The legitimacy of democracy as a political system has earned it universal prominence. So much so that scholar Katherine Isbester asserts that despite remaining a one-party autocratic state, ‘the Cuban government claims that its government is democratic.’ But is this classification of Cuba misleading? Is there any credence of Cuba actually being a democratic state? If so, does our Western-centric view of democracy distort our conceptions of it, simplifying a complex structure to merely a multi-party system that takes on a representative form?
In his book, Cuba and its Neighbors, Arnold August argues that the Cuban model is unique because it facilitates greater popular involvement in the political process. Participation at the grassroots level transcends competitive multi-party elections since participatory mechanisms provide citizens with a horizontal link to the state.
With the advent of Hugo Chávez and the rise of leftist governments in Latin America, participatory democracy (PD) – support…
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