Wednesday, December 5, 2018

First Hand Report of a Discussion of the Draft Constitution

Impressions of a Meeting of Consultation on the Draft Constitution held on October 23, 2018, in Nuevo Vedado*

Undoubtedly, the current process of "consultation" with the people on the Draft Constitution has aroused great interest and broad and conscious participation by the citizens.

The meeting to which we were summoned by our CDR and attended by citizens belonging to three CDRs, all from one of the constituencies of the Consejo Popular Colón-Nuevo Vedado of the Plaza Municipality, was proof of this broad participation. Of the meetings of all kinds convened by any of these CDRs, this was the one that attracted a larger and by far more active participation of citizens.
The organization of the meeting was adequate. The room where it was held had enough seats. It began at the time for which it was convened, the two citizens who chaired the meeting conducted it with efficiency and full respect for the opinions and suggestions of the participants and proceeded with proper order.

Overall it was a very satisfying experience.

A large number of the Titles and Chapters included in the Draft Constitution were the subject of the proposals, which focused more on those that refer to the Political Foundations; the Economic Foundations; Rights, Duties and Guarantees, and the chapter on the President and Vice President of the Republic.

Because of the seriousness with which the proposals were presented, their content and number, in a meeting attended by plain and common Cubans, it is possible to appreciate a great willingness to introduce substantive changes in the current political, economic and social system in our country, respecting its fundamental bases of unity sustained in the role of the Communist Party and the social justice that the construction of socialism entails.

The proposals were concentrated in the following aspects:

- Expressly include that the Party, its organs, leaders, officials and employees act in compliance with the Constitution and the laws of the Republic.

- Establish, promote and guarantee the right of Cuban citizens to invest in the national economy.

- That the concept of private property includes, in addition to non-fundamental means of production, also housing and means of transport.

- The possibility of handing over lands on property for the construction of houses by private citizens, with their own efforts.

- Guarantee transparency in the administration and economic management of state enterprises and of budgeted institutions and companies.

- Greater transparency and public information on political and administrative management.

- To control and prevent the accumulation of wealth and the emergence of inequalities in society.

- That the State assists in the adoption of orphans and homeless children and assisted motherhood.

- That adoption is allowed by mothers or fathers who do not have partners.

- That the State recognizes and protect unpaid workers.

- What is the meaning "dignified" housing and "dignified" salary

- That the election of the President and Vice President of the Republic be by direct and secret vote of citizens.

- That the election of the Presidents of the Municipal Assemblies of the Popular Power be by the direct and secret vote of the citizens.

Further,

Two participants made divergent proposals about the freedom of artistic creation: One sought to reinforce the freedom of artistic creation and the other limited its content to the respect of the values and principles of socialist society.

One participant proposed the legalization of euthanasia.

The desire for changes in the system is manifested especially in the proposals for direct election by the citizens of the President of the Republic; those that limit the concept of the Party as "superior force" and subordinate it to the legality established by the Constitution; those that seek to guarantee the right of Cubans to invest in the national economy, and the greater information transparency throughout the political and economic system.

Two concerns expressed at the end are also of great interest and came from two citizens among the youngest who attended, both ladies.

They want to know what is going to happen with the proposals, how will be informed what happened with them, how were analyzed and the basis of whatever decision is made about them. To achieve a true consensus they ask for the greatest transparency and argumentation.

One of the two citizens who led the meeting said that until that night, only in the meetings held in the Plaza Municipality, more than 17,000 amendments proposals had been collected.

The experience of our own meeting, plus the comments and observations we have heard from other meetings, shows that, without doubts, this consultation process, whatever its formal outcome, is an important additional step in getting the classic genie out of the bottle and it will be very difficult to get him inside again, in this case the genie has a popular character and he is wishing to express his ideas and criticize with freedom.

Observations by Jose Viera, First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for nine years in the 1990s 


 *  Nuevo Vedado is in Cuban terms a middle class area.  Many of the residents are professionals and higher level administrators.


Official observation from a plenum meeting of the Communist Party Central Committee

Granma, December 13

Raúl stated that the report on opinions expressed by all sectors of society serves as a valuable working document, which should be preserved and further utilized, adding that the population's approach to the assemblies was impressive, arriving well prepared and offering ideas to enrich the debate.
 
Homero Acosta Álvarez, Council of State secretary, presented a detailed report on fundamental aspects of the popular consultation and the latest version of the draft Constitution.

He commented that, throughout the process, the democratic nature of the consultation was praised, and satisfaction expressed that importance was given to the population's opinions. He emphasized the people's active participation, reiterating that the consultation had been a veritable constituent process.

More than 8.9 million persons attended the meetings, during which 1.7 million commentaries were made. He reported that all of the opinions expressed had been carefully analyzed and had a significant impact on the new draft.


[Personal note: the proof will be in the pudding!]


Published accounts

See also https://www.apnews.com/9f2a3d8f9f7c495fb1234c62898f35f4

The debate from a Cuban perspective over same sex marriage
https://nacla.org/news/2018/10/18/apple-discord-cuban-constitution

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