Debate about Cuba’s New Constitution

Miguel Sanchez

One of the Communist Party sponsored meetings to discuss the new draft constitution. Photo: Cinthya García Casañas / Cubadebate.

HAVANA TIMES – Neighborhood and workplace discussions and debates about the new draft Constitution, which will govern the country after it is revised and approved, are being held across the country, from August until November.

Millions of copies were sold nationwide so nobody goes without reading it. If anyone hasn’t read it, it’s because they don’t want to.  People are taking part in assemblies and are contributing new points or demanding that others be changed.

There are several aspects that are being analyzed more than others, for example: the president remaining in power, how long his presidency should last or why he should leave or stay in power. When broadcasting a meeting in a neighborhood or workplace, it’s confusing to watch people on TV asking that the president be allowed to stay almost for life.

It makes sense, Cubans today don’t have a local reference of any other kind of president. However, I say it’s confusing because the reality is that we don’t hear these opinions on the street (in lines, on buses, at bus stations). Nobody would think that somebody wanted this if they have never said it before and if we haven’t seen anything positive come from this.

Anyhow, let’s trust the news reports and imagine that there are really people out there who want this. Luckily, Raul Castro himself suggested that the presidency last for five years and be extended for another five years. If the currentr president had been elected directly that would have been better yet (in my opinion), but limiting the number of years in power is good because it’s hard for any president to contribute much more to their government after 10 years at the helm.

Another widely-discussed issue, which people do talk about on the street, is the article that mentions marriage between people (without specifying man and a woman), which leaves the door open for a same-sex marriage law to be passed. Many people don’t understand that two people of the same-sex could get married and much less, that they share children, as if homosexuality were a disease, a crime, as if we were living in the 19th century.

I agree that it is a great challenge for Cuban society to adapt to these new times, to change its mindset (like leaders say we should but have yet to do themselves). We are a macho society and we know that all too well.

However, the essential thing for me is justice. Why can some people enjoy some rights and others can’t? We have to understand that we are all human beings. Although, if I’m being honest, most of the comments I hear don’t follow this suit.

There are other points such as the dual-currency system, people are waiting for economists to find the right answer soon, or about dignified salaries, we have to make sure those who are writing the constitution understand what “dignified” means.

Some people believe that this is just all a show and they don’t summon the energy to take part in these assemblies, while others take it very seriously. I still don’t know what to do.

Miguel Arias

Miguel Arias Sánchez: I was born in Regla in 1949. That’s where I went to elementary and high school. Afterwards I took courses to be a teacher and did that for several years. I did my military service and as soon as I got out I studied formally to be a teacher graduating at the University of Havana. I taught in classrooms for nearly 20 years. I had the opportunity to travel and see another reality. I returned and am currently doing different self-employed activities.