Cuba Futures is an international and interdisciplinary symposium organized by the Bildner Center aimed at exploring Cuba’s past, present, and future. Since the early part of the 19th century, Cuban intellectuals, political leaders, civil society organizations and institutions have created multiple visions, projects and blueprints for building an independent Cuba. These visions, while they may clash with each other, fail to attract support, and/or occasionally induce change consensually perceived as desirable, have generated legacies that stand and shape realities, memories, perceptions, and diverse plans for reforming Cuba.Organized by the Bildner Center/Cuba Project, the Cuba Futures Symposium builds on the expertise of Cuba specialists at the City University of New York and participants in past Cuba Project conferences and seminars. As in the past, we expect established specialists from across the globe, and we encourage the participation of young scholars as a way of reflecting and advancing excellent academic work in the field of Cuba studies. The conference continues a dialogue begun at the previous symposium, "A Changing Cuba in a Changing World."
B.2 – Civil Society and Politics in Cuba – Room 9205
Organizer: Armando Chaguaceda (Universidad Veracruzana, México) Moderator: Margaret E. Crahan (Columbia University)
“Raúl Castro: la hora de las definiciones” Janette Habel, Institut des Hautes Études d’Amerique Latine-IHEAL, France
“Legal Dissent: Constitutional Proposals for ‘Cambio’ in Cuba” Ana Cristina Maldonado, St. Thomas University
"ONGs en Cuba: Fundación Fernando Ortiz" Miguel Barnet (Fundación Fernando Ortiz, Cuba). “Retos del derecho en la Cuba socialista actual” Mylai Burgos Matamoros, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México
“Cuba: los retos de una reforma heterodoxa de la institucionalidad” Carlos Alzugaray, University of Havana, Cuba and Armando Chaguaceda, Universidad Veracruzana, México
C.2 – Civil Society – Room 9205
Moderator: Margaret E. Crahan (Columbia University)
“The Seeds of Civil Society in Cuba: AfroCuban Cultural Production, Art Collectives, and the Struggle for a New Public Sphere” Zoya Kocur, New York University and Middlesex University
“The Cuban Freemasons in the Development of Civil Society and Political Opening” Jorge Luis Romeu, Syracuse University“Presente y futuro del pensamiento cubano” Alexis Jardines, University of Havana, Cuba
“Esta Calle es de Fidel: Damas de Blanco, ciudadanía y espacios públicos” Laura García Freyre, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México
J.4 - Special Session: US NGOs in Cuba: Reality, Challenges and Promise – Segal Theatre Organizer: Luly Duke (Fundación Amistad) Moderator: Cristina Eguizábal (Florida International University)
Consuelo Issacson, Friends of Caritas Cubana Luly Duke, Fundación Amistad Oz Mondejar, Acceso Ben Rodriguez-Cubeñas, Rockefeller Brothers Fund
Panelists will describe the work and goals of their NGOS, discuss specific project on Cuba, successful and unsuccessful experiences, and lessons learned. There will be time for comments, questions and answers from panelists and the audience.
Professor Jardines spoke about the conceptual difficulties of maintaining a sphere of civil society that is both outside the Revolution but not against the Revolution. Yet that space, he argued, is a critical area for engagement both within Cuban society and as a mirror of the engagement Cuba must make with the global community. He started with the framing of the role of the intellectual in Cuban society, as early as 1961, grounded in the Party line: "Within the Revolution, Everything. Outside the Revolution, Nothing.'' (See, Fidel Castro Ruz, “One of the goals of the revolution is to develop art and culture, in The Cuban Revolutionary Reader: A Documentary History of the Fidel Castro's Revolution 113-119 (Julio García Luis, ed., New York: Ocean Press, 2008) (translation of a part of a speech delivered in the auditorium of the José Martí National Library at the closing session of a series of meetings of intellectuals and cultural figures, June 30, 1961)).
Within the revolution, everything; against the revolution, nothing. Against the revolution, nothing, because the revolution also has its rights, and the first right of the revolution is the right to exist, and no one can oppose the revolution’s right to exist. Inasmuch as the revolution embodies the interests of the people, inasmuch as the revolution symbolizes the interests of the whole nation, no one can justly claim a right to oppose it. I believe that this is quite clear. What are the rights of writers and artists, revolutionary or nonrevolutionary? Within the revolution, everything; against the revolution, there are no rights. (Id., at 117).
Esto significa que dentro de la Revolución, todo; contra la Revolución, nada. Contra la Revolución nada, porque la Revolución tiene también sus derechos; y el primer derecho de la Revolución es el derecho a existir. Y frente al derecho de la Revolución de ser y de existir, nadie —por cuanto la Revolución comprende los intereses del pueblo, por cuanto la Revolución significa los intereses de la nación entera—, nadie puede alegar con razón un derecho contra ella. Creo que esto es bien claro.¿Cuáles son los derechos de los escritores y de los artistas, revolucionarios o no revolucionarios? Dentro de la Revolución, todo; contra la Revolución, ningún derecho (APLAUSOS). (Fidel Castro Ruz, Discurso pronunciado como Conclusión de las Reuniones con los Intelectuales Cubanos, efectuadas en la Biblioteca Nacional el 16, 23 y 30 de junio de 1961.)
That line, Professor Jardines suggested, left an interpretive ambiguity that has not been satisfactorily resolved. In that famous speech to intellectuals, Fidel Castro noted the difficulty of occupation of that space--between revolution and opposition: "Ese es el sector que constituye para la Revolución el problema, de la misma manera que la Revolución constituye para ellos un problema."(Fidel Castro Ruz, Discurso pronunciado como Conclusión de las Reuniones con los Intelectuales Cubanos, efectuadas en la Biblioteca Nacional el 16, 23 y 30 de junio de 1961.) "This is the sector that constitutes a problem for the revolution, just as the revolution constitutes a problem for them." ( Fidel Castro Ruz, “One of the goals of the revolution is to develop art and culture, in The Cuban Revolutionary Reader: A Documentary History of the Fidel Castro's Revolution, supra at 116).The ambiguity consists of the character of that space. In 1961 it might have appeared to be a temporary space--that is a space available to those writers alive at the commencement of the triumph of the revolution but who needed a space in which to serve it without becoming one with the revolution. But should this space exist a half century later for the children and grandchildren of the Revolution who should know nothing "outside" the revolutionary space? In other words, can there be a stable space within Revolutionary Cuban intellectual society that is both outside the revolution but not against the Revolution?
Professor Jardines suggested that for some time and among the least progressive elements of the Cuban state and Party apparatus, the answer was that with the death of the pre-Revolutionary generation of intellectuals there was no possible space outside the Revolution except a counter-Revolutionary space. If the revolutionary era was a vanguard generation, then those that follow no longer fill the same role. "Revolutionaries are the vanguard of the people, but revolutionaries should strive to have all the people march alongside them. The revolution cannot renounce the goal of having all honest men and women, whether or not they are writers and artists, march alongside it." ( Fidel Castro Ruz, “One of the goals of the revolution is to develop art and culture, in The Cuban Revolutionary Reader: A Documentary History of the Fidel Castro's Revolution, supra at 116). As a consequence it would not be possible to create or maintain civil society outside the revolution. For Professor Jardines, it is possible to suggest an alternative interpretation--that the Revolution can tolerate a space between Revolution and counter-Revolution, and that within that space in Cuba, an independent but loyal civil society sector can exist. The analogue, of course, is that of the united front notions first developed by Lenin and institutoinalized in China. Thus one can read the language quoted above both ways--it is possible to see in it the possibility of a stable space within which people can march alongside the revolution without being within it.
If such a space exists, Professor Jardines then suggested, it is a place where the Cuban people could support the state but outside the revolution. That, he noted, is the only place within which civil society could exist as autonomous but not disloyal and in dialogue with but not opposition to either State or Party. Whether such a possibility can ever develop within Cuba, without threatening the leadership role of the Party and the ideological basis of the State, remains to be seen. But it is clear that such a possibility will remain controversial. What is particularly provocative, though, is the possibility that such an insight is compatible with rather than antithetical to the current political framework for the organization of the Cuban state. Still, there are those within Cuba who believe such a space can exist. They have been trying to carve out that space and populate it with ideas and perspectives that may be outside the revolution but may not be opposed to the ideals of the revolution. This is done outside the institutions and organizational matrices of the state and the Party. It is an informal sector, mirroring in some respects the informal sector of the economy. But it leaves open the questions: is it possible that to be outside the revolution but not against it effectively to be within the revolution? What falls within this space and what does not?
Those questions were of the essence in the excellent papers on the damas de blanco in Cuba. “Esta Calle es de Fidel: Damas de Blanco, ciudadanía y espacios públicos” Laura García Freyre, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México. These are women who are both connected to political dissent, and at the same time are not necessarily political in a counter revolutionary way, a point well emphasized by Professor Garcís Freye. Here the contest is not over mere intellectual space but also physical space. In some respects they also represent an irony inherent in Professor Jardine's insight--something inherently a-political becomes a sight for anti-governmental activity because the government chooses to construct it that way. The State then, perversely, may contribute to the creation of the sites of counter revolution by its own hand. They also informed the discussion of recent disastrous efforts to create a legislative space outside of the revolution. See, “Legal Dissent: Constitutional Proposals for ‘Cambio’ in Cuba” Ana Cristina Maldonado, St. Thomas University discussing the Varela Project. To some extent it also infomred the difficulties of the freemasons in their relationship with the State and Party. See, “The Cuban Freemasons in the Development of Civil Society and Political Opening” Jorge Luis Romeu, Syracuse University (an earlier version discussed in Larry Catá Backer, Freemasons in Cuba: New Scholarship, Law at the End of the Day, June 30, 2010). And lastly it evidences itself in the struggles of Afro-Cubans for a spiritual space. “The Seeds of Civil Society in Cuba: AfroCuban Cultural Production, Art Collectives, and the Struggle for a New Public Sphere” Zoya Kocur, New York University and Middlesex University.
Lastly, the sessions moved to the highly politicized world of foreign civil society within Cuba. The session was particularly insightful for its illumination of the complex relationship between foreign civil society, the Cuban-American community's special role in developing that element and the special relationship between the United States and Cuba reflected in the way in which foreign civil society from the United States inhabits its own special space. Foreign civil society focuses on philanthropy. It avoids the political directly, though it navigates carefully between Cuban needs (for material aid) and Cuban pride (in which material aid is considered a political act, an admission of the failures of the revolution). The most successful of these efforts are tied to religious activities or cultural exchanges. The most problematic are those that are seen to supplement or supplant in areas where Cuba invests substantial resources. Fundación Amistad provides a great example. It is centered on connections between the U.S. and Cuba, but more specifically on connections between Cuba and the American based Cuban diaspora, built on at times through the mediating efforts of international organizations in Cuba.
Fundación Amistad, "After the devastation of Hurricane Wilma, Fundación Amistad worked closely with the United Nations Development Programme in Cuba and Critas-Cubana, to conduct a collection campaign of funds and supplies for the Hurricane Relief Effort.").
H.3 - Cuban Perspectives on the Cuban Economy – Rooms 9206/9207 Moderator: Mauricio Font (Bildner Center for Western Hemisphere Studies)
“New Forms of Enterprise in Cuba’s Changing Economy” Camila Piñeiro Harnecker, CEEC, University of Havana, Cuba
“Las restricciones de divisas en la economía cubana al terminar el 2010: crisis, ajuste y salida paulatina” Pavel Vidal Alejandro, CEEC, University of Havana, Cuba
“Valoración del impacto de las medidas más recientes en los resultados de la agricultura en Cuba” Armando Nova González, CEEC, University of Havana, Cuba
“La actualización del modelo económico cubano” Omar Everleny Pérez Villanueva, CEEC, University of Havana, Cuba
Somos una institución de la Universidad de la Habana, fundada en 1989, cuya misión es contribuir al estudio y desarrollo de la Economía Cubana a través de la docencia, la investigación, la capacitación y la prestación de servicios de consultoria en los ámbitos de la economía y la gerencia.Para nuestro desempeño en dichos ámbitos, contamos con un equipo especializado de 21 profesores y consultores, 20 de ellos con el grado científico de Doctores en Ciencias o título de Master en Ciencias.Formamos parte del Grupo Económico Asesor y del Grupo de Expertos del Ministerio de Educación Superior de Cuba (MES) en Planeación Estratégica y Dirección por Objetivos (DPO) del Comité Ejecutivo del Consejo de Ministros. Mantenemos relaciones de colaboración, capacitación y asesoría con varios Organismos de la Administración Central del Estado, la Cámara de Comercio de la República de Cuba y el Consejo de Administración Provincial CAP de Ciudad de la Habana.
A second point that was embraced in all of the papers was the recognition that even if markets were to be a method of reform, the private sector markets envisioned will remain small and effectively dependent on public sector markets and enterprises. There were two parts to this point. The first was that private aggregations of capital was to be discouraged. Only the public sector would have access to corporate forms, to the possibility of creating and operating through juridical persons, and to have the ability to operate in the transnational sector. The private sector is understood to consist of small sole proprietors, and perhaps tightly regulated cooperatives of sole proprietors. The only corporate enterprises will be state owned, or state based joint ventures, empresas grannacionales under the ALBA framework. And, indeed, there was a suggestion made that the state expected to hire these proprietors in a sort of state supported privatized sector.
The last point, raised by Camila Piñeiro Harnecker, was also telling. Among the reforms contemplated in the lineamientos is permitting individuals to hire others in their small businesses. That would reflect a substantial change in the Cuban economic system in which only self employment and employment by the state was possible. Piñeiro Harnecker, however, suggested that this new form of employment relationship might be tightly controlled by the state. She suggested that the State was considering, for these private enterprise employees, to create a state sponsored union that would have substantial authority to determine the terms and conditions of employment available in the private sector. These might well mimic the state enterprises that now determine both the conditions of employment and the charges for that employment of Cuban workers hired by foreign enterprises. The reforms, then, do not contemplate the creation of independent or private labor markets.
What was the most important insight was also the most ironic. In their own way, the Cuban economists, economists whose loyalty to system, Party and State should not be doubted, reflected the same point of view as Alexis Jardines--the fundamental issue that faces Cuba is how to deal with the borderlands of a framework which is grounded in the basic postulate, "everything is possible within the Revolution, and nothing is possible outside of the Revolution." It was clear from each of the presentations that the fundamental conundrum was to determine the extent to which the current economic situation, and the change of leadership, had made possible a reconsideration of what was permissible within the context of revolutionary thought and what fell outside. More importantly, each of the economists also tackled, each in their own way, the fundamental question raised more provocatively by Professor Jardines: if something falls outside the Revolution, does it necessarily or invariably constitute an anti-revolutionary act, or might there be a space outside the revolution that is not against the revolution? Unlike Professor Jardines, however, the economists suggested yet another interpretation--that the issue is not whether there is a space outside the revolution that is not against the revolution; instead the question is what constitutes revolutionary space. The proceedings of the 6th Party Congress this month in Havana will provide an indication of the extent of Revolutionary space, and the possibility of discourse within that space. It may also suggest whether there exists a space outside the revolution will not be treated as counter revolutionary.