/ Letters / The Cuban ‘Democracy Delusion’ and free education

The Cuban ‘Democracy Delusion’ and free education

April 17, 2020

To the Editor:

The Republic of Cuba, is disingenuously framed by some as, “fundamentally democratic” and celebrated for providing free education, among other forms of government controlled distribution of goods and services. Conspicuously absent from the description is the fact that Cuban “free education” is free, only to the extent that there is no financial charge for books or tuition, while the education itself is devoid of any true freedom of learning. Free exercise of open discussion, analytical debate or variance in perspective or opinion are not permitted, if they run counter to existing party ideology. The government controlled curriculum is in part, shaped by Cuba’s revolutionary propaganda laws that function so as to advance state communist disinformation, silence dissent and disparage foreign alternatives. As a consequence, achieving a higher level of literacy (from free education) is the tradeoff for the state sanctioned intellectual transformation of ultimately compliant and brainwashed recipients.

Expressing criticism or political dissent, in speech (except in the most private setting) is a criminal offense in Cuba, as is the composition or possession of dissenting material, the latter of which is handled as illegal contraband. In all such cases of unlawful expression, the offender is normally imprisoned and publicly labeled an “enemy of the people.”

As of 2017, approximately 57% of the population of Cuba has public Internet access (1), the nature of which is government censured. The three most prominent national newspapers, Granma, Juventud Rebelde and Trabajadores, while not published by the government itself, are published by political organizations aligned with the state party, the Communist Party of Cuba. Interestingly, if there is any doubt about print media allegiance to the current regime, take note that the Granma publication is named after the vessel upon which Fidel Castro and other rebels came ashore from Mexico in 1956, in furtherance of the nearly 6-year communist revolution to overthrow Batista’s Cubano Progressive Action Party government (2); culminating in the final assault and communist occupation on New Years Eve, 1958.

Free education or mandatory re-education is prevalent in socialist and communist societies. They are the party apparatus by which to funnel vetted and censored knowledge “To the people,” which by device and design, indoctrinates or reinforces the party perspective, disingenuously, “For the people.”

Government funded free education is an invitation to stringent state control over curriculum that serves to advance the policies and viewpoints of the party in power, while distorting or suppressing the inverse or opposition in most any form. This in turn, facilitates the path to or perpetuation of, a one party political system, in fact or effect.

Cuba in fact has a one party system that disallows campaigning, public political speech and uses their National Candidacy (Candidature) Commission (municipal, provincial and national) essentially, to approve or deny political candidates for open government seats at all levels (3). The Cuban “democracy delusion” emerges most prominent when the government and its supporters highlight “public elections” (in which citizens are all but required to vote) yet the only candidates allowed to participate in these shams, are those that have been pre-approved by the commission; controlled by the Communist Party of the Cuban Government. Frequently, if not exclusively, there is only one candidate for each open seat, and the Cuban voter must either vote yes or no (3). No open seats are filled by any candidates, not pre-approve by the commission; thus, any candidate unsuccessful in an election would predictably be replaced by another pre-approved candidate, absent some other form of election fraud.

In many cases, a socialist society, though already oppressive, is simply a temporary whistle-stop on the slippery slope to communism. Once there, the means are already in place to lock it down for a lifetime.

Free education is not free and democracy is not simply the right to vote.

Evidence of that is the fact that this article and its publication would each be a criminal offense in Cuba or any other oppressive socialist society.


References

1) Statista Research Department, “Cuba: Internet Access Penetration 2010-2017”, Statista, Feb. 3, 2020; accessed online 2-27-20. 

2) Cavendish, Richard; “Fidel Castro’s Invasion of Cuba”, History Today, Vol. 56 Issue 12, Dec. 2006; accessed online 2-26-20.

3) Martinez, Yisel & Del Toro, Denae; “How Elections Work in Cuba”, Granma, January 20, 2018; accessed online 2-26-20.


Bud Corbett

Rhinelander


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