Is Cuba a Democracy?
An American View

I am an author, journalist and lecturer. My latest book deals with Cuba and its neighbours: the United States, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. The title is Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion.

Welcome to this new blog, designed to encourage debate on the content of the book. Several book reviews and accolades were written by specialists in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Cuba. For example, one book review was published in the International Journal of Cuban Studies (International Institute for the Study of Cuba), written by David Grantham of the United States. Grantham, after six years as a Commissioned Officer and Special Agent with the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations, accepted a full-time appointment from the Department of History, PhD Program, at Texas Christian University. He is now an Adjunct Instructor and PhD Candidate in Modern Latin American History with supporting fields in Modern Middle East History and Modern U.S. Diplomacy at Texas Christian University. Given Grantham’s background in the United States Air Force, widely considered to say the least as a “conservative” institution as part of the U.S. official apparatus, what was his evaluation of the book? Did it help in further opening his eyes to democracy and the political process in Cuba? When the International Journal of Cuban Studies published his review, several specialists encouragingly mentioned to me that the goal of the book is being attained. His review, they claimed, illustrates the fact that the book is contributing toward making a breakthrough in the mainstream U.S. population, where so many preconceived prejudices flourish with regard to the Cuban political system and Cuban democracy.

At this time, in October 2014, the debate on normalizing U.S.–Cuba relations is erupting in American public opinion once again, perhaps more forcefully and widespread than ever since the 1959 Revolution. This month, the United Nations General Assembly is again considering the yearly Cuban resolution to end the blockade. In previous years (since 1991), the United States has stood increasingly virtually alone (mainly alongside Israel) in opposing the resolution, while the overwhelming majority of countries have demanded an end to all the severe American sanctions. For example, in October 2013, the vote was two (U.S. and Israel) in favour of maintaining the blockade versus 188 countries voting for the Cuban resolution to terminate it. As a public explanation for the U.S. vote, the government typically cites, as it did again in 2013, American “democratic ideals” as a measuring rod and the need for “political freedoms in Cuba.” In my view, the main issue here is the right of Cuba as a sovereign, independent nation to determine its own political and economic system and overall destiny. The U.S. has no right to dictate to Cuba the type of system that it should adopt.

However, let us debate the issue of what the nature of the Cuban political process is in reality and its own approach to democracy. An interesting basis for this discussion is the book review by the former Special Agent with the United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations, David Grantham. Here is his review.

What do you think? Please join in the debate.