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Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

Volunteering, But Under Duress

January 11, 2013 | Print Print |

Dariela Aquique

Foto: Linda Williams

HAVANA TIMES – Militancy, we might say, is the stance taken by a person who joins a party, association or any other body. A party, in the sense of a political grouping, is an organized group of people with common ideological principles and precepts defending a particular opinion or course of action.

Belonging to a party implies enlisting on the basis of choice or voluntarism or being prepared to meet certain obligations out of mere conviction.

Every political party has its written statutes or regulations. And for every party the practice of party democracy is indispensible.

As we know, political parties were abolished. In Cuba in 1959. The sole objective of the single party system introduced has been the establishment and perpetuation of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC).

The PCC describes itself as.”An organization which groups together the vanguard of Cuban revolutionaries. The Constitution of the Republic of Cuba, adopted by popular referendum, defines it as “Marti-revolutionary and Marxist-Leninist organized vanguard of the Cuban nation, the leading force in society and of the State…”

Enrollment in the ranks of the Communist Party is preceded in most cases by being a member of another organization, the Union of Young Communists (UJC).

From an early age students go through the process of recommendation, being selected from the classroom as being those who according to “certain rules” comply with the requirements to be members. But on reaching the age of 32, the young associates are expected to move on to the ranks of the PCC.

If for any reason a young militant decides not to continue affiliated, in other words not to move on to the Party, he or she is subjected to a rigorous analysis in which they have to explain the reasons for their decision.

They have to fill out a questionnaire as well as address a meeting with their superiors and their peers. The causes must be clearly detailed and – take note – under no circumstances are ideological problems to be brought up.

This suggests that in most cases, young people are forced to lie, excusing themselves on grounds of health, or a crisis in the family finances making it impossible for them to continue paying the high monthly dues militants have to pay (which is a fact) or telling other sanctimonious lies.

Everything in other words except questioning the organization and its archaic rules, so very disappointing for those involved. Many remain associated out of self interest, because it can help them get them a promotion in their job; or for the value-added implied by being a militant for getting permission for one thing or another, a subsidy or a study grant abroad.

A friend of mine has just gone through this unfortunate experience, which is why I have felt the need to write this comment and ask myself once more what party democracy is all about. Is being a militant a sacred oath for life, or is it simply volunteering under duress?

Note: No matter how honorable the reasons given, any deviation or abandonment of the militant stance, even if requested by the member personally, is subject to a sanction.


What's your opinion?

  • Griffin

    Interesting post, Dariela.

    To my understanding, democracy means being free to think for oneself and free make one’s own choices. We have an expression in English for the sort of enforced volunteerism you wrote about:

    “I was voluntold to do this…” , meaning that while the task was officially “volunteer”, you were told you have to volunteer.

    Note to Luis: when the young Cuban person mentioned above decided not to join the PCC, that too went down on his permanent file.

    • Luis

      The Monty Python Black Knight rides again. Do you want to bite my knee? The PCC – as any other political party – knows who *are* in it. The information regarding those who *aren’t* comes by simple exclusion, ‘genious’.

      • Griffin

        If I decide to quit my membership in a Canadian political party, I am not required to go before a committee and explain my reasons, and the RCMP are not informed my my quitting the party. They don’t care.

        Twice now, HT columnists have described situations in which the Cuban authorities add negative reports to citizen’s personal file. You pretend this doesn’t happen, that no such files exist. You are in denial.

        • Luis

          Now that the comments have returned, let’s recap: first you showed you know jack shit about Marxism, Socialism, and Communism by putting an ‘=’ sign between those terms. There went your first arm. Then I demonstrated to have more knowledge then about the role of Her Majesty over the UK and Canada, and you pathetically could only say ‘you’re wrong’. There went your second arm. Then you I proved you wrong TWICE about corporate privacy and you couldn’t say a word about it, diverging hysterically with false acclaims of ‘of-topicness’. There went your first leg.

          Now you are tired of throwing straw-man fallacies towards me and apply them to the articles themselves! No amount of Orwellian exaggeration and typical 50′s ‘Red Scare’ will shed a light on reality.

          And BTW, you’re just as Canadian as Moses is a Democrat and Obama is a Communist. This is as clear as the sunlight.

          I’m only responding this to you because you mentioned me. Otherwise I wouldn’t care anymore, as it has been proven that you’re an unworthy adversary.

          • Griffin

            That you see people with differing opinions as “adversaries” speaks to your paranoid mind. That you imagine your absurd posts amount to anything like a refutation of these contrary opinions speaks to your delusions.

            I come here to discuss issues relating to Cuba. I couldn’t care less about what you think I think about Canada.

          • Luis

            Yes, ‘adversary’ as in ‘intellectual adversary’. It’s the most common thing. For instance, Julio de la Yncera was an worthy adversary when he commented in the English section – there could be a healthy dialogue between us even with diametrically opposed ideological positions. He was a good adversary.

            The one who shows most paranoia is you, as you apparently search for Commie Rats under your bed before you sleep.

            Let the readers decide (unfortunately the posts are now out of order):

            The post where you contradict yourself 100 times and in a horrendous way affirm that Marxism = Socialism = Communism:

            http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=82621

            The post where I showed more knowledge than you think I had about the role and legal powers of Her Majesty (see http://www.centreforcitizenship.org/monarchy/mon.html for a good summary about the UK Monarchy) and you could only say ‘you’re wrong’:

            http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=83028

            And lastly, the part where you and Moses tried to portray me as ignorant on the army of ‘thoughtless sheep’ and privacy policies – and I proved you wrong TWICE with backed bibliography:

            http://www.havanatimes.org/?p=85460

          • Griffin

            Thank you for linking to my fine posts. I am sorry they went over your head.

  • Moses

    My wife was a member of the PCC and the UJC before that. It was a requirement for all the newscasters in the ICRT newsroom. Her monthly dues were taken out of her 800 cup salary automatically. Judging by her credit card bills now and her weekend spa visits, she obviously overcame her communist predilections upon arriving in the US. I have no doubt her former comrades in the newsroom and most Cubans for that matter are also Communist Party members in name only.