By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES — A new Cuban Constitution is being written by the “Revolution’s” own system as I myself type this article. However, there’s no reason to believe that it will include any of the real changes we Cubans need.
Most of the Cuban people don’t understand the importance of this moment for the country and they will presumably vote like they always do, out of habit. A passive attitude which the government associates with “trust in the Revolution” and the opposition believes it to be a false and harmful result which stems from the government’s strict social controls to instill fear in the population.
However, this democratic socialist is aware of the fact that the new Constitution will be the Law of Laws once it is approved and will be in force over the years to come, even if it isn’t what the Cuban people need and want. We will have the Constitution that is being written today behind closed doors until conditions for us to create a truly democratic and inclusive Constitution arise. That’s why I would like to tell you what I would like this new Constitution to include, whatever it ends up being.
- It shouldn’t be called “socialist” because not all Cubans share the same ideology, of course, and the Constitution is for everyone! Even more so when there is a wide spectrum of “socialisms” which range from democratic centralism to despotic authoritarianism. Which as well as being wrong and discriminatory, is very dangerous too. I don’t want to impose my ideology on others who don’t share it with me just because I am a socialist. I´d like to see us institute our ideas through a process of democratic consensus, not by relying on authoritarian laws.
- It shouldn’t protect a single-party system and no party should be above State institutions and the government. The people should be the highest governing body, who delegate duties via direct elections, which is the most democratic way possible today.
- It must include a multi-party system because democracy can’t exist without freedom of political association, and nothing else has been invented that works better as of yet. No country has people who all think the same, much less when it comes to politics. In Cuba, only a small segment of the population is Communist and they receive political privileges, which discriminates against the majority of the population who aren’t. Who could really think that this is OK?
- Freedoms and rights need to be guaranteed without conditioning them to sectarian interests. They need to be well-defined (like they were in the 1940 Constitution) so as to prevent abuses of power or fight these, which have become commonplace today. Reducing police arrests for investigation to 24-hours; allowing a defense attorney to be present from the very first minute, Habeas corpus, due process and separating political prisoners from ordinary prisoners.
- The political system needs to be reformed and move towards becoming a representative and participatory democracy. We need a plural Parliament, to be able to choose Lawmakers from nominations that are directly put forward, not selected by a Candidature Committee, something which needs to be dissolved. Reducing the number from over 600 to 300, elected in part between candidates and lists. Parliament needs to be in session 10 months of the year and make laws directly, not via the State Council, which also needs to be reformed and fulfill State functions, not Parliamentary ones. The position of President and every position at different levels need to be democratically elected, with the people casting a direct vote, for they are the sovereign citizens of Cuba after all.
- With regard to the economy, every possible mode of production needs to be recognized (private capitalism, state capitalism, cooperatives, independent employment and others) and instead of limiting its natural growth, it will should prevent unfair supremacy of one form over another. Preventing a dictatorship of capital. Promoting a mixed economy.
- For the sake of greater social justice and a balance of forces, I would support the creation of a People’s Power where the working class could protect their interests. They are always the social majority and their vote is nearly always betrayed in any conventional democratic system. A right to line-item veto, voided with two thirds or more of parliament or assemblies, would create a space where workers’ rights could be defended which isn’t possible today via unions not even by their participation as a party. And much less via a dysfunctional dictatorship of the proletariat.
I would like many more things, but this article would become too long, and you get an idea with what I’ve written above. I believe we need to innovate, rather than follow strict rules. Marti once said that new peoples need new political systems too (in other words, of course).
Cuba today isn’t what it was in 1940 or what it would have been if the Revolution hadn’t triumphed and ruled for six decades. The best Constitution we ever had was the 1940 Constitution, which is almost perfect even today. It’s true. However, we can’t hope that the same politicians who refused to restore it after a civil war invoked for this very reason, will do so now.
Cuba doesn’t need a Constituent Assembly to do a great deal of work once there is real democratic change of national reconciliation. We only need a few minor updates to the 1940 Constitution which was tossed aside unfairly, and we will have a new legal foundation to finally build a Homeland for “everyone and the wellbeing of everyone”.
I would go out on a limb and say as a general statement, that this is what we Cuban democratic socialists want: Homeland for all.