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Cuba Democracy Pamphlets

In 1995, IDEE began publishing a series of pamphlets in Spanish called Los Caminos (“roads” or “ways”) as part of an initiative to provide Cuban dissidents with information and analysis of Eastern Europe’s human rights and democracy movements and their different strategies for the transition to democracy. The Los Caminos series included translated articles by Eastern Europeans from such journals as Uncaptive Minds about the changes in Eastern Europe and the strategies for bringing that change about. IDEE’s interest in Cuba was long-standing. Indeed, the series title was based on a book IDEE published in Spanish already in the late 1980s called El Camino de Solidaridad (The Road to Solidarity). Its interest  has not waned since as Eastern Europeans express and act on the desire to foster democratic change in the last satellite of the Soviet Union.

As part of IDEE’s Democracy for Cuba program, nearly 20 Eastern European veterans of democratic opposition traveled with IDEE to Cuba from 1995–1997, meeeting with Cuban workers, peasants, human rights activists, priests, and others. These Eastern Europeans brought with them Los Caminos, as well as computers, tape recorders, paper, and basic materials, but most of all they brought their knowledge and their commitment to breaking the isolation of Cuban democrats after almost forty years of socialist dictatorship. Many of the Eastern Europeans returned to their countries committed to do something to aid those seeking to bring about democratic change to a country where the imposition of socialist rule was still in full force. For example, after Russia’s Alexander Podrabinek made his first trip to Cuba with IDEE, he helped inspire a Duma committee on Cuban human rights and developed a special Cuban service of his human rights press agency, Prima

Beginning in 1999 IDEE was able to continue its publications in Spanish in a series called Democracia that featured a combination of essays on freedom and opposition, international human rights documents with original commentary aimed at the Cuban audience, translations of current articles describing democratic changes in Eastern Europe, and original essays by prominent figures on the fall of communism and transition to democracy, such as former Estonian prime minister Mart Laar and Fidesz’s parliamentary caucus leader in Hungary, Joszef Szajer. The pamphlets were published in themes: Ideas (4), International Norms (4), Democratic Transitions (8), and Civil Society (presented in 4 newsletters). In addition, IDEE published Jakub Karpinski’s Democracy Manual, also called The ABCs of Democracy. Each of the pamphlets was published in around 1,500 copies (about 30,000 total) and most have been distributed inside Cuba. Like the first series, these pamphlets have been distributed to independent libraries, educators, civic groups and activists, trade unionists, journalists, democracy leaders, and others. According to reports, the pamphlets have met a strong demand among Cubans for any information about the Eastern European experience, which they believe will be most relevant for their own struggle against tyranny.

IDEE's Democracy for Cuba program gained renewed support (from the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor) starting in 2005. As part of that program, IDEE posted its two series of publications on a separate web site established from 2008-11 (called DemocracyforCuba) and added to its Democracia publication series with materials in Spanish and English on conditions under communism, oppositition movements under communism, issues concerning transition and organizing civil society, as well as general materials on civil rights and democracy (including the Free Society Papers, a series on the American Civil Rights Movement, and general articles on democracy struggles and debates around the world). In addition, IDEE has scanned into the DemocracyforCuba web site the complete set of Uncaptive Minds (10 volumes) in English. All of these materials and series of publications were easily accessible from the site's home page. (The web site is no longer active.)

For ease of access, we present below some of the early publications of Democia I below with links available Spanish and/or English texts. Some are reprinted with permission only and we provide a link or reference.  All materials developed for the Democracy for Cuba program are available on request in Spanish and English .

Democracy Manual
The ABCs of Democracy, by Jakub Karpinski 

International Norms 
No 1: UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights with commentary by Marek Nowicki [English version]  [Spanish version]

No. 2: Convenios de la Organizacion Internacional del Trabajo (International Labor Organization Conventions), with commentary by Tomasz Wojcik (in Spanish)

No. 3: Don't Believe, Don't Fear, Don't Beg, by Alexander Podrabinek

Common Elements of Opposition in Eastern Europe, by Eric Chenoweth and Irena Lasota  

Democratic Transitions 
Russia - Less Than Democracy, by Alexander Podrabinek  with No Vivas en la Mentira, por Aleksanr Solzhenitsyn (in Spanish)

Estonia - The Small Country that Could, by Mart Laar

Hungary - The Negotiated Transition and its Lessons, by Jozsef Szajer  

Civil Society
Newsletter 1: What is an NGO?

Civil Society in Postcommunist Countries, by Irena Lasota
Pluralism and the Strength of NGOs is the Basis of Civil Society, by Agu Laius
About NGOs, by Katarzyna Kadziela
Slovakia's NGOs Mobilize and Get the Last Laugh, by Rodger Potocki (in Spanish)
What is a Non-governmental Organization, by Lufti Osman
NGOs: A Simple Guide, by Luminita Petrescu


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