Sunday, March 26, 2017

The “Grandmother” of All Delegates in Cuba
María Cristina Sotomayor, a founder of the first People’s Power bodies established in Cuba, inspires in her constituents the idea that any difficulty can be overcome with the participation of all

Ventura de Jesús |
March 23, 2017 12:03:55

María Cristina Sotomayor, founder of the first People’s Power bodies established in Cuba. Photo: Ventura de Jesús García

JOVELLANOS.– María Cristina Sotomayor, a founder of the first People’s Power bodies established in Cuba, inspires in her constituents the idea that any difficulty can be overcome with the participation of all. If we’re all here and speak the same language, those of us that together make up the neighborhood, can achieve a great deal, she states.

As such María will participate in the fourth round of accountability reports by delegates to constituents for this mandate, with no regrets but rather the sole purpose of defending the interests of the population.

Thanks to her knack for dealing with people, and above all her tenacity, María has served as delegate to her home constituency of Jovellanos for the last 43 years, proof of her tireless efforts which have earned her all manner of praise.

Having served for 43 years as a delegate, María Cristina Sotomayor - a woman with a kind countenance who meets any challenge head on - is considered to have set a rare record.

How have you assumed this responsibility for so many years?

In reality, it hasn’t been at all easy. My reward is the trust my constituents put in me. I think it’s the greatest prize for the work we do, and it motivates me to continue working harder. In regards to the rest, well, you have to have a great deal of patience.

Sometimes misunderstandings with officials or constituents lead to clashes. In that case you have to reflect calmly so as to give a just and adequate response. I always try to explain in the clearest way possible what we have done and what remains to be done. I take care to plan meetings well and know which path to take. Oh! And when there’s no immediate solution to the problem I discuss it sufficiently and always honestly.

How do you manage to do everything and what role does your family play?

I try to work wonders planning my time. Family support is essential, and so is that of my closest neighbors and work colleagues. None of what I do would be possible without their understanding and help.

How much more of an impact can the work of delegates have?

During the early years of the People’s Power bodies the role of the delegate was highly respected, and all the organization and state entities willingly collaborated to solve the population’s problems.

The way I see it, this support has diminished. Sometimes an old problem, which we have been working on for years and years, persisting but to no avail, suddenly gets resolved because someone higher up gets involved or because the issue gets reported in the press. We know that times have changed, but greater coherence in this regard is necessary.

What impact did the experience in Matanzas in 1974 have on the Cuban political system?

Its contribution was undeniable. It showed the importance of people’s power and that the masses are capable of solving many of their problems. It also showed that it is necessary to respect and be able to count on the community.

What is your constituency’s longest standing issue?

The problem of waste disposal and waterproofing buildings.

Do local government authorities support your work?

In general a representative always attends meetings, but sometimes he or she doesn’t have the power to make decisions. They usually participate in constituency assemblies or at the very least walk around the neighborhood to talk and listen to people.

Talk to us about youth participation…

A good part of the young people respond when we call on them to participate in some task or other, but we have to keep encouraging them so that they understand the importance of their contribution. We cannot tire. At the end of the day, this cardinal figure of the delegate within the Cuban political system is also that of an educator.

With a degree in Philosophy and founder of the People’s Power bodies in Matanzas, María Cristina stresses that despite various difficulties, this immense work has made her a better and more revolutionary person.

How do you keep motivated, improve yourself?

My profession helps me a bit. Teachers must be creative in their classes; each one must be different from the other. Life is very dynamic and different things are needed at different times. Your connection with your constituents is the essence of everything. The unity between delegates and their constituents is a strategic force with which to face any challenge. The most important thing is to remain united around the Revolution, as Fidel taught us. 

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