The Campaign to Have a Plebiscite for Freedom in Cuba Begins
Posted on August 24, 2015
Maurice Ferré: The solution for Cuba and Puerto Rico: plebiscites.
From El Nuevo Herald, August 15, 2015 / Reprinted from Orlando Luis
Pardo Lazo's blog
Although both were the booty of war, the results for Cuba and Puerto
Rico were different in the Treaty of Paris (1898) at the end of the
The Republic of Cuba was established in 1903. As a republic, Cuba
prospered for 37 years. With the Constitution of 1940, eliminating the
despicable Platt Amendment, Cuba advanced. But by 1959 Cuba was already
a corrupt country. After 55 years of Castro-communism, Cuba went from
being one of the most prosperous countries in Latin America to place
itself, currently, among the poorest.
Puerto Rico did better. Washington cultivated Puerto Rico as a military
base, guarding the Panama Canal. In 1917, the U.S. Congress unilaterally
gave U.S. citizenship to Puerto Ricans. In 1922 the Chief Justice of the
U.S. Supreme Court, William Howard Taft (before being President of the
U.S.), presented the majority opinion in the last Insular Case (about
the relationship between the U.S. and Puerto Rico), Balzac v. Porto
Rico, concluding that although Puerto Ricans were U.S. citizens, they
didn't have all the guarantees of the U.S. Constitution. Puerto Rico
would continue "belonging to the United States but not being part of the
United States."* This infamy of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1922 is still
alive in 2015.
In 1952, the North American Congress conceded autonomy to Puerto Rico in
local matters, creating the Associated Free State (AFS). In 62 years of
self-governing with bad judgments by its governors and responsible
financial counselors and with lucrative contracts for friends of the
government in attendance, Puerto Rico had an external debt of $73
billion, more than the annual GDP of the island. On August 1, the
island, for the first time, failed to comply with a Wall Street bank
debt. As a result of the precarious financial situation, Wall Street
Hedge Funds and vulture investors bought up Puerto Rico's junk bonds.
Puerto Rico fell into the hands of the "savage capitalists" that Pope
Francis has criticized so much.
The President of the United States, Barack Obama, who insists on the
opening with Cuba, ignores Puerto Rico's fatal condition. The North
American Congress, presently in the hands of the Republicans, insists
that the Cuban political system be modified to one that establishes the
consent of the governed, but ignores that in an internal plebiscite in
2012, Puerto Rico, with 78 per cent participation, voted 54 percent to
not consent to the system of government presently alive on the island,
Among Cuba's dissidents, Rosa María Payá, daughter of the fallen martyr,
Oswaldo Payá-Sardiñas, has created a new opposition entity called "Cuba
Decides," which has numerous followers on the island. Payá, with her
group, attended an important meeting of Cuban dissidence in San Juan:
First National Cuban Meeting, which met on August 11, 12 and 13.
Cuba Decides presented, in Puerto Rico, a continuation of Oswaldo Payá's
patriotic vision: a plebiscite for Cuba. The questions, although not
finalized, ironically are similar to the active questions in Puerto
Rico: consent of the governed and the preferred form of government on
Cuba is a sovereign nation where its citizens, internally, don't have
For its part, Puerto Rico doesn't enjoy sovereignty, since it's an
unincorporated territory of the United States, whose citizens are
governed under the plenary powers of the U.S. Congress under its
territorial clause. But Puerto Ricans who reside on the island do enjoy
In order to resolve these incongruencies with the United Nations
Declaration of Human Rights and the U.S. Constitution, in the case of
Puerto Rico separate plebiscites should be performed. Both plebiscites
should entail compliance with conditions, previously agreed upon by the
In the case of Puerto Rico, President Obama has recommended and the U.S.
Congress has accepted an appropriation of $2.5 million to "educate"
voters on the alternative conditions of the plebiscite. Because of the
results of the 2012 island plebiscite, in which 61 percent chose
federated statehood as a political status, the question of the new
plebiscite would simply be: Statehood, yes or no?
The questions for the Cuban process are very complex because they
require acceptance by the Government of a future plebiscite in Cuba,
without the presence of the Castros.
Cuban exiles and dissidents on the island, some of whom reunited this
week in San Juan, should carefully study Rosa María Payá's presentation
and persistently demand of the Cuban Government a plebiscite that
determines the consent of the Cuban people. Then Cuban citizens will
decide if they want a socialist government or a democratic, pluralist
republic and a free market.
Declaration of San Juan
The text of the declaration can be found in English here, along with the
list of signatories.
*Puerto Rico was not incorporated into the Union.
Source: The Campaign to Have a Plebiscite for Freedom in Cuba Begins |
Translating Cuba -