Cuba’s Constitution and the Uniformed Left

By Alejandro Langape

Studying the new draft Cuban Constitution. Photo Dunia Palacios, granma.cu

HAVANA TIMES – Popular debates about Cuba’s new draft Constitution have recently come to an end in our neighborhoods and workplaces and many people in Cuba and beyond our borders think that these debates have been successful for Cuban society.

Especially the International Left, and the Spanish in particular, seem to be convinced that the multiple suggestions for things to be amended, removed and/or added to the document in question are proof that we do have a democratic system in Cuba and that the European Union’s latest decisions are not justified, much less those of Trump.

However, does this Left know about the details of this Constitutional Reforms Process? This law of laws that should govern economic, political and social life in Cuba and is still a great enigma for many Cubans? I’m not too sure and that’s why, as of today, I am writing a series of articles that analyze some of the most controversial aspects of the new Constitution that is being proposed.

What would happen to Pablo Iglesias (of Spain’s Podemos party) if this Constitution were in force in Spain?

A lot is being said about the changes and restructuring made in the draft Constitution, but, in order to begin our scrutiny of this new text, we need to start by looking at the points that are only undergoing textual change, without changing the nature of these points: the long preamble and Articles. 3, 5 ,6, in Chapter 1.

Pablo Iglesias

I must admit that I am surprised to see that the Constitutional preamble has only had a few slight tweaks in the new version. The intention to present the Cuban Revolution as the epitome of the historic process that began with the Spanish conquest and colonization remains as does the idea that all Cuban society is absolutely homogenous in their way of thinking. Especially critical of the Republican (1902-1958) era, the document only praises events post-1959. There isn’t the slightest mention of the Revolution’s mistakes, arbitrary actions and excess.

UMAPs (forced labor camps), open discrimination of religious followers and the sexually diverse community, standardization processes and outrages during the Five Grey Years which ostracized or forced so many intellectuals to leave the country… these are all avoided in this kind of introduction which offers a biased vision of our national history.

But anyway, anyone could overlook this kind of introduction, which they don’t deem completely necessary and think that, at the end of the day, it’s more important to read what the document actually says (Cubans on the island and the diaspora community forgive me if the picture I’m trying to paint is a little forced).

I suggest we imagine Pablo Iglesias (leader of the Spanish Leftist movement Podemos), living not under the safety net of Spain’s constitutional monarchy, but under what is being stipulated in Articles 3, 5 and 6 of the current Cuban Constitution, which has been amended ever so slightly in the new draft version (they continue to form part of Chapter 1 which is now called “Fundamental Principles of the Nation”).

For starters, let’s say that Iglesias found Article 6, which treats the Young Communist League different to other social organizations, a little strange (to say the least). Let’s imagine that in Spain, this constitutional favoritism played in favor of the Socialist Youth of Spain or, (committing sheer heresy) youth from the Far-right party Vox, who recently held a protest in Madrid where they demanded that Catalan independence efforts be suppressed, and they just took away a surprise advance in the Andalusian elections.

Well, let’s imagine that Mr. Iglesias believed that this article was clearly discriminatory and that he would become a little puzzled reading on when he discovers that Article 14 of the new draft Constitution states and I quote: “The Cuban Socialist State recognizes and encourages mass and social organizations…”. Does Article 6 which clearly defines the State’s position towards one organization in particular make any sense then? Shouldn’t the objectives of this organization be better off included in the Young Communist League’s Statutes rather than in a basic legal document like the Constitution?

Approaching Article 5. is even more complicated as it not only defines the Cuban Communist Party’s objectives, but also maintains that this organization is the supreme leading force in Cuban society and the State and it adds an extremely important adjective: only. If we consider that Article 10 in the draft Constitution states that: “… sovereignty resides non–transferably with the people, from whom all the power of the State emanates,” then we are faced with a tricky dilemma.

Can any party be considered the holder of sovereignty forever? Do we have to think that this party will have absolute and unwavering support in the future? How would Mr. Iglesias find a way to take on the fascists in the PP, the PSOE caste or Albert Rivera’s Citizens if any of them were the only legitimate political party in Spain? In fact, would these new movements that have now put the PP/PSOE pendulum of power in check, have been able to exist? Can anyone imagine Gabriel Rufian and his famous “no is no” before Rajoy’s inauguration in a context like the Cubans are being proposed?

And then there is the severity of Article 3, which not only makes any political game impossible in Cuba, but is also an obvious threat to anyone who tries to overthrow the political and social system that the Constitution establishes, stating: “All citizens have the right to fight, using all means (…) against anyone attempting to overthrow the political, social, and economic order established by this Constitution.”

In other words, if this article were applied to Mr. Iglesias’ actions, his Viva la Republica, which he proclaimed not too long ago, would have put him straight in a jail cell waiting to be put on trial for treason given his opposition to the constitutional monarchy.

Exclusion, timeless imposition of a social model. I advise this passionate Left, who continue to hold Cuba as a beacon of utopia in today’s world, to reflect upon the Constitution that is being put forward to Cubans. We will continue to do so.



6 thoughts on “Cuba’s Constitution and the Uniformed Left

  • Bad choice. Spain is not a beacon of democracy since most opposition politicians in Catalunya are in jail and facing 30 year sentences.

    Reply
    • Written constitutions dani inevitably – and I think without exception have faults. The UK probably got things right, where the freedoms do not require a written Constitution, but where extremes are limited by law.
      Canada under Pierre Trudeau (he who during the Second World War did not serve, but rode around Montreal wearing a Nazi helmet – he had personal wealth) got a written Constitution – the so-called “repatriation”. The inevitable problems of it were then somewhat alleviated by the introduction of a Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
      Your comment about Spain is interesting and I think that your “opposition politicians” are actually the separatists. Just imagine if all the Scots Nats were to be locked up! Barlinnie would be overflowing!

      Reply
      • I’m a bit unsure what you are saying. Catalan on 18 occasions requested a way of fulfilling their aspirations for independence. Are you saying that Spain was entitled to imprison all those who organised the referendum. That incledes the speaker of the catalan parliament for allowing a debate on the issue. The uk system works ok as an unwritten constitution because it is based on gentlemanly behaviour and sense of fair play. To his credit David Cameron allowed a referendum in Scotland.

        Reply
  • Yes, not a very good choice to use Spain as an example, since in their constitution it is written that it is forbidden to strive for seperation of parts of the country – which is the reason why these Catalunian politicians are in jail now! (They performed unconstitutional acts when they talked about and held elections for a separation of Catalunia from Spain)

    Reply
  • The Cuban communist constitution is a joke.

    Enshrining their awful 1 party tyranny, an embarrassment for the Americas.

    Reply
    • For Cubans Brad it is much much more than just a “bad joke”, it is the entrenchment of tyranny. The idiotic claim that it was “discussed” by 7.3 million people, is just that, idiotic!
      Fidel Castro laid it down clearly in 2002 when he added to the Constitution that: “Socialismo es permanente y
      irrevocable.”
      The poster shown in the photograph above clarifies that!
      The communist regime is going through all this nonsense in an endeavor to persuade the free capitalist world that Cuba is democratic – and some are actually swallowing the lie. A classic example of misinformation!

      Reply

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