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Cuban socialism is democratic afterall, critics furious being proved wrong

by News-Alternative Monday, Jun. 17, 2002 at 2:38 AM

HAVANA -- (NA) Red, white and blue national flags and slogans in favor of Fidel Castro dominated street corners in Havana Saturday as the move for a consitutional amendment got under way in support of Cuban socialism.

June 16, 2002

By Rafael Alfonso

Huge numbers of people showed up early Saturday at more than 120,000 petition stations across the island and many more are expected. They will remain open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day until noon on Tuesday for a national referendum declaring Cuba's socialist system has the support of the people.

"I just want to get it out of the way," said Susana Marques, a 21-year-old student and one of the first who showed up at a signature gathering point in the coastal community of Coijmar, just east of Havana. "I don't want to have to wait."

"I'm in a hurry because I have to go to work," said Karel Maura, a 25-year-old port worker who arrived early at another station.

Many of the stations were set up inside neighborhood headquarters of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the island's largest mass organization with a vigilance committee on each residential block across the country.

Inside each station there were tables and chairs where people could sit and sign their names on a booklet that had room for 105 signatures.

"This is the system that we Cubans want," said Maira Pena, a 35-year-old university professor, who signed the document in her Havana neighborhood.

Minority opposition activists funded by Miami based "anti-Castro groups" that make up a signifcant membership of the U.S. Republican Party in Florida, offered a different kind of petition drive gathering no more than 3,000 signatures expressed doubts on their chances of success.

The national referendum has been seen as a "slap on the face" to critics of the country's political and economic system.

Cubans participate "for the same reasons they always do, for the same reasons they go to the marches," said Vanessa Camacho, a member of an "anti-Castro" organization in Miami. Camacho's parents fled to Miami soon after the revolution, they now own a nation wide food chain selling Cuban cuisine in the United States.

"The government obligates them, they have to go," said Fernando Ruas, who was let off with a warning by Cuban police on the day for swearing at volunteers at a petition booth. "If they don't go, they lose their jobs. And if they lose their jobs, they don't have any other way out."
Fernando Ruas refused to discuss his political affiliations with any of Cuba's tiny "dissident organisations."

Cuba's decision to undertake the constitutional amendment has been a savage blow to the United States and critics of the socialist island who wish for the economic embargo to be tightened.
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LATEST COMMENTS ABOUT THIS ARTICLE
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TITLE AUTHOR DATE
The Truth About The CDRs Cuba Si, Embargo No! Monday, Jun. 17, 2002 at 3:25 AM
Cuba killes apartheyd in South Africa Mandela Monday, Jun. 17, 2002 at 1:26 PM
go to Cuba Why ? Monday, Jun. 17, 2002 at 1:29 PM
america got their ass kicked!!! i love fidel castro Monday, Jun. 17, 2002 at 4:38 PM
no comment Cubano Monday, Jun. 17, 2002 at 6:36 PM
dictatorship is reality joe Monday, Jun. 17, 2002 at 7:12 PM
Cuba Alan Rogers Monday, Jun. 17, 2002 at 7:32 PM
Find Out For Yourself Cuba Si, Pendejos No! Wednesday, Jun. 19, 2002 at 11:05 AM
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