A Call to Vote NO in Cuba’s Constitutional Referendum

A proposal on the draft Cuban constitution. Photo: Bradys Barreras.

HAVANA TIMES – A group of people are calling upon the Cuban population to vote NO in the constitutional referendum, after concluding that opposition and dissident proposals will not be included in the draft constitution which the party/government/State in power has published.

The Communist Party will hold onto its lead role in society, other parties won’t be permitted, basic freedoms and political and civil rights will continue to be absent and the economy will remain centralized with state ownership and wage slavery as the axis of Cuba’s social and economic system.

Likewise, “repression will have the green light.”

Private property and same-sex marriage will be recognized and striving for Communism will be omitted, trying to pass off as a modern document but these of course do not imply any substantial change.

They are calling upon members of the opposition and dissidence movement to come together and vote NO, to create a broad front in order to bring about an end to Castrismo and to organize themselves so they can independently monitor the results of this vote. 

If the NO vote was to win, the party/government/State would find themselves in a tough spot, an important step would have been taken to coordinate opposition and dissidence efforts and we would be in a position to demand a democratic opening which would allow us to call for a democratic Constitutional process with everyone and for the wellbeing of everyone.

Please read the document in full here:


Declaration by democrats, Left-wing democrats and democratic socialists with regard to Cuba’s draft constitution

With regard to the new draft Constitution, we believe:

1- It was drafted in a vertical and authoritarian manner, it was not democratic, not even in the election of the constitutional assembly’s members, who were assigned and are headed by the government/party/State’s supreme leader [Raul Castro] based on his own narrow interests and not on the interests of the Cuban people as a whole. As a result, it is rife with authoritarianism, bureaucracy, bias and sectarianism, which discredits it as a democratic process.

2- In Cuba, not even the most basic democratic conditions exist: tolerance and respect for basic civil and political rights which guarantee a democratic constitutional process. Therefore, the first thing to do would be to establish these basic conditions so that ideas can be shared freely as well as democratic information which would lead to the people calling for a new Constitutional process without political prisoners, where everyone can participate, and which is for all Cubans’ wellbeing, both on and off the island, no matter what their political and social ideas are.

3- The current draft recognizes private property, same-sex marriage and omits the Cuban struggle to create a “Communist” society, projecting a false illusion of modernity, as it still restricts freedoms and civil and political rights. It also indicates that the role of the single-party state will be strengthened, as will bureaucratic centralization, the exclusion and slavery of Cuban workers via poorly-paid jobs managed by the State. It should be called out and defeated in the referendum. In order to do this, a broad FRONT to vote NO needs to be formed by every member of the opposition, dissidence movement and anyone who is against the draft for any other reason. They also need to organize themselves so as to monitor the results of this referendum in an independent manner. Once we can prove that the NO vote has won and that we are the majority, we will be in a position to demand basic democratic changes which will ensure a truly democratic constitutional process.

4- Any future constitution needs to be free of and beyond any sectarian philosophy which seeks to impose its dogmas and be based on absolute freedom of speech, respecting the rights of every minority group, especially the precepts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and its complementary declarations. The people’s right to information and free access to the Internet need to be especially recognized. It will need to be discussed at length in a democratic context and in the media so it can then be subject to a completely transparent democratic referendum.

5- The State which stems from the new Constitution can only be a Rule of Law, a true democracy, based on the people’s sovereignty, which respects the independence of the three supreme powers (executive, legislative and judiciary), with regular democratic elections to elect the President, vice-president, Congress members and magistrates, who cannot be reelected for the same position, where a representative democracy is combined with direct democracy, holding referendums for the most important general laws, municipal and local autonomous bodies and the democratic approval of state budgets at a national, provincial and municipal level. Presidential decrees need to be abolished. The executive power will have executive and not legislative functions, even though it can propose laws to Congress.

6- The central State shouldn’t manage companies as a rule, except for a few which circumstances call for and are democratically approved by Congress and cannot be taken over by civil society. If necessary, it would be preferable that these were co-managed with workers, a cooperative or private company. Every financial body will need to have collective, private or local capital. The central government and local governments will be sustained by taxes on their public servants’ salaries, which will not be more than double the average salary, with representation expenses being transparently monitored. Private, collective and community (parks, forests, highways, roads and bridges, rivers, protected areas and others established by the law) property need to be recognized and respected. Paid forms of production will be recognized, as will collective forms in all its variants (cooperative, collective capital, mutual, board and others). However, all work needs to be contracted freely. Any kind of modern-day slavery will be banned, such as what currently happens with doctors, other professionals and employees for foreign companies whose salaries are pocketed by the governemt and they are only paid a tiny fraction of what they really earned.

7- Land, subsoil, the coastline and neighboring areas will belong to the entire country, with the right to indefinite possession and the use of these as owners/beneficial owners, by those who buy them and pay taxes to exploit them or if they come to possess them via a transfer/sale by other owners/beneficial owners. The legal possession of lands, buildings, real estate, companies, industries, transport, etc., cannot be subject to forced expropriation under any circumstance.

8- Every business belonging to one owner/worker, who doesn’t exploit paid work and make large amounts of money, will be exempt from paying tax. Taxes will only apply to profits and not on income and will never exceed 30% of profits. Every private equity firm that exploits paid work, will need to modernize their forms of management and pay will need to be competitive for their own wellbeing and for the wellbeing of their employees. They will pay their own taxes and the taxes of their employees and will allow unions to be created to defend their employees’ interests. Collective work contracts will be written up, pension funds, pay for extra hours and workers’ participation in the business’ management of some of the annual profits and at least 30% of its shares.

9- Unions and different worker associations will be able to form production, consumption or services cooperatives and function as another company, with all of their rights and duties.

10- There will be a national central bank which will define financial and credit policies, but private and cooperative banks (with member funds) can also be created.

11- Large estates and any kind of commercial and industrial monopoly should be banned. The new democratic Congress will break down the situation of the expropriations the Castro government made, dealing with interests and the rights of claimants and owners or the current owners today, looking for fair solutions that compensate everyone. Foreign capital should be received freely, always giving priority to Cuban investments or contracts, whether they are established in the country or not.

12- We do not approve of hate or vengeance, but the people who are most responsible for the most serious mass and flagrant violations which led to human lives being lost, should be taken to trial, even if they are absent and take their behavior afterwards into account as well as their possible sincere apology. The death penalty should be banned under our Constitution.

13- Integration of humans with the environment and respect and developing biodiversity and ecosystems should be contemplated as integrated concepts, especially renewable energy use, recycling raw materials and environmental health.

14- International policy will be based on respect for international law, peace, friendship and cooperation with people and governments across the globe and finding a pacific solution to international conflicts, excluding the use of violence. Effective integration particularly with Latin America and the Caribbean that benefits all countries with free trade, movement of people, assets and capital, and reestablishing relations with the US, ending the traditional US-Cuba stand-off and all of its negative consequences.

15- Lastly, we call upon every Cuban to express their opinion about this draft Constitution in every forum, at every meeting, in official and alternative media, even when we are convinced that the government/party/state will not accept the basic amendments that Cuba needs. Therefore, we also call upon every Cuban to vote NO in the referendum that has been announced for February next year and to organize themselves with that goal.
Signed by:

Ariel Hidalgo. Philosopher. Miami. US.
German Gonzalez. Economist, Havana, Cuba.
Hibert Garcia, Cyber Engineer. Canada.
Marlene Azor Hernandez. Sociologist. Mexico.
Miguel Arencibia. Lawyer. Havana, Cuba.
Moustafa Hanze. Engineer. Brazil.
Osmel Ramirez Alvarez Biologist. Mayari. Cuba.
Pedro Campos. Historian. Miami. US.

5 thoughts on “A Call to Vote NO in Cuba’s Constitutional Referendum

  • One of the signatories, Pedro Campos, wanted to see for himself if Obama’s opening to Cuba would sway the communist government in Havana to start blaming itself for Cuba’s economic penury, and he knows that Obama’s opening and the economic results achieved as a result of this endeavor laid bare the root cause of Cuba’s economic ills — poor economic management (the failure of the 10-million ton sugar harvest in 1970 to reach its threshold for sugar production was blamed on bad management, not the US) — and that it didn’t force Castro to mellow the repression, only emboldening him to continue treating dissidents as US-backed mercenaries bent to making Cuba part of the US again (false).

  • It is a basic human right of every human to have his/her voice heard without fear of reprisal, oppression or sanction. It is not a given right for any individual or group of individuals to impose his/ her or their ideals, philosophies or directives on any one individual or community of individuals. We have countless examples through history worldwide of how these basic statements have been violated, in most cases for the benefit financially and otherwise of tiny minorities.
    Cuba has had its share, as we have had, here in Ireland. It’s time for major change and constructive change is possible but only through the focused resolve of the people. If the Cuban people want change then they have to strive for it with relentless resolve, whether they live in Cuba or elsewhere. The Ireland model of freedom through people power might well be worth replicating. We took 700 years to finally gain our own true democracy. Hopefully Cubans will succeed in a much shorter timeframe.
    Very Best Wishes.

  • Jesus, después de sus insultos a otros por opinar seriamente sobre un tema importante, ¿cuál es el aporte que usted hace al debate? Si esta felizmente a favor de la nueva constitución y tienes algunos argumentos, estamos aquí para leer su opinion.

  • Los cubanos de la Isla tienen mucha suerte de que ustedes no cuentan en cuba para nada, es una suerte que ustedes son el puro reflejo de un servidor irracional y la diversidad en este grupito es clara como claro son sus ojos para su propia realidad, suerte a la hora de comer que creo que es el unico momento donde ustedes son reconocidos.

  • I find it interesting that the majority of the people signing this don’t even live in Cuba. I live in Guatemala and am not going to try to tell Cubans what to do.

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