Por: MCs. Mario Rivero Errico

“From the exuberant life of a true people enters the state
and in its organs, a vitality
intense and rich that infuses vigorously
that is constantly renewed,
awareness of one’s responsibilities and true instinct
common good”

S.S. Pius XII
December 24, 1944.

An effort of which some compatriots cannot appreciate the true extent will be for us to hire Cubans for the political future of the homeland, when on 24 February we will be talking at the polling stations about the draft Constitution approved by the National Assembly of Popular Power. What we do that day will have an impact on all the orders of our lives and also, apparently, on those who occupy this wonderful trait of the planet forward. It is therefore necessary to understand that the act of voting in a constitutional referendum is an issue that is a long way off in the enthusiastic message of the best slogan.

Forged as a nation for centuries of colonial imposition, our advent in republican life has been hampered by the disturbing Platt Amendment, followed by the constant subversion of democratic procedures for decades of political clientelism. A well-known exception that we had during the debates that led to the proclamation of the Constitution of 1940, whose short existence culminated in the boots of Fulgencio Batista. After the popular triumph of the 1st. In January 1959 came the so-called period of “revolutionary provisionality”, a phase of strong concentration of power aimed at consolidating the new country project, which found a colophone in 1976, when our soviet-inspired constitution was promulgated. Now, without the influence of extinct power, creating is again “the word of step”1 for current generations of Cubans.

In the crucial democratic event that awaits us, every voter must follow their own convictions, without sticking to the criterion of unanimity to which we are accustomed by the National Assembly of Popular Power, an enclave in which dissent has been rare avis, contrary to the diversity inherent in the human condition, a quality to which we must not subtract, especially in politics, a sphere in which denying nuances involves taking as the only stereotypes alternative to the style of good/bad, revolutionary/counter-revolutionary, friend/enemy. It is not a question of denying the existence of these categories, but of saying that no one, whatever his attitude to be political, can claim the full virtue for himself – or for his project.

A constitutional referendum like the one he evokes has lights and shadows. In favour of its universal scope, as it takes into account the entire electoral body and, in particular, the possibility that it will give each citizen a direct impact – excluding representatives/intermediaries – on the national political nerve and manifest its own will that will be considered to be undistinguished by that of its peers. Given the indirect nature of our periodic election events, the referendum becomes an exceptional opportunity for Cubans. I therefore propose that its procedural aspects be set aside and that we focus on some of the most important issues in the text, without seeking a full analysis that exceeds the modest scope of this article.

The project proposes changes in the organic structure of the established powers. Attention is paid to the distribution of executive powers between the President and his Prime Minister – something new after four decades of extreme concentration in the unique figure of the President of the Councils of State and Ministers – with the obvious prevalence of the first dignitary mentioned. We also have the reselection of the hayro involved in granting the Presidency of the Council of State the highest figure in the executive, because that body that represents the National Assembly of Popular Power during the periods when it does not session – that is, almost all year round – seems inappropriate that it was not its holder of legislative power, but someone who, to massere, is in parliament another Member. This was, however, a subordination of the legislator to the illegitimate government, since Article 69 of the 1976 Constitution establishes the National Assembly as the supreme body of state power.2 , instead of giving the National Assembly the place it deserves according to its constitutional definition, granting it full sessions, as is often the case in almost everyone.3

This look to our future, however brief, must not overlook the crucial Article 5 of the draft(4), according to which there can only be one political party in Cuba: the Communist, in collision with the principle of equality postulated by Article 42, where, in finding a place of rights, freedoms and opportunities, must also be understood as including the possibility of association for political purposes. Important as the irrevocability clause is to the socialist system. And now it is not a question of making a diatribe from its lowest points, let alone drowning out a capitalism that has served many Latin American neighbors little, but simply of asking ourselves what right we have in this year 2019 to decide what the political system of government of our grandchildren will be. And beyond, too.

I believe that very few decisions in politics should be regarded as irreversible. Another would involve the denial of the necessary link between the norm, as a superstructural element responsible for managing the complex network of social relationships under its protection, and the socio-political dynamics on which it finds itself. In my opinion, the political system will not be one of them. Its future viability cannot depend on the will that encourages a particular sector in the present, since even if it is the majority when taking a decision, it may not be later. The validity of a political project is not associated with the intentions of those who promote it, however honest they may be, but with the correlation between the real factors of power, those to which Ferdinand Lasalle has clearly referred(5). And these factors will maintain the right balance to the extent that the system is able to respond to the interests and needs of the population, which implies its proper management by the deterrents of power, which cannot be guaranteed in perpetuity.

From the media comes, persistently, a concise message: “Vote YES is vote for the Revolution”, and the enormous weight that the noun has in the Cuban political-popular imagination immediately refers us to the epic of the deeds that swept with the tyranny of 10 March and to the heroisms that saw this city protagonist in the following years. I believe that companies must keep their well-deserved place in history and maternal memory can be revered, but they must also, without a doubt, have their moment, and those events I am talking about occurred sixty years ago. On 24 February, we will not vote in favour of the glories of invitations to tender, but for the inexorable future that it will be, and that requires a special dose of responsibility.

We must be clear that voting is, in any state, the instrument through which citizenship influences its leaders. The same can help rethink attitudes, identify inconveniences and seek solutions, such as inspiring the persistence of public policies approved by the sovereign’s favor. Therefore, the affirmative vote that the media require, if implemented, would tend to convey a sense of full compliance with the present that we live when in truth it may not be there, at least that is what I hear on my daily walks through the streets of Havana. Of course, this is a subjective assessment, as fallible as any other, hence the need to agree on criteria.

Cuba is upset by a new Constitution, no one doubts that. However, given the depth of the decision to be taken, it would be ideal, in my opinion, to pre-involve some of the fundamental aspects of the Ferenda standard and to amend the draft in the light of the results produced by the consultation. If I were given the opportunity to propose, I would like to ask, for example, ‘if we want a chairman appointed by a select group within Parliament or to choose him immediately, without intermediaries thinking for us’; “if we agree that there can only be one political party in Cuba or we prefer a plural option, even within socialism”; “or if we accept that this conception – functional or not – governs in perpetuity between us.” Other people may think differently, discard my proposals from theirs, or simply believe that the project should be discussed in its entirety without prior consultation.

I understand that the future is built from the present, but the present cannot be imposed on its future, because at that moment it would become past and may not be in the midst of the dynamics of a different time, perhaps better, perhaps worse, but different. Everyone must think and decide for themselves, in light of the reality of time that it is their turn to live. Our children must be themselves, like our grandchildren afterwards, not a forced repetition of the beings we were. I therefore endorse, and share, the fine maxim contained in Article 28 of the Declaration of Human Rights incorporated in the evil French Constitution of 1793.7, according to which ‘A people always has the right to change, reform and revise its Constitution. A generation cannot impose its laws on future generations.


[1] An expression used by José Martí referring to young people in Latin America in his excellent essay “Our America”, first published in the Mexican newspaper El Partido Liberal, on January 30, 1891.

2 Principle reiterated in Article 102 of the final version of the draft.

3 Both the Multi-National Legislative Assembly of Bolivia and the National Assembly of Ecuador enter permanently, with two breaks of fifteen days a year, in accordance with Articles 153 and 123 of their respective constitutions.

4 The draft adds, referring to that party, the only adjective, which is not similar to the 1976 Constitution.

5 At a conference in front of a group of citizens of Berlin in 1862.

6 Lasalle concludes his aforementioned conference by stating that there is a “… Real and effective constitution, formed by the sum of the real and effective factors that govern society…”. The written Constitution, on the other hand, is simply referred to as a ‘piece of paper’.

7 First Republican constitution French. Approved on July 24, 1793, it was the bearer of important advances such as the recognition of popular sovereignty that Sieys had previously incorporated into the vague concept of nationhood. He never came to rule.

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