A Minimal Programme and Projections UNPACU
SAY NO TO MISERY AND REPRESSION; SAY YES TO THE
May 6, 2016
UNPACU: A Minimal Programme and Projections
The democratisation of our country is a vital requirement. Achieving this in a civilised and peaceful manner is convenient for everybody: the oppressed would have a decent life under freedom and prosperity, whilst the oppressors would avoid the harshest verdict of History, should they facilitate the transition. The status quo is pushing us towards the deepest abyss. Persistently thwarting changes we so urgently need may result in a dramatic exit, which would not help anyone, let alone the heirs of Castroism. Democratising Cuba now is the only valid solution.
Cuban, man or woman, who live in our homeland or the Diaspora:
We need and deserve a free, democratic, fair, brotherly and prosperous Cuba. By combining efforts from all of us, we can build up the Cuba that every real Cuban dreams. You may not go along with some or much of what you will read here; it is your right as a man or woman with freedom of conscience and thinking. However, we are confident that we will agree on more than we will dissent. We only hope that you can make a reflection at the end of your reading, maintaining or modifying your current beliefs and attitudes with no other pressure than your conscience.
After reading this note, we beg you not to throw it away or keep it just for yourself. Please pass it on to some relative, friend or neighbour. If possible, make and distribute a few copies. Reproducing a document that simply sets out views on a potential peaceful change for the benefit of all should not be a crime in any country in the world. And remember that those who fear the words of others are only those short on convictions.
The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) is a civic organisation, as well as a pro-democratic and progressive social movement, bringing together authentic Cubans interested in the freedom, sovereignty, and prosperity of our nation, which is much more than simply about a particular government or ideology. Inspired by the work of former activists and previous associations, we evolved as a pluralistic and ecumenical initiative which gathered and synthesised the best ideas from the Christian creed and the Liberal and Social-Democratic doctrines, whilst refusing to submit to native autocrats and foreign powers.
The UNPACU fights against all types of inequality and unfairness, advocating for respect to all rights and all people. Therefore, our central objective is the establishment of a democratic order that combines social market economy, political pluralism, and the greatest equity and solidarity possible amongst the individuals and groups that make up our society.
With the aim of creating a country “with everyone and in the interests of everyone,” which was Martí’s dream, the UNPACU seeks to attract, teach and train the largest available amount of Cubans in non-violent struggle. Our projects will only succeed if we can articulate a strong and disciplined mass movement to compel the oppressor to sit at the negotiating table and respect the rights and fundamental freedoms of all Cubans. In recent years, we have seen how the regime has been forced to take some steps as well as compromise on issues where it would have never budged one inch without the work of the political opposition and popular pressure. As our National Hero said, “rights are to be conquered, not to be panhandled.”
We Can Make Our Dreams Come True!
True economic reform is urgently needed: After nearly six decades of tropical Stalinism, Cuba’s economy remains mired in the deepest crisis in our history, owing to the utmost hegemonic statism coupled with the lack of rights for workers and consumers. The military conglomerates that rule the principal branches of the national economy impose an authoritarian capitalism, combining the worst of an untamed market and a centralist state. Domestic shortages increase, as does Cuba’s outer debt. Personal incomes continue to be miserable. Small local private enterprises are penalised, whilst imported investment is hampered. The country is tied to a reduced quantity of commercial lines and foreign partners, reproducing and exacerbating —like never before— the woes of the republic that existed before 1959. The regime does not show the slightest desire to implement real reforms, which would bring about an end to such a critical situation.
Industry, agriculture, fisheries, transport, roads, housing, water supply and sewerage are all in crisis. The so-called “guidelines” of the Communist Party do not go to the root cause. To top it all, in five years, the government has not been able to any more than 21 percent of its paltry measures. Such an incapable government should not continue to rule the destiny of an entire people.
The UNPACU stands for the project of a social market economy, where both the state and the markets, which would be open to the scrutiny and participation of citizens, may serve as mechanisms to generate personal and public prosperity. We trust in the fertile combination of all forms of ownership and production: small, medium or large; national, international or joint ventures. In our nation, we need to establish legal guarantees for entrepreneurs and protection for Cubans living in a precarious situation. All Cubans, including those living overseas, must have the right to invest in our country. Chastened by history, we reject the view that state or private monopolies can be sources of liberty. So, we endorse the implementation of genuine agrarian reform, which will recognise the full rights of those who work the land, eliminating the large estates belonging to the government and the authoritarian, poorly-planned and abusive intervention from the state, which distorts the market and affects producers, traders, and consumers.
On the issue of property, we seek to learn from the favourable transitional agreements reached in Eastern Europe. In the UNPACU, we defend the ownership of those who have been declared owners of their house or farm since 1959, dismissing expropriation or the payment of any rent whatsoever. On the contrary, we believe that they, and all other Cubans, must be turned into real proprietors, with the capacity to decide freely on the use, sale or purchase of their assets. Cuba ought to be a territory of independent producers and keepers. As for the former landlords and owners of small family holdings, some compensation formulas must be found, without affecting third parties or giving rise to further injustice and hatred in a nation that needs proper reconciliation. As for commercial properties and companies formerly expropriated by the current regime, which are now under state control, we recognise the right of their legal owners to claim them. An impartial court must be established to resolve these cases in a manner that is fair.
On free trade unions and workers’ rights: Cuban workers must have the right to the freedom of association. The CTC is not a real union, but a control structure at the service of the patron-state. There must be the right to strike, decent working conditions, collective bargaining and minimum wages, which would provide workers and their families a satisfactory living. The arbitrary personnel recruitment processes and the state control of labour employed in companies with foreign capital have to finish.
On freedom of speech and press: No Cuban will be harassed because of their opinions. There must exist press organs that are not subordinated to the administration, such as private newspapers, radio stations and TV channels, in addition to a press law that will prevent the existence of any monopoly in mass media, as both are essential prerequisites for a free and well-informed citizenry. It is necessary to promote the development of culture and mass media, freeing them from state control and totalitarian indoctrination. The arts should represent the free expression of humankind; there is no free art without free citizens and emancipated societies.
Internet access, which is deemed a human right in several national and international conventions, must be supported by public services. For instance, free-to-use Wi-Fi zones in public places, libraries and schools must be provided, whilst private provision of this service must be encouraged, ensuring affordability and quality. In the UNPACU, we consider that the monopoly of the state company ETECSA over telecommunications must be ended, replaced by a new space where national and foreign enterprises can compete on equal terms, thereby improving performance and policies for the sake of the people.
A new electoral law guaranteeing free, fair and competitive elections must be passed, allowing the participation of all sectors of society as well as the representation of different political parties and independent citizens on equal terms, unlike the current situation in our country.
A new law on associations must be enacted to ensure free and smooth operation of all political parties and civil organisations, allowing all Cubans to create parties and societies according to interests of each of the sectors of the population.
All political and conscience prisoners currently surviving in subhuman conditions in Castro’s prisons ought to be released, immediately and unconditionally. In Cuba, no citizen should go to prison for political reasons or opinion. It is high time to end the half-century practice of punishing people who think differently from those who govern with incarceration.
All laws violating rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, have to be repealed. There must be a reform of the Penal Code, abolishing the so-called “Pre-crime Social Dangerousness Act” and Law 88, better known as the “Gag Rule,” among other arbitrary decrees.
Cuba needs a new constitution. Without coercion of any kind and with the necessary guarantees, the people must be able to democratically choose delegates to a Constitutional Assembly to write a new constitution. This Magna Carta will ensure all rights and freedoms universally recognised for all Cubans without exception, including the ones living within national borders and those of the Diaspora. The latter will also be allowed to participate in discussions and have representation in the drafting of the new constitution, as well as the laws that will rule the life of the Cuban nation.
The UNPACU is committed to food security and decent wages to eliminate forever the everyday ordeal of Cuban families, who are forced to invest their best energies into getting their daily bread. We hold that public and private access to drinking water, toiletries, clothing, footwear, electricity, communications, housing and quality transport —all unfulfilled promises of Castroism— must be concrete goals to be met by a forthcoming democratic government in the interests of the society. Miniscule reductions in the pricing of products, which are still prohibitively expensive, and minor wage increases in certain sectors, are certainly not the solution to such grave problems.
On education: The state must continue to provide free and universal education, as well as improve its quality. The educational model to be implemented should sponsor pride in the greatest episodes of our Motherland History, as well as civic consciousness and entrepreneurship. Political indoctrination and compulsory labour by students ought to be eliminated. Additionally, private study centres, including those of a religious nature, must be provided. The right to decide on the type of education to receive, either public or private, should belong to parents and students of legal age. University autonomy and academic freedom have to be restored.
On healthcare: It is imperative to maintain and perfect medical care for everybody at no cost. We ought to recover the primary healthcare system, which has now bled dry due to the export of medical services —pushed by the regime— for commercial purposes without proper planning and sustainability. Private practices and hospitals must be legalised for those who want them. Likewise, health professionals should have the right to choose where they practise. Health will be regarded, along with education and social security, as a social, non-negotiable right for all Cubans.
The severe internal demographic crisis, which will make the country unfeasible in a few years, leads us to pay particular attention to our children and elderly population: the former, since they are devoid of prospects; and the latter, because they see —on the last part of their path in life— that all endeavours have been to no avail, whilst the present order only guarantees a miserable survival that shortens their lives. Therefore, policies aimed at increasing the birth rate and supporting those in old age must be implemented. What is more, we uphold the return of the human capital forced to migrate on account of the rigorous circumstances of our nation.
The UNPACU advocates for the determined combat of racism and sexism, scourges that have been reproduced and aggravated by the shortages suffered during the years of the so-called “Special Period.” These growing inequalities affect, to a greater extent, black and biracial persons, in addition to working women and those mainly living in rural areas and inland provinces. No absurd restrictions on our compatriots living overseas to visit their motherland must exist. No Cuban must be denied entry to their country.
On freedom of religion and worship: All kinds of intolerance against believers have to stop. The religious denominations dedicated to the peaceful preaching of common good must have the right to build new premises for the exercise of their cult. The same rights shall be permitted to fraternal institutions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), established by citizens in line with the interests they wish to defend or promote.
All civil, political, economic, social and cultural freedoms shall be respected without discrimination or privileges. Laws must guarantee and enforce these rights for all Cubans.
On internal order and the Armed Forces: In the UNPACU, we judge that any freedom presumes the existence of order: a democratic order in this case. Cuban police ought to comply with the mission assigned to this kind of body throughout the entire civilised world. That means protecting and serving the public and, unlike the present, not acting as the repressive arm of a regime. The Armed Forces must be ready to deal with natural disasters appropriately, protect our coasts from international drug trafficking, and be a factor in the maintenance of regional peace. The Army and other law enforcement bodies must be dimensioned, in terms of staff and means, according to the real needs and the economic strength of our nation. The job of the Armed Forces will be the defence of our territory, not serving a certain political party. Police and military would gain very much from the democratisation of Cuba. No longer having to chase someone because of their ideas, they would have better labour conditions as well as a more dignified life without rancour, thus gaining the respect of the community. Mandatory Military Service ought to be abolished.
It is necessary to improve the environment by fighting against the damage caused by irresponsible governmental policies on industry, agriculture and mining. Cubans have the right to sustained and sustainable development. All legislation existing in this regard at both national and international level has to be enforced.
The UNPACU believes in the need to revive the Cuban sports through its extensive practice, allowing athletes who seek to become professionals to do so and recognising the right of sportspeople living overseas to represent Cuba in international competitions, as is the case with the rest of the world. The few recreational options existing today must be expanded and diversified, without this leading to an increase in the already very high consumption of alcohol and drugs, chiefly amongst those young people who cannot find meaning in their life and live in a constant state of frustration due to the lack of opportunities in their homeland.
In the UNPACU, we believe that tomorrow’s Cuba —free, democratic and sovereign— should be friends with the entire West, with whom we share history and values. We desire Cuba to be a sister and an ally for the whole civilised world. We say the Cuban authorities should no longer seek alliances from amongst regimes with the worst records on human rights on the planet. We are in favour of understanding, as well as the respectful and constructive dialogue, amongst all nations. We are opposed to unilateral measures. We regard the policy of the US President, Mr Barack Obama, towards Cuba as very positive. Cubans must be, and indeed will be the protagonists of the change towards democracy and the reconstruction of our land. Nevertheless, we need and appreciate any selfless help. Solidarity amongst Democrats is much needed in our global village. Let us face it: the enemies of liberty have few qualms about supporting one another.
The Path to Change
As a non-violent popular movement, the UNPACU is inspired by successful precedents of peaceful struggle in the world. The battle of African Americans for their civil liberties, led by Dr Martin Luther King Jr., is an example to us, as well India’s struggle for independence. Due to his pioneering role in the practice of unarmed confrontations, we acknowledge the legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, who rightly said: “what you get with violence can only be maintained by violence.”
In the long struggle of the Polish people against Communism, we find an exceptional source of inspiration and hope, since we are confronting the same kind of adversary. Furthermore, their efforts opened the way to democracy in the former “Soviet Bloc,” despite a harsh economic crisis and the military threat from Moscow.
Based on these success stories, as well as always considering the particular context of our land and our idiosyncrasy, we plan to shatter the pillars of dictatorial power by encouraging society to deny it any support or cooperation, whilst spreading our vision over all corners of the Isle in order to bring together all Cubans willing to give their best for the common good.
In plotting the struggle’s strategies and tactics, our organisation refers to the existing theoretical and practical body of work on non-violent conflicts. Within this field, we hold the works of Dr Gene Sharp in particularly high regard, since they have dissected the mechanisms and structures backing dictatorships and systemised methods for disintegrating them with the lowest possible cost in human lives and suffering, whilst avoiding the emergence of new tyrannies. We trust in the application of Sharp’s philosophy, given its demonstrated validity in the overthrow of the Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic in 2000, the 2004 Orange Revolution in Ukraine and the Arab Spring of 2011, to give just a few examples. Such an approach, based on the concept of civil disobedience shaped by Thoreau, and later developed by Gandhi, today remains a strategic reference for democratic movements worldwide, including the one facing the corrupt regime of Angola.
Adapted to our environment, we can start applying the idea of civil disobedience by saying “I DO NOT;” i.e. I DO NOT snitch on anybody; I DO NOT vote in favour of governmental candidates; I DO NOT attend meetings and marches convened by the dictatorship; I DO NOT involve myself in acts of repudiation… Besides saying NO to all that, we can carry out numerous actions. That is why we urge you to approach those near you fighting for your rights in an organised way —the only system to achieve the change— and contribute to making this dream comes true. It is the constant and growing amount of personal and daily small actions what makes a big change, without the need for martyrs or civil wars.
To attract the highest number of supporters, the UNPACU tries to convey its sound intentions clearly and demonstrate —with the daily example— that it is composed of solid, trustworthy and courageous men and women concerned about the rights and welfare of us all. Our behaviour will be the best at all times: people belonging to the UNPACU ought to be pure patriots, outstanding citizens, and great neighbours; and we must prove all this with our everyday action.
To whom do we relay our message of liberation?
To everybody around us: neighbours, friends and relatives. Especially, our message must reach all those who support the dictatorial regime, including the police, officers of the so-called State Security, and Communist Party affiliates. They are all our siblings even if they think differently and even if they repress their compatriots. Our message is for everyone in favour of freedom, justice and progress, all of which would benefit today’s repressors considerably as well.
How do we convey our messages and our proposals to others?
By life experience, verbally, person to person, with audiovisual and printed materials, through arts, with posters, graffiti, public demonstrations, rallies, and so forth.
What should activists do when citizens express their interest in our struggle?
People should be given this document, as well as copies of other printed and audiovisual materials, for full information on our fight. In addition to this, they must be put in touch with the coordinator of the nearest cell or the cell that operates best in the area.
What should someone who joins our organisation do?
Firstly, the recruits should talk to either the coordinator of the cell to which they will belong or a member of our Directorate to decide on their roles within the group, which are specified taking into account the characteristics, commitment, knowledge, skills, talent and value of the applicant. The newcomer must receive the most excellent training in the shortest time possible so that they can develop the most useful work for a New Cuba, free, fair and fraternal.
Our activists are grouped preferably into cells of five to thirty persons, with the important assignment of developing the most dynamic pro-democracy work in their zone, and even beyond, considering the action capacity of each group. We want each cell to produce new leaders capable of creating additional teams in every city or town and the Cuban countryside. If the dictatorship created a CDR per block to control us all, then the UNPACU should set up a cell in every block to end tyranny and bring freedom, welfare and happiness to our soil.
All members of the UNPACU have duties and prerogatives within our organisation. Each UNPACU activist must commit to taking at least a guest to the video workshops and debates held in the cells. Every member of our movement ought to deliver our videos and printed materials to no fewer than ten people every week. Each UNPACU actionist should visit the family of political prisoners in their area to express their solidarity at least once a month. Each activist must participate in actions for the community, for the elderly, the sick, the needy and the children, a minimum of three times a month.
Each cell will draw up a report on the performance in the month, where the actions of each day and each member shall be collected with the purpose of assessing the progress of work in each area: whether it grows and becomes stronger, whether it decreases and weakens. Besides, this procedure will allow us to ensure an adequate distribution management of our resources.
UNPACU cells undertake an intense daily work for the freedom and benefit of the population. For every problem affecting the community, the UNPACU should contribute to finding an appropriate solution. We must always make an effort for the well-being of our people.
May new cells be created by anyone who wants it?
Yes, with the previous agreement of UNPACU leaders in the municipality, province or nationally. Every Cuban who loves liberty and justice and is willing to fight for the democratisation of our nation through methods of non-violent struggle may form new cells, recruit collaborators, and teach and train them to develop an effective fight to take us to Victory.
Do all members of the UNPACU have to declare their affiliation publicly?
No, those who wish to endorse our cause anonymously, discreetly, for safety reasons or any other nature, can belong to the UNPACU, too. In fact, for every open member in our movement, approximately three activists prefer to operate undercover. These anonymous fighters fulfil printing tasks and reproduction of audiovisuals. They also look for paper, ink, and discs. They repair mobile phones and DVD players; get transport, medicines and other things political prisoners may necessitate; serve as messengers between our headquarters and the provinces, and develop loads of other activities.
May Cubans living abroad join the UNPACU?
Yes, all our compatriots residing outside Cuba may wholly fit in the UNPACU. A lot can be done from overseas for the freedom and welfare of our nation. For instance, they can disseminate information about the work we do for the democratisation of Cuba. Additionally, plenty of peaceful activities can be performed, either by a person or a team, provided that the latter can be created. Those who can, and wish so, might make their material contribution.
Those living abroad could identify their vehicle or house with a little flag of the UNPACU, and post this on social networks later on. The non-violent fighters in the Isle will feel heartened to know that Cubans living in freedom perform actions for the liberty of us all, enlisting their collaboration to this ever-growing and unstoppable force in the fight for a better future.
Countless things can be done for our cause in social networks, too. Videos can spread messages of solidarity with the victims of repression, and anything can be expressed as desired about the struggle that joins us.
Cubans who live overseas can communicate with the ones fighting within our borders, and expose their views and advice: what they think is right or wrong, how could we do it better, and so on.
Can foreigners belong to the UNPACU?
Every citizen of the free world who feel the need to show solidarity with people like ours, who are fighting for freedom in tough conditions, can indeed create groups of solidarity and contact our organisation. We greatly appreciate all gestures of friendship from the free world.
Cuba needs us!
If we all give our contribution for the democratisation of our beautiful but long-suffering motherland, we could soon realise Martí’s dream and the dream of all real Cubans: A Cuba “with everyone and in the interests of everyone,” a free, democratic, equitable, prosperous and fraternal Cuba.
The Patriotic Union of Cuba fights for the welfare and dignity of all Cubans: for workers, peasants, women, students, the self-employed, the children, the elderly, the sick, the ones who suffer injustices, for all who need it. UNPACU means brave fight for the benefit of our homeland, and also service to the people who suffer. With the UNPACU, Cuba wins!
Long live free Cuba!
The Coordinating Council of the Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU)
THE UNPACU IN BRIEF:
- Foundation: August 24th, 2011
- Regarded as Cuba’s largest opposition organisation, with a presence in all provinces.
- General Coordinator: José Daniel Ferrer García
- Number of political prisoners belonging to the UNPACU: 22 (April 2016)
- Non-violent struggle actions
- Peaceful marches and demonstrations all over the country. The UNPACU has organised the largest public gatherings in the history of peaceful opposition in Cuba.
- Production and distribution of audiovisual contents and printed materials to encourage, inform and educate for Democracy.
- Working agreements with other pro-democratic organisations: CCDHRN (Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation,) and Project “Another 18,” among others.
- Activities of intelligence and counterintelligence to unmask Castroist agents and frustrate plans of the dictatorship.
- Training of activists in non-violent struggle techniques, use of the Internet and social networks, etc.
- Social work
- Aid to Cuban families in precarious situations with medicines, food, clothing, transport of patients to hospitals, etc.
- Building and reconstruction of houses.
- Legal support.
- Medical assistance.
- Recreational activities for children.
- Promotion of arts in favour of freedom, as well as artists marginalised by the regime.
- Campaigning for Internet connection to the Cuban population through the project “Internet For All”
- International presence
- Cells in exile: USA, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Croatia, Canada and Latin America.
- Groups and associations supporting the UNPACU in Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, Czechia, Mexico and Peru.
- Meetings with highest levels of the US government and several European countries.
- Observer in electoral processes of different countries.
- Participation in international political events such as the Summit of the Americas in Panama.
- Reports and interviews in prominent print media, radio and TV in Europe and the Americas.
Participation in workshops for Democracy and Human Rights.
After hearing the views of most members of our organisation and other Cuban patriots, as well as a fruitful exchange of ideas, this document was written by (in alphabetical order):
- Armando Chaguaceda
- Bernardo Toar
- Carlos Amel Oliva
- Eva Belfrage
- Guillermo Milán
- José Daniel Ferrer
- Luis Enrique Ferrer
- René Gómez Manzano
Translation: Bernardo Toar
We will appreciate any comments on this document to help us in the development of a broader program for the transition towards democracy, in which we are working in collaboration with other actors of the Cuban civil society.
- Cuba: (+53) 54332181 / 53146740 / 58228297 / 53957381
- USA: (+1) 7864518998 / 7865531666