Can Democracy Be Negotiated in Cuba?
Castros Will Never Willingly Give Up Their Military Dictatorship
JOSÉ AZEL FEBRUARY 9, 2015 AT 12:33 PM
EspañolDemocracy is an abnormal and unnatural political system. This is
the view held by all authoritarian and totalitarian regimes and their
want-to-be sycophants. And, in one respect, they are right. A liberal
democracy aberrantly requires those holding power to respect statutory
constraints on their powers and, even more unnatural, to enable
processes that may remove them from power.
It is commendable that, while in Cuba, chief US negotiator Roberta
Jacobson met with dissidents, and expressed US concern regarding the
lack of civil liberties. However, to advance citizen’s rights in Cuba
she will have to persuade the Cuban government to change its very nature.
Defenders of the new US-Cuba policy have argued, ad nauseam, that the
old policy of economic sanctions has not worked, and that the new policy
will work to weaken the Cuban government. These assertions are suspect
since the new measures will enrich primarily the Cuban military, which
controls most economic activity, and thus will bolster the regime. It is
hard to discern how fortifying a totalitarian government promotes
democracy, but let us take the discussion past the platitudes into less
What liberal democracy advocates is not weak government, but limited
government. The authority of the Cuban state knows no bounds; it is an
unlimited form of government. I know of no argument offering that the
new US-Cuba policy will advance limited government in Cuba. The
adversary of totalitarian government is not weak government; it is
Our conception of human rights is that rights exist prior to, and
distinct from any man-made law; they cannot be granted or repealed by
government fiat. By our definition, human rights can only exist under a
government that is limited in its authority. But to Marxists, human
rights are the social creation of a particular vision of society. In
their view, rights are no more than a whimsical invention of government
that can be revoked at the pleasure of the government. They are
permissions, not rights.
All governments hold a legal monopoly on the use of physical force. Thus
we need limits on government to protect ourselves from the involuntary
servitude to others demanded by collectivism. The question of whether
rights are creations of particular societies, or independent of them, is
fundamental to our stance on moral conduct and political organization.
A desirable democracy — one that respects and protects individual
rights — requires limited government. But Cuba is a totalitarian regime
that demands complete subjection of the individual to the authority of
the collective. Without limited government, human rights are inaccessible.
A liberal democracy also requires the unfettered participation of an
autonomous opposition that is able to compete freely, fairly, and often
for the levers of power. Yet, to allow opposition means to impose limits
on your own power. The Castros have built a police state, and police
states do not subject themselves to the possibility of relinquishing power.
Stated plainly, the Castros will not self-impose limits on their
governing controls, and will not undertake any process that may deprive
them of their powers.
Assistant Secretary of State Jacobson has expressed that she has no
illusions about changing the Cuban regime. Again commendable, because US
policymakers tend to naively see the world through the lenses of their
own cultural and historical experiences in a form of analytical
In order to secure whatever advantages they may be pursuing, Cuban
negotiators may offer some minor power-limiting promises. Having secured
the advantage, however, the Castros will no longer find it in their
self-interest to fulfill those commitments.
Thus, before getting into bed with Raúl Castro, and surrendering, in
amorous embrace, whatever little leverage we may have left, US
negotiators should know that the General will not respect them in the
Senior scholar at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at
the University of Miami. Azel was a political exile from Cuba at the age
of 13 in 1961 and is the author of Mañana in Cuba. Follow @JoseAzel.
Source: Can Democracy Be Negotiated in Cuba? –