On Sunday 24 February 2008, 220 people filled the Hall and annex room of the Mechanics Institute in Manchester to hear Orlando Borrego and Jesus Garcia speak about Cuban socialism. Over 20 people had to be turned away due to fire regulations. Yoselin Rufin of the FEDERATION OF UNIVERSITY STUDENTS didn't speak due to illness.
Jesus Gacia described the system of Popluar Power in Cuba; he said he prefered this to the concept of 'democracy', a word that has been manipulated by capitalism. His description placed the Cuban people at the top of the heirarchy of power and the National Assembly, Cuba's 'parliament' at the bottom. He explained that the National Assembly was not a parliament in the way understood in bourgeois countries like Britain, and the members of the National Assembly, the Deputies, were not paid for being in the assembly, they had their own regular jobs for which they were paid. This prevented careerists from entering the system.
Garcia explained how Fidel Castro had no individual power to take decisions but had only the strenght of his 'authority' garnered through 50 years of struggle against imperialism. All decisions in Cuba were taken by the National Assembly or by national referenda, all governing bodies were subordinated to the 614 members of the National assembly elected every five years. He explained that there were constannt electoral reforms in Cuba, the first and most important being in Jan 1959 and in 1976 when the current system was started following a process of consultation and debate. The system was not perfect but was constantly being improved.
He attacked the idle statements of Raul taking over from 'his brother' as a statement intended to deceive, as if Raul was in his position because he was Fidel's brother. Rather, as Raul was the first Vice President of the Council of Sate and by law, as in many other countries, the VP takes over when the President is ill. He condemned the lies of British journalists who claim Fidel is a dictator and that now he has resigned (another lie, he never 'resigned') he 'can spend time with his economic failure and prison camps'. He asked what other country suffering hundreds of years of underdevelopment, would survive 50 years of economic blockade, economic warfare in fact, in the conditions in which Cuba found itself. How this could be decribed as economic failure was beyond him.
Orlando Borrego spoke about Che's economic ideas, his principles for building socialism. he claimed Chavez's comment about the 'road to socialism' was genius and best explained what was being done in Cuba. He explained how he and Che studied the economic system in the former Soviet Union and how Che disagreed with the Soviet comrades on their use of capitalist methods to solve the prolems of socialist construction. He said Che had explaine that you could not mix the two economic systems together as they were incompatible. If socialism developed with teh same tools as capitalism this would create a 'hybrid', and in economics, hybrid systems don't work very well. Socilaism can't apply the same methods as capital;ism or vice versa. Che was heavily criticised in the USSR for this position. Che's proposed socialist economic system was for Cuba alone and he made very clear that it was not to be used as a stensil for all other countries. Che's ideas for building socialism comprised of inreasing sociaist consciousness, building 'the new man' as well as increasing the quality of production so that the produce was of the highest quality, ideas since taken up by capitalism (such as the concept of Quality Control in production) but developed by socialism.
Borrego recommended that young people study Che Guevara and said that the youth of today all over the world considered Che one of the most inspiring people of the last century. According to Che 'socialism was the best option for humanity'.