Responding to the Powell Commission
Washington's 'Regime Change' Plan for Cuba
12 October 2004
[Text and introduction by Progreso Weekly: On October 12th, the international workshop on `Democracy and the Role of Local and National Governments' was held at Camilo Cienfuegos University in the city of Matanzas, Cuba.
That meeting was attended by, among others, numerous legislators and academicians from the United States, Mexico and Spain. The president of the National Assembly of the People's Power (Parliament) of Cuba, Dr. Ricardo Alarcón, participated in the meeting and explained aspects of the `Plan for Assistance to a Free Cuba' designed by the administration of President George W. Bush. We bring to our readers Dr. Alarcón's remarks in full because we believe them to be of importance both for the Cuban-American community and the rest of the people of the United States.]
To speak of democracy here and now demands above all to say something about the moment Cuba is going through. This time, I shall leave aside the economic war that has been imposed upon us for 45 years and the numerous aggressions, including terrorism, our people have suffered during this long period. I shall limit my presentation to explain some fundamental aspects of a document of more than 450 pages approved by the government of the United States that was published last May 6 under the title "A Plan for Assistance to a Free Cuba."
It is so aggressive and provocative that it has been criticized even by individuals and institutions that are well known for having devoted an important part of their lives to denigrating the Cuban Revolution. One of them described the plan as "terrifying" and as "the most explosive [development] in the relations between the United States and Latin America in the past 50 years."
Let's see what that famous document contains, and for this I shall cite their own words. From the start, it announces that its aim is "to bring the Cuban regime to a swift end" and specifies that "the cornerstone of our policy to hasten an end to the Castro regime is to strengthen policies of proactive support to the groups we back inside Cuba," and that -- for that purpose -- the current budget of $7 million will be raised to $59 million.
With those measures and the intensification of the economic blockade and their aggressive actions they're confident that they will defeat the Revolution and install here what they call a transition government that would be directed by a U.S. functionary who would begin to work starting now and whose job description is Transition Coordinator.
The nature of that transition and its content are described in minute detail in the plan. The first step, which must be concluded in less than one year, will be the return of properties -- homes, land, etc. -- to their former owners, which they describe as "the Gordian knot" of the transition. They do not fail to indicate, of course, the procedures to carry out evictions and firings, dissolution of cooperatives and to demand huge payments of back rent. The plan makes it clear who will look after this troublesome matter: "The government of the United States will establish a structure to direct the return of properties, the Commission on the Restitution of Property Rights, to expedite the process."
The nation's economy, all its branches and all social services -- among them public health and education – will be privatized. That enormous task also will be handled by Washington. The plan describes it thus: "The government of the United States will establish a Standing Committee of the United States for Economic Reconstruction."
It's a detailed plan. I shall barely touch on the topic of social security. I shall read what the Empire tells our retirees: "The Cuban economy and government budget after transition may not be able to sustain the level of unearned benefits and the lax requirements for eligibility that the communist system permitted." In other words, no more checkbooks, no more pensions.
Don't be alarmed, though. Let's continue to read the Yankee plan: "Create a Cuban Retiree Corps to give jobs to those without resources, if they are in good health." And just so nothing is left out, it makes it clear that that Corps would "develop a broad program of public works on a major scale."
We know that it's impossible to strip the people of everything, to wipe out all of their achievements, to impose upon them such exploitation. It will simply never happen, because we'll make sure to prevent it.
The writers of the plan point out modestly that "it won't be easy" to carry this out. That's why they stress the following: "As an immediate priority, the government of the United States will help establish a truly professional civil police force and will offer assistance for its technical training by the U.S. Department of State, which will bear the responsibility for its total organization and direction."
Among the principal tasks of that repressive organization, "totally organized and directed" by Washington, would be -- and I quote again from the plan -- to "prosecute the former functionaries and members of the government, the party, the security forces, the mass organizations and other pro-government citizens, also many members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution. The list could be long."
The American plan overlooks nothing; it covers all aspects of life. It aims not only to dominate Cuba but also to place under U.S. control the economy, the services, all social activities and, in fact, to carry out the annexation of this country, under some local imaginary authorities who would be totally submissive to a foreign power.
Cuba would lose every vestige of sovereignty and independence. Cubans would be stripped not only of the achievements attained through the Revolution but also the most basic attributes. Not only would they lose forever their freedom and dignity and the right to health care, education, culture, and social security, they would also lose their homes, their lands and their jobs, and they would be obliged to work to pay an invented debt to the former exploiters. In other words, a new and brutal servitude would be imposed upon them. Cuba would cease to exist and Cubans would be turned into slaves.
That is why the National Assembly of the People's Power called it by its real name: a plan to annihilate the Cuban nation.
It is remarkable, therefore, that its writers took the trouble to describe in detail the features of this future Cuba and also that they devoted a full chapter to its alleged political structure. What for, if Cuba would have disappeared by then? How to explain that apparent contradiction?
The only possible explanation is that they propose to annihilate Cuba and also to kill its example. They will make our country disappear and eliminate even its memory from the minds of people. That's why they devote so many pages to a massive exercise in deceit.
Evidently, they can't even attempt to confuse the Cuban people. The message to them could not be clearer and more direct: to wipe out all Cuban men and women, the present and future generations, to take everything away from them, to reduce us to nothing.
Who could they confuse here? The farmers, who once again would be evicted from their lands? The families, who would be evicted from their homes? Some who would also have to pay, to the last penny, what (according to Washington) they owe the former owners? The retirees, who would lose their pensions and be forced to work until they die? A whole people who would no longer have schools and hospitals and would never again receive, as a sacred right, free medical care and education?
In Cuba, they can't deceive anyone. Here, the unanimous response is a total, firm rejection, without any hesitation. Here, they will find a people who will fight tooth and nail, will struggle to the last man and woman, no matter their age, and they'll struggle to the end, but will never return to slavery.
The fact that they're not even trying to deceive the Cubans is made more obvious by the fact that, as part of the plan, they included a set of measures that they're already implementing and all those measures are defined by their hatred against our people. They punish in a cruel, pitiless and illegal manner those who live in Cuba and the emigrants who live in the United States.
Thousands of families here and there are under absurd prohibitions that prevent them from visiting each other and make normal communication impossible. They are prohibitions that are not applied to anyone else, that violate the international standards of human rights and the United States Constitution itself.
Those who act this way, do they really expect to gain the sympathy of their victims? What this shows, beyond any doubt, is that these people don't care what Cubans feel or suffer. Only irrational hatred, without limit and control, can explain that behavior.
The purpose is to deceive others, and they lie and falsify reality because they want to prevent at any cost other people from seeking their liberation and struggling to achieve justice in the future. They tremble at the thought that the Cuban project will haunt them like a ghost, even after they manage to destroy it -- something they can never accomplish. That is why the lies rise to a pitch of hallucination.
For example, when they talk about vaccinating our children or combating illiteracy. These absolutely ridiculous proposals are not the only amazing fantasies in this plan, which contains other, no less surprising proposals. These two, however, have achieved notoriety because they come from a country where more than 45 million people, among them many children, lack health-care services, a country with a severe shortage of vaccines and whose problems in the educational sector are notorious, including the urgent need to impart literacy to many of its politicians.
Let us see, even if in passing, some of the things they have the gall to mention in the chapter devoted to what they call future democratic institutions in Cuba.
First of all -- and surely nobody should be surprised -- the starting point is that the future structure of our country would be dictated by Washington. Of course, they know how to do it; they have experience and they say so with an honesty for which we're grateful. Let us quote the words contained in Chapter Three of the plan: "The lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq will serve as guidelines for any participation by the United States in the process of constitutional reform in Cuba."
As a consequence of this, you would disappear. Nothing would remain of the People's Power. Nothing would be left of the beautiful, noble and creative project that was born here, precisely here, in this land whose beauty draws nourishment both from nature and history. The experience of Matanzas would be replaced by the sad and sordid experience they would import from Afghanistan and Iraq. Can you imagine this, only for an instant? Fallujah and Abu Ghraib, even for a moment, a single second?
Matanceros, forget Matanzas. Mr. Bush, the almighty, the all-knowing, he who can do anything he pleases has a plan, and he tells us that he's going to impose it upon us by blood and fire.
Forget the idea that everyone can vote, even if he's black, even if he's a humble laborer. Forget the idea that anyone can put forward someone else's candidacy, even if one or the other is black or a humble laborer. And the fact that the people elected live just like those who elected them and in addition report to them on their activities. And the fact that no one lives at someone else's expense and no one receives prebends or privileges.
Mr. Bush has other ideas. He has a plan, his plan, no more, no less. Let's continue to review it, to see what else it foretells.
Voters would no longer have the power to submit candidates directly. That would be the task of the electoral parties, that is, the machines (controlled by money) that in the so-called "representative democracies" replace the popular will.
But they're not talking about just any kind of party. The plan makes it clear that they would be the same groups that Washington has been manufacturing and financing since 1959 through the CIA and the Cuba Program. According to the plan, "the Cuba Program would be greatly expanded to directly support the creation and development of political parties and interest groups."
The mercenary groups invented by the CIA would mutate into the parties of the future, which would continue to be paid and directed by the CIA, because "the government of the United States," and I quote again from the plan, "would carry out specific programs at national, provincial and municipal levels to create and organize grassroots political parties."
Voters could no longer nominate and select candidates all by themselves. The organizations that represent the whole of the population couldn't do it for the nation and the provinces, either. Candidates could not run for municipal assemblies composed entirely of citizens who, as we all know, were submitted and elected directly by the voters themselves. All this would be handled by the parties that, as we saw, would be manufactured, directed and paid by the government of the United States.
It goes without saying that the plan totally eliminates the obligation of the delegates and deputies to render accounts -- periodically and regularly -- to those who elected them. It also eliminates the principle of revocation and all forms and manners of popular participation and linkage between the population and their representatives. All that would disappear.
Since the government in Washington would choose the candidates, direct them and pay them, that foreign government would control the whole process and totally usurp popular sovereignty. I must say that this aspect reveals, in a particularly stark manner, the annexationist and colonialist nature of the plan. Not in the United States, not even in Puerto Rico does the federal government interfere to such an extent with local elections.
Cubans would no longer have the right to vote. Whereas the plan is ridiculous when it discloses plans for the vaccination of children and literacy projects, in this context the plan is pathetic. Cubans would simply lose their natural right to become voters automatically, upon reaching the established age. Automatic, universal and free voter registration in a public and accessible electoral register would no longer exist. According to the plan, which I again quote from, "it may be necessary to compile an entirely new voter list," and this would be done, listen to this carefully, "as is done in the United States."
At this point we arrive to a bit of cynicism that is frankly grotesque, when the plan defines the U.S. system as "voluntary self-enrollment." What does this strange little phrase conceal? Is it that any North American becomes a voter simply by wishing to become one and writing his name on the voter list?
The reality is exactly the opposite. The electoral history of that country is, to a great degree, an uninterrupted series of battles that millions of North Americans have had to fight -- and still must fight -- to earn the right to register and, after they do, to be allowed to vote, and finally -- as if the previous steps were not enough – to have their votes counted, a dream come true.
In the United States, federal, state and local authorities are not required to guarantee, or even facilitate a citizen's inscription on the voting register. This country, which spends hundreds of millions of dollars in electoral propaganda and disburses lavish amounts of public money to the campaigns of Republicans and Democrats -- two deceitful faces of a single and solitary electoral apparatus – does not have the mechanisms needed to facilitate an electoral franchise.
Registration is simply not something that interests the authorities. Let the citizens register, if they can overcome the various restrictions and regulations established by the authorities, who do endeavor to impose restrictions and regulations that make it difficult for citizens to register. Some writers have pointed out that the United States is the only developed country that does nothing to enable citizens to register.
It does a lot, however, to deprive them of their franchise and exclude them from voter lists. The whole world recalls the shameful elections of the year 2000 and many people are saying they fear the situation will be repeated next month.
Various organizations that defend civil rights, along with representatives of the African-American population, have ceaselessly denounced the threats that hang over their heads. Tens of thousands of blacks are removed from the voting register in Florida without an opportunity to appeal that arbitrary manipulation of alleged criminal records. Just to give you an idea of the racism that exists there: according to the press, that situation affects 22,000 blacks, about 60 Latinos and not a single white person.
The use of different voting mechanisms, including voting machines of questionable efficacy or machines that make a recount impossible, join other tricks -- the most notorious of which is the media's excessive coverage of a contest between demagoguery and banality.
At this moment, numerous institutions of all kinds. Among them outstanding personalities of the world of art and culture, are conducting an intense campaign throughout the country to try to register people to vote and give them the information and means they need to do so.
Why should they devote their time and resources to that task? Do we need greater proof that to a substantial sector of the U.S. population -- to millions of people – becoming registered voters is almost the equivalent of accomplishing a prowess?
Those who attempt to impose upon others the North American electoral model have an insurmountable problem in their hands. The majority of the people do not believe in such a model. On top of all that, not even 50 percent of those who enjoy the difficult privilege of being listed on the voting register bother to vote. And the number of those who appear as voters is inflated by fraud, by tricks that allow some to vote several times -- among them, many visitors from beyond the grave.
To ensure the complete reconversion of [Cuba's] electoral system, the U.S. government would dictate laws and regulations, appoint advisers and train functionaries and employees at all levels. And remember that any protest would be crushed by the new police, a force that would be under the full direction and control of the State Department.
Before closing, let me return to my address to the National Assembly of the People's Power on July 1: "For certain, it will be impossible for them to turn their sinister plans into reality. First, they would have to invade this country, occupy it militarily and later crush the resistance of our people, and that they will never accomplish.
"We are ready and willing and fight to the last man or woman to prevent this. If they attack us, they will find here a united and educated people, the owners of a glorious history of heroism, struggles and sacrifices in the quest of freedom, who will never renounce their independence or their ideals of justice and solidarity; who will never renounce the beautiful, noble and profoundly human work they managed to accomplish despite the aggressions of the Empire. If they attack us, they will suffer here their worst and most shameful defeat."
Let the Empire make no mistake. We say so from this city whose name is a reminder of five centuries of resistance, from this province that was founded on a rebellion against slavery, from this land that never again will be vilified and humiliated. All of us Cubans will fight to the end for this land: the Cubans of today, of tomorrow, and also our parents and our grandparents.
Because "our dead, arms upraised, still will defend it," we shall fight on to victory -- always.