Particularity of Human Rights / Cuban Law Association, Argelio M. Guerra

Society – International – Rights – Justice. ORDER Disorder

Lic. Argelio M. Guerra

The fight for freedom has been, to a large extent, the fight to restrain the power of the State, mainly through the creation of recognized spaces of individual freedom. The idea that certain rights derive from the very nature of man was developed by different positions on natural law, both was based on the idea that such rights were granted to man by God, as well as having developed starting from concepts of human nature itself.

Several expressions were used interchangeably to refer to what are commonly designated as human rights: fundamental human rights, rights, freedoms, individual rights, etc. The recognition and legal protection of such rights is intended to offer a necessary path by which human development should be treated at all levels.

These rights have a set of characteristics that distinguish them, namely:

– Inborn or Inherent: All human beings are born with rights, so that the state can not grant them, and one must recognize and protect themas a norm.

– Needed: Being derived from human nature itself, they should be considered necessary, so the distinction is imposed by the legal system.

– Inalienable: Belonging to humans by their very nature they can not be divided, transferred, alienated or waived.

– Imprescriptible: They cannot be extinguished or lose value, either because the person does not exercise them voluntarily or is prevented from doing so.

– Enforceable erga omnes: They can be enforced against any person, whether natural or juridical.

– Indivisible and Interdependent: There cannot be a hierarchy with one right above another, but as an entire set they should bein full effect and achievable.

– Universal: They must apply to all people, regardless of race, skin color, national origin, sex, religion, social status, domicile, residence, etc.

20 April 2013

From the Wolf, a Hair* / Cuban Law Association, Wilfredo Vallin Almeida

Photo: Marcelo López Bañobre

By Wilfredo Vallín Almeida

Like many compatriots, I sat down to watch the appearance of General of the Army Raul Castro during his recent speech before the National Assembly of People’s Power.

I talked with other lawyers about his words before that forum and, unsurprisingly, some were interested in certain aspects of his speech, while others fixed on different details.

Personally, he caught my attention when he said:

We have to have the Party Congress set the course to update the Cuban economic model and to achieve a sustainable and prosperous socialist society, a less egalitarian but more just society .  . .”

It’s with regards to …”a less egalitarian but more just society”that I want to reflect about. continue reading

For many years we have heard of a justice that meant a classless society, and we were witnesses of how those who departed from this scheme were persecuted or segregated.

I remember very clearly that one of the elements that was always reflected in the investigation of a person was their standard of living — whether they had relatives abroad, received outside help, etc. A positive finding of those details was an aggravating factor for their situation.

Until recently, the following paragraph from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was, for the extreme champions of the EGALITARIAN society, a dead letter and condemnable:

“Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of living in larger freedom . . .”

Social progress? Better standards of living? That smacked of ideological deviation.

But time passed, “and an eagle passed over the sea. . .”**

Things change by inner conviction or because there is no alternative. But in the midst of the stagnation that has gripped the country for half a century, the fact that the current head of state speaks in favor of less egalitarianism, may mean that it is already happening somewhat, though still far from what we would want.

But like my grandmother used to say: from the wolf, a hair.*

Translator’s notes:

*The Spanish proverb “Del lobo un pelo, y ése de la frente” can be translated, roughly, “From the wolf [take] a hair, and this from the forehead,” and means, roughly, when you can’t expect to receive good from someone, take whatever little you can.

**From “The Pink Shoes”, a poem by Jose Martí

Translated by Tomás A.

16 April 2013

About Leaders and Responsibilities / Cuban Law Association, Lic. Rodrigo Chavez

Lic. Rodrigo Chávez

In the newspaper Granma, an article published with the title “About leaders and responsibilities”, by Félix López, makes it clear that a well-known old Cuban proverb “the rope breaks at the weakest point” would be ideal for this article.

How many of us who have always been subordinates have carried the blame for something which we had nothing to do with? And I say subordinate because whenever we have a superior, we are inevitably subordinate.

Say to yourself crime, contravention or indiscipline, they categorise and describe actions in this way because they are gathered up in legal regulations, but what’s for sure is that as a general rule, when regulations go unobserved, and are breached, usually the weight of the law falls on or breaks the weakest point: the “subordinate”.

Is it the workers who designate or choose their bosses? That’s as untrue as the belief that in the Management Board of any Employment Centre, the chief feels he is subject to the same conditions as his employees. Going to any Management Council is like being in the presence of a contract of adhesion “take it or leave it” – and to tell you the truth, we can understand even better than the people who work there that the chief has his entourage, incapable of or prevented from disagreeing with the decision of the supremo, except in rare circumstances, which are always viewed with disapproval and in terms of whingeing, trouble-making or out to make problems.

What can you say when a chief takes disciplinary measures against a subordinate and the latter complains to the Employment Law Authority (OJLB)? It would be a bit awkward if the worker were to leave victorious after the confrontation, because both he and the OJLB are employees and who would think of going against the wishes of the chief they will ask  themselves. “Who will guarantee my employment if we let the worker win?” Because although the regulations say that the Authority has to comply with the law when carrying out its functions, when the function of delivering justice gets to the decision, will they continue being employed?

When you get to a work location trying to work and experiencing difficulties, you will find out who is the Chief, Manager, Director, Administator… perhaps you will be lucky enough to see him and hear him from a distance at a meeting, but you also learn that this individual has been shifted out … how is this person supposed to know about the activities he has been asked to run? How are things going to operate? There are lots of unanswered questions, and anybody who is able to answer them does not do so.

Translated by GH

23 March 2013