Documents on Democracy

Issue Date Winter 1991
Volume 2
Issue 1
Page Numbers 117-20
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On 14 August 1990 the Cuban Democratic Platform, composed of 12 exiled leaders of Cuban democratic political groups, joined together to sign the Declaration and Pact of Madrid. This declaration denounces Fidel Castro’s communist regime and demands that free and fair elections be held in Cuba after a number of preconditions have been met. Excerpts from the Madrid Declaration follow:

For more than three decades a communist dictatorship has been enthroned in Cuba as a consequence of the Cold War and the East West confrontation. This circumstance has lost its validity in these times of true cooperation between the superpowers and the emergence of democratic nations among those in the now extinct Soviet bloc . . . .

Like the people of Eastern Europe or Nicaragua, we, as Cubans, seek the end of communist totalitarianism on the island. But we do not want that inexorable event to take place in an armed struggle in which thousands of innocent and defenseless people will surely die. We want democracy and freedom to emerge in the full exercise of national sovereignty from the collapse of the Castro regime. We do not want strongmen or chieftains of a different political stripe from communism to be the victors and to hold power again in our land. We want this tragic episode in our political history—more than three decades of totalitarian communist rule preceded by seven years of another type of dictatorshilr—to be the last of the failures endured by our troubled republic . . . .

We, as Christian Democratic, Liberal, Social Democratic, and Conservative Cubans, linked internationally to the four great ideological families representing 90 percent of the political groups that lend sense and form to the nations of the free and democratic world, are determined to try to prevent by all legal means that our country should again become a breeding ground for violence . . . . [End Page 117]

No other formula is acceptable and no other procedure is certain to guide the transition to democracy in our country and the emergence of a state of law than consultation with the Cuban people through referendums, plebiscites, general elections, or any other formula determined by a consensus of the Cuban political spectrum, embodying the government and the dissidents, prior to the consultation. In any event, the expression of that sovereign will must include the participation of Cubans within and outside of the country, and the balloting must be free, direct, secret, and under the supervision of national and foreign observers . . . .

There are several conditions which must be met by the present Cuban government, or by any successor, before calling the Cuban people to an election.

  1. Immediate general amnesty for all persons charged with political offenses.
  2. The National Assembly of the People’s Power (an organ of the Cuban government) must effect the necessary changes in the Cuban constitution in order to eliminate those provisions which prevent the development of a free and democratic society. Such changes should permit multiple parties, freedom of association and assembly, and free mobility of all Cubans within and outside of the national territory. Likewise, it should authorize full freedom of expression and guarantee the direct and equitable access of the opposition to all means of communication.
  3. The government must abide by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and desist immediately from the harassment of human rights groups on the island. Such organizations must be legalized and permitted full freedom of action. In this same spirit, the broadest legal protection must be made available to the organized churches existing in the country.
  4. Trade union rights must be restored to the working class.
  5. The transition to freedom and democracy must be a subject of discussion among all Cubans. It is in Cuba, and among Cubans, and not in Washington or Moscow, where the destiny of the nation must be decided. To start this national debate we propose that a preparatory conference be held at which the agenda, date, and place would be discussed. Such a conference could take place in any country which lends its support and help . . . .

We do not want bloodshed on the road to democracy. We do not wish vengeance or abuses when Cuba becomes free. Whoever fears change must understand that a democratic process is the best guarantee for the defense and protection of the individual rights of all Cubans. Our aim is the rule of law, the prevalence of reason, and the construction once and for all of a society in which Cubans will never be persecuted for their ideas or beliefs, a society from which we are determined to eradicate violence forever. [End Page 118]


Since its founding Congress in September 1989, the Popular Movement of Ukraine (Rukh), which now advocates the creation of an independent Ukrainian state based on liberal democratic principles, has become the largest and most respected democratic force in Ukraine and has gained substantial representation in republic and local legislative bodies. The Rukh held its Second All-Ukrainian Congress in Kiev on October 25 and 26. Excerpts from Rukh president Ivan Drach’s speech to the Congress follow:

Our strategy does not foresee a seizure of power, but is based entirely on a peaceful road to confirming the sovereignty of the Ukrainian nation. Unlike the [Communist Party of Ukraine], we do not impose authority on the people. We do not call on the workers to move under our leadership toward a bright yet never attainable future. We do not deceive anyone with profoundly insulting pharisaic promises to feed the people.

Our strategy and tactics depend on going to the people, accumulating their trials and pains, their aspirations, their everyday and historical interests, and transforming this into political action. We will not imitate the Bolsheviks, who seized power through conspiracy and a bloody putsch and then turned against the people. Democratic forces can assume authority only through the will of the workers, and this future authority can be subject only to control by the people . . . . We stand for the introduction in the Ukrainian state of institutions, structures, and procedures that have been proven by contemporary civilization, that guarantee human rights.

The tactics of our political struggle emanate logically and inevitably from this. They are: utilization of nonviolent means and methods recognized in international law, the United Nations, and the Helsinki Accords; and a decisive defense by the people of their inalienable rights. The arsenal of our peaceful battle comprises the golden treasury of national liberation movements, especially various forms of civil resistance blessed by the names of Mohandas Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and other great sons of humanity. We will learn, we will use the victorious experience of Polish Solidarity and the Czecho-Slovak Civic Forum, the experience of the patriots of Namibia and the supporters of Nelson Mandela. All this will enrich the achievements of our own Ukrainian national liberation struggle and will help us bypass previous miscalculations. We will work in all representative organs, from the Parliament of Ukraine to the village council, in order to prevent them from reverting to the status of party cells of the CPSU.

Four or five years ago, politics could be the art of the possible. Today it has become a science, and the practice of that which is essential, urgent—that is, the salvation of the nation. We are happy to see that all [End Page 119] thinkers in society, the capable, the talented, the hard-working, the energetic, and those with initiative—all are joining the ranks of democratic forces. The time of intellect and courage has truly arrived in Ukraine.


On 21 November 1990, the member states of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE), including the Soviet Union and the nations of Eastern Europe, signed the Charter of Paris for a New Europe. This historic document affirms liberal democratic principles, maps a path for the organization’s future development, and creates new CSCE structures and institutions. Excerpts from the Charter of Paris follow:

Europe is liberating itself from the legacy of the past. The courage of men and women, the strength of the will of the peoples and the power of the ideas of the Helsinki Final Act have opened a new era of democracy, peace, and unity in Europe.

Ours is a time for fulfilling the hopes and expectations our peoples have cherished for decades: steadfast commitment to democracy based on human rights and fundamental freedoms; prosperity through economic liberty and social justice; and equal security for all our countries . . . .

We undertake to build, consolidate, and strengthen democracy as the only system of government of our nations . . . .

Human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all human beings, are inalienable, and are guaranteed by law. Their protection and promotion is the first responsibility of government. Respect for them is an essential safeguard against an overmighty state. Their observance and full exercise are the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace. Democratic government is based on the will of the people, expressed regularly through free and fair elections . . . . Democracy is the best safeguard of freedom of expression, tolerance of all groups of society, and equality of opportunity for each person.

Democracy, with its representative and pluralist character, entails accountability to the electorate, the obligation of public authorities to comply with the law, and justice administered impartially . . . .

We will ensure that everyone will enjoy recourse to effective remedies, national or international, against any violation of his rights.

. . . Our states will cooperate and support each other with the aim of making democratic gains irreversible.

Freedom and political pluralism are necessary elements in our common objective of developing market economies . . . . The success of the transition to market economy by countries making efforts to this effect is important and in the interest of us all. [End Page 120]