HAVANA TIMES, Sept. 2 — I found out through the national press that copies of the Cuban Constitution are being printed and sold to residents. I find this an excellent idea since citizens will be able to know their rights and responsibilities.
I myself bought a copy to replace the old yellowed one that’s in my bookcase. I began rereading it and was surprised with a passage that appears in Article 32 of Chapter 2, the one that speaks about citizenship.
It turns out that the “law of laws” —with which compliance is mandatory by all Cubans— says that “dual citizenship will not be admitted. As a consequence, when foreign citizenship is acquired, Cuban citizenship will be annulled.”
The article seems clear, but the interpretation by the authorities is surprising. When those people born in Cuba acquire another citizenship, the government effectively forces them to maintain their Cuban citizenship by demanding them to present their Cuban passport as a condition for them entering or leaving the island.
Things get even more complicated based on the “Law of Historical Memory,” approved by Madrid, which will enable approximately 200,000 Cubans (the grandchildren of Spanish immigrants) to obtain citizenship from the “motherland.”
If the spirit and letter of the Cuban Constitution is respected, all of these new Europeans must lose their Cuban citizenship and leave the island or live there with the same rights and responsibilities of any other foreigner.
Advantages and disadvantages
This would have evident advantages for them, for example: They would not need to pay $150 for an exit permit to be able to leave the country, they would be allowed to buy automobiles legally and they would have access to the Internet in their home.
Undoubtedly they would also be required to pay for public health services and education, they would no longer have rights to real property (except for the new private luxury golf-course properties being developed) and they would lose the right to hold political offices or positions.
They would even be denied membership in the Communist Party (PCC), because in Article 1 of its articles of incorporation it specifies that members must be Cuban citizens, something that would cause the expulsion of thousands of people.
If the percentage of members of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) who are the grandchildren of Spaniards is the same as for the rest of the population, that political organization will be forced to boot out more than 10,000 militants from it ranks.
What I’m saying might appear to be simple speculation, but I have checked to find out that in some party cells they have already begun kicking out members who have admitted that they are of Spanish ancestry or that they’re applying for citizenship from their nation of origin.
I have spoken with several party activists who were expelled for this reason, and they concurred that the process takes place without intimidation, but always forces them to choose between their communist political affiliation and Spanish citizenship.
All of those I spoke to ended up leaving the PCC. One of them admitted that it was a relief to depart the ranks without a major conflict, while the other ones affirmed that they opted for citizenship only for economic reasons and the ability to travel with ease.
Some feel wrongly excluded. One of them dedicated his life working for the Revolution. Today he lives in an austere house, doesn’t have a car and depends on a tiny retirement income to eat; yet despite all this he continues defending the same ideas.
Citizens of the world or surplus members
The lists of applications to join the Party must be overflowing to be able to assimilate without a wink the losing thousands of members, some of them convinced communists with decades of party activism under their belts.
I even have the impression that a legal conflict exists. If these new Spaniards are forced to use their Cuban passports to travel, it’s because they’re considered citizens of Cuba, and therefore they should maintain all their rights – including membership in the PCC.
It is paradoxical that this issue is generating so much political conflict in a country in which the principal military leader of the struggle for independence was from the Dominican Republic, and one of the most outstanding leaders in the 1959 revolution was Argentinean.
And they weren’t the only ones. In a 1975 speech Fidel Castro referred to another Cuban leader, Fabio Grobart, affirming that he was “a tailor by profession, a Pole by birth and a citizen of the world, as are all communists.”
Havana Times translation of the Spanish original authorized by BBC Mundo.