Denisse Ricardo: “Delegates are the voice of the people”

Denisse Ricardo: “Delegates are the voice of the people”
Fecha de publicación: 
22 April 2022
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I met her at the First Local Development Fair held in Havana amid a theoretical space. I think she was the sole district delegate in the auditorium (very small, by the way). She requested the floor. She asked, got involved. She interested in ways to get better and expressed her interest in playing an active role in her municipality projects (Playa), and ways to boost and support each. I wanted to talk more with such restless young woman and precisely the role of the delegates in local development was the first subject to come up.

Why is so important that grassroots leaders of the People’s Power become protagonists of local development?

We are talking about the autonomy that municipalities have from the Constitution, as we must encourage citizens to get involved in the construction of that economic development. You need to make them feel they are part of the development of their municipality and everything surrounding it, from the economic and social perspective. That is why, when we exchanged views at the First Local Development Fair, we highlighted the importance of getting involved community actors in the projects design, where the project is going to be set, and taking into consideration the urgent needs and unsolved problems within the municipality. This way, the citizens get the feeling that we are taking them into account. You count on them, first of all, starting with the delegate, the actors, the citizens themselves, to design the Local Development Project. Once planned, it is not only about generating income, but also leading to transformation from the social perspective. From the design itself, and them its implementation, projects must be part of the dynamics of the community. The Local Development Project aims not only for economic impact, but also the social impact; namely, unemployed mothers, demotivated young people…

For how long have you been district delegate? At what age did you start?

I have been district delegates for two terms now. I started in May 13th, 2015. I was 30 years old. I had no experience at all on how the People’s Power worked. This is a school. Besides, I had an entrepreneurial training, which is quite different to what I do here. But the delegate, basically, has to work from the heart and when you do your best with commitment to your feelings and the Revolution, you become more involved with problems, obstacles, and you sometime say “I cannot do it. I rather do what I know and that’s it…But you choose to go on and these problems become part of your daily life, the situations affecting senior citizens, young people, and you want to be part of the solutions to their problems and encourage yourself and say: I can do better, and more. I always say that the People’s Power has been like a second university for me. They do not teach anywhere. It is just daily life. There are now laws, like the 132, which refers to the functioning of the Assembly, the 139, which refers to the functioning of the Governing Council, which shed lights on what you must do. But it is not about any law, it is the commitment you have with the people who voted for you.

How did you become delegate? Tell us about your motivations…

"I'm going to be honest with you, it really was something that surprised even my family. That year, it happened that my district # 50, was the last to held its accountability. When the process of nominating candidates began, there were three proposals and before finishing the process two of them had already given up their candidacy for the Municipal Assembly. There was only one person left, who was an officer of the Cuban Armed Forces. So, they went to talk to my mother, who was heading towards retirement and was one of the secretaries of the zonal nucleus. I was sitting at the table at home, it was so spontaneous. I came from work, I was eating, I was working as an international buyer for ATEC Comercial — Gaviota’s importing company — at the time. I was there and I heard them talking and the emotion of the need for that commitment to the Party that my mother was talking about, of the need for a delegate who would commit himself or herself to the problems of the people…Then I, out of nowhere, told them: I agree if someone proposes me.

The meeting was held and I basically suggested myself. I did not believe I was going to be chosen as they barely knew me. When I moved to Playa, I came with my six-months old boy, I came from Habana del Este. But I came to District #50 with my mother working actively. I was studying at the university, with a commitment to my work that I had no time for socializing. But, well, the people trusted me and that is how my story as a delegate began.

How do you combine work with your personal life?

It is actually a madness. But I say that I am here thanks to the different actors: the operability of the CDR, Federation of Cuban Women, the Association of Combatants, the Zone Nuclei, I have their support every day. I have been able to combine the two tasks thanks to my family as well. I am really grateful to so many people. I know, beforehand, the problems that will affect any district and most of the time these actors come to accountability meetings with solution proposals.

My magic is to get everyone involved. I am here thanks to them and I need their support to continue and that is exactly what has helped me out in this process of combining two works and the most important of all, being a mother of a 15 years old boy. He is the love of my life since 2007. That is why he understands when I come late, because he knows I am visiting a senior citizen, or a pregnant woman, or just touring the district to see if the community service company collected the garbage, if the streetlights are working well, the issues with the water leaks…Knowing that my son is proud of her mom doing so, I thing is my greatest motivation.

And what is your biggest obstacle?

I always say that it is the support that the delegate needs from the municipal and provincial subordinate entities. That was the biggest obstacle I had at the beginning. First of all because I did not know what the work of the People's Power was like. At this point, I managed to solve the oldest complaint in district #50, the building 8644, which no longer exists, was in danger of collapsing, with six families inside and among the characteristics of those families, there were four minors and one quadriplegic who lived on the second floor.

Trying to solve those old issues was my greatest difficulty. Not because I lacked the will, but because I didn't really know how to solve the issue, how to reach the solution, how to knock on the right door and find that accompaniment of which our President Díaz Canel speaks so much that the delegate should have.

In fact, solutions are generally found in those entities. The delegates’ job would be to manage them, right?

Look, the accountability process of the delegate towards his or her voters is the moment in which you show everything you have done to defend them as a people in the assemblies, in the permanent work commissions, in the meetings of the People's Power, in the processing of their proposals and the complaints you receive on briefing days, but why does a complaint arise? Complaints arise due to difficulties that may exist in a municipal and provincial subordinate entity, because here everything is legislated, the way everything must be done is written. So, it is essential that these entities work well, that those inspectors, those people whose work is to care for the population, work more with the people. Our people need more answers to complaints with high social impact, answers that positively reach the heart of the people and to achieve it, it is paramount that those entities do their job.

Delegates do not have the answers for everything most of the time. Sometimes, they lack of preparation. They are not electrical engineer and must solve problems with the OBE. He or she is not a hydraulic engineer, but they should face Aguas de la Habana and so on. That is part of the accompaniment that we need from subordinate entities in order to give proper answers to people. The people need their problems to be solved, but they also need to know why the problem they have cannot be solved today. Sometimes, for example, you have water leaks and it is comforting to see the director of Aguas de la Habana together with the delegate, checking those water leaks. Maybe the solution takes 15 days, but the people see that this entity supports the delegate and see that the delegate is trying to solve the problem and that is a satisfaction for them.

What is the most important job of the delegate?

The first exercise of democracy is when the people choose the person who is going to speak on their behalf. For this reason, the delegate is the one who represents their voters at the municipal, provincial and national levels. That is the voice those voters have so that their problems, needs, may be solved. Thus, that is the way their criteria are aired. Delegates have several scenarios. They are part of the People's Council, of the Permanent Work Commissions and in each of them, there is a representation of the People's Council, there is the Municipal Assembly and so on. Therefore, the delegates are the voice of the people up until de National Assembly.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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