Making Cuba’s Political System Ever More Authentically Democratic

By Arnold August, September 30, 2015

Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada served as Cuba’s permanent representative to the United Nations for nearly 30 years and later served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1992 to 1993. Subsequently, he was President of the National Assembly of People’s Power from 1993 to 2013. He was also a Member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba until 2013.

This is what he wrote in his Foreword to the Cuban-Spanish version of my book CUBA AND ITS NEIGHBOURS: DEMOCRACY IN MOTION:

“This book makes a contribution to a necessary discussion about our political system, and as such it is a useful tool that will help to refine this system, making it ever more authentically democratic.”

My analysis of Cuba’s political process, electoral system and own approach to democracy is far from being idealistic and apologetic. On the contrary, it deals with most of the important existing problems as seen by many Cuban academics and researchers. Ricardo Alarcón, who himself has always taken an objective view towards Cuba’s political system, captured one of the most important points of my book in the above-cited quote. For the full text of his Foreword in English, click here:

Please take the time to view this two-part English-language informative and wide-ranging YouTube interview with Alarcón carried out by one of Cuba’s new, young TV journalists, Cristina Escobar. Both parts were filmed in September 2015:


Ricardo Alarcón

Raúl Castro Remarks at United Nations

Remarks by Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, in his address to the General Debate of the 70th Session of the UNGA, New York, September 28, 2015.

Raúl Castro

Raúl Castro

Esteemed heads of State and Government,

Distinguished heads of delegations,

Mr. Secretary General of the United Nations,

Mr. President,

It was seventy years ago that, on behalf of their peoples, the member States of this organization signed the United Nations Charter. We pledged ourselves to preserve future generations from the scourge of war, and to build a new type of relationship guided by a set of principles and purposes that should bring about an era of peace, justice and development for all of humanity.

However, as from that moment, there have constantly been wars of aggression, and interference in the internal affairs of the States; the ousting of sovereign governments by force, the so-called “soft coups” and the re-colonization of territories; and, all of these upgraded with new ingenious actions employing new technologies, and under the pretext of alleged human rights violations.

The militarization of cyberspace, and the covert and illegal use of information and communications technologies to attack other States is unacceptable, the same as the distortion of the advancement and protection of human rights used with a selective and discriminatory approach to validate and impose political decisions.

Despite the fact that the Charter calls to “reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person”, to millions of people the fulfillment of human rights remains a utopia.

Humanity is denied the right to live in peace, and the right to development. It is in poverty and inequality where the cause of conflicts should be sought out; conflicts generated first by colonialism and the plundering of the original peoples, and later by imperialism and the distribution of spheres of influence.

The pledge made in 1945 “to promote social progress and better standards of life” for the peoples, along with their economic and social development, remains an illusion when 795 million people go hungry, 781 million adults are illiterate, and 17 thousand children perish every day from curable diseases, while annual military expenses worldwide amount to more than 1.7 trillion dollars. Barely a fraction of that figure could resolve the most pressing problems afflicting humanity.

Even in industrial nations the “welfare society”, usually presented as the model to imitate, has practically disappeared. The election systems and traditional parties that rely on money and publicity, are growing increasingly detached and distant from the aspirations of their peoples.

Climate change is threatening the very existence of the human species, and States should assume common but differentiated responsibility for that, in light of the indisputable reality that not every country is equally accountable, and not all of us waste natural and human resources to an irrational and unsustainable consumerism.

The consequences of climate change have a particularly devastating effect on the small developing island nations and bring additional tension to bear on their fragile economies. And, the same is happening in Africa with the relentless advance of desertification.

We stand in solidarity with our Caribbean brothers, and demand that they are treated in a special and differentiated way. We also support African countries and demand fair treatment for them, as well as the transfer of technology and financial resources.


Mr. President,

The establishment of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), and especially the signing by the heads of State and Government in January 2014 of the Proclamation of Latin America and the Caribbean as a Peace Zone, shows that we can move beyond our differences toward unity and the achievement of common goals while respecting our diversity.

In the Proclamation, we reaffirm our steadfast commitment to the principles enshrined in the United Nations Charter and in International Law to settle disputes by peaceful means, and our belief that full respect for the inalienable right of every State to choose their political, economic, social and cultural system is an essential premise to ensure peaceful coexistence between nations. We advocate the application of these principles in other States’ relations with our region.

We reaffirm our full solidarity with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela vis-à-vis the attempts at destabilization and subversion of its constitutional order, and the destruction of the work undertaken by President Hugo Chávez Frías and pursued by President Nicolás Maduro Moros for the benefit of the Venezuelan people.

Likewise, our firm and unlimited solidarity goes to the Republic of Ecuador, its Citizens’ Revolution and its leader, Rafael Correa, who has become the target of the same destabilization script enforced against other progressive governments of the region.

We stand in solidarity with the Caribbean nations demanding fair reparation for the horrors of slavery and slave trade, in a world where racial discrimination and repression against communities of African descendants have increased.

We reaffirm our conviction that the people of Puerto Rico deserves to be free and independent, after more than a century of colonial domination.

We stand in solidarity with the Republic of Argentina in its fair claim of sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, the South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

We reiterate our support to and solidarity with President Dilma Rouseff and the Brazilian people in the defense of their major social achievements and the stability of the country.

We reaffirm our rejection of the intention to expand the presence of NATO up to the Russian borders as well as of the unilateral and unfair sanctions imposed on that nation.

We welcome the so-called nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which proves that engagement and negotiation are the only effective tools to settle disputes between States.

We restate our confidence that the Syrian people are capable of resolving their disputes by themselves, and demand the end of external interference.

A fair and lasting solution of the Middle East conflict unquestionably requires the true exercise, by the Palestinian people, of its inalienable right to build their own State within the borders existing prior to 1967, and its capital in East Jerusalem, which we strongly support.

For the past few weeks we have been moved by images of migratory waves arriving in Europe, a direct result of the destabilization actions promoted and executed by NATO in countries of the Middle East and North Africa, and of poverty and underdevelopment prevailing in countries of the African continent. The European Union should take up full and immediate responsibility for the human crisis that it helped generate.


Mr. President,

After 56 years in which the Cuban people put up a heroic and selfless resistance, diplomatic relations have been reestablished between Cuba and the United States of America.

Now, a long and complex process begins toward the normalization of relations that will only be achieved with the end of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba; the return to our country of the territory illegally occupied by Guantanamo Naval Base; the cessation of radio and TV broadcasts, and of subversion and destabilization programs against the Island; and, when our people are compensated for the human and economic damages they still endure.

While the blockade remains in force, we shall continue introducing the Draft Resolution entitled “Necessity of Ending the Economic, Commercial and Financial Embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba.”

To the 188 governments and peoples that have sponsored our just demand, here and in other international and regional forums, I reaffirm the eternal appreciation of the Cuban people and government for your continued support.


Mr. President,

Cuba is celebrating with profound commitment the 70th anniversary of the United Nations Organization. We acknowledge that efforts have been made throughout these years, although not enough has been done, to save present and future generations from the scourge of war, and to protect their right to sustainable development without exclusions. The United Nations should be saved from unilateralism and deeply reformed to democratize it and bring it close to the peoples.

As Comrade Fidel Castro Ruz, the Historic Leader of the Cuban Revolution, stated in this same hall fifteen years ago: “Anyone understands that the fundamental objective of the United Nations, in this pressing century that is just beginning, is to save the world not only from war but also from underdevelopment, hunger, diseases, poverty and the destruction of the natural resources indispensable to human existence. And it should do it soon before it is too late!”

The international community can always depend on Cuba to rise its honest voice against injustice, inequality, underdevelopment, discrimination and manipulation; and for the establishment of a more equitable and fair international order that really focuses on the human being, his dignity and wellbeing.

Thank you.

Obama in the UNGA and Democracy

Obama lectured the world today, September 28, 2015, on democracy. What about democracy in the US?


Chapter 2. Democracy in the U.S.

Birth of the U.S. and the American Dream

Foreign Policy Toward Its Neighbours and Democracy Promotion

Founding Fathers’ Heritage and Voter Turnout

Competitive Multi-Party Democratic Elections: Obama Case Study

Co-Optation and Individual Opportunism

The Credibility Gap

Obama’s First Experiences and Reactions

Obama’s Foreign Policy: The “New Face” and Cuba

Honduras: The “Reluctant Sheriff ”

The Occupy Movement: Breaking Out of U.S.-Centrism?

The November 2012 Elections and Obama

Raúl Castro in UN on Gender Equality

Raul Castro

Remarks by Raúl Castro Ruz, President of the Councils of State and Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, in his address to the United Nations Session on “Global Leaders’ Meeting on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment: A Commitment to Action”.

New York, September 27, 2015

Mr. President,

Seventy years after the establishment of the United Nations Organization, one of whose foundational objectives was the struggle on inequality, discrimination against women stands as an embarrassing reality.

Forty years after the First World Conference on Women, and twenty years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Action Program, one out of three women endures physical and sexual violence; 90% of the 2.5 million victims of human trafficking are female; unemployment is higher among women than men, and they receive an average of 60% to 70% of the men’s salary for the same work; millions of women do not enjoy equal rights with respect to inheritance and property; and, women representation in parliaments worldwide is of only 22%.

It becomes necessary to examine the problems they face in their permanent connection with conditions in the world today, where the pervasive influence of war, aggression and instability, underdevelopment and the global crisis aggravate their dramatic situation.

Nearly 90% of the current victims of war are civilians, most of them women and children, and the same applies to 75% of the people displaced by conflicts or seeking refuge. Women make up 70% of the 2.7 billion of the world poor, and two thirds of the nearly 800 million illiterate adults; more than 300 thousand women die every year of avoidable complications during childbirth, 99% of them in South countries.


Mr. President,

Cuba, which was the first country to sign and the second to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Woman, has achieved great progress toward the objectives that bring us together at this point.

Today, Cuban women’s life expectancy at birth if 80.45 years of age; direct maternal mortality rate is only 21.4 per one-hundred thousand live births, one of the lowest in the world; they make up 48% of the total number of people working in the state civil sector, and occupy 46% of senior leading positions.

They make up 78.5% of healthcare personnel, 48% of scientific researchers and 68.8% of the labor force with the highest technical and professional qualifications. Cuban women, in general, complete their 10th grade of schooling and represent 65.2% of higher education graduates. Additionally, 48.86% of Cuban Parliament members are women, which sets Cuba in second place among countries of the American hemisphere and fourth in the world.

Nevertheless, we still have much to do. We need to move forward in the modification of cultural patterns, and to make sharing family care by men and women a priority. This would help us to continue increasing the number of women in decision-making positions in the Government, just to mention some aspects.


Mr. President,

We admit that some achievements have been scored in the past decades but they are fragile and insufficient. In order to advance toward the full realization of gender equality and the empowerment of women, it is necessary above all to have a more equitable and just international order that eradicates poverty and hunger, puts an end to conflicts, favors human beings above capital, and preserves the environment. But, political will is much needed to avoid turning the results obtained so far into our goals instead of making them a starting point and a pledge to achieve true equality for women.

Thank you.