began in the base of Cuban society during the first round of parliamentary elections in October 2017. From those results candidates were nominated on January 21 for the provincial and national assemblies followed by the vote for those positions on March 11 when 83% of the eligible voters cast their secret ballots. Unlike in the United States where over $4 billion dollars were squandered on the 2016 presidential elections, no money can be spent on campaigning and candidates for municipal government can only promote themselves by placing a small biography and photo of themselves in their precinct office. To ensure the representative character of the Assembly half of the delegates come from the elections at the community base and the other half from mass organizations including the Federation of Cuban Women, the Confederation of Cuban Workers, the National Association of Small Farmers, Committee for the Defense of the Revolution as well as organizations of university and high school students. Of the 605 members that make up the National Assembly over 53% are women, (in the U.S. Congress women make up a paltry 19%) 80 of them are between the ages of 18-30 and this is the first term for 56% of the delegates. The average age of the representatives is under 50.
Transfer of One Historic Generation to Another
The reactionary elements of the Cuban exile community in Southern Florida have made wild predictions about the fall of the Cuban Revolution. From the beginning they thought it was only a matter of months before they would be back to assume their life of luxury at the expense of the Cuban people. They thought it would fall when Fidel died and now when Raul’s term ended. This is their fantasy and that of the ruling class of the U.S. to return Cuba to being their colony; but as usual they have underestimated Cuba. The seamless transition to the next generation, who has only known life under the nearly 6 decade long blockade, is not by chance but rather through organized planning and training. Diaz-Canel, 58, is no rookie as Raul said and has been an engineer in the armed forces, a leader in the Party in Holguin and Villa Clara, a Minister of Higher Education and for the last 5 years he has been a Vice President of the Council of State. Some of the elected Vice Presidents are from the period of the revolution and Raul Castro will remain General Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba until 2021.
Safe and Nurturing Society
Cuba moves forward with many problems the main one being the suffocating unilateral blockade by the United States. The longest blockade in modern history has cost Cuba $130 billion in revenue according to the United Nation’s Regional Economic Body for Latin America (ECLAC). Despite this Cuba continues to excel in all social indexes from education, to life expectancy to an infant mortality rate of 4 per thousand live births. It is a safe and stable society with the absence of even the most remote thought of gun violence. Cuba puts a priority on the well being and nurturing of its children and has established medical missions in 65 countries. Cuba is by its own admission a work in progress but the orientation of the society is one that strives for social improvement. It is an example and a friend to the world that is reciprocated every October in the United Nations vote on the blockade where since 1992 the nations of the world have overwhelmingly voted against it. The real problem that Cuba poses for the Empire is its insistence on its sovereignty and its right to forge its own future. As the U.S. plots regime change strategies against any independent nation in the world they should realize when it comes to regime change in Cuba that already happened in 1959.
Alicia Jrapko and Bill Hackwell are organizers with the International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity and the editors of the English version of Resumen Latinoamericano