EXCITING UPDATE: WORLD CONSTITUTIONS ILLUSTRATED INCLUDES NEW CUBA CONSTITUTION

What's New, World Constitutions Illustrated
Shannon Furtak

We’re pleased to share a brand-new and extremely important update to HeinOnline’s World Constitutions Illustrated database.

From the World Constitutions Illustrated Database Editor, Jefri J. Ruchti:

Documents added September 2018: 2
Number of countries supplemented: 1

Cuba

On July 22, the National Assembly of the People’s Power adopted a draft text for a new constitution for Cuba. We include the official Spanish edition of the text and our own corresponding translation.

The text now undergoes a period of public discussion and comment from August 13 to November 15, 2018. The National Assembly will then take these discussions into account and re-evaluate the draft. A referendum will then take place on the final text, anticipated to be early in 2019. The preparation and adoption of the draft represents the culmination of a process begun under the auspices of Raul Castro in 2013.

The new Constitution would abrogate the Constitution of 1976, as amended in 1978, 1992 and 2002. That Constitution and its three amending laws are all contained in World Constitutions Illustrated, both in their official Spanish texts and in corresponding English translations proprietary to HeinOnline.

The draft constitution expands the approximately 13,500 words of the 1976 Constitution to approximately 19,500 (in translation). The previous 137 Articles have been expanded to 224. Some Articles have been retained in their entirety, and many slightly modified but moved to different places within the new structure, which is far more coherently organized than that previous.

The text of the draft, in a booklet form widely disseminated in Cuba for one peso, contains its own introduction. This is a general precis of some of the major constitutional developments and ends with potent reminders of the duty of citizens to maintain the continuity of the Revolution and of socialism, under the continuing dominant spirit of Fidel Castro.


Access New Cuban Constitution

Introduction and Analysis of the Bill of the Constitution of the Republic during the Popular Consultation

Essential Contents that Govern

The text is composed of a preamble, 224 Articles (87 more than the current Constitution), divided into 11 titles, 24 chapters, and 16 sections.

Of the current Constitution of the Republic, 11 Articles are retained, 113 are modified and 13 are eliminated.

It is distinguished by a coherent and systematic structure, achieves a logical reordering of its contents and avoids their dispersion.

The language employed corresponds with the terminology that should characterize a constitutional text and [corresponds] with our political, economic and social reality.

The redaction, in general terms, of its contents confers greater flexibility, durability, security, and applicability of the Constitution.

The bill reaffirms the socialist character of our political, economic, and social system, as well as the leading role of the Communist Party of Cuba.

The concept of the socialist State of law is incorporated, in order to reinforce the institutionality and the rule of law, and the supremacy of the Constitution within it.

The economic system that is reflected maintains as essential principles the socialist ownership of all the people over the fundamental means and planning, to which is added the recognition of the role of the market and of new forms of non-state ownership, including private.

In a singular manner, the development of an ample range of rights in harmony with the international instruments to which Cuba is a party in this area, stands out. Those relative to the right to defense, due process, and popular participation are notable, and those relative to economic and social aspects are reformulated, in particular health and education, which are maintained as a function of the State and of gratuitous character, while it is foreseen that the law defines other issues linked to them.

The content of the right to equality acquires greater development by incorporating together with those existing (color of skin, sex, race, etc.), non-discrimination by gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnic origin, and disability.

It establishes the possibility that persons may go to the tribunals to claim the restitution of their rights or reparation or indemnification for the damages or prejudices generated by the action or omission of the organs, directors, functionaries or employees of the State, for the improper exercise of their functions.

In relation to matrimony, the current conception that it is only possible “between a man and a woman” is modified and defined as between two persons.

With respect to citizenship, the fundamental change lies in that our affiliation to the non-admission of dual citizenship is modified and, in its place, it proposes to accept the principle of “effective citizenship”, which consists in that “Cuban citizens in the national territory are governed by that status [condición], in the terms established in the law, and may not make use foreign citizenship”.

Concerning the organs of the State, an adequate equilibrium is maintained between them, and the figures of the President of the Republic as Head of State, and that of the Prime Minister in charge of the Government of the Republic, are incorporated; it is demanded of both of these, as a requirement, to be Deputies to the National Assembly of People’s Power.

The Council of State retains its character as a permanent organ of the National Assembly of People’s Power, with a greater interaction with it, because among other reasons, the President, Vice President and Secretary of both institutions are the same persons.

The National Electoral Council stands out as a novelty among the organs of the State, as an institution of permanent character in this matter, as well as with the insertion of the Office of the Comptroller General of the Republic into the Constitution.

As for the local organs, the provincial assemblies of the People’s Power are eliminated and a Provincial Government is instituted, composed of the Governor and a Council at that level.

The municipalities acquire greater relevance from the recognition of their autonomy, which they exercise in correspondence with the interests of the nation.

The Council of Municipal Administration is affirmed as the organ that directs Municipal Administration, of the responsibility of an Intendant, a term that is proposed to substitute for that of President and Jefe [Head] currently employed.

With respect to the Electoral System, Cubans older than 16 years of age that have the right to vote are so maintained, with the exceptions provided for in the law.

National Defense and Security appear in a Title, in which the mission of the National Defense Council is made precise, with faculties to fulfill tasks in time of peace, and when the Situation of Disaster is recognized, in addition to those others of exceptional character.

Concerning the mechanism of Constitutional Reform, as a difference from the current Constitution, those legitimized to initiate it are specified and the entrenched clauses are made precise.

For the entry into force of the principal issues regulated in the bill, as well as the period in which the complementary norms must be issued as well as the modification of others in force, special, transitory and final provisions are established.


Final Considerations

The process of consultation that it is proposed to be developed is an expression of the democratic and participative nature of the revolutionary State and constitutes an exercise of the sovereign power of the people, this becoming a constituent organ of the nation, which distinguishes us favorably from other processes developed in different countries.

This particularity represents a high responsibility for all citizens in the study of the bill and in participation in the popular consultation, as well as in each one of the proposals that are made.

It must be kept in mind at all times that the Constitution is a norm that establishes essential and minimum principles and values, which implies not covering and expressing in detail all the domains of political, economic and social life.

All the proposals and suggestions that are formulated will be appropriately evaluated.

We Cubans must be conscious of the commitment that, for present and future generations, the new Constitution of the Republic implies, forged by the people to give continuity to the Revolution and to socialism.

More than ever, the following words of our unconquered Commander-in-Chief Fidel Castro Ruz are valid:

“Una de las cosas que nos preocupa y que debe ser de una preocupación perenne, es que […] la Constitución que nosotros hagamos se cumpla rigurosamente. No podemos tener o aprobar uno solo de esos preceptos que no se aplique rigurosamente. […]

“La Revolución no puede crear una Constitución, no puede crear instituciones, no puede crear principios que no se cumplan.

“Por eso es nuestro propósito una vez que se haya aprobado esta Constitución, luchar consecuente y tenazmente, para que cada uno de los preceptos de esa Constitución se cumplan; que nadie le pueda imputar a la Revolución jamás, de que acordó leyes y principios que después no se cumplieron”.

[“One of the things that preoccupies us and that should be of a perennial preoccupation, is that […] the Constitution that we make will be strictly complied with. We cannot have or approve one of those precepts that is not rigorously applied. […]

“The Revolution cannot create a Constitution, it cannot create institutions, it cannot create principles that are not fulfilled.

“That is why it is our purpose once this Constitution has been approved, to struggle consequentially and tenaciously, so that each of the precepts of that Constitution is fulfilled; so that no one could ever impute to the Revolution, that it agreed to laws and principles that were not subsequently fulfilled”.]

Additional Content

This Introduction is followed by the text of the draft, to which Glossary is appended: Inalienable Assets; Non-seizable Assets; Constitution; Popular Consultation; Entities; State; Socialist State of Law; Governors; Government; Habeas Corpus; Imprescriptibilty; Indivisibility of Rights; Interdependence of Rights; Laws; Absolute Majority; Simple Majority; Conscientious Objection; Organs of the State, Plebiscite; Progressivity of Rights; Referendum; Universality of Rights, and Roll Call Vote. These are likely provided as concepts for discussion of the draft.

According to the official Communist Party publication Granma, the previous Constitution of 1940 and the Fundamental Law of 1959 (both in World Constitutions Illustrated in multiple editions) were consulted in the drafting process. Current Latin American constitutions consulted were those of Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador, as well as constitutions of countries like China and Vietnam: current constitutions adopted and amended to develop socialist principles (all are included in World Constitutions Illustrated in multiple editions).


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