{Empty title} | The Nation

Jose Manuel Prieto's essay evokes reminiscenses of Alejo Carpentier's Salon de los Pasos Perdidos (more along the lines of "pasos perdidos" than anything else).Mr. Prieto's obssessive emphasis on Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz as the embodiment of the Cuban Revolution obviates the historical fact that the Cuban Revolution was a people's revolutionary movement and that the Cuban people were/are agents of change of archaic neocolonial social and economic structures. The setting is important: a Caribbean island-nation in the Western Hemisphere, only ninety miles away from the powerful Empire of the North.

Together with Castro in leadership positions, we must include, to be honest, political and intellectual contributions by Camilo Cienfuegos, Ernesto Guevara Lynch, Raúl Castro Ruz, Celia Sánchez Manduley, Haydée Santamaría, Vilma Espin and many other distinguished sons and daughters of the Cuban Revolution, as well as various Cuban ideological ancestors in this centuries-old struggle toward decolonization--Antonio Maceo, José Martí, Antonio Guiteras, Blas Roca, Lázaro Peña, José Antonio Echevarría, and Frank País, among many many others. None of them, as a rule, hailed taxis in New York City, Paris or Stockholm. Some of them traveled by motorcycle, used falling-apart autos, rode horses or simply walked.

Mr. Prieto's distribe on "Fidel as the American politician" would appear to be the result of a lingering neocolonial mindset (cf. Franz Fannon's The Wretched of the Earth). As a child of the Revolution, in addition, Mr. Prieto would appear to be the product of a privileged educational structure where access to books and knowledge came easy and where a student did not have to work two jobs to pay tuition and fees.

The Cuban Revolution qualifies as a "black wwan" (see Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable, 2007) and we in the Western Hemisphere and elsewhere in the world are still attempting to decipher its unexpected occurrence and world-systems reach. Its contributions are many, from Angola to VietNam, to Nicaragua, and to many other countries in between (past, present and future) where Cuban professionals travel/ed, not to destroy but to build.

Granted that the Cuban form of popular democracy (i.e., organs of People's Power with elections held at municipal, provincial and national levels of power) are sometimes difficult to analyze and certainly merit further quantitative and qualitative research in situ, together with a study of the Cuban Constitutions of 1940 and 1977.

But there you have it. Democracy is not under an exclusive copyright or patent by the Empire of the North. Democracy is not for sale according to the tired/tiring rules of European ideologies. Democracy is not a PR stunt. Democracy evolves according to specific social, cultural, economic, ecological and political situations.

In today's uncertain world of environmental catastrophes and global warming, of militarization and endless wars, of financial collapse and energy plunder, we must take into account the importance of creating spaces for the evolution of different types of democratic structures. Cuban popular democracy is no "perestroika" (a failed neocolonial experiment) but a living witness to a people's perseverance, intelligence and hard work against many odds. In the spirit of energy savings and planetary good health, let's start walking and riding bicycles.