Sunday, June 9, 2013

Recovering nonviolent history in Cuba

If there is one doctrine that has proven incompatible with human rights over the past century it is militarism. Unfortunately, the history books are full of stories about past military victories that focus on war as the means to achieve political objectives. The history of the success of nonviolent resistance over the centuries has been practically non-existent. Over the past generation a small group of academics have sought to remedy this and the latest is Maciej J. Bartkowski.

Maciej J. Bartkowski is the senior director for research and education at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict and the editor of Recovering Nonviolent History: Civil Resistance in Liberation Struggles.The introduction and table of contents are available in pdf format.

Below is a presentation by Dr. Maciej Bartkowski in August of  2012 on "Forming a Movement: Cognitive Liberation "

There is a section on Cuba in this new work Recovering Nonviolent History: Civil Resistance in Liberation Struggles that should be translated into Spanish and be required reading for anyone observing or involved in the pro-democracy struggle in Cuba to gain a better understanding of the underlying dynamics there. Below is a summary of the chapter.

Cuba: Nonviolent Strategies for Autonomy and Independence, 1810s-1902
by Alfonso W. Quiroz
Prevailing interpretations of nineteenth-century Cuban history eulogize guerrilla-style violence and fault nonviolent civilian efforts for undermining the national quest for independence. However, a detailed study of Cuban struggles for self-determination shows that at the core of the national cause lay nonviolent strategies and actions led by civilian-based political and civic movements. These were defiant struggles to oppose colonialist restrictions and abuses, build national consensus among popular groups, and achieve full constitutional rights and political autonomy. Through educational and journalistic efforts, as well as civil society organizing, nonviolent forms of action contributed to far-reaching reforms. Yet, destructive internal wars, triggered by separatist violence, and looming dangers of foreign intervention, seriously challenged nonviolent activities. Nonetheless, civil resistance managed to build the cornerstones of a post-independence republican democracy and civil society.

Bartkowski has also co-authored articles on civil resistance that include A Human Right to ResistEgypt: How to Negotiate the Transition. Lessons from Poland and China  and forthcoming Snowball Effects and Political Space in Civil Resistance: Understanding the Effectiveness of Strategic Nonviolent Conflict. Dr. Bartkowski is an Adjunct Professor at George Mason University where he co-teaches a course on civil resistance. 

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