A NEW ELECTORAL LAW COMING FROM THE CITIZENHIP
In a meeting held by the Communist Party Cuban authorities have announced that a new electoral law will be drawn up in Cuba. With this project the announced changes would go from the economical topic to the political field. We Cuban citizens who are the sovereign people should not wait passively for the single-party proposal. The exercise of citizens’ sovereignty demands to take the initiative, to reach a consensus on proposals and to present alternative projects for electoral laws.
Without going into technical details we contribute to this exercise of citizens’ democracy by proposing three legal instruments inherent to the creation of a really new electoral framework:
There is no substantial electoral reform if the single-party system approved in the article 5 of the Cuban Constitution is maintained. This article must disappear and the Constitution must establish a multiparty system.
This is the fourth demand made by Cuban Civil Society Open Space, the majority platform for consensus construction made up of more than 30 organizations and personalities from the civic fabric in the Island:
“The plural characteristic of Cuban society imposes the need to make a constitutional and legal reform in order to enable the creation of spaces that should guarantee the exercise of political pluralism as the basis for “free, democratic and competitive elections”.
A new political and administrative division and a new division for electoral districts that guarantee the greatest participation and equal opportunities for all voters should be a part of the new electoral law.
On the other hand, “the creation of spaces that should guarantee the exercise of political pluralism” and also civic pluralism should be acknowledged in a new law of associations and parties. Our specific proposal is the abolition of the archaic Law 54 of Associations and the already obsolete Law 88 better known as Gag Rule. The times are changing: diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States have been re-established; negotiations with Europe are moving forward and Latin America demands more and more inclusion. The “square under siege” syndrome is gone and the Cuban nation hopes to fit into the democratic world’s normality.
A new electoral law would be pointless and ineffective if it is not accompanied or preceded by a new law of associations and parties legalizing what is already a verifiable reality in our country: political pluralism and civil society multicoloured groups. It is an urgent need to legalize discrepancy so that a climate of civil peace is created, repression stops, political imprisonment is over and we can breathe an atmosphere of normality and trust so all of us together are able to undertake the huge work of reconstruction of the Island and the Nation which lives in the Island and in the Diaspora.
Likewise, the correct and legal grants for parties and associations should be established so that the possibility of citizens to give material support to their favourite groups is guaranteed and at the same time corruption at running the parties would be prevented; patronage and foreign interference in electoral events would be prevented as well. This legal instrument should guarantee transparency and fairness in the daily exercise of democracy.
A new law of associations and parties will place Cuba in the concert of nations living in normality and will open opportunities and rights for all Cubans, women and men; these opportunities and rights are ours and they will allow to undertake the building of a new Cuba in an effective way; a new Cuba where we all fit; a new Cuba where no Cuban oppresses, mistreats or blocks the dignity, the freedom, the rights and the dreams of another Cuban.
As an inseparable sequence, the two abovementioned laws demand a third one which is inevitable: a law of means of social communication. This new legal framework should acknowledge and guarantee the right to freedom of expression without which democracy is speechless. This legal framework should also legalize the independent media already existing inside Cuba which carry out their sacred duty of communicating, informing, giving voice to the voiceless and promoting public debate; they do it systematically and in a professional, respectful and ethical way. This is an unmistakable evidence of democracy.
This new law of media should also devote free and economically reachable internet access to all Cubans, counting on a quality digital traffic which is typical of modern countries. Another requirement is equal access to Media and the guarantee that no Cuban is going to be repressed or discriminated due to the pacific ideas he should spread provided he does it respecting the other opinions, persons, groups or institutions. Decent use of Media is the guarantee of a sound atmosphere for democracy and an unequivocal sign to the international community that Cuba is a civilized country which respects diversity and educated in pluralism.
The creation of a new legal framework regarding free and clean elections is indissolubly united to the right of voters to know, evaluate and support or reject the political agendas presented by the different candidates. The present electoral law in Cuba favours a person’s policy and not a policy of agendas. People vote for the biography and not for the candidates’ proposals and this is a ruinous practice to elect public servers; after all, that’s what politicians are and should be. The essential thing that has to be known by the ones served is the service programme offered by the servers who are proposed as candidates so that people can elect the one who offers the best solution to every person’s needs and the needs of society. The modern and civilized way to announce these programs is through an equal and systematic access to the Means of Social Communication.
We support and join with our Law specialist brothers from civil society who are drafting the proposals for an electoral law and a law of associations and parties that Cuba deserves; they are doing it by different ways, professionally and diligently.
Pinar del Río, July 20th, 2015