OPEd | Many of you have been asking me my thoughts on the proposed new Cuba Constitution. Here goes. by Herb Sosa
Why not start with the 1940 Constitution of Cuba - widely considered one of the most progressive constitutions at the time, it provided for land reform, public education, a minimum wage and other social programs?
The new draft proposed recognizes the right to own private property, the possibility of same-sex marriage, and encourages foreign investment and strengthen the judicial system, including recognizing the presumption of innocence, and some other social and political reforms.
What is does NOT do is give the Cuban people the most basic of Freedoms they were stripped of in 1959 by the current dictatorship. The Freedom to vote – STILL a one-party system. The right to Freedom of the Press, Free Speech, Freedom to Travel, etc.
The property you will possibly be allowed to own, if you sympathize with the government, is STOLEN property, illegally taken by the current system, and can be taken away at any time again, as it has happened various times on the island over the past 60 years. This smells of an attempt to avoid reparations to the real owners, in the eyes and courts of the world.
As for same-sex marriage, wonderful, but many within the island already know this part will probably not pass, since the government is hiding behind a group of clergy opposing it – the same churches the have outlawed for most of its rule, and still do not officially recognize. This, coming from a system that to this day, routinely jails & beats the REAL dissidents of the LGBT movement on the island, while its leaders pose for photo opps of mock Pride parades. The same system that outlawed homosexuality and created concentration-style camps for everyone living with HIV just a few years ago.
Change is good, when it is for the better, and if this new constitution passes, it certainly appears to have some minimal benefits for the Cubans on the island. But let’s not forget, when you strip your people of ALL OF THEIR RIGHTS, POSSESSIONS, PROPERTY and HOPE, and then give it back to them in little drops as you see fit over 60 years, what are you REALLY giving them?
Often we are all tempted with an “out with the old” mentality. But we must learn from and build on what works, not obliterate history because it threatens our intentions.
The 1940 Constitution of Cuba was widely considered one of the most progressive constitutions at the time, it provided for land reform, public education, a minimum wage and other social programs. It had 286 articles in 19 sections, and was implemented during the presidency of Federico Laredo Brú and took effect on 10 October 1940.
The final product was generally considered enlightened and progressive. It reflected a serious consideration of Cuba's experience and of Cuba's problems. It embodied the hopes and aspirations of many.
The Constitution of 1940 was in effect for 12 years until, in 1952, following a coup d'état by Fulgencio Batista, parts of it were suspended. In 1953, Fidel Castro's manifesto "History Will Absolve Me" declared the restoration of the 1940 Constitution one of the principal aims of his revolutionary movement. In 1957, he and two of his fellow revolutionaries in the "Manifesto of Sierra Maestra" announced their intention to restore the 1940 Constitution should they succeed in defeating the Batista dictatorship. They delayed doing so until, in 1976, a referendum approved the adoption of a new constitution, the 1976 Constitution of Cuba, which defined the country as a one-party state under the Communist Party of Cuba and replaced the office of Prime Minister of Cuba with a president.