(Havana Journal Publisher note: I find this article to be VERY interesting. Not so much because of the content but because of the source. Prensa Latina is a STRONG supporter of Castro and to even post an editorial about democracy in Cuba would be unacceptable to the Cuban government. Is this a “trial balloon”? Is there something bigger happening behind the scenes in Cuba allowing this sort of “destructive” counter-Revolution propaganda to surface?)
What Might Grassroots Democracy Be Like?
Havana, May 30 (Prensa Latina) Let’s imagine how a grassroots, on maybe a neighborhood level, democracy might function. Not an assembly of intellectual elite, or a people in crisis, but if our municipal government was made up of delegates that we elected from one of our own, from within a couple of blocks of where we live. What might an ordinary meeting be like?
Perhaps he or she, let’s say she, would report in a neighborhood gathering on a street corner, if the weather was nice, about what was happening on the municipal, or even national, level that affected us. Certainly she would talk about local complaints or questions that had come up since the last meeting.
What might concern ordinary people like us at such an encounter?
Maybe pet owners had been unhappy because the only vet in the neighborhood was very expensive. Perhaps the delegate could report that she had found a vet who was willing to make house calls to those who needed it at a low price.
Maybe your neighbors are concerned about doctors� office hours? One of the doctors could explain that, while a second office is being readied in this section of the neighborhood, where the physician would live upstairs, two doctors were sharing an office and a nurse a couple of blocks away, and one of them, or both, would be there every day.
Home owners, especially older home owners, are always concerned about neighborhood appearance: other people’s yards, leaves or cuttings on the street, possibly garbage outside the bins on the lane. They might remind everyone to “keep up appearances” of their own yards and to make sure the sidewalk in front of their own homes was clean, the delegate could suggest we ask the person hired by the neighborhood as a whole, and not just this section, to come to the next meeting so as to remind him to pass by more frequently to clear fallen branches or leaves. And perhaps, even if garbage were to be collected daily, folks need to remember to put down the lid of the bins so animals don’t spread it around.
If we live in an area where nature can overreact at times, we would need to know what to do and what to expect say, if the river were to overflow from rain, or a hurricane were to cause the sea to intrude. Not just what the Civil Defense would do, but what we could do.
What if our national government was concerned about saving energy? We�re doing “what if�s” here remember. How might that affect us and our meeting? Well, maybe our delegate could tell us what energy-saving devices had been made available for trade or to buy inexpensively, and what we could expect in the near future. For example, she might report that of seven fans obtained to replace jerry-rigged numbers, five had been traded, one refused, and one neighbor was still making up his mind whether or not to trade-in…of course, if he didn’t, he would use more electricity with a concomitant higher bill.
Public transportation problems could have arisen for people without cars, especially for the elderly or those with children. Our delegate should report as to plans on the municipal level to improve this situation, and in the interim, ask those of us with automobiles to offer rides to our neighbors going our way.
There are a myriad of such matters, I’m sure you can think of others…but those are for your neighborhood, this discussion happened in mine, at the usual CDR meeting in my neighborhood in Havana, Cuba.