Freedom to Decide? (II)

Most Cubans belong to social and mass organizations. While they don’t expressly declare their willingness to belong to them, neither do they argue against it. This fact leads to the presumption that consent in these cases is inferred or assumed.

There are a number of assumptions, however, that exclude consent because of a gap between what we really want and our declared will, as in the case of agreement with mental reservations.

One of the duties of members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) is to keep and defend socialist legality. We imagine a mother who participates in the activities of the CDR; but she tolerates her daughter being a prostitute or allows her son to operate on the black market. Obviously this kind of conduct is a sham, very common in our society.

There is another hypothetical where although what is said and what is meant are in perfect concordance, the consent is vitiated by intimidation. This is the case when a citizen feels a rational and well-founded fear of suffering some wrong to his person, property or family, if he does not belong to these organizations.

One of the requirements to enter into an employment relationship with the State, the only legal employer in the country, is to present a document issued by your CDR that attests to your conduct and reliability. A negative assessment of your conduct implies that you will not get the job you want or need.

This is one of the means that the government has to annul an citizen’s ability to decide and attain self-realization. It is a form of personal intimidation that compels the individual to belong to these organizations.

Paragraph 2, Article 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “No person shall be compelled to belong to an association.” In direct violation of this principle, the Cuban government requires its citizens to belong to the social and mass organizations it creates.

Freedom to Decide? (I)

To consent means to express, explicitly or implicitly, agreement with something. A decision that is legally binding, because one assumes rights and obligations. This way, the consent becomes a requirement of the capacity to act.

The capacity to consent is subject to restrictions. Principally, when the consent is given by a non-emancipated minor, a deaf-mute person unable to read or write, or a person who is mentally ill. The consent granted in these cases is not considered to be the result of free will and deliberation.

The Committee for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR) is an organisation which joins together the majority of social groups in the country. Article 7 of its statutes stipulates that “the request to join the organisation is an individual and voluntary act (…).” One of the requirements for entry is to be 14 years of age or older.

In Cuba the age of majority is 18 years and from this moment on a person attains his or her full capacity to act. As an exception to this rule, also considered emancipated are married females older than 14 years and married males of age 16 and above.

Adolescent persons, at 14 years of age, are neither fully responsible for their actions nor are they free to fulfill the requirements for joining the CDR. Much less are they capable of assuming the obligations implied by membership. Do they possess the economic resources to pay for their share in the self-financing model of the organisation?

The case of persons legally declared incompetent is very similar. I am speaking of deaf-mute or mentally ill persons who are registered members of the CDR. Did they consent to agree with the Revolution and to be prepared to defend it? Did they accept the statutes of the organisation? Are they able to behave in accordance with the ethic and the principles of the Revolution?

In Cuba, the mass social organisations register the citizens as members without asking for their consent. This fact is a violation of the individual rights of the people.

Laritza Diversent

Translated by: undef@rocketmail.com

The Right of Association

Pedro, a commentator on the site, asked me how a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) could be established in Cuba. I will dedicate several entries to explaining this issue according to Cuban law.

To associate for any lawful purpose is an element of freedom that is protected, in principle, in Article 54 of the Constitution of the Republic, stating that:

“The rights of assembly, demonstration, and association are exercised by manual laborers and intellectual, peasants, women, students and other sectors of the working people for they have the means necessary for such purposes.”

The associations give life to entities with legal personalities distinct from their members. The term is defined as a voluntary group of people pursuing a common purpose, on a non-profit basis. They respond to a form of freedom that corresponds to the exercise of other rights such as speech or petition.

As a recognized human right, this implies the right to form associations, to not be compelled to belong to one, and the right to resign from the association to which you belong. If a public servant interferes in this right, it is a violation.

That is, if they impede the creation of an association, or of someone’s becoming a part of one, without legal grounds to justify it; or, where appropriate, someone consents to it. It is also a violation to force someone to be belong to an association or, conversely, to force someone to leave one.

The right of freedom of association has legal restrictions on its exercise, since the purpose must always be lawful. It is enshrined in international law, and in some cases expanded upon.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, enshrines the right of peaceful assembly as a freedom for all people. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination also guarantees it. Children also require this right, as recognized in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Basic principles regarding the role of lawyers establishes their right to freedom of expression, belief, association, and assembly; in particular the right to participate in public discussion of matters relating to legislation, the administration of justice, and the promotion and protection of human rights.

The instrument also emphasizes that lawyers are entitled to form professional associations or to join them in order to represent their interests, promote their continuing education and training and protect their professional integrity.

Marcos D in NYC

Administrative Silence

Parties to cases who exercise the right of appeal can expect their applications to be rejected by administrative silence (negative silence).

Administrative acts that result from administrative silence may be also be asserted before the public administration. They are effective upon the expiration of the final deadline for the issuance and notification of the written decision (or attempted notification), even if one hasn’t been produced, and its existence may be attested by any form of evidence legally admissible, including the certificate attesting it was produced by silence, which can be requested by the competent decision-making body (the court).

The deadlines for filing legal appeals have to be calculated from the expiration of the final deadline for decision and notification, applying the general rules (subject to adjusting the deadlines from the notification of the written decision).

Translated by: Tomás A.

Government Representative Sued for Impeding the Exercise of Freedom of Association

The Cuban Legal Association, an organization of independent lawyers, lodged a complaint on 24 June before the Second Chamber of the Civil and Administrative Popular Provincial Tribunal of the City of Havana, against Justice Minister María Esther Reus González, for refusing permission for the legal constitution of the guild.

The event, described as exceptional by the jurists, is unprecedented in the 51 years of “Revolution.” It is the first time that a dissident organization has brought a legal action in court against a government representative.

The Cuban Legal Association, founded on October 1, 2008, provides legal advice to citizens who require their services. It also has among its objectives to raise the level of legal awareness of Cuban civil society. All this is done on a non-profit basis.

The Agency of the Central State Administration (OACE), chaired by Reus González, was silent at three distinct stages with respect to the request for a certificate, when it was supposed to certify whether there was another NGO on the island with the same name or purpose as the Cuban Legal Association.

The first two requests were directed to the Head of the Department of Registration of Associations, in April 2009 and March 2010. The third request was made, by means of an appeal, to Reus González, for breach of legal formalities.

The lawyers union gave notice at the expiration of the term for responding to a citizen petition, as provided by the State Constitution and the Civil Procedure Act. The document is the first step in the process to legalize a non-governmental organization (NGO), as required by the Regulation of Law No.54, “Associations.”

The lawsuit was filed by the justice group on 29 June, with the intent of challenging the decision (administrative silence) by the Department of Associations of the Ministry of Justice (MINJUS). At that point the court has precise legal time periods for acting. The presiding judge of the case will be Jolene Pereira Basanta.

Laritza Diversent

Whispers in the Wind

I looked at the picture of the political prisoner Ariel Sigler, taken after his release from prison. I closed my eyes, while various feelings swept over me. Once again I felt the reaction of the effect of his example. I wiped away the tears and composed myself.

I tried to imagine the future, before shouting aloud, “What destructive power and indolence! Who will pay for so much suffering? What is the formula for not harboring hatred and resentment? What will those say who today claim that all who dissent on the island do it for money? How much is seven years in prison worth, or the risk of going there?”

It is time to think in the present. What present? We live unique moments, but we can’t stop breathing uncertainty and incredulity. What will happen tomorrow? Doesn’t anyone know how and when the situation will end (if some day it will end)? A question to which there is no answer. Which is more disastrous, Greek tragedy or Cuban?

As they saying goes: “Everything that begins must end,” and another, “There is no evil that lasts 100 years, nor a body that can resist it.” Proverbs are laws of daily life, but how sad when daily they fill you with pessimism.

This is my present: daily walking the streets, taking public transportation, and feeling the reign of alienation. There is a single reality and worry for the preoccupied faces that pass by along the avenue: what to put on the table to eat. They sleep, but they do not have dreams. They know that there will be a tomorrow, but they are resigned not to think about the future.

They don’t know that there is an “unprecedented dialogue” between the church and the current leadership for the release political prisoners, that democratic governments of the world are pressing for respect of human rights on the island. They only know that there is a “media war against Cuba.” So they are informed by Granma, the Round Table, and Star News (NTV).

Instead, I try to find out and convey what is happening, so that the news runs from mouth to mouth, forming the snowball and later the avalanche. The listener keeps silent. You feel the look of doubt when with faith you pronounce the word “change.” It seems you do not understand, you are confused. Are you deaf, blind or dumb? No, they just think you’re crazy. There everyone stays, afraid to repeat what they hear, and your words remain, like a whisper in the wind.

Laritza Diversent

Translated by: Tomás A.

No Problem

“Ungrateful!  Talking trash about the Revolution and today you have a name only because it gave you free health care and education.  Besides, it guarantees you a monthly allotment of basic goods while around the world millions of people die from hunger every day.”

“You know, I don’t like talking bad about anyone behind their backs.  In fact, go ahead and look for her so I can look her in the face and let her know how I feel.  Show me who she is.  How can I talk to her?  Give me her address, I’m going to knock on her door.”

“Don’t pretend to be clever.  You know very well what I’m talking about.”

“Yes, I know, and you also know what I mean.  Today I want answers and if she is not here to give them to me, then you tell me.  I want to know why you lied to me and also to my parents.  You said it was the best and only solution, so that we could all equally achieve progress.  My parents believed it and I believed them. I dedicated my body and soul to studying, I became a professional.  What was the use, if I don’t even respect myself?  Today, in the union meeting they demanded the help of all us workers to confront illegalities and corruption. They collected the written agreements of all workers: their names, phone numbers, address, size, weight, and skin color…”

“Why was all of that necessary?”

“I don’t know, ask them.  But look, don’t interrupt me.  I gave my information and signed everything.  You know I’m the chief of the warehouse and I have to set a good example.  If I don’t I then run the risk of being questioned and may even lose my job, which I struggled a lot to get, and there a bunch of people who would do anything for that to occur.  A little place like that is worth a lot of money…”

“That’s for sure, the new chief who came has you under his foot.  The guy fires everyone so he can bring in his own people.  He already started with the economic group, they ordered an audit and they threw them out.”

“Back to what I was talking about… Man, I’m tired.  Sometimes when I get home from work my kid starts talking to me.  I don’t know what to tell him, he wants to be like me.  Who am I?  A mechanical engineer who works at a warehouse stealing all I can get my hands on in order to survive.  How do I explain that to him?  That’s not the future I want for him.  I studied, that’s true, but for what?  I have a degree that I can’t use.  The sad part is that in the morning I repeat all that gibberish about “conquering and sacrifices in order to preserve the Revolution” to all the workers when we all know very well that this can’t go on.  Leave the excuses, girl, I’m you’re boss, but with me you don’t have to lie.  By the way, why didn’t you come today?”

“I had to take care of an issue I had, I don’t have a single grain of rice in my house.”

“That’s enough, enough.  Don’t explain so many things to me.  I’ll throw you a rope with the personnel lady.  Tomorrow go by where the union lady is and just sign.  We need the agreement of 100% of the workers so that the corporation could be distinguished in the semester emulation.”

“You know that with me there is no problem!”

Laritza Diversent

Translated by Raul G.

The Route Jeans and T-Shirts Take to Cuba

Until now, the main route for private merchandise has been Miami-Havana, and from the capital it fans out to the rest of the country. Although it could also make the reverse trip, from an eastern province to the west of the island.

Private imports of products from abroad tend to come from Cubans who have the opportunity to travel overseas for their work, such as merchant marines, doctors, nurses, sports coaches, and emigrants, among others.

In recent months, the customs authorities have focused their attention on articles imported by emigrants, particularly those based in Ecuador, a nation that has become attractive to Cubans since June 2008, when President Rafael Correa declared that foreigners could enter the country and stay up to 90 days without needing a visa.

An opening that Cubans have not squandered. Add to that the advantage that since 2000, Ecuador replaced the former national currency, the sucre, with the U.S. dollar.

According to the Ecuadorian Immigration Office, in 2008, 10,940 Cubans entered the country and 9,935 left. In 2009, 27,114 entered and 23, 147 left. And in January and February of 2010, 4,800 arrived and 3,357 departed. Mario Pazmiño, former director of intelligence, estimates that 7,000 Cubans have stayed in the country, many of them with the aim of getting Ecuadorian citizenship.

On the other hand, it’s estimated that of the 296,000 Cubans who traveled to the island in 2009, about 200,000 were from the United States and in 2010 that number could approach 300,000. Since the easing of travel restrictions on the part of President Obama, some 20,000 passengers have arrived in Cuba each month. Every one with the accompanying “worms” (huge bags), full of all manner of cheap and knock-off goods.

Although official figures are not available, it is assumed that the volume of merchandise imported by way of individuals is enormous. And not just from Ecuador and the United States: thanks to a half-century of socialist poverty, Cubans are among the greatest buyers and sellers of schlock in the world.

Starting January 1, 2010, General Customs of the Republic increased the taxes on goods subject to customs fees. It also stressed controls of non-commercial imports coming in with Cuban travelers, with an emphasis on those coming from the U.S. and Ecuador.

On the internet we find cases like that of Jorge, age 35, who in Cuba raised pigs for sale. Now, in Quito, he spends every morning shopping, looking for t-shirts, jeans and cheap jewelry, original or replicas.

Jorge told the reporter that the greater part of everything “shoddy” he sends to Cuba. If he manages to get through without any problems at Customs, it doesn’t take him long to sell his goods, at lower prices than those in the “shoppings” or hard currency stores.

In Quito, the local sellers are extremely happy with their Cuban clientele. Ximena, a shop owner, decided to replace her inventory of towels with a line of children’s clothes, in great demand by Cubans. Angelita, an administrator of a commercial center, says that for the last year-and-a-half the Cubans have become their main customers, and they’re “so active that sales are up 40%.”

Ecuadorian police sources estimate that 70% of the Cubans who come to Ecuador are what they call “porters,” men or women who contract a marriage to be able to enter and leave the country easily, the better to realize their “commercial activities” between the two countries.

Whether from Ecuador, the U.S., or another country, the better part of all this merchandise is going to end up on the black market. Alfredo, 43, decided to give up his desk in a state office last year to dedicate, himself to”bisne” (business). “My role is to guarantee that the schlock gets to the people on the street immediately, as they are the ones who most need it.”

Laritza Diversent

Photo: Cuban in Quito buying shoddy goods to sell in Cuba. Google-Images.

My Island Hurts

Cuba produces passions, but also pain. I am taking the liberty of reprinting here the comments of some readers, showing how much this island in the Caribbean Sea is hurting.

Laritza Diversent

Gabriel

“I’ve met many Cubans living in Spain, and their greatest trauma was not just the loss of their home. I’m talking about a lady in her sixties who gave me music lessons when I was about 16 years old. That is, back in the decade of the 60’s. For her, the greatest trauma was that they would not let her take her family photo album out of Cuba. Nor would they let her contact her relatives who remained in Cuba, either by phone or mail.

They erased the reminders of her entire life. Those photo albums lacked any monetary value. They prohibited her from taking them only to hurt her. That nostalgia for lost photo albums has been recounted to me by several different Cubans. Memories can be more valuable than objects.”

Dora Amador

“Few people in Cuba think about the pain of being uprooted. The unspeakable trauma that leaving the country entails. That is my case. I left at age 13, I am now 61. All my life, I had no greater desire than to return to my country, which, God willing, I will, to a Free Cuba, wonderfully democratic. I know it’s not easy to achieve democratic institutions, not only in the republic, but in ourselves, respecting the diversity of ideas and the validity of elections, etc.

Being exiled is one of the most horrible sufferings that a human being can experience. You can now observe this in the case of Adrián Leiva, who died trying to enter his country, because the government would not allow it.  That is my case, too.  They will not let me enter, they will not give me permission to return to my country. Soon all this will change forever.”

Anae

“Every officer who attends those who leave Cuba has a kind of license that allows them to mistreat you, with or without words, through every proceeding. In my case it was in the final days, in one of the offices where they multiply the documents needed to finish, so as not to allow you to say goodbye to your family and friends in peace, always thinking that something is missing and “without that” you cannot go.

The lack of one simple document is fatal . . . and terrifying.  It’s enough to lose sleep over, to say a quick goodbye and turn your face as you fight back your tears. Then, while waiting for the flight, you want to leave and say you’re sorry, to calmly say that you expect to return one day, but it’s not possible. Many people have not been able to return to reconcile themselves at this moment, and perhaps that is why they carry a heavy load. Many more than those who have been able to do so … ”

Eneas

“Yes, the wounds don’t heal, there are many. I left behind mother, child, childhood friends, etc. In short, every day of your life you live with nostalgia and suffering, because many of these wounds will follow you forever. I just wish that Cuba could return to normal, where the rights of every citizen are respected, and you can live in peace and harmony. Do you see? I don’t know … ”

Modesta García

“I too left Cuba 30 years ago and haven’t returned, because I also have open wounds, and I can’t forget. There were 10 years of waiting, when the exits were closed from 1970 to 1980, without hope. I started working with the government, and since I wanted to leave the country, I was considered a CIA agent. They invented sabotage plots, they watched me, etc. I can’t count all the intrigues, sufferings, and torments. All this cooled my desire to return to Cuba.

Although they tell me that it’s different now, I know that’s not true. Recent events show that nothing has changed, that it’s business as usual. I’m not a masochist, and as soon as I set foot in the airport, the humiliations by the employees would begin. I came to this country seeking freedom; I have it, and I enjoy it, and I don’t want to be without it for even a second.

This is not to say that I feel nothing for Cuba. On the contrary, for everything that happens, I’m sorry and I’m concerned and I very much want their freedom.  But until there is freedom, I will not return. I’m not critical of those going to see their parents, siblings, children, etc., because that is human.

I am critical of those who visit the Island looking for cheap sex from unhappy girls who do it out of necessity, and of the “millionaires” who cover themselves with gold-plated jewelry, so people will believe they are wealthy and ought to be treated as celebrities. Unfortunately, these are the sad realities of travel to Cuba. I hope this nightmare ends, once and for all.”

Translated by: Tomás A.

My Island Hurts

Cuba produces passions, but also pain. I am taking the liberty of reprinting here the comments of some readers, showing how much this island in the Caribbean Sea is hurting.

Laritza Diversent

Gabriel

“I’ve met many Cubans living in Spain, and their greatest trauma was not just the loss of their home. I’m talking about a lady in her sixties who gave me music lessons when I was about 16 years old. That is, back in the decade of the 60’s. For her, the greatest trauma was that they would not let her take her family photo album out of Cuba. Nor would they let her contact her relatives who remained in Cuba, either by phone or mail.

They erased the reminders of her entire life. Those photo albums lacked any monetary value. They prohibited her from taking them only to hurt her. That nostalgia for lost photo albums has been recounted to me by several different Cubans. Memories can be more valuable than objects.”

Dora Amador

“Few people in Cuba think about the pain of being uprooted. The unspeakable trauma that leaving the country entails. That is my case. I left at age 13, I am now 61. All my life, I had no greater desire than to return to my country, which, God willing, I will, to a Free Cuba, wonderfully democratic. I know it’s not easy to achieve democratic institutions, not only in the republic, but in ourselves, respecting the diversity of ideas and the validity of elections, etc.

Being exiled is one of the most horrible sufferings that a human being can experience. You can now observe this in the case of Adrián Leiva, who died trying to enter his country, because the government would not allow it.  That is my case, too.  They will not let me enter, they will not give me permission to return to my country. Soon all this will change forever.”

Anae

“Every officer who attends those who leave Cuba has a kind of license that allows them to mistreat you, with or without words, through every proceeding. In my case it was in the final days, in one of the offices where they multiply the documents needed to finish, so as not to allow you to say goodbye to your family and friends in peace, always thinking that something is missing and “without that” you cannot go.

The lack of one simple document is fatal . . . and terrifying.  It’s enough to lose sleep over, to say a quick goodbye and turn your face as you fight back your tears. Then, while waiting for the flight, you want to leave and say you’re sorry, to calmly say that you expect to return one day, but it’s not possible. Many people have not been able to return to reconcile themselves at this moment, and perhaps that is why they carry a heavy load. Many more than those who have been able to do so … ”

Eneas

“Yes, the wounds don’t heal, there are many. I left behind mother, child, childhood friends, etc. In short, every day of your life you live with nostalgia and suffering, because many of these wounds will follow you forever. I just wish that Cuba could return to normal, where the rights of every citizen are respected, and you can live in peace and harmony. Do you see? I don’t know … ”

Modesta García

“I too left Cuba 30 years ago and haven’t returned, because I also have open wounds, and I can’t forget. There were 10 years of waiting, when the exits were closed from 1970 to 1980, without hope. I started working with the government, and since I wanted to leave the country, I was considered a CIA agent. They invented sabotage plots, they watched me, etc. I can’t count all the intrigues, sufferings, and torments. All this cooled my desire to return to Cuba.

Although they tell me that it’s different now, I know that’s not true. Recent events show that nothing has changed, that it’s business as usual. I’m not a masochist, and as soon as I set foot in the airport, the humiliations by the employees would begin. I came to this country seeking freedom; I have it, and I enjoy it, and I don’t want to be without it for even a second.

This is not to say that I feel nothing for Cuba. On the contrary, for everything that happens, I’m sorry and I’m concerned and I very much want their freedom.  But until there is freedom, I will not return. I’m not critical of those going to see their parents, siblings, children, etc., because that is human.

I am critical of those who visit the Island looking for cheap sex from unhappy girls who do it out of necessity, and of the “millionaires” who cover themselves with gold-plated jewelry, so people will believe they are wealthy and ought to be treated as celebrities. Unfortunately, these are the sad realities of travel to Cuba. I hope this nightmare ends, once and for all.”

Translated by: Tomás A.

The Foreignization of Cubans

Sandy Olivera is a young Cuban who, two years ago, emigrated as a political refugee to the United States. His girlfriend remained on this side of the sea. A week ago, he returned to Cuba to marry her.

The formalization of the marriage took place in the Specialized Notary at 23rd and J, in Vedado, Plaza de la Revolución District, in Havana. To marry, as mandated by law, he had to pay 525 CUC and 100 national currency in stamps. To make matters worse the notary, without blinking, asked for a gift of 5 CUC.

The Cuban government treated Sandy as if he were a foreigner. Has residing in the United States become one of the legally established reasons for losing Cuban citizenship?

The Constitution of the Republic states that when a person acquires foreign citizenship, Cuban citizenship will be lost. It further declares that the law establishes the procedure for the formalization of the loss of citizenship and the authorities who will decide.

This means that the fact of acquiring other citizenship does not by itself imply the loss of Cuban citizenship. For this to happen, the government authorities have to decide. In fact, Cubans with U.S. citizenship must enter the island with a Cuban passport. That is, as citizens of the socialist state.

In practice there is dual citizenship. What happens is that the government recognizes only the Cuban citizenship, ignoring that newly acquired. That is not Sandy’s case. He has not taken any steps to become a U.S. citizen, and therefore has not lost his status as a Cuban citizen.

As evidenced by the fact that he paid 220 CUC for permission to enter the country, as decided by the Cuban authorities. He entered Cuba as a Cuban citizen, yet within the island, he had to pay for services received in freely convertible currency as if he were a foreigner.

This is the “rule of law” so defended by the Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez. A State that, in Article 41 of its Magna Carta recognizes that “all citizens enjoy equal rights and are subject to equal duties,” but that discriminates against those living in other parts of the world.

Cubans living abroad are not foreigners. It is understood that the “socialist state subsidizes the services that the population receives” and that those living abroad have greater purchasing power than those living on the island. But the factual situations do not justify the government violating constitutional rights.

Laritza Diversent

Translated by: Tomás A.

Cuba and Its System of Exclusion (II)

Cubans are outcasts in their own land. Both those who reside in the country, as well as those living abroad. The latter are doubly discriminated against. They cannot invest in the economy because they are citizens of the State, yet when they return to the country they are treated as foreigners.

Law No. 77, “On foreign investment,” provides that a foreign investor is “a natural person or legal entity with a foreign domicile and foreign capital, who becomes a shareholder of a joint venture, or participates in a company with totally foreign capital, or is named as a party in the contracts of an international economic association.”

Under the rules of this legislation, Cubans residing permanently abroad shoddily have no obstacle to investing in the economy of their homeland. They have a foreign domicile and foreign capital. So what stops them?

Article 32 of the Cuban constitution establishes that Cubans cannot be deprived of the citizenship, except for legally established causes. Nor can they be deprived of the right to change this. Dual citizenship is not permitted. Consequently, when another citizenship is acquired, Cuban citizenship is lost. The law establishes the process to follow to formalize the loss of citizenship and the authorities authorized to decide it.

The causes of losing and recovering citizenship before the 1992 constitutional reform were specific and were contained in the text of the “Supreme Charter of the State.” Now they have lost legal significance and should be regulated by law.

Taking into account the increase in Cuban emigration, one might think that the goal of reform was to eliminate citizenship. On the contrary, the measures taken by the government tend to retain it.

Conveniently for the authorities, they have not formulated the law that regulates the particulars of the analysis. The practice is to require all Cubans to enter the country with the passport that qualifies them as a national. It is not that they allow dual citizenship for them, with respect to nationals, only Cuban citizenship is available. By virtue of this, they cannot invest in the national economy.

However, within the territory they lose their rights as nationals.  They are required to pay for all services in hard currency, as if they were foreigners. Far from being a privilege, this provision violates the constitutional and fundamental rights of Cubans.

Laritza Diversent

Cuba and Its System of Exclusion (I)

It is fair to acknowledge that foreign investment in Cuba brings benefits to the economy. But by itself it is not the solution for confronting the overwhelming problems.

Law No. 77 was adopted in 1995 to provide security and guarantees to foreign investors, and from this to achieve economic recovery. So stated the Cuban Parliament, in the introduction of this statutory provision.

In it the National Assembly also said that through foreign investment Cuba could get (among other objectives) increased production efficiency, improved quality of products and services offered, and reduced costs.

Fifteen years after this law was passed, it’s worth asking: Did it enhance the welfare of the Cuban people? Which services was Parliament referring to — those received by foreigners or those offered to the general population?  And regarding the latter, some comments.

Inadequate wages discourage citizens, mainly young people, from working with the State. How does the government solve the problem of labor abstinence, which forced it to increase the retirement age? By imposing four-year prison sentences for social dangerousness.

This leads to another problem, that of illegalities. The low purchasing power of thousands of families causes them to live outside the state regulations, in order to cope with the ongoing crisis.

What is the solution to this other conflict? The deployment of police operatives to catch those who are engaged in individual economic activity red-handed. Isn’t it easier to legalize the status of people who opt to live independently of state handouts?

Why doesn’t the Cuban government encourage profitable activities by citizens? Just as with  foreign investment, the individual economic initiative of Cubans results in increased productivity, the creation of new jobs, etc..

In principle, one of the reasons underlying the exclusion of Cubans from national economic affairs was the social egalitarianism that socialism attempted but never attained.

To try to guarantee one right, others were violated. A supposed social equality justified the government acting contrary to constitutional dictates, and led to an institutionalized form of segregation, based on national origin.

Cuba needs a law of investment, not exclusion. In its 15-year existence, Law 77 has only brought economic apartheid. It is not fair that only the individual capital of foreigners has value in the Cuban economy.

Laritza Diversent

Translated by: Tomás A.

The Revolution Gives and The Revolution Takes Away

For six months Sandra has lived in Havana with her father. She’s 24 and is an “emerging” elementary school teacher. She used to work in her hometown, Holguin; but she left teaching because the salary wasn’t enough. Now she sells pastries in the doorways of Monte Street.

Sandra was saving to buy a little house. But the police caught her when she was selling sweets. They levied a fine for “speculation.” Then they put her on a train back to her province, for living in the capital without the right to do so. She was a victim of the application of Decree-Law 217 of April 22, 1997, which establishes “Internal Migration Regulations for Havana.”

The provision restricts the freedom of movement of Cubans from other areas of the country. It prevents them from residing, whether domiciled or living together, permanently and without authorization in the capital. The provision also applies to citizens from other areas of the capital who live in a dwelling located in Old Havana, Central Havana, Cerro, and Tenth of October, without the corresponding license.

Sandra has to ask permission from the President of the Municipal Administrative Council to live in the capital. She must prove to the Housing Department that she has the express consent of her father, as owner of the house. She also needs a document from the Municipal Architecture and Urbanism Department that certifies that the dwelling meets the minimum conditions for habitation, and that there are ten square meters of space for each occupant.

Once all the paperwork is completed, the young woman’s problem is not yet solved. The decision, yes or no, of the Municipal President depends on the opinion in the file that elaborates on the issue, from the Municipal Housing Office.

It is immaterial that the Constitution of the Republic in Article 43, allows Sandra, as a Cuban citizen, to live in any zone or sector. A right, according to the article, conquered by the Revolution, and if they have the right to give it they have the right to restrict it.

The “Historic Leaders,” concentrates all the power in the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers, with the ability to grant or to restrict the rights of citizens. The validity of decree 217 proves that the Cuban government and its leaders have no desire to make positive changes. Meanwhile, cases like Sandra’s, common in Cuba, continue happening and the guilty parties go unpunished.

Laritza Diversent