True or False? / Jorge Hojas Punales

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJorge Hojas Puñales

In Cuba there are company directors but no CEOs as such. A CEO is always ready to listen to (and not just hear) his legal advisor as well as his financial advisor. They are considered both the left and right arms of the entrepreneur.

I am also of the opinion that in our country there really is no such thing as what might be called institutionality (as one might hope for in a state with the rule of law). If everyone does whatever he thinks best or what he feels like doing, what would our Apostle* say in the face of such irresponsibility, such disrespect, such indolence and complacency? Call it what you will, all this has a common denominator – contempt and disobedience.

The bureaucracy, far from being eradicated, it setting down roots like the marabou weed. In the same way that globalization is the playing field of capitalism, kicking things back and forth is what we do in socialism. Continue reading

Revering the Law or Throwing Stones At It? / Jorge Hojas Punales #Cuba

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJorge Hojas Puñales

For those of us who comb our grey hair, or those who now haven’t any hair to comb, the French utopia dealing with attempted social change, in the context of that society, was an unreachable goal, notwithstanding the fact that it served as a program. And on a daily basis we see that as regards our own society, and in particular its future, it has transformed into a mirage; it is as if our goals, dreams and hopes, were on the horizon, that line which we can never reach.

How far away we are from being able to say with enthusiasm and credibility that in our society the law is respected, complied with and obeyed by all the bodies which make up our society.

We would like to prepare all the information possible, in order that people may have a sense of all the rules, orders and legal regulations which have been published in the Republic of Cuba’s Official Gazette, produced by the Ministry of Justice in more than 50 years.

Almost every day the Organisations of the Central Administration of State (OACE) publish regulations, and, not at the same frequency, laws, decrees, and legal decrees are put out in relation to the National Assembly of Popular Power (ANPP), the Council of State (CE) and the Council of Ministries.

To preach the law with due respect and devotion, it should not be necessary to undertake actions against those who flagrantly break or violate it, or with impunity fail to observe it. For example, it is sad to see them demolish a building because its construction was illegal. Why does that happen? Simply because of the total lack of respect for the law, both on the part of the person carrying out the work and also the person who has benefitted from the failure to observe it, both private individuals and companies.

What role is performed or should be performed by the lawyer or advocate in the OACE, an organisation, a company or association? As far as we are concerned his main role is founded on the preaching of respect for all current legislation, ensuring his behavior adheres to and complies with it, which is almost impossible to do, given that his boss’s wishes take precedence; he can’t act as consultant or advisor, because at best he is not listened to and at worst he is kicked out for going against his superior’s  decisions.

Everything that we have described, merits a special illustrative space showing how the laws are violated or infringed, which according to us (all of us) we approve. There is an old saying: “killed himself like Chacumbele”. Are we (all) Chacumbele?

January 13 2013

…I became a teacher, which is like making myself a creator / Jorge Hojas Punales #Cuba

10-me hice maestro

By Lic. Jorge Hojas Puñales

The Bible is a great book, maybe many people have it in their homes, and from time to time they read it, trying to teach themselves, without really moving on from just reading it. It is clear that they need someone who knows about it, who can explain the teaching which it contains.

A law, a decree, a resolution, or whatever legal instrument, is of no use in our hands, if we don’t have someone who can guide us, explain the contents in a reasoned manner, who can teach us every precept and help us understand the scope of its application. Just as with the Bible, legislation has to be preached or taught, and even better, with examples. Disobeying it amounts to sacrilege.

It’s no good if knowledge of the law which applies in our state is reserved exclusively to legal professionals, to those organisations and institutions charged with its development and endorsement, or those who are required to work with it. It becomes more and more necessary, and indispensable, to have at least some knowledge in order to live, live with others, in the Rule of Law in a civil society

The most basic rules for living together, are modified by Law, in accordance with the society in which they are sorted out. It would be wonderful if someone designed them in a spontaneous, honest and disinterested way, teaching the law, bringing it within reach of everybody, without distinction. What great satisfaction he would feel, knowing that he had contributed a grain of sand to add to the spreading and enrichment of the legal culture and the good of the people!

Possibly the conditions for this to occur don’t exist, but the desire to do it is something many people feel.

Translated by GH

December 22 2012

Cuban Economy: Real or Virtual? / Cuban Law Association

By Jorge Hojas Puñales 

“With Money and Without Money.” “Why Some and Not Others?” “Take What You Want; Pay What You Will.”  These are titles of some articles that appeared in our print media, and all of them – all – deal with the oft recurring and very familiar topic of ACCOUNTS RECEIVABLE AND PAYABLE. They would seem to be fiction, but a fiction so real that it is impossible to avoid. It has become a part of our culture.

Will our economy perhaps be strengthened in reality or in virtual reality? Will we be permitted to acquire a product or article, or to receive a service in a state-run store without “paying” for it? When we purchase our daily bread, which we get at a price of $0.05 Cuban pesos, would the sales clerk be so humanitarian and sympathetic that he would accept our saying, “We will pay for it tomorrow, or whenever we can?”

It has become common practice. The accepted rhetoric is that we do not have the ability to pay, but ample ability to receive. In state owned enterprises paper money (hard, cold cash) never changes hands. Half cash (or more aptly, vouchers) are used for collection and payment instead. The preferred method of payment in our system is the check – an instrument that often and not surprisingly is issued without the resources (funds) to back it up.

You would have to hold who knows how many events, meetings, seminars and congresses to solve the issue of collection and payment. Delinquency and default have become rooted in our system like a chronic plague that we don’t know how to eradicate or extirpate. Our way of seeing and thinking is similar to HIV; it is killing the defense mechanism of our economic system, even though the opposite is claimed.  Will we again take up the old slogan, Today I don’t sell on credit; tomorrow I will?

“To be or not to be”  It is not enough to feel or to believe oneself a businessman in the fullest and deepest sense of the word (to be autonomous and independent). It would be impossible, given the complacency of some and the detrimental impact it would have on others, to move forward under the weight of restrictions – instructions, directives, etc. – “issued from above.” These restrictions impede the normal and appropriate interactions between buisnesspeople “below” from taking place as they should. The director of the milk-producing company should be able to suspend deliveries to the Office of Public Health or to the Office of Education if they do not pay what they owe. All or most such actions are, in theory at least, legal.

At what point do we stop blaming, rightly or wrongly, “circumstances,” or the impenetrable blockade in order to avoid dealing with the inability to resolve the problems weighing us down like a knapsack on our back? If the blockade were to disappear tomorrow, the consequences from that would surely be blamed instead. It would not matter that it no longer existed; its spirit would live on. As the old Cuban saying goes, nothing bad lasts a hundred years, nor would anyone allow it to. But the hard, cold reality is that we are only at the mid-point of those hundred years.

Rest assured that the causes and conditions preventing collections and payments from taking place, and how to deal with the problem through legislation, are being studied with seriousness, depth and restraint. And you can also be quite certain that this will remain an unresolved issue in the coming year. Of this I am sure.

June 12 2012