Cuba debates constitutional reform: Although it is not the heart of the matter

Marriage between people of the same sex and not only between man and woman, still promotes debates, together with other defining issues in the constitutional draft all Cubans are debating today.

In the last few days, at least via journalistic reports mainly from the TV, the topic of the marriage between people -without specifying man and woman- seems to be generating less criteria than at the beginning of the debates of the draft Constitution in which all Cubans are participating.

Nevertheless, in late August, PhD Mariela Castro, director of the National Center for Sex Education (Cenesex) stated her opinion on the social media about that article 68 of the draft Constitution, which defines marriage as the unity agreement between two people without clarifying their sex.

“Cuba has been criticized for falling to progress enough in its legislative agenda to protect the rights of LGBT people. The political will to move forward in these topics is expressed in the new constitutional draft. “Now, those who oppose our country vision try to mix up and feed prejudices and ignorance to sabotage this transcendental process. The draft constitution far exceeds the current document.

“Marriage is a right that cannot be denied to LGBT people, not only because it is discriminatory but also for its negative political consequences and contrary to the emancipating spirit of the Revolution. Obviously, our people need more information and arguments. We should be more active in the media. Let us not be wrong again, because ingenuities are paid with high prices”.

Thus warned on Facebook the also deputy to the National Assembly of People’s Power (Cuban Parliament). And her message quickly went viral generating criteria for and against.

Among those endorsers of what Mariela said, Michel Mesa Pulido commented: “I know this a very strong issue for a purely macho society but let us give all the people the opportunity to unite with those they deem appropriate, the important thing is to be happy and to contribute to make this society greater, it does not matter whether marriage is equal or unequal, the human being is the important thing”.

For his part, Rafael Suárez Suárez recalled that “everything changes; earlier it was considered improper for a woman to work, to be a leader, for a man to collaborate in the household chores, for a woman to earn more money than a man, for a white man to marry a black woman. What should really exist is the right to choose, that they all can get married or not, because there may have gays who do not want to do it, but by choice, not by impediment, that law does not harm your rights at all, you marry whomever you wish, let others live their life with the same freedom as you live yours”.

The Cenesex director widened what this cybernaut said: “It was also deemed improper for women, dark skinned people, elderly people or with disabilities, sick people, countryside people or poor people to have the same rights. Marriage and family concepts were created according to dominant interests without respecting human realities much more varied than those imposed. As humanity progresses in the achievement of its rights, these concepts evolve and are more inclusive and fairer. No matter whether you like it or not, understand it or not, we are born with rights and states have the responsibility to protect them. That’s the main role of the constitution and its reform”.

Everybody does not favor this type of unities, among them, José Luis Mosqueda, who clearly and concisely states his criterion: “…with all the respect that this staff deserves, I do not agree with the fact that two men or two women can marry, that was always deemed improper and I still deem it the same. Greetings”.

I find interesting the message posted on FB by Rogelio Collado, who considers that “one should not count on these prejudices when deciding on people’s rights. I do not get tired repeating that if we had waited to eradicate racism and chauvinism so the rights of black people and women were respected in Cuba, there would still exist schools for blacks and women wouldn’t be strongly represented in all spheres of the national life. The constitutional process is very good, but I still believe that the topics relating to the human rights of any social group should not depend on the opinion of the majority, all the more so when it is about the rights of a so-called ‘minority’. A lot has been done as regards sex education and respect for diversity in the last few years and that’s commendable, but we should not be over-confident, prejudices are deeply rooted in our society”.

Further ahead, the same forum member José Luis Mosqueda added new arguments: “We are not talking about the same topic, the rights of people, women, men, either black or white, to live together and to share those rights as it has been done in Cuba since the triumph of the Revolution is one thing, and another is that men marry men and women marry women, that is not natural, no matter who states it”.

After thanking all the posted criteria, for and against, Mariela Castro pointed out as a summary: “In order to continue doing revolution and to achieve a fairer society, we should move forward in these topics. It is not fair that heterosexual couples can opt for marriage and that at the same time other couples are denied this right. Marriage has different ends; the weighing of its reproductive aim was imposed in the Middle Ages. Read on the evolution of family and marriage as social institutions”.

On Monday, August 13, there kicked off in Cuba the popular consultation of the new draft Constitution, which includes transcendental newnesses, among them, in the bodies of higher leadership, such as the comeback of the figures of President of the Republic and Prime Minister, as well as the Council of State and the National Assembly of People’s under the same direction.

This process of massive consultation will come to an end on November 15, and all criteria will be sent to the National Assembly for the drafting of the Magna Carta that will be subject to an approving referendum.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

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Cubans Living Abroad Can Comment on Constitution

Havana, Aug 31 (Prensa Latina) Cubans living abroad can, as of today, issue their opinions and proposals on the new Constitution project for the island, the Foreign Ministry reported.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced that a page that allows those living outside Cuba to make proposals and comments on the text approved on July 22 by the National Assembly of People's Power is active on the website Nation and Emigration (http://www.nacionyemigracion.cu/).

According to the source, a video tutorial has been published explaining in an 'easy and entertaining way the steps to be taken to guarantee an effective participation of the around 1,400,000 Cubans dispersed by some 120 countries.

Cuba's government had announced the initiative earlier this month, framed in a process of popular consultation on the draft of a new constitution for the inhabitants of the island from August 13 to November 15.

According to the director of Consular Affairs and Cubans Resident Abroad (DACCRE), Ernesto Soberon, the opportunity to comment from abroad began a few days after the necessary creation of all the technical conditions for the online process.

In statements to the press, the official said that this is an unprecedented event in the history of the Cuban Revolution, in tune with the will of the Government of the Caribbean country to have all Cubans' contribution, regardless of where they are geographically located.

The greater the participation in Cuba and abroad, the greater the success of this process, because the construction of a new Magna Carta requires a great deal of knowledge, he said.

Soberon considered that the participation of Cubans living abroad in the discussions on the draft constitutes a convincing proof of the continuity of the sovereign policy of strengthening the links between the Revolution and the Cubans living outside their country of origin.

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Role of the Communist Party in the New Cuban Constitution Draft

The draft of the new Constitution ratifies the leading role of Cuba's Communist Party as a fundamental pillar of unity and of the political, economic and social order.

In its article 5, the document submitted from August 13 to November 15 to a popular consultation establishes that 'The Communist Party of Cuba, unique, based on Marti's ideas, loyalist and Marxist-Leninist, organized vanguard of the Cuban nation, based on its democratic character and permanent link with the people, is the highest leading force of society and the State'.

The vast majority of the inhabitants of Cuba assume and support this concept, which is also the subject of analysis and debate during these days, in which in work and study centers, as well as in the community, opinions and proposals are freely expressed regarding the project of the new Constitution.

For some, the leading role should be limited to the political, while others - with good intentions or not - appeal to a multiparty system that the island experienced before the revolution of January 1, 1959.

People have the right to ask what they think of the Constitution, that's what the consultation is for, but those of us who live in this era of politicization, corruption, individualism and unfulfilled promises for the people who suffered, it's difficult for us to talk about the return to such a scenario,' Manuel Rodriguez, a 77-year-old retiree, told Prensa Latina.

For her part, student Gabriela Gonzalez warned that any analysis of Cuba's political, economic and social order must take into account the siege that the country has been experiencing since the revolutionary victory , with the U.S. blockade as the most well-known and repudiated component.

The development of the country, the well-being of its inhabitants and the quietness of its citizens are not part of the multiparty system, so only those who want to deceive and seduce us with songs of mermaids to divide and destroy can see this, it said.

According to the vice-president of the National Assembly of People's Power, Ana Maria Mari Machado, the Communist Party of Cuba is the guarantor of the construction of the socialist system to which the Caribbean nation aspires.

According to statements to Radio Reloj station, the member of the parliamentary commission in charge of drafting the new Constitution said that 'more than one party disunites and breaks the integrity of all'.

Our party is not electoral, but represents the vanguard of the people and is not above them, it is a symbol of their unity, and it gathers the best of the masses,' Mari Machado stated.

Regarding the theme and the celebration on Monday of the 92nd anniversary ofthe birth of the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro (1926-2016), many people remember the validity of his words when he said: 'The party is today the soul of the revolution'.

The Communist Party is also a continuation of the Cuban Revolutionary Party founded by Jose Marti in 1892 to achieve independence for the island and create a republic with all and for the good of all.

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Counting on all Cubans

All Cuban citizens living abroad have the opportunity to participate in the discussion of the proposed new Constitution of the Republic, an unprecedented step that reflects the government’s determination to take into consideration the opinions of all Cubans, both in and outside the country.

The decision was reported in a press conference offered by Ernesto Soberón Guzmán, director for Consular Affairs and Cubans Residing Abroad (Daccre), at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Minrex), and is a reflection of the country’s policy of strengthening ties between the Revolution and Cubans who are outside the country.

To organize the process, he said, taken into account were the growing numbers of Cubans living abroad – some1.4 million according to Minrex records, in more than 120 nations, but especially the United States.

“In an effort to guarantee the participation of all, a section on the Minrex “Nación y Emigración” wesite will be activated (www.nacionyemigracion.cu), through which Cubans resident abroad will have access to the draft Constitution and an online form on which they can insert their comments or proposals for modifications.”

Given the technical requirements this entails, including a set-up to confirm the citizen’s identity, among others, the section will be available the first week of September, Soberón Guzmán said, giving those interested some time to study the proposal.

He emphasized that once the section is operative, there will be no limitation on the number of times citizens can sign on to convey opinions, all of which will be processed in a manner similar to those gathered within the country.

He clarified that this option is for Cubans who are living abroad for personal reasons, since those serving on an official mission will have other ways to join the discussion of our future Constitution.

According to Ernesto Soberón, embassy consulates will be involved in the process, in an effort to promote active participation among Cubans living in other countries, as an opportunity to construct, all together, a more inclusive, democratic, and humanist national project “with all and for the good of all.”

In his opinion, the decision is consistent with policies adopted which have allowed for the development of more extensive ties between Cubans abroad and a variety of projects in Cuba, be they of a collaborative, cultural, sports, scientific, or other nature. He likewise noted that migratory regulations implemented over the last few years have facilitated travel abroad by Cubans for personal reasons.

Referring to the inclusion within the draft of the term “effective citizenship,” Ernesto Soberón emphasized, first of all, that this is a legal principle, not a law, and it therefore needs to be included in the country’s Constitution, so that the concept can later be codified in law.

What fundamental changes to the Constitution are proposed?

- Acquisition of citizenship in another country does not imply loss of Cuban citizenship.

- It is specified that, when inside Cuban territory, Cuban citizens are governed as such, and can only make use of this citizenship regardless of others they may hold. (This is the concept of “effective citizenship.)

According to Soberón Guzmán, this means that Cuban traveling to and from Cuba must do so with their Cuban passports.

Other principles related to requirements for Cuban citizenship remain unchanged, along with those regarding its loss or recuperation.

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