Notes on the New Constitution of the Republic of Cuba approved by the February 24, 2019 Referendum

Notes on the New Constitution of the Republic of Cuba approved by the February 24, 2019 Referendum

Culture

By Dr. Ramón de la Cruz Ochoa

It is undoubtedly the best Constitution approved in the Republic of Cuba. The preamble of the Constitution contains the main principles that direct the wording of this Constitution, based mainly on the opinion collected from the Cuban people and the objectives they pursue. The constitutional text as such, starts with the fundamental political bases of the Constitution, starting by its Article 1, stating that Cuba is a Socialist State of Law and Social Justice, democratic, independent and sovereign, organized by all and for the good of all, as a unitary and indivisible Republic, founded on the work, dignity, humanism and ethics of its citizens for the enjoyment of liberty, equity, equality, solidarity, welfare and individual and collective prosperity. In another of its articles it is established that sovereignty is exercised directly by the people or through the Assemblies of People’s Power and other organs derived from them. It is established that the Communist Party of Cuba is the directing superior force of society. It is ratified that the Constitution is the supreme judicial norm of the State. The legal value of International Treaties is recognized.

The Constitution declares in its Article 9 that all citizens must strictly comply with legality. Article 13 establishes the fundamental objectives of the State. In the following article, social and massive organizations are recognized together with the fundamental aims on which these organizations are based.

 

In its article 15 it is said that the State recognizes, respects and guarantees religious freedom. It is repeated Cuba is a secular state. Chapter II refers completely to International Relations and the principles that govern it. Title II refers entirely to the economic bases. It is necessary to highlight that Article 22 of the Constitution recognizes the different types of property, such as socialist of all the people, the cooperative, those of political, social and massive organizations, private, mixed, that belonging to institutions and associated, as well as personal property.  

 

It is important to highlight in this title the content of Article 28, where it is established that the State promotes and offers guarantees to foreign investment as an important element for the economic development of the country. The bases of educational, scientific and cultural policy appear in the Title III, article 32. The following Title IV is centered on Citizenship, establishes similar principles to those included in the previous Constitution. It accepts double citizenship but only to reside in Cuba although temporarily, they are ruled by that condition, in the terms established by law and cannot use a foreign citizenship.

Títle V, Rights, Duties and Guarantees. This Title establishes all the rights and guarantees that citizens have and of course it becomes a fundamental element to defend their rights. It is important to exclude sex discrimination or by sexual orientation of the citizen, as long as he does not commit a crime, which is a guarantee to live in a State of Law. In the articles of this Title are included all the guarantees, such as health, education, social security, paid vacations and social assistance, among others. In its article 66, child labor of girls and adolescents is banned.

Chapter III. Families. The chapter dedicates all its articles to the family as fundamental nucleus of society, which can be formed by judicial links or in fact. It gives legal protection to the different types of family through the regulations of law.

Article 82 says matrimony is founded by free will and equal in rights, obligations and legal capacity of the couple. It also protects the integrity of family by considering domestic violence sanctioned by law. Chapter IV is dedicated to duties of Cuban citizens and they are established specifically in its Article 90, in the subsections from A to L. The following Chapter in its article 91 refers to the Rights and Duties of foreign residents in the Republic’s territory and how they are equal to those of Cubans, enumerating them in five subsections. Number VI defines how citizen rights are guaranteed.

The next Title referred to the structure of the State is one of the most innovative due to the changes made compared to the previous Constitution.

Among the modifications we could highlight the creation of the post of President of the Republic and that of Prime Minister, who is proposed by the President to the National Assembly or the Council of State. The Prime Minister is in charge of the Government, who could be revoked or substituted in his duties. The President is elected in the way it is now, by the National Assembly of People’s Power for a period of five years, post that can be occupied for two consecutive terms, after which the person cannot occupy it again.

 

To be President, he who is nominated has to be 35 years and over, be in plain use of his civil and political rights, be a Cuban citizen and not have another citizenship. It is also established he must not be older than 60 to be elected for a first term. In the first section of Chapter IV, referred to the Government of the Republic, it is said that the Council of Ministers is the top executive and managing organ and it constitutes the Government of the Republic, establishing its integration and responsibilities. The Constitution also regulates the faculties and organization of the Justice Courts, the General Prosecution of the Republic and the General Comptroller of the Republic, operating independently from the Government. These are the local organs of the People’s Power and the territorial organization of the State. The Section II of the Title VIII regulates the work of the Governor and Vicegovernor of the Provinces and the Provincial Councils.

Chapter II deals with the Municipal Organs of People’s Power. Its first Section refers to the Municipal Assembly of People’s Power. Second Section regulates the Municipal Assembly. The third Section regulates the Municipal Assemblies and the fourth one, the People’s Council. The fifth Section conforms the guarantees to the rights of petition and local participation. The next section regulates the Municipal administration. Title IX, Chapter 1 establishes the general election system. In the Chapter II, the National Electoral Council. Title X on Defense and National Security, includes all that relates to the State Armed Institutions and the Exceptional Situations of Disaster. The Title XI regulates how can the Constitution be reformed. After that, it refers to all possible reforms of this legal body and concludes with the final dispositions referring to the abolition of the Constitution of February 24, 1976 and the enactment of the present Magnum Charter.

This Constitution was already approved by referéndum and will be enacted when the National Assembly of People’s Power decides the date.