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Dmitri Prieto-Samsonov: I define myself as being either Cuban-Russian or Russian-Cuban, indiscriminately. I was born in Moscow in 1972 of a Russian mother and a Cuban father. I lived in the USSR until I was 13, although I was already familiar with Cuba-- where we would take our vacation almost every year. I currently live on the fifth floor of an apartment building in Santa Cruz del Norte, near the sea. I’ve studied biochemistry and law in Havana and anthropology in London. I’ve written about molecular biology, philosophy and anarchism, although I enjoy reading more than writing. I am currently teaching in the Agrarian University of Havana. I believe in God and in the possibility of a free society. Together with other people, that’s what we’re into: breaking down walls and routines.

Write Your Deputy: A Call on Cuba’s Left

November 18, 2013 | Print Print |

Dmitri Prieto

The draft labor code.

HAVANA TIMES — In a previous post, I mentioned that, according to the Cuban press, the country’s “Draft Labor Bill” is now to be discussed by regional parliamentary commissions as part of the yet-unfinished debate process surrounding this new legislation.

Cuba’s media has already begun to cover a number of very brief segments of the debate surrounding a bill whose approval could constitute a profound change to Cuba’s labor relations.

The part of the new labor code that would regulate work relations in the non-State sector grants employers a series of unheard-of faculties, while leaving employees virtually without any real protection before the management’s decisions.

In essence, the new code seeks to empower Cuba’s emerging bourgeoisie  and, in my opinion, people’s attitudes towards the instrument define the current gap between Cuba’s contemporary Left and Right, or, to avoid such explicitly ideological terms, between those of us who defend social justice and those who champion a kind of authoritarian market pragmatism.

My proposal at this stage of the debate process is to take up our pens and to begin writing our deputies en masse.

It doesn’t matter whether we have any faith in a system that tends to be bureaucratic and not too receptive to criticisms… the point is not to give these unilateral decisions a political justification through our inaction.

If those employed in the non-State sector are to get the brunt of a capitalist maneuver, then let our collective reply be “NOT IN OUR NAME!”

With respect to how efficacious this can be, we should recall that there are very few situations in which failing to do anything is ultimately more productive than taking action, no matter how slim one’s chances of success may be.

From what I’ve seen on TV, there have been a number of very lucid postures among some deputies in connection with the Bill. I was particularly impressed by the remarks of a legal expert who very clearly underscored the need for labor relations to be established upon the acknowledgement of all the rights of those who work.

At the moment, we cannot predict whether such postures will prevail (in which case, we could be witness to the welcome withdrawal of the Bill in its current and unquestionably terrible form). What I am certain of is that we must try and help our representatives become aware of how unacceptable the code is, and, most importantly, make citizens aware of their capacity to make decisions and take clear and direct action when the interests of the majority are betrayed.

In the event the said Bill were approved by a majority – as happened last year with the “Cacho Code”, a tax law applicable to artists, about which we heard next to nothing, save for the fairly incoherent statements made by renowned Cuban artist Kcho on television – we must be ready to call for the removal of those who allegedly represent us in parliament (and voted in favor of the new labor law).

We must do this because voting in favor of the new Labor Bill means voting against the legitimate rights and interests of the working class and against Cuba’s current Constitution.


What's your opinion?

  • John Goodrich

    Dmitri,
    You have framed the problem nicely.
    Poder Popular’s original bottom-up democratic processes have devolved into the self-preservation, corruption and totalitarianism that is inherent in any power structure long enough in power ( basic anarchist belief.)
    It may well work out that PP’s democracy can return once the killing pressure from the U.S. economic war on the revolution has ended and the expression of concerns sent to deputies in writing are a very important way to let the deputies know the will of the people and as is needed a reminder that they are not now serving the people ‘s needs so much as that of the bureaucracy.
    It may also be that the top-down ( Leninist ) way of the Cuban electoral and economic systems manages to solidify its hold on power through thought control -media control- much as the oligarchy in the U.S. has done but I believe that the revolutionary hopes of the Cuban people were founded and learned not so long ago that they have been forgotten as they have in the United States since 1778.
    For the time being it is essential that as many people as possible remind their elected officials of whom they are supposed to represent .
    It’s too late for such action to have any effect in the dictatorship of money that is the USA but the Cuban revolution is still new enough for us all to retain hope for the democracy promised by Poder Popular and contacting one’s deputy on all important matters is essential.