Does the Draft Constitution Promise a Future for Cuba?

By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez

The draft Constitution currently under discussion and neighborhood and workplace meetings. Photo: Dunia Palacios,

HAVANA TIMES – The new draft Constitution, which has been written up by the Communist Party to tweak Cuba’s Law of Laws, forces us to ask many questions: Does it have a future? Can it really solve our national problems?

In order to answer these, we first need to define what our main problems and objectives are here in Cuba. In this simple, independent journalist’s opinion (who embraces extremely stigmatized democratic socialist ideas), they are:

  1. Managing to establish a truly functional democratic system.
  2. Achieving national reconciliation in a peaceful way to bring about social harmony.
  3. Dealing with Cuba’s financial crisis by implementing an inclusive and sustainable development plan which stems from overcoming both blockades: the Cuban State’s own blockade against private business and the US blockade on the national economy.
  4. Preserving radical socialism’s social achievements, optimizing them, improving them and making them viable in a new economic context which will uphold and continue to aim for a “welfare state”, respecting unrestricted human rights.
  5. Upholding good relations, which are mutually beneficial, with every country in the world, opposing war and violence in general and supporting global unity for common goals.

After briefly analysing this draft Constitution, we can deduce that none of these five points will be resolved once the new Constitution is approved and enacted. First of all, it doesn’t provide a democratic system of government. It still holds onto a single party which represents a powerful minority, but a minority in our society at least. The rest of society doesn’t have the right to organize themselves as a political movement or to participate in the national game of politics.

This single party will also continue to be above State institutions and the Government, even the Constitution itself, and the electoral system will hold onto the undemocratic National Candidature Commission, which nominates candidates in the population’s name but is subordinate to the Communist Party.

To put the icing on the cake, this party will have absolute military and police power, as well as a repressive organization lurking in the shadows that holds power over all of Cuba, above the law even, which silences voices and crushes resistance: State Security. There isn’t an inch of space for democracy in such a system.

National reconciliation is impossible under these political conditions. The Communist Party only offers Cubans abroad the option of being servile observers or to unconditonally accept their power. Opposition groups both on and outside the island are subject of their disdain, ignorance, belittlement, insults, lack of respect, slander, repression and violation of their human rights.

When the Communist Party promulgates the concept of “effective citizenship”, it doesn’t do this to recognize and concede the few rights those of us on the island have to Cubans abroad, such as free access to its extremely run-down healthcare services or being able to pay for a plane ticket or national bus tickets in Cuban pesos. They do this so that the Cuban exile community lose the human rights that would need to be respected if they were considered foreigners. Or not have to pay them compensation in the case of airplane accidents or similar events.

Because of the discriminate condition of being Cuban, they can’t invest in Cuba where only foreigners have this right. And if they dare to behave politically “incorrect” in the Party’s eyes while visiting, the Party can take any action they want to. Likewise, if they don’t “behave” abroad, banning them from entering the country where they were born and where they are citizens for life according to the law, is a common practice.

With regard to the economic plan, zero solutions! It’s the same dog wearing the same collar, just painted another color, in a similar shade even. The same system that has failed over and over again for six decades. And nothing to indicate the path that needs to be taken to eliminate the State’s own blockade which suffocates Cubans and perpetuates poverty instead of wealth. The US blockade doesn’t even try to suffocate them in such a way.

Social achievements that remain under such paralyzed and unsustainable conditions will continue in the same depressing and dysfunctional state that they are currently in. Public healthcare will continue to be free but dreadful and delayed, without any medicine. Free, universal education, but ideologized, reducing the quality of education further and further with depressing schools and poorly paid teachers. Sports with worse, swooping results. And social security covering the poorest among the poor with handouts that aren’t even enough to cover 10% of their basic needs. It’s a lie.

Only point 5 remains, regarding international relations. However, while Cuba continues as it is, it will only be a dangerous example for other countries and a support for Leftist governments who come into power with praiseworthy promises and then entrench themselves in power using the Cuban system as their foundation, not allowing their people to democratically elect their leaders because they, the “enlightened ones”, are the ones who know what is best for their people.

And copying small fragments from the Cuban recipe for disaster (for themselves), they will decimate powerful economies like what has happened in Venezuela, which is incredibly worse-off than our own. If Cuba doesn’t move towards an inclusive democracy for the 14 or 15 million Cubans that exist in the world and if it doesn’t acclimate itself with the global economy, it will be very hard for it to shake off the US embargo or integrate into the regional market properly. That’s a fact.

This is definitely not the Constitution we need to achieve our national objectives. It is just the Constitution that the Party needs to protect their disproportionate power in a legal way and to continue on with their project/country, which I deem to be exclusive and dysfunctional. How great would it be to take advantage of this vast (and incorrect) power for the better of our badly damaged Homeland and finally move towards democracy, freedom and prosperty which is the path they twisted with their extremist ideology. Is that too much to ask for? Does only thinking like this make me a mercenary or a counter-revolutionary?