A Preview of the Next Cuba / 14ymedio, Manuel Cuesta Morua, Reinaldo Escobar
Posted on May 27, 2014
Interview with Manuel Cuesta Morúa from Constitutional Consensus
Options under discussion: Change the 1940 Constitution, the 1976 update
or create a new constitution
The Project involves most of the relevant organizations from the civic
and political community, inside and outside Cuba
Reinaldo Escobar, Havana | May 23, 2014
Question. What is the objective of the Constitutional Consensus project?
Response. To convene civil society and citizens to work for
constitutional change, and to create a new Cuban constitution that is
based on three key realities and requirements: citizen control of the
State, which is the premise of democracy; the rule of law, which ensures
that no one is above the law; and the limitation of power, without which
there is no respect for fundamental freedoms. This is the central
objective, seen through three integral and interdependent paths.
We are still governed by what is probably the last Constitution in the
Soviet mold still in existence in the world
There is another collateral purpose, basic to the consistency of a
society and a constitutional state. This purpose is the cultural
empowerment of Cubans with regard to laws, citizenship and the rule of
law, accompanied by and based on the contributions of the independent
organizations of Cuban jurists. As experience shows, the best
constitutions sleep the sleep of the righteous if they are not based on
a culture of rights and law. And the issue of constitutional culture in
Cuba needs to be tackled hard for two main reasons: the first is that as
the so-called Revolution has been and is the quintessential source of
law, we Cubans are not familiar with the law and its value for
coexistence; the second is that we are still governed by what is
probably the last Constitution in the Soviet mold still in existence in
the world — I do not know if you remember the Russian Constitution of
1936 that became the model for the current Cuban constitution — and as
you know, it has nothing to do with our traditions and culture.
Q. What organizations sponsor you?
R. Constitutional Consensus is a horizontal proposal without hierarchies
or rigid organizational charts. Participating are the majority of the
most relevant organizations of the civic and political community, inside
and outside Cuba. At www.consensoconstitucional.com you can see a list
of all the sponsors, which I am not mentioning here because the list
should continue to grow.
Q. At what stage are you now, and when (not in terms of a date but in
signs) will you consider you have fulfilled your purpose?
A. Right now we are preparing Constitutional Initiative Discussions
across the country, and we are preparing for the various meetings to be
held outside of Cuba. In late May, between 8 and 10 people will meet in
each of these Constitutional Initiative Discussions with the purpose of
bringing us to a reasonable point for constitutional change: if is it
the Reformed Constitution of 1976, if it is the paradigmatic
Constitution of 1940, or if it is a new constitution. We first want to
find a consensus that focuses on public legitimacy, unfortunately it
cannot be among all Cubans, and then start designing a draft that will
be drawn up by the Constitutional Initiative Committees, formed by
lawyers and specialists in various law-related materials within a
These meetings will also be held in Madrid and Puerto Rico, and in July
multiple organizations will come together in Miami at Florida
International University (FIU).
We will have achieved our purpose, and for now I'm being a minimalist,
when we have drawn up this draft that reflects the consensus of all
participants, when we have collected up a critical mass of citizens'
signatures demanding a new constituent process, and when we have managed
to stabilize Constitutional Initiative Discussions in each municipality
as permanent spaces for interaction and exchange with citizens
throughout the legal process. If we citizens do not set up a monitoring
program over the quality of laws, compliance with legality, and the
arbitrariness inherent to all immune and unpunished power, it's
worthless to have the best constitution. We had the Constitution of 1940
and Cuba finds itself rating less than zero on constitutional and legal
There is, of course, a maximalist goal: to have a constitutional and
legal system that is an expression of our needs, of our rights and of
our demands to coexist in a truly civilized way. Uncivil behavior is the
deepest reality of our country, from top to bottom. Fromthe
powers-that-be to society. The rules of the game require a constitution
that includes all Cubans. Inside and out of Cuba.
The Constitutional Consensus is to define the what, not the who. We care
more about the nature of power than the individuals who exercise it.
Q. Do you believe that the country's leadership has an essential quota
of good faith that is required for the project not be aborted or even
treated as a hostile action intended to overthrow the government?
R. The Cuban government is not characterized by good faith. The logic of
power is not born able to understand the rational tie with the rest of
the mortals, but is one of pure and hard domination. So there can be no
good faith. However, this government shows capacity for pragmatism
precisely because it wants to retain power. Reality force, and hopefully
in this case, that of the constitutional change, the facts will impose
themselves. In Latin America there is a strong movement towards
constitutional reform that can and should include Cuba. Moreover, there
is always an unspoken consensus, at times explicit, on the need for
reforms in the laws.
Promoted from other spaces, albeit with an elitist viewpoint, is the
need to reform the current constitution. And the designated President
himself has expressed this direction. Our proposal, on the other hand,
is not conceived with the mentality of toppling those up above. We care
more about the nature of power than the individuals who exercise it. So
there is no hostility towards power, but an attempt to define new rules
of the game from where it is exercised. If among them citizens decide
that the government should be in the hands of the same people who hold
it today, I won't like it but I have to respect those rules that
contributed to defining it along the rest of the citizens. The authentic
and interesting thing from this constitutional perspective is that the
next be of the citizens.
A Cuba where citizen safety and effective control over the uncertainties
allow the defense of fundamental freedoms and the creative explosion, in
all directions, of Cuban society.
Source: A Preview of the Next Cuba / 14ymedio, Manuel Cuesta Morua,
Reinaldo Escobar | Translating Cuba -