Diaz-Canel: New Cuban Constitution Defends Human Dignity

The new Cuban Constitution defends human dignity, President Miguel Diaz-Canel said on Monday, just six days before the referendum to ratify the magna carta.

'Our Constitution guarantees and preserves the universal and free access to public health and education, so it defends the respect for human dignity,' the president wrote on his Twitter account, where he has more than 95,000 followers.

Diaz-Canel repeated his Yes vote in the referendum on February 24 on a document that resulted from people's contributions, translated into more than 780,000 proposals made in neighborhoods, work places and schools during the consultation that took place from August 13 to November 15.

On Sunday, the Cuban president recalled on Twitter the glorious nature of the date chosen for the referendum, as it marks the resumption of the wars for independence in 1895, and noted the people's protagonism in the construction of the new Constitution, which will replace the one in force since 1976.

'Cuba is ready to say Yes to the Constitution that we made among all. I vote Yes for that collective work,' Diaz-Canel stressed.

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Reasons for a YES for Cuba

Ana Sánchez Collazo, Elier Ramírez Cañedo and René González Barrio explain the reasons for voting YES for Cuba, in the coming elections on February 24th.

Cuban academics and intellectuals who line up with the principles of the Revolution, spoke to CubaSí about the essences and reasons that will take them to vote YES for Cuba in the coming elections on February 24th.

All patriots: The head of the Study Center of Martí, Ana Sánchez Collazo; the young historian Elier Ramírez Cañedo, and the president of the Institute of Cuban History, René González Barrio.

For my Present and my Future

“My vote will be Yes for my Homeland, my family, my present and my future”, affirmed Ana Sánchez Collazo, a woman who has found in Martí’s ideas a philosophy of life.

Very excited around these days, after participating in the 4th International Conference for World Balance, Ana Sánchez is convinced about the validity of Martí’s ideas and the need to study his work.

“As Cuban I am proud that this Constitution reflects the Cuba of today and that in addition guarantees the fundamental rights of human beings, for those the Revolution has fought for over 60 years.

“This new Constitution expresses something that our José Martí always said about the dignity of people, that it must be respected. It’s a text shaped to our times nowadays, to the needs we have today of defending what’s ours, but also open ourselves to the future and to the world.”

The professor added that this is a very advanced document that shows “our achievements” and, above all, it opens paths to keep the work of the Revolution. “For that reason I invite everybody who feels Cuban to vote for the Homeland!”, she emphasized.

A new Constitution, as Revolutionary as that of Guáimaro!

Academic, a PhD in Historical Sciences, member of the Drafting board of the Constitution, Elier Ramírez Cañedo considers that the process scheduled to finish on February 24th with a popular referendum has been historical and unparallel.

“We can’t deny that in the history of the Revolution other similar processes have occurred —for example, in 1976 another referendum took place—. However, that happened during these months is unparallel keeping in mind the level of participation and the role of new technologies as well as the social networks.

“That is, the fact that people have been able to participate two or three times in the consultation and give opinions in each space, even the opportunity to revise materials in the social networks, something that improved the presented project.”

The young historian qualified this Constitution as advanced, modern, adapted to the conditions of our country and, at the same time, thought for the future, in defense of our socialist system, the leadership of the Party, the unity, the praise to man’s dignity that “is present in the entire document.”

He added that the new Constitution increases dearly the number of Rights in comparison with that of 1976. These are some of the strong points.

“The process was a democratic exercise, plenty of debate that demonstrated us the popular knowledge and also that capacity attained by the Revolution, that’s why at present we have specialists of multiple subjects.

“It’s a Constitution that sets a landmark, not just in Latin America but also in the world, for the rights that incorporates and the guarantees of those rights.”

He pointed out that with this constitution begins a new stage with an extraordinary symbolism “because it takes place, in fact, on the 60th anniversary of the Revolution and with the presence of the Army General Raúl Castro Ruz, the number follower of Fidel of all Cubans, directing the Drafting Board of the constitution.

“Besides that is proclaimed in the 150th anniversary of our first Constitution of Guáimaro to be commemorated next April 10th. Nevertheless, I consider that the new text is still as revolutionary as the one approved by our freedom fighters in 1869 and that pays homage to our history, where the ideas of Martí and Fidel are also present.”

Consequent with the Homeland History

For René González Barrio, to vote YES next February 24th implies to be consequent with the history of our nation, with the project began by Carlos Manuel de Cespedes and that Fidel was able to make real with the victory of the Revolution.

“It means to be consequent with all the fallen revolutionaries all those years of making the Revolution before and after 1959 in the fight against bandits, in the Literacy Campaign, in the internationalist missions. The entire effort, the sweat and blood of our people rests in that Constitution which is the result of popular knowledge.

“Because it’s been a democratic process it has allowed us to enrich the initial project feeding on the comments, additions, and teachings of the people. To vote YES for this new Constitution is to say YES for the project of Homeland that we Cubans have chosen.”

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#YoVotoNO: The Campaign within the U.S. against the Constitutional Referendum

The campaign #YoVotoNo has started in the U.S. in an attempt to influence the outcome of the Constitutional referendum scheduled for February 24th, in Cuba.

As part of the "strengthening of the United States politics toward Cuba", to promote via internet "the flow of free and without regulations information within the island" proposed by the Task Force, the campaign #YoVotoNo has started in an attempt to influence the results of the constitutional referendum scheduled in Cuba for next February 24th.

According to a release of the North American radio station Radio Martí: #YoVotoNo has a main purpose: to reject next February 24th the constitutional referendum by answering the question "Do you ratify the new Constitution of the Republic?".

According to this radio station, part of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting and one of the most influential members in the Task Force, as it was demonstrated in the last meeting of that group last December 6th in Washington:

"Many Cubans have shared in social networks the tags #YoVotoNo and #Ni1+ in an attempt to demonstrate the dissatisfaction with the Cuban régime and the direction of Raul Castro and Miguel Díaz-Canel."

With an editorial politic based mainly on issuing "fake news" with the purpose of subverting Cuba’s reality is not very difficult to lay bare open the new misinforming strategy in social networks of this radio station with regard to the constitutional referendum in Cuba.

In the budget papers for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 of the Broadcasting Board of Governors of the United States, recent public facts, it proposed to use Facebook accounts of Cuban “nationals” and "unmarked" to spread content created by the U.S. government without informing the Cuban users of Facebook:

"Due to the blockade web of the Radio and TV Martí in the island, the digital strategy of the BBG has changed to social networks consistent with the practices that put YouTube, Google and Facebook among the websites more visited in Cuba. With the use of AVRA technology, the programs of Radio Martí became visual radio and were broadcasted through Facebook Live together with the programming of TV Martí. This provides the BBG an efficient and profitable additional distribution, for both its radio (radio visual) as for the TV content.

In fiscal year 2018, the BBG is creating in Cuba digital groups so they create fake accounts in Facebook to spread information. Opened websites in Cuba increase the possibilities to appear in the news of Cuban users of Facebook."

The strategy of making up users (the "many Cubans") who from the island post comments in the networks is nothing new. The same practice was used during the so-called Green Wave against Iran during the elections of 2009. In a work published in this same blog on June 12th, 2010 we wrote:

In the case of Cuban - without forgetting the lack of connectivity to Internet due to the economic blockade imposed to Cuba -, it’s to repeat similar experiments to those recently carried out by the U.S. government against Venezuela and Iran.

During the Green Wave - where twitter played a key role that even the Secretary of State ordered to postpone a scheduled maintenance to the servers for Iran of this social network -, most activists who supposedly denounced the election fraud, the manifestations and repression in that Middle East country, they were not there as they wanted to make believe, but in North American territory.

Could be said that something else happens in the case of Cuba? Undoubtedly many of the tweeter users whose mission consists on staining the Revolution are in the United States or other countries, but not all. Some carry out their propagandistic task from the very Interests Office of the United States in Havana.

Of course that, besides the robots and trolls that intelligence services usually set in motion in cases like the referendum about to take place, of course at present in Cuba there are real people who tweet their dissatisfaction from Cuba as it’s the case of some mercenaries among them the notorious blogger, Yoani Sánchez.

Also in this blog was published in July 2009 the statements of this person on the possible realization of a Green Wave in Cuba. When she was asked in an interview on the situation existing in Iran and the similarity with Cuba as well as the possibility of a similar reaction in Cuba, the "influential" blogger responded:

"I think we are a bit far from that. The civil society is still a little broken, the connecting points, the ways to connect each other are very weak, but I don't believe the chances are very far. It’s possible that in a couple of years we can react like that. Then there will be more sophisticated technologies and maybe the Cuban green wave is even more intense."

What she meant when she said a more intense Green Wave? According to Wikipedia, the experiment carried out by the Department of State during the protests of the so-called Revolution of Facebook and Twitter in Iran had a toll of twenty dead. Will the campaign #yovotono that now the United States promotes against Cuba, the same as in Iran, another summon to plow violence and death?

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Cuba Publishes List of Voters for Referendum on Constitution

The lists of voters for the February 24 referendum on Cuba's new Constitution are being published Monday and Tuesday, sources of the National Electoral Commission (CEN) said. According to the authorities sworn on December 28 to organize, direct and validate the elections, each person can verify as January 16 the records, which should include more than eight million voters, that are being called to ratify the Constitution approved on December 22 by the People''s Power National Assembly.

Quoted by Granma newspaper, Colonel Mario Mendez, Chief of Identification, Immigration and Foreign Affairs Direction, said that the lists will be put in 'visible places near polling stations.'

Mendez urged voters to corroborate their personal data, and if necessary, proceed to correct them, modify them and update them in the procedure offices of each municipality.

According to the high officer of the Ministry of the Interior, these facilities -known in Cuba as Identity Card Offices- will be reinforced in the coming days to guarantee the electoral process.

More than eight million Cubans are eligible to the vote on February 24, a national date, which marks the restart in 1895 of the war against Spanish colonialism, to pronounce on the new Constitution, a text that ratifies Cuba's socialist nature and the leading role of the Communist Party in society.

The constitution reflects changes in the structure of the State, extends guarantees and human rights, promotes foreign investment, strengthens people's power from the grassroots (the municipalities) and recognizes several forms of property, including private property.

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Cuba constitution referendum date set for February 2019

The national referendum to ratify Cuba's new constitution will take place on February 24, 2019, state television said Thursday.

The Caribbean nation's parliament in July approved a new draft constitution that will be submitted for citizens to debate from August 13 to November 15. The current version was passed in 1976.

"We have a very important challenge, which is to prepare ourselves to participate in the consultation process for our new constitution and the unconditional support on February 24," Revolutionary Armed Forces major Lazaro Arronte told channel Cubavision.

The new constitution would recognize for the first time the role of the market and private sector in the island's heavily controlled socialist economy, though under the watchful eye of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC).

The changes would give legal backing to economic reforms initiated a decade ago by former president Raul Castro, which have now been left in the hands of his successor Miguel Diaz-Canel.

The document would also provide a legal path for same-sex marriage, an important demand of the socialist island's LGBT community.

Cuba plans to let its 1.4 million expatriate citizens contribute to its new constitution, the first time emigrants will have a say in the island's affairs since the 1959 revolution. However, it is not known if they will be able to participate in the referendum.

The referendum's date coincides with the anniversary of the proclamation of the current 1976 constitution -- and with the beginning of the Cuban War of Independence in 1895.

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A country (and a Constitution) with Everyone and for Everyone

The Republic’s first law should be that of respect to the dignity of all its children. In the country we dream and need, there cannot be space for discrimination.

The fact that the new Constitution of the Republic of Cuba explicitly rejects any discrimination is an achievement of all Cubans, regardless their beliefs, age, gender, skin color, skills, sexual orientation…

Without euphemisms, with all the letters, the project that is now reviewed by the citizenship opens a path for the effective reformation of some laws that still hinder (even, without the expressed attempt of doing so) the full exercise of rights.

That should be the nation dreamt by José Martí, of everyone and for everyone’s welfare. We must approach it dialectically. Because to try to arbitrarily compare views from the nineteenth century with those of the XXI century would mean to ignore the contributions of so many years of struggle and debates in all fields: social, political, cultural, economic…

The renovating postulates of this project of Constitution (they are many, although few focus on article 68 that establishes that marriage is the union between two people, without sex specifications), are not anyone’s whim: they are the outcome of deep reflection that has taken into account the demands and just aspirations of the citizenship.

The Constitution, obviously, is not enough to solve all conflicts. But it’s an indispensable rule: the beginning of a path that concerns us all. It’s not, it cannot be, a despotic imposition; it has to be the result of a national, respectful and deep debate, free of prejudices and devious interests.

It’s not worthy to negotiate a right: there are absolute rights. Granting them to those who don't enjoy them doesn't mean to strip them off of those who already have them. The limit of a man’s freedom is the one set by the freedom of another.

Can anyone affirm—speaking of the aforementioned article— that giving the right to two men or two women to get married, takes away that same right from a man and a woman?

There will be conceptual debates (let them be welcomed if they are respectful and well founded); but the right exists.

Education guarantees that the necessary changes can be assumed with fewer traumas, from convincing and not from imposition.

But education has to be a permanent process. There is so much left to educate, and much to discuss. But the Constitution should guarantee the foundation of that education and that discussion: to lay the road.

When the Revolution established laws against skin color or sex discrimination, not the entire population was persuaded of the need of those laws.

Racism and machismo were deep rooted in Cuban society. Does it mean that laws eliminated all manifestations of racism and machismo? Regrettably that was not true. But the law offered shelter to millions of people who were direct or indirectly discriminated against. And it was platform for an educational work that doesn't end, but that has attained unquestionable results.

To conquer all justice: that must be the objective of socialism. In order to achieve this, we must have a modern, functional, effective legal system, in permanent dialogue with the science and the conscience.

We need to learn from the past to build the present; we must take a look back to remember what we’ve done, but it’s imperative to look forward: a country, and a Constitution, where we all fit in.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

Draft of New Constitution in Cuba, the People Have the Floor

The People's Power National Assembly (Parliament) called on Cubans to express their criteria on the Draft Constitution that would replace the carta magna in force since 1976 with a document according to the transformations under way in the country.

Gathered at the first plenary session of the 9th Legislature (2018-2023) at Havana's Conference Center on Sunday, the lawmakers agreed on holding a popular consultation from August 13 to November 15, after which the text would return to Parliament.

Enriched by the opinions of Cubans, the Draft Constitution would be shaped at the National Assembly before being submitted to a referendum for its approval or not.

When speaking at the closing of the first ordinary session of the 9th Legislature on Sunday, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel noted the importance of the consultation, as it is an 'exercise of direct participation by the people' and 'will acquire more political relevance and will be another example that the Revolution is based on the most genuine democracy'.

Every Cuban will be able to express their opinions freely and contribute to achieving a constitutional text that will show the today and future of the Homeland, the president noted.

The draft of the new Constitution ratifies Cuba's socialist nature and contains changes in the structure of the State, including the creation of the posts of president and vice president of the Republic and prime minister to replace the current president of the Councils of State and Ministers.

It also expands people's rights by including matters like the guarantees of due process, habeas corpus, the presumption of innocence and the social reinsertion of prisoners.

It also includes several forms of ownership, including socialist property of the entire people, mixed and private properties, and changes in the institution of marriage, as it defines it as the union of two persons, while the current Constitution establishes the voluntary and agreed union between a man and a woman.

The proposal on the modification of the institution of marriage was one of the most debated here and perhaps the most reported one internationally.

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New Constitutional Reformation in Cuba: Following Life

The people will have its saying in the coming constitutional reformation that looms ahead. Not just for the civic rights that benefit it, but because Cuba as it is today is not the same of ten years ago.

And that, of course should be evident in the so-call Magna Carta.

First will be the deputies to the National Assembly of People’s Power who you/they will have the chance to assess and propose approaches about the preliminary draft law of what will be the new Constitution of the Republic.

After that the people, in every last of the districts, workplaces, and educational centers will debate chapter after chapter what should remain or needs to be changed.

CubaSí presents today the approach of three university students from Law School who not only have the vision of the people, but also that of a professional.

"The Constitution should respond to the reality of a country therefore, the constitutional reformation is a common process, a matter of upgrading, that is, the true reality of a country should be reflected in its judicial reality", explained Alejandro Redondo, from Havana University.

Unaware of how deep the changes will be, the young man affirmed that if we take into account the upgrading process of the Cuban economic and social model. We can tell that the inclusion of private property will be among the modifications, which today is not included in the text.

Another matter, very discussed in the last years, is the issue of same-sex marriage. "Although the modification of the Family Code is a working process, there is a constitutional barrier that forbids the same-sex marriage; the current Constitution only rules marriage between a man and a woman.

"This is one of the matters I’d like to approach, keeping in mind that we live in a progressive nation. For society, this would strengthen the equality among all Cubans. That is we are all equals, before the law."

Alejandro highlighted his faith in the Commission in charge of writing this preliminary draft law (presided over by the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party, Army General Raúl Castro) and he commented: “We are proud and honored that the national president of the University Student Federation, Raúl Alejandro Palmero is in it. Then we can also infer that the interests of students will count."

A similar viewpoint of the matter is that of Claudia Castañeda Sueiro, from Granma University. "Our laws must resemble what we are living, and the reformation is necessary because Cuba has changed, but there are other elements that need a new look, like the recognition of same-sex marriages.

"Besides the necessary changes, according with the new times, our Magna Carta will maintain its socialist essence, always keeping in mind that the world changes and that Cuba cannot fall behind. This reformation is going to be the reflection of what we’ve been lived these years, of the work done on laws, and the judicial knowledge our population has acquired.

"If in 1976 more than 97% of voters they said yes to the project of Constitution, I believe that now the process of popular referendum will bring a larger figure. The Cuban people sticks to its principles."

José Ángel Fernández Castañeda, from Oriente University, national vice-president of the University Students Federation - recently elected in its 9th Congress – highlighted that the importance of the Carta Magna upgrade has to do with the very national dynamics as well as the execution of the Guidelines for the Economic and Social Politics of the Party and the Revolution.

The reformation will give greater judicial security - he commented - and citizens will have the possibility to participate in its passing. Our Constitution since year 1976, when it was approved by 97,7% of voters, it has only had three modifications, a formal modification in 1978, and two others in 1992 and 2002.

"What to modify? The changes should include the new forms of property, keeping in mind self-employed workers, as well as the foreign investment. What I mean is that the reformation must consider all points of view, and not just economy.

“It’s indispensable to upgrade the Constitution, it should reflect our reality. The reformation should defend, especially, those articles that are irreversible for principles, because somehow we’ll be preserving the Revolution”.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

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