The Absurd "Surnames" / Fernando Damaso

Fernando Damaso, Havana, 29 June 2020 — I have always been struck by some state agencies and institutions that add the “surname” “revolutionary” to their functional name. I am currently referring to the National Revolutionary Police, the Revolutionary Armed Forces and, sometimes, when in a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Revolutionary Government is improperly written.

In 1959, the letter “R” was added to the organizations and institutions inherited from the Republic, meaning “revolutionary,” to identify them with the new times. Thus we had CTC-R, FNTA-R, SNTC-C and many others. With the passage of time, the “R” disappeared, as only unique organisms and institutions remained, without competition, under the absolute control of the State. It was only maintained in the cases indicated above.

These “surnames,” valid between 1959 and 1976, corresponded to the so-called “stage of revolutionary precariousness,” but, from 1976, with the “approval” of the Constitution and other Laws, the country began to institutionalize itself as a Socialist State, therefore, the “surname” should have disappeared, because the entities who continued to use it, it is assumed, do not respond only to the interests of the “revolutionaries,” but also to all others, including the “non-revolutionaries.” In short, all citizens, with our work and the payment of taxes, are the ones who finance them, since the armed organizations do not produce wealth.

If this is so, the police should be called the National Police and the military the Armed Forces, without the need for any ideological “surname.” Ultimately, as I have already stated, both serve the Republic and its citizens in general, regardless of their political, economic, social, religious, sexual differences, etc.

My concern goes beyond whether or not to maintain a simple, absurd and unnecessary denomination. It happens that, in the popular imagination, the “surname” in question has always been understood as a “privateering patent,” which has sometimes been used to disregard the provisions regarding citizen rights.

This has influenced some members of the police who, when acting, consider themselves above the Laws, sometimes due to natural arrogance and other times due to ignorance of their rights and those of the citizens, due to their low level of legal training and lack of professionalism.

It would be healthy to amend these absurdities, if we want some of the articles of the New Constitution to be something more than a dead letter and, even more so, if, as is intended, we want to talk about the existence of a Rule of Law.