An Essential Document / Fernando Dámaso

To return repeatedly to the past is not healthy because it presupposes nostalgia and idealizes something that like it or not, is blurred in the collective and individual memory in accordance with the passing of the years. But to forget it …. of course, is an equally bad idea. The present anguish and distress that it is our turn to live, is such that often we turn our gaze backwards, trying to see where we went wrong and at what point we should have acted differently from what we did instead. The present, without a doubt, has its firmest footing in the past

Today the majority, nearing the end of the current historical moment, try to imagine how to embark upon the immediate future. And it is there that I think we must carry out a return to the past, something that to many could seem unnatural (and counter-intuitive) to the point of being excessively conservative.

I’ll explain. I believe that in order to return to the path from which we strayed on March 10, 1952, and now well known, from which we strayed from on the first of January 1959, we have to re-establish, from the outset, the Constitution of 1940 as a foundational document, singular and prevailing, from which going forward, we would carry out the changes that would be determined by our political, economic, and social needs. Overall, the point of meeting between the lost Republic and the Republic to be established must be this document. With it, we would achieve something of real importance; the historical continuity of the Cuban nation. The current totalitarian regime, and the regimes of Batista and Machado as well, constitute negative phenomena, dark stains, in the republican advent begun on the 20th of May, 1902

The point at which this meeting takes place, more than a point of departure, would constitute a concrete base from which to begin the innumerable and difficult tasks that we must face, among them the task of building a strong democratic state. I know that 71 years have passed since the day when this exemplary document was approved (it was signed on the first of July, 1940 and formally acknowledged on the fifth of July) and so much has changed in Cuba and the world. However, the Constitution of 1940, in whose creation the entire national and political spectrum participated, without exception, and which in its time was considered among the most advanced in the world, has not lost its relevance in many of its articles nor has it been surpassed by the version created in the socialist phase, a faceless copy of the Stalinist Soviet constitution with amendments of a deeply opportunistic character, added in the last few years in order to support the needs of the current regime.

A return to the Constitution of 1940, although it could seem to be a return to the past, is simply to retake the path at the point at which it was left 59 years earlier, and from that point, to reconstruct and consolidate the Republic under new conditions found today.

Translated by James Delacroix

July 1 2011