Cuba’s New Constitution Is the Same as the Old One — Undemocratic
Maybe you heard: Communist Cuba is on the road to freedom.
That’s what Cuba’s rulers want you to think after the Cuban people overwhelmingly approved a new constitution on Sunday. But the opposite is true. Cuba’s rulers have only cemented their control, and the Cuban people are no closer to freedom today.
Just look at the process that created this new constitution, which was anything but democratic. It began last summer when the National Assembly established a commission to draft the text. The Assembly claims to represent the Cuban people, but its most recent election fielded a party-approved candidate in each of its 612 races. The electorate could only vote yes or no. Every Communist candidate won.
Meanwhile, for the Cuban people, nothing will change.
The regime will laud this new step in the revolution’s struggle, even as its subjects struggle to survive in a nation defined by poverty. Last week, I spoke with Rosa María Payá, a Cuban activist whose father Oswaldo Payá founded a movement opposed to the Communist Party. The regime assassinated him in 2012, and now his daughter tells me the new constitution only “guarantees the perpetuation of the dictatorship.”
Rosa María believes the Cuban people deserve a real referendum, which she advocates through an initiative known as Cuba Decide. Tens of thousands of her fellow citizens have joined her to call on Havana to hold a yes-or-no vote — not on a Communist constitution, but on the Communist Party itself.
The regime will never let such a vote happen because it fears nothing more than the Cuban people. Instead, it staged a rigged referendum to fool the world and fortify its rule. The new constitution is a charter of renewed tyranny, not liberty, and so long as the Communist Party reigns in Havana, Cuba will never be free.
At the time of publishing, Marion Smith was executive director of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
Originally published in USA Today.