By Argelio M. Guerra
Is it possible to file a legal claim against someone to whom you have given your car to carry out some bodywork, paying him something in advance, who has not carried out the work in question, and where there is no contract documentation? How can you enforce the contractual obligation?
Is it the case that a piece of paper, containing the personal details and reciprocal obligations to which those who agree to provide a service in return for payment commit themselves, constitutes, when the occasion requires, an element of proof for the purposes of a Tribunal when making an application for completion of a contractual obligation?
There are thousands of questions, like the ones above, which are raised by Cubans when, as happens, legal relationships, which should be created in accordance with provisions of the law and good faith, lead to a sorry outcome with the bitter experience, for one or both persons, of being jailed for what ought to be and should proceed as a satisfactory legal relationship.
And this ominous outcome is, not infrequently, the result of various elements which are to be found in legal relationships, conspiring against their normal development; ignorance of rights and how they are to be applied within the social framework; little or no dissemination of information by the mechanisms and institutions which are there to guarantee the exercise of those citizens’ rights, little publicity about the requirements and best options for those wishing to enter into a legal transaction with adequate guarantees, a legal vacuum in relation to the regime governing defined options for the self-employed. These and other limitations are part of the legal reality of present-day Cuba, at the same time as they are of potential assistance to those trying to make a living by way of cheating and extorting from others.
Although the decentralisation of the State monopoly on employment has been accepted and welcomed, what is also needed is an effective strategy to ensure the legal protection of the citizen.
The growing scale of the non-public economy, taken with the ever-more-necessary reduction of prohibitions and restrictions which muzzle the life of Cuban people, takes us inevitably in the direction of an increasing quantity of legal relationships, and the urgent need to dispel the air of mystery, as far as many Cubans are concerned, which has surrounded them for years.
Translated by GH
January 10 2013