Cuba's Communist proposal ignores other voices
Dissidents attack the political system
June 27, 1997
Web posted at: 10:01 p.m. EDT (0201 GMT)
From Havana Bureau Chief Lucia Newman
HAVANA (CNN) -- In workplaces and neighborhoods across Cuba,
a crucial Communist Party document is being read to the
"For us Cubans, an independent nation, genuine democracy and
socialism are inseparable," reads part of the document,
issued by the Communists ahead of their October party
The fifth congress, which is meant to set economic and
political policy, is a pivotal event in Communist Cuba's
Judging by the document presented as a basis for discussion,
Cubans can expect more of the same: a one-party socialist
Anyone dreaming of Western-style political reforms can think
again, President Fidel Castro said. The Communist Party
leader and other officials insist the only basis of
discussion is the continuation and defense of Cuba's system.
"This is a kind of mass consultation, a referendum to be
discussed in a document debated among all Cubans," said
Orestes Perez of the Committee for Defense of the Revolution.
Anti-government group speaks out
But with socialism, revolution and the Communist Party
presented as pillars of the system, there's no room for those
who want major changes.
A group calling itself the Working Group of Internal
Dissidence, which says it has the support of 14 other small
groups, called a rare news conference in the small living
room of one of its members.
"The ruling party has nothing concrete to offer to prevent
the ruin of this nation. Only a peaceful transition towards
democracy can save our country from its current crisis,"
Maria Beatrice Roque told reporters.
Authorities concede the revolution is struggling to survive
increased U.S. economic pressure to bring down the regime.
Washington, which maintains an economic embargo against Cuba,
is the most aggressive advocate of political change on the
island that became a Soviet-backed society after Castro's
But perhaps the toughest challenge for the Party Congress,
the first in six years, is to confront what officials call
the loss of revolutionary values. That's a subtle way of
recognizing that after 38 years, more and more once-fervent
revolutionaries have had enough.
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