In mid-June, 2002, over 8 million Cubans, said to
be 98% of eligible voters, signed a petition to lock socialism into
their constitution by adding an amendment forcefully declaring that:
Socialism, as well as the revolutionary political and social system established by this Constitution, has been forged during years of heroic resistance against aggression of every kind and economic war waged by the government of the most powerful imperialist state that has ever existed; it has demonstrated its ability to transform the nation and create an entirely new and just society, and is irrevocable: Cuba will never revert to capitalism.
This was 5 weeks after the George Bush II administration very stupidly accused Cuba
of "bio-terrorism" involvement; and 4 weeks after Jimmy Carter
refuted the charge from Havana but also supported Cuba's internal
dissidents and admonished Cuba to embrace the American way. The petition was an effective response to Bush, Carter, and US media which had been literally celebrating a Cuban dissident petition calling for change (the much touted "Varela" petition),
signed by only 11,000 people - 1/8 of 1% of the eligible voters. Obviously, those
who signed the new petition outnumbered signators of the dissidents' petition over 700 to 1 and the amendment they approved made the dissidents' demands irrelevant and illegal:
U.S. media only sceptically covered a story so effectively contradicting their own propaganda and
most Americans, if they noticed the story at all, probably thought what they were encouraged to think - that
it was about one more faked or coerced, clearly unbelievable 98% election
turn-out in a country they'd been taught and continue being taught by their media to scorn.
But that's bullshit, and, never being influenced by US media bullshit, I recognized that the petition was extremely important. But I wanted to know more than the numbers. I wanted to know what Cubans had been thinking and WHY they'd signed it. So, two weeks later, as I began a 6-week trip around
the island, talking to hundreds of people about many things related
to my book, Cuban Notebooks (which is appearing first on this website),
I decided to talk to exactly 100 random Cubans about the petition
and why they did or didn't sign it.
I made myself no rules. I wasn't trying to be accurate, but to learn some things I wanted to know and
to settle an argument with a friend who didn't believe 98% of
any group would vote for anything. If 98% of a random group
had signed the petition, he'd be wrong.
In Havana, Baracoa,
Cienfuegos, and a number of places in between, driving several
hundred miles picking up hitch hikers, I didn't try to include an
evenly divided, comprehensive array of types. I met who I met.
Most hitchhikers in Cuba are women. I met no cowboys in the
cities. Fishermen are common in Baracoa. The subject came
up when it came up or when I thought of it. With relevant events
so recent, my being an American often reminded people of the issues
or of Carter's visit. I used no interview format but adapted
spontaneously, letting my findings find themselves.
This is not a scientific
survey, for which I make no apology. I think it is credible and fairly
accurate. It is very long, 56 downloaded pages, a short book. That's
not to be apologized for either. That's what makes it good - good
in the sense of being fun to read, good in the sense of being more
credible because it is deep, and good because you are going to find
a lot about Cuba and Cubans here, including a lot the supposedly free
American press will never tell you.