February Declaration / Rafael León Rodríguez

Rafael León Rodríguez, General Coordinator of the Cuban Democratic Project, Havana, 7 February 2019

1.- Last year, after the appointment of Miguel Díaz Canel as president of the Republic of Cuba by the highest leadership of the Cuban regime, new expectations emerged, both inside and outside the country, about the possibility of starting a process of real changes in Cuban society that not only encompasses the economic and social realms, but also the politics. The president himself denied, repeatedly and in different scenarios that this would happen, pointing out that the key to his government was based by continuity, not on changes.

2.- Within the framework of the legal rearrangement determined by the new spaces occupied by private workers, mainly in the fields of services, agriculture and construction and the creation of new management structures for the government, the authorities of the islands initiated the project of revising the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba which, after being promulgated in 1976, had already undergone changes in the years 1978, 1992 and 2002.

In this latest version of the Law of Laws, already approved by the National Assembly last December, they have maintained the articles that define the Communist Party as a leading force of society and the state, as well as the irreversibility of the sociopolitical system that has governed Cuba for more than 60 years, in its various modalities. Martí, our Apostle, has told us,“It is always a misfortune for freedom if freedom is a party” [1] and also that: “A Constitution is a living and practical law that can not be built with ideological elements”[2].

3.- During the process of consultation, discussion and reception of proposals from the citizenry last October, which can be considered as the analysis of the preliminary draft of the Constitution put to public consideration, although the participation was estimated by the authorities and their media as very significant, it is noteworthy that the articles imposed that define and guarantee the continuity of the dictatorial regime could not be discussed or questioned.

4.- A referendum on this new Constitution will be held on February 24, which will decide whether or not it is approved by the citizens. But, beyond this plebiscite, the new constitution continues to ignore political plurality, continues to obscure the peaceful democratic opposition and disrespects, by action or omission, in parts of its articles, both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Covenants on International Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Civil and Political Rights.

5.- The Message from the Cuban Catholic Bishops dated February 2 of this year, regarding the new Constitution of the Republic of Cuba and the upcoming referendum to which it will be submitted, after the analysis of the fundamental issues of the text, concludes:

“21. We urge every citizen, with their vote and from their conscience, to contribute to the edification of a society in which all Cubans feel ourselves respected in our rights and, at the same time, build a dignified and prosperous life with the participation of all, with no exclusions.”

“22. We entrust these intentions to the Virgin of Charity, Mother of all Cubans and implore the blessing of God on our beloved Fatherland.”

6.- The Proyecto Demócrata Cubano (Cuban Democratic Project) joins the spirit and the letter of the Message of the Cuban Bishops and endorses all the considerations on the text of the new Constitution that will be put to the consideration of those who should be the true sovereign, the Cuban people.

7.- The reiterated discourse of the island’s authorities regarding the defense of “unity in diversity” is significant when it comes to policies towards and with the exterior; when it comes to policies within, in relation to the Cubans, they continue to demonize the different politicians, maintaining an antidemocratic contradiction of evident moral double standard. While this contradiction is sustained and fed by the regime, many of the words of the Apostle José Martí will continue to be a pending issue, among them, those of great importance for the theme that brings us together: “The republic, for all must be fair, and it has to be   with everyone”[3] , and finally: “A neglected vote is a lost right, and the indifference in the suffrage is the prelude to the despot” [4].

[1] Escenas Mejicanas – 1877
[2] Escenas Norteamericanas – 1882
[3] “Patria” N.Y. – 1892
[4] “Patria” N.Y. – 1893