October 2015        

Letter from Cuba

Cuba holds the global media spotlight—for all the right reasons

Seán Joseph Clancy

Continuing developments (which warrant further examination and comment later) in the Cuban government’s rapprochement with their anti-social neighbours to the north, and a Papal visit remarkably devoid of overt or covert political opposition and comprehensive of the parity between the socialist value system upon which the revolutionary Cuban society has been constructed and what Francisco sees as the true message of his Christ, have assured that global media interest.
     Those of the American continent’s far right—North and South—are less inclined now to consider President Raúl Castro as “Fidel Light,” given the momentous progress unfolding on his watch and the growing global regard for his modest but nonetheless pragmatic and potent statesmanship.
     As Francisco was being greeted in Washington by President Barack Obama following his visit to Cuba, Havana was once again in the limelight. A most significant and hopeful development was emerging from peace talks here in Havana between the FARC-EP insurgents and the Colombian national government.
     Both President Santos and the FARC-EP chief of staff, Comandante Timoleón Jiménez—until very recently bitter adversaries who had never met—attended the signing, at a ceremony hosted by President Raúl Castro, by their respective delegations, the guarantor countries (Cuba and Norway) and accompanying countries (Venezuela and Chile) of the fourth—and most transcendental—in a series of agreements arising from the talks agenda.
     The issues associated with transitional justice in a post-conflict situation were, in this context, legally, socially and politically complex beyond definition; and, remarkably, the agreement reached establishes a just, creative, courageous, workable, realistic, healing and effective mechanism for its administration. It may yet become an integral model for conflict resolution of this type everywhere.
     A Special Jurisdiction has been created, complete with the requisite decrees, systems, institutions, staff and structures to ensure that it will function pragmatically, with the interests of justice for victims (of whom there are more than seven million following a sixty-year war), of ensuring that there is no repetition of the conflict, and of healing and progress very much to the fore.
     Combatants, non-combatants and others, regardless of side, who accept and truthfully address the nature and extent of their responsibility for crimes established in international law will be sanctioned within the Special Jurisdiction, with between five and eight years of restorative service and restricted liberty in special institutions.
     Those who try to evade justice by absconding, denial or non-cooperation with the Special Jurisdiction will be dealt with by the traditional justice system and if found guilty be sanctioned accordingly.
     The agreement reflects real compromise by both parties to it in the interest of a lasting peace for a Colombia that has suffered terribly.
     The social, economic and political conditions that necessitated popular uprising will now need to be challenged and transformed by the emerging FARC-EP political movement; and the scourges of paramilitarism, contraband and narco-trafficking are foremost on that agenda. Agrarian reform and citizens’ security are also urgent concerns.
     The signing of the agreement represents a victory for FARC-EP. We know well in Ireland how establishments can seek to inject triumphalism, humiliation and revenge into the fabric of such accords. Agile negotiation and the weight of moral authority knocked the wheels off that particular wagon of the Colombian oligarchy as they tried to drive it towards a one-sided and malignant excuse for transitional justice.
     The derailment is, in political terms, akin to what Ernesto “Che” Guevara and his guerrilla squad did to Batista’s armoured train as it endeavoured to deliver weapons and reinforcements to the city of Santa Clara in central Cuba. That derailment in December 1958 led directly to the dictator’s immediate flight and to triumph for the revolutionary forces.
     FARC-EP need to keep their wits about them now as things progress. Disarmament and reorganisation of the movement will be complex and will have the usual chorus of detractors on both the right and the left with vested interests in continued armed struggle and violent repression.
     It is somewhat bizarre to report that the Colombian government have still not agreed to a bilateral ceasefire, even though the insurgents have unilaterally ceased offensive operations. They have said, however, and the FARC-EP have agreed, that the war will have ended by March 2016.
     Temporarily, however, suspicion, well-founded doubt and profound concerns can be overshadowed by optimism—and the sweet scent of an imperfect but precious peace that has alluded poor Colombia for almost six bloody decades.

Home page  >  Socialist Voice  >  October 2015  >  Cuba holds the global media spotlight—for all the right reasons
Baile  >  Socialist Voice  >  Deireadh Fómhair 2015  >  Cuba holds the global media spotlight—for all the right reasons