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    Fidel Castro

    ·      Democracy in Fidel implied sharing the fate of the most humble people of the town

    Fidel reached out to the peasant community. It was an old community on a reddish soil, where a cooperative with 80 houses was beginning to be built. Construction materials were stacked in a straight line, and to one side was a half-built warehouse.

    "How are they going to build the town here?" Fidel asked, and upon listening to the explanations he pointed out: "They are building an alley, not a town.

    "Now he crouched down and on the ground he began to draw a town with its shopping center, school and houses.

    A peasant raised an objection: the drawing had a rectangular shape and that way, spaces would be taken away from the crops.

    "Well, I'll paint another town for you," said Fidel.

    The layout that was made next showed a town in a circular shape. The peasants made new proposals, and under their guidance they ended up drawing a town in the shape of a number eight with an order that allowed to harmonize life in the countryside with the new services that the settlers would have.

    A few meters from the group, the conversations were followed by a man and a woman. It was the French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre and his wife, the writer Simone de Beauvoir. They had arrived in Cuba a few days before to learn first-hand about the nascent Revolution.

    When asked his impressions of the Cuban leader's meeting with the peasants a few hours later, in the middle of a break, Sartre puffed on his cigarette and said:

    "This afternoon I have seen democracy work."


    The meeting took place at the beginning of 1960, in the José Martí cooperative, in the province of Matanzas, in what was then the M-10 Agrarian Development Zone. Soon after it was published, first in the newspaper Revolución under the title of Conversations in the Lagoon, and later in the book Cuba Z.D.A, by the writer and journalist Lisandro Otero, who had covered the tour.

    Time has passed, but the teaching of this fact, not duly disclosed, takes on special significance these days when the polls in Cuba are preparing for the elections of delegates to the municipal assemblies of People's Power.


    Why is this anecdote important in the cooperative from Matanzas?

    Together with the concept, which is also important, as well as the functioning of the institutions, she invites us to think: What was the spirit of democracy in the thought and action of Fidel Castro?

    The matter is not without controversy for several reasons.

    The first of them, because from the very beginning of the triumph of the Revolution the issue became one of the sources of attacks of all kinds against Cuba; to the point of clouding the perception of the Island and placing it in a Manichaeism without nuances.

    Murders, deportations, arbitrariness, dictatorship, verticalism and even concentration camps. Those have been the labels used by the right, and even by certain lefts, who call themselves progressive and end up with their eyes closed when the time comes to fight for the ideals they claim to defend.

    The other controversial point appears with Fidel's own ideas, which have multiple edges and are completely distanced from that ideal of democracy, quite widespread and conceived under the existence of various political parties with elections based on competition between a group of candidates for access power.

    Throughout his life, and this is reflected in numerous speeches, the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution defended another vision. This look conceives that it is the population itself that defines an important part of the policies to be followed by the Government.

    At the same time, this thought vehemently defends that the nomination of the candidates and their election be carried out directly by the people, based on the merits and ethical conditions of the nominees, and not because of their economic power or permanence in a position of certain relevance.

    Much has been said for or against this notion, and it seems that it will continue to be debated in the future. However, when the agreements arrive, there are a series of details that are sometimes overlooked, or cannot be seen due to myopia or the prejudices of thinkers. There, perhaps, are the keys to Fidel's thoughts and actions.


    Perhaps one of the neuralgic points to understand the concept and, above all, the action of democracy in Fidel's thought, is in that close link between the leader and the population. Che analyzed this link in one of his writings on the Commander in Chief, in which he pointed out that this relationship became so close that the distances were completely erased between the personality with international prominence and the common people, the ones below.

    That notion, incorporated as something natural, of arriving and sitting down with the citizenry by sheer spontaneity, without the theaters of excessive planning, seems strange to a ridiculous democracy that privileges honors, the power of money and forms over the others. essences.

    But that philosophy is also too uncomfortable for bureaucracies. Sticking to people, listening to them, listening to their concerns authentically, making their suffering their own and pushing for a solution, is a function that entails, more than precepts, a human sensitivity.


    Where was Fidel's real parliament? In the street, in the jungle, in the mountains, in the furrows and cane fields with the peasants or leaning against the wall of a factory talking with the workers.

    Where did he find the time to do it? It would be necessary to ask his escorts and assistants. The thing is, he took it out. Or made it up.

    What he did from the same Sierra Maestra could be located within that denomination called participatory democracy. It would also have to be called democracy at the foot of the neighborhood or at the foot of the land. Or democracy of the humble.

    And in truth, it is not easy to do it. Ears are needed. Courage to see the ugly and bitter faces of the reality that you want to transform and that often hide it in numbers or, simply, with that of leaving the solution for later.

    And that democracy also has its virtues. For example, erase hypocrisies. Put things in their place. Better define the problems. Dynamite privileges. It spreads the lies and, most importantly, it is capable of uniting.

    One of the dangers that surrounds this ideal today is to reduce the delegate and the base assemblies into mere entities that handle problems, without a real authority to decide and put pressure on the decision-makers to do things the right way.

    If it is reviewed carefully, throughout the history of the Revolution, part of the results of the most successful leaders has been in their ability to stick with the people constantly, and to find solutions based on their demands or criteria.

    On the contrary, the failures of policies or managers (even when they have been "promoted" to the side) have had their origin, among other causes, in that distancing that has prevented the real democracy of socialism from working.

    That is why it is necessary today to have that ability to bend down and start designing a town, a neighborhood, a hospital, a service, whatever it may be, listening to the ideas of the people.

    From that Matanzas Community, as from many other places, Fidel's example continues to look at us.