Cuba and Its Neighbours
Democracy in Motion
Readers of political and social literature will be able to consider an approach to Cuba’s reality, electoral system and the functioning of the state at all levels between elections in the book entitled “Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion,” by Canadian author and analyst Arnold August
www.democracycuba.com. This approach conveys a picture quite different from most considerations made on the democratic system developing in the Caribbean island over the past years, given the author’s deep analysis and exposure of details, which are essential to understand this subject.
In order to conceive the book, Arnold August, holding a MA in political science from McGill University, Montreal, has made many trips to Cuba to collect a massive amount of information and to interview a large number of people, including Parliamentary deputies, local delegates, intellectuals, workers, journalists, officials, professors and researchers. This work has also included field work and case studies at all levels including the grass-roots. They are presented in the book in order to provide readers with detailed inside information for them to arrive at their own conclusions.
The book is divided into three parts: In the first one the author considers historical facts and the problem of U.S.-centrist outlook on democracy. To flesh this out he analyzes different approaches to democracies as found in the United States, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. This justifies the title of the book: Cuba and its Neighbours. In this way, August contextualizes Cuba so that readers can more easily appreciate its own path to democracy.
A second part deals with facts and analysis on Cuban constitutions, elections and the state from 1868 to 1976. A third part focuses on contemporary Cuba, up to the most recent domestic developments related to the dynamics of Cuban democracy.
Readers can find analyses on issues like the origins of the Cuban Communist Party and its role regarding the electoral process and society; what is the significance of the fact that almost all deputies are members of this political organization; how the Cuban parliament and local municipalities and People’s Councils work and how the Cuban leaders are elected at the national level. The real participation of the people in the electoral process and the state is evaluated in a balanced fashion. Whether Cuba is a representative and/or participatory democracy is considered throughout. Other current issues, like the transformations underway on the island, and many more are also considered.
In the Preface of the book, August says that the book is the fruit of his extensive research on Latin America and the U.S. between 2006 and 2012 and that it is thus aimed at further deepening the appreciation of the Cuban approach to democracy in comparison to his first book on this topic.
In fact, the book offers the information that many are looking for in order to really understand Cuba, a country where some believe that there are no elections, much less it having a democratic system at all. It also offers the analysis from the perspective of a non-Cuban writer, who has armed himself with objective and convincing elements to bring the facts to his readers around the world. Last but not least is the well-presented historical context that enriches the exposition of this important subject.
Arnold August dedicates his book to the five Cubans held in the United States since 1998: Gerardo Hernández, Ramon Labañino, Antonio Guerrero, Fernando González and Rene González, to the peoples of Cuba, Latin America and the Caribbean and the peoples of the United States, and especially to those academics and writers who dare to defy the status quo.
In a recent conversation in Havana, with the writer of this article, the author said he expects to produce his book, co-published by Fernwood Publishing and Zed Books, in Spanish and French in 2014. For more information on the book and to purchase it online now in the U.S. and Canada, you can visit
www.democracycuba.com It will be available throughout the world in mid-April 2013. - Luis A. Chirino for The South Journal