May Death Taste Glory (1)
Since I was a little girl I was taught that you learn from your mistakes because you acquire experience and wisdom. It’s a shame that there are some people who refuse to take the lessons that life offers.
In my personal blog, Rostro de Cuba, I received a comment criticizing my attitude for demonstrating legally the inviability of the Varela Project ,seven years after its introduction. The author didn’t dare to give his name, signing: “MCL2008, Cuba’s Christian Roots.”
I regret that my legal analysis about the pointlessness of relaunching the Valera Project might have disturbed someone. I admit the Project had its worth at the time of its launching. It marked a turning point in Cuban history and in the opposition’s peaceful fight against the regime, and it showed that, after forty years of silence and repression, there was the will to change. That is the truth, it cannot be denied.
However, what I warned about on that ocassion, I still defend. None of the signatories of the Varela Project fulfilled the requirements demanded by law in order to legitimize their citizens’ proposal. That is also a truth. My intention was not, nor is it, to discredit the authors. It is a pity that some think my opinion could be confused with the response given to the Project by the regime.
I never said that it was impossible under current circumstances to implement the proceedings of the legislative iniciative, according to Cuban law, but that impossibility has to be proved. Perhaps the current promoters of the Varela Project were annoy by having to turn to a notary in order to get a certified affidavit that they could enjoy their civil and political rights? Can they assure us, with total certainty, that Cuban public notaries refuse to do their jobs?
Clearly, the procedure of signature authentication not only obstructs but, in reality, prevents citizens from proposing modifications to the legal system in Cuba. Even if one would try to initiate such a procedure, the State would have all the means to add more procedures in order to hinder the realization of this right.
For example, Resolution No. 75 of April 25, 2007, issued by Minister of Justice María Esther Reus González, requires Cuban notaries to abstain from formalizing Letters of Invitation from foreign citizens and Cuban citizens residing permanently abroad, to Cuban citizens residing in the country.
It would not surprise me that they prevented citizens wishing to exercise the legislative initiative from obtaining notarized documents attesting personal identity and that they were valid voters. In any case, this would be one extreme. There is also the possibility that they will require documents rom the promoters of the Project proving they are not invalidated to exercise the right to vote. For example they might require certificates of criminal records.
Another point working against the realization of the legislative initiative process, specifically the notarized authentication of the signatures of the promoters, is the deficient services the State provides to the population. The first thing that confronts a citizen who intends to exercise the referenced power is the traditional, maddening and long lines. In Cuba, asking for notary services in the municipalities is a really exhausting process. The lines to book an appointment for the following day begin in the early hours of the day before.
And that is not counting the cost of the notary service. Legitimizing an affidavit requires a stamped seal costing 10 Cuban pesos. The service fee is 15 Cuban pesos. In all, 25 Cuban pesos, equivalent to one CUC. That figure exceeds what a worker earns in a day, and moreover, to complete the legal process he must miss a day of work. Compared with the current buying power of the Cuban population, 25 pesos is a high figure.
The cost can be doubled if, in addition, they require a supporting document to perform the act. This is the case for a criminal record certificate, which requires a stamped seal for 5 Cuban pesos and a 10 Cuban peso charge for filing it. This means each person would have to pay another 25 Cuban pesos or 1 CUC more.
We need citizens truly aware that they must momentarily put aside calamities (food shortages, lack of transport, etc.) and be able to undertake legislative initiatives, even though we know that the Parliament (National Assembly of People’s Power) doesn’t approve all the regulatory projects put to them. As is known, Cuban deputies almost unanimously support the governing elite.