A New Constitution / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso,6 June 2018 — The history of Cuban constitutions is an interesting one. All of them — beginning with the Guáimaro constitution (1869), continuing on to Jimaguayú constitution (1895), the Yaya and Santa Cruz constitutions (1897 and 1898), the constitution of 1901, and the constitutional reforms of 1928 and 1940 — left open the possibility that they could be modified, in whole or in part, in accordance with changes that had occured since their ratifications and implementations. This was the case even in the socialist constitution of 1976 and in its reforms of 1992 and 2002, when the arbitrary article about “the irrevocability of the socialist system” was added on.

There are now indications that, in the draft of the newest Magna Carta, the article defining “the role of the Communist Party as the “organized vanguard and leading force of society and the State” will remain unchanged.

Just as the Platt Amendment remained in force in the 1901 constitution until 1934, the intention now is to retain the “Castro Amendment” as a compulsory straitjacket on present and future generations. The “historical assumption” is that socialism was accepted by our sovereign people when in fact it was imposed on April 16, 1961 in an event with a few hundred armed and ardent militiamen on the corner of 23rd and 12th streets in the capital’s Vedado district without consulting the the Cuban people. This was subsequently ratified in the 1976 constitution by an “exercise in popular approval,” which more closely resembled a farse than a legal action, in response to a tirade by the president, who urged Cubans to sign his decree at tables set up in every neighborhood of the country.

Certainly, when any political, economic or social system comes to power, it tries to secure its interests and legally shield itself by drafting its own constitution. This was the case in Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union as well as in the latter’s satellite countries. However, sooner or later, they all came to an end and were replaced by other constitutions to address the new realities. The same has happened in other systems, which reformed or changed constitutions based on the needs at the time.

What is interesting is that the restrictions and prohibitions imposed by these articles serve no purpose. Times change, other men will modify them and, if they decide to shed the burden of socialism, they will change them entirely.

It is also pedantic and arrogant to think of themselves as framers of the “absolute constitution.” Such a position only demonstrates how out of touch people become when they exercise absolute power for too long.