Simple State Domination
Today, the term “republic” designates states whose leadership is in the hands of a president or similar figure, rather than in those of a monarch. This is the sense in which the Cuban Constitution uses the word. The first article of the constitution maintains that “Cuba is a Socialist State of independent and sovereign workers, organized by all and for the good of all as a single and democratic republic.”
Are we really a democratic republic?
The republican system is based on democratic principles such as the tripartite division of coordinated and independent powers, universal suffrage and liberty. None of this applies to the Cuban system. The doctrine by which the state is organized and works, is against these principles.
According to Article 68 of the Constitution, “the organs of the state are integrated and develop their activity on the basis of a socialist democracy…” The precept establishes rules that introduce elements of the republican system: “All representative organs of state power are elected and may be replaced;… those elected must be held accountable for their actions and can be removed from office at any time;…”
However, the same article contains clauses that nullify the possibility of limits on power, or checks and balances, typical of the tripartite principle. This reinforces the basis for a system of subordination, that leads to the centralization of power: “…the decisions of the highest state organs are binding for the lower organs of power; …the lower state organs answer to the superior, and are accountable to them;…”
Which is the superior organ of representation that is at the top of this pyramidal organization? The National Assembly, which is the supreme organ of State power and which establishes that the State Council is the representative of the National Assembly between sessions.
What’s more, the Council of State is the supreme representative of the Cuban State, by national and international law. But the Constitution, in regulating its powers, doesn’t distinguish between those who act for the State and those who act in the name of the National Assembly (parliament). In practice, it gives the Council of State legal power to act with great freedom.
This double representation translates into a formal, true concession of power in favor of this branch. That is to say, the Council of State doesn’t speak just for the Parliament, but rather for the entire nation. However, it’s not accountable to the electorate, because it hasn’t been elected by the people and doesn’t depend on their decision. The National Assembly elects, among officials, the members of the Council of State.
In Cuba there is no President of the Republic, but there is a Chief of State and Government, which is the President of the Council of State and the Cabinet, a government post characteristic of republican systems. Nevertheless, popular elections are not held to elect the highest state office.
Universal suffrage is founded in the idea that the people live under an elected government, that they are guaranteed the option of choosing their leaders and that the governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed.
If citizens do not directly elect the leader who governs them, how can they hold him accountable for his actions in governing them, if they are not those who placed him in a position of power. How can they revoke a mandate that they didn’t give?
The figure of the ‘maximum leader’ is, in turn, parliamentarian and leader of the only political party permitted within the Cuban system. In short: a manifestation of the unity of power as a principle of state organization contrary to that of a democratic republic, and a way to maintain by force the indivisible unity of state power.
The existence of a single party established by constitutional law that bases its workings on “democratic centralism” (another principle of state organization),assumes the latter’s involvement in the government. That is, the meeting of its leaders in a public center of power, strengthening a system founded on the principle of authority. This recognition imposes by law a single-party form of government, and the consequent institutionalization of the communist ideology. And results in the prohibition of political pluralism. Other organizations may exist; but these must be faithful to the Marxist-Leninist doctrine and must execute the policy of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC).
Thus, it is ensured that all sectors of society are within the same political system. This facilities the leaders “selling themselves” as representatives of everyone, all classes and parts of the population, in practice making it unnecessary for other sociopolitical organizations to exist. In fact, the national deputies, who supposedly represent the people, are members of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC).It is obvious, therefore, that the PCC doesn’t need to participate in the elections.
Finally, I would like to note that the existence of a law, like Law 88 of 1999 that invokes the defense of the Socialist State and the independence of Cuba to punish any individual who in any way collaborates with the radio, television, newspapers, magazines or other foreign mass media, giving his opinions about the actions of the government, corroborates that Cubans do not enjoy freedom of expression.
In Cuba, it is well know, power is concentrated and is exercised for a narrow group of people — the members of the Council of State, and above all, for the president. A group that, in addition, has no limits on their powers under the law.
The ideological principles of the only existing political party establish authoritarian principles for the management of government. Their commands are not subject to oversight or democratic control on the part of the governed, whose individual liberties are suppressed, particularly of expression or opinion.
The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was a dictatorial one-party State, which, over nearly ninety years of existence, demonstrated that “republic” and “democracy” are not the same thing, because a republic is a kind of State based on the concept that sovereignty resides in the people. In the past, and also in the present, States have hidden anti-democratic and totalitarian regimes behind this concept.
In conclusion: the system of government named in the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba is not a democratic republic, as it proclaims itself to be in the first article. It is a simple state domination.