14ymedio, Havana, 3 November 2021 — Today the limits of the law are at the center of the debate between the authorities and the Archipelago collective, promoter of the Civic March for Change on November 15 (15N). While the organizers of the protest argue that they are complying with Cuban legislation point by point, the Government published an article this Wednesday in the official newspaper Granma entitled Against law and order: the failed script of November 15, in which it details why it considers the march illegal.
Archipiélago published a letter addressed to the president of the Supreme People’s Court, Rubén Remigio Ferro, whom he reproached for not actually fulfilling the words he pronounced last July, when he declared: “Diverse political opinions, even those with a political sense different to that prevailing in the country do not constitute a crime, thinking differently, questioning what is being done, that in itself does not constitute a crime. Moreover, speaking out far from constituting a crime constitutes a constitutional right of the people.”
The group considers that his opinion is not that of any citizen, but that of the head of the law enforcement in Cuba and, therefore, their words are binding or should be, since those who have requested permission to march on 15 November — or even barely sympathized with the cause — is being harmed in different and very serious ways.
Among them, they allude to harassment, subpoenas and interrogations and threats from the State Security to both the promoters themselves and their families, some of the signatories, they recall, have lost their jobs, as is the case of Dr. Manuel Guerra from Holguin, who has been expelled from his workplace to send him to another province.
The Archipiélago collective also notes that the Prosecutor’s Office called people linked to the 15N to warn them that they were exposing themselves to a criminal process if they went ahead, so instead of looking out for the interests of citizens as the Public Ministry that they are, they exert pressure on people to not exercise their rights. In addition, their mobile phones suffer continuous network cuts but the authorities refuse to take any responsibility, nor will the state communications monopoly, Etecsa.
The letter also reproaches the president of the Supreme Court for not only denying the right to march but also for stating that it is illegal because it lacks legitimacy in its objectives. “Which is equivalent to declaring that demonstrating is illegal if it contravenes the interests of the Government. In what part of Article 56 does it say such a thing?”
Archipiélago reiterates that the marches have been communicated in accordance with the law and that they will respect health regulations and respect for public order, so there is no basis to reject them and, on the contrary, it is to violate the Constitution to deny that right.
“The Constitution of the Republic establishes in its Article 1 that Cuba is a socialist State of Law and social justice, and this implies that the rights of citizens are respected and protected. If the authorities and organs of the State do not properly protect the rights, with respect to equality, justice, and legality, then not only are state interests being placed above public and citizen interests, but it is acting outside the constitutional mandate,” they affirm, to finally demand a response from Ferro.
But the authorities are far from giving their arm to twist in the legal aspect either. The Communist Party newspaper has interviewed two jurists who substantiate the alleged illegality of the March: Ana Hernández Mur, chief prosecutor of the Information and Analysis Directorate of the Attorney General’s Office (FGR), and Dimas Alfredo Herrera Gandol, prosecutor of the Secretariat of the same entity.
Experts argue that, like everything established in any Constitution, the rights of assembly, demonstration and association have limits that are established in the laws that develop them and that will be clearer even when the decree-law is drafted to regulate them, but that, in short, they are subject to article 45. This section establishes that citizens have the right to “collective security, general welfare, respect for public order, the Constitution and the laws.”
Hernández maintains that the promoters of the Civic March for Change declare that their objective is to provoke a political change on the Island, something that makes it unconstitutional, since, he points out, “Cuba is a socialist state of law and justice. social, democratic, independent and sovereign,” according to Article 1, and Article 4 “enshrines the irrevocable nature of the socialist system and the right of Cubans to fight by all means, including armed struggle, anyone who tries to overthrow the established political, social and economic order.”
According to the jurist, the Cubans had the opportunity to debate the constitutional text for months in work centers, communities and other meeting places. “There were more than 1,700,000 suggestions, from which around 783,000 proposals were derived, and as a result of popular input, almost 60% of the draft was modified,” he reviews. Subsequently, the Magna Carta was endorsed by 86.85% of those who voted, 90% of the census. In his opinion, this validates the system and it is not possible, not to modify it, but even to protest against it.
Herrera Gandolf focused more on discrediting of the organizers, whom he once again accused of ties with the United States for the mere fact of having been supported by different administrations of that country. “The opposition is the set of organizations or people who dissent and criticize the acts of the dominant political force, but who do not seek the destruction of the State, but its reform, without in any case being linked to the actions of people supported by a foreign power, in accordance with its interests and against nationals,” said the official.
The secretary added that in the Archipiélago “they use the Constitution as a shield for their acts, interpreting at their convenience what is endorsed by the text. They demand, he continued, guarantees with ignorance of the duties they must fulfill as citizens, placing individual rights above those of collectives and also committing acts that are in violation of the Constitution itself and constitute serious crimes.” The warning of applying the Penal Code, again on the table.
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