The Idea and Praxis of Participatory Democracy in Cuba

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the creation of the Provincial Assemblies of People’s Power, formal ceremonies were held in various provinces of the country this Sunday, November 6, to mark this important historic date.

In Havana, the event presided by Esteban Lazo, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) and president of the National Assembly of People’s Power, was an occasion to recognize outstanding professionals, workers and delegates who have dedicated more than three decades to this governmental body.

The President of the capital’s provincial assembly, Reynaldo García, stressed that People’s Power is a governmental system in which the grassroots are represented by their municipal delegate, an irreplaceable figure in the process of voicing the ideas and demands of the people.

He also noted the efforts to perfect this structure of the Cuban political system, working to expand the mechanisms of citizen participation.

In Pinar del Río the event was a space to pay tribute to the efforts of hundreds of men and women who have been part of this body and contributed, in an active way, to the defense of the rights of the people.

This Monday, exchanges and recognitions as part of solemn sessions will continue across different provinces of the country, with the participation of delegates, deputies to the National Assembly and government and Party authorities.

A Constantly Evolving Public Debate

In order to continue fostering a climate of interaction between the people and their representatives, the third process of presenting accountability reports by municipal delegates to their constituents recently began across the country.

By |

An open dialogue between citizens and their governments is an essential premise for the harmonious development of a society. In order to further enhance the climate of interaction between the people and their representatives, the third process of presenting accountability reports by municipal delegates to their constituents was recently initiated throughout the country, corresponding to the sixteenth mandate of the Municipal Assemblies of People’s Power.

These sessions are an exercise in analysis and reflection on the needs and demands of the community, problems that exist, as well as offering a space for (self) criticism as regards solutions that delegates implement in their respective consistencies.

More than 66,600 meetings of this type will be held throughout Cuba through December 30, during which the simple act of raising one’s hand will represent the conscious and explicit will of citizens to express opinions, criticize, or inquire about their immediate environment and perspectives for its development. Thus, the meetings with delegates serve as platforms for public discussion and debate, and above all, a compass that indicates the direction, the pace of changes, and popular thinking across the nation.

This time, the process is taking place in the context of commemorations for the 40th anniversary of People’s Power bodies and the lead-up to general elections next year.

In line with the concept advocated – regarding the empowerment of citizens, especially younger generations, in the spaces of social participation – once again activists, young people and students of higher and pre-university education will join the process. Their presence will not only provide them with greater knowledge about our political and institutional system, but will allow them to contribute ideas and evaluate, based on practice, one of the unique elements of democracy in Cuba: the delegate’s accountability report to his or her constituents.

The prior training of people’s representatives, guided by municipal assembly leaderships, is one of the factors contributing to the success of this process. However, the constant and consistent work of the delegate does not result in solutions and satisfactions without the relevant intervention on the part of the institutions implicated in the problems raised, and of voters themselves, since the community, united, is the greatest democratic force.