Sunday, September 4, 2011

Translation: The right to express an opinion

Granma letter to the editor

Extend the right to express an opinion to daily life

By A. J. Perez Perez, August 5, 2011

Very important steps are being taken to consolidate the gains of the Revolution and to reaffirm its socialist character. Our top leaders have spoken about the need to do away with old formulas and prescriptions that hinder and weigh down the economy and life in general in the present circumstances. Despite the calls for change, we’re all aware of the meetings for the sake of meetings and the passivity of many functionaries, with most of the time spent listening to the same things that have been said before and hearing about the same unfulfilled commitments.

In his July 26 speech, compaƱero Vice President Jose Ramon Machado Ventura pointed out the need to eradicate these evils at once. Things are changing on our blockaded island and people feel it in the streets, though the pace of change may not be as rapid as we'd like or in the manner that many of us long for.

Our President Raul Castro was emphatic in stressing, in the Second Communist Party Central Committee Plenum held recently,
 that any disagreement within the Permanent Commission for the Implementation and Development of the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines would be analysed rather than being tossed aside, thus ensuring a free discussion in which everyone can say what they think and want. As Raul said afterwards in the National Assembly this also applies to daily life in Cuba, so that Cubans may have a space in which to exercise their right to express an opinion in an appropriate manner and with due respect. 

I’m one of those who ask that our Round Table current affairs TV programme gives voice to opinions regarding national themes. There are people with a lot to say, with many ideas to contribute, who deserve to be heard and must be listened to. We mustn’t fear fair remarks or justified criticism, and if such criticism is constructive, educational and puts forward solutions then all the better.

I urge that we create a mechanism for delivering the population’s daily complaints of institutional abuse suffered at the hands of functionaries who occupy posts that were created to serve the people. Such a mechanism would deliver these complaints to every level as required and would be committed to nothing other than the truth and justice. Unfortunately, and I speak from personal experience, a large proportion of the complaints that are made are lost in complacency and indolence.

It’s infuriating and at the same time sad that cases published in the national press elicit a speedy response following their publication, despite the fact that those making the complaints went back and forth for months, and in some cases years, trying to get their problems resolved. Most of the time the higher-ups took note of these cases (which often waited on their own signature) only when the whole of Cuba knew about them. Unfortunately, there are many functionaries who cease to function when faced with problems whose resolution should be straightforward.

Everyone must contribute to what the country and the people need in these times. Everyone must be listened to. Sometimes, as Jose Marti said, trenches of ideas are worth more than trenches of stone.       

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