Signatures of 10,000 Cubans Sought for the Legal Right to “Assemble and Demonstrate”

Protest against the blackouts on Línea street, in El Vedado, Havana, last October. (14ymedio)

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14ymedio, Havana, 1 February 2023 — Cuba’s National Assembly of People’s Power (ANPP) has responded in writing to the request of the Council for Democratic Transition in Cuba (CTDC) to include an assembly bill on this year’s legislative agenda that addressed the right to assemble and demonstrate. The response, however, is not encouraging and is limited to stalling.

A document made public this Wednesday by the Council itself, was signed on January 24 by Carmen Aguilar Martínez, the ANPP’s Director of Attention to the Population, and addressed to Julio Alfredo Ferrer Tamayo, a member of Cubalex, a legal NGO. In the document, Aguilar Martínez claims that Parliament  “received and analyzed the letter that you and eight other people” sent to the president of the legislature, on December 9, in which, in her words, “they offered a group of considerations related to the regulation of rights assembly and demonstration recognized in article 56 of the Constitution of the Republic.”

The ANPP says that “at first” the legislative schedule was planned to include “the elaboration of a law to develop these important rights,” but that “the very dynamics in the legislative activity have not made it possible to materialize it.”

The chamber highlights the petition received by opponents who “recognize the legislative work carried out by the National Assembly,” having approved “several regulatory provisions related to the rights and guarantees of people.” That would demonstrate, the text continues, “the interest in continuing to regulate aspects of this nature,” but, it warns, “when appropriate.”

Finally, they argue that the requirement to approve a demonstration and assembly law as soon as possible does not follow the proper procedure “for its materialization,” for which they suggest “get proper advice and direct your request as legally appropriate.”

In the statement that accompanies the letter from the Assembly, the Council for the Democratic Transition in Cuba notes that the petition made by nine citizens but “on behalf of another 500” was protected by Article 61 of the Constitution and referred to the “reinclusion” in the legislative schedule for the first quarter of 2023 of the draft “Law of Demonstration and Assembly,” which should regulate some of the rights included in article 56 of the Constitution.

The opposition platform regrets that the possibility of its discussion in the Assembly is postponed “to an indeterminate date” and anticipates that they will include within the “Cuba11J* Initiative” the collection of: “10,000 citizen signatures, protected by Article 164 Subparagraph k), to ensure that the debate and consequent approval of a Law be included in this year’s legislative schedule, we quoted ourselves, ‘that implements and develops the fundamental rights, endorsed by the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba in Article 56, to the meeting and demonstration for lawful and peaceful purposes.”

Cubans residing on the island who have signed or are going to sign any of the Council’s initiatives are asked to request the “certification accrediting their status as voters,” a requirement established by law for legislative initiatives promoted by citizens.

*Translator’s note: “11J” refers to 11 July 2021 and the nationwide demonstrations that occurred on that day.


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