May Death Taste Glory (2 and final)
Yes, it’s true. There are obstacles to exercising legislative initiative. But they are indispensable legal requirements that are in effect. We must first try to overcome them, in order to later say it is impossible. On the other hand, they are requirements of form and content, in my opinion excessive, demand by the legislation regarding a citizen’s law project.
The Varela Project did not met them. In its legal foundation it relies equally on the right of complaint and petition, and in the citizen initiative legislation. However, the two authorities do not have the same content, nor are they exercised in the same way.
The 1976 Constitution of the Republic, amended in 1992, in Article 63 established that “Every citizen has the right to lodge complaints and petition the authorities and to receive attention and pertinent answers at an appropriate time in conformance with the law.” But the content, scope and form of this right is not legislated. Therefore, there are no legal formalities, that is to say no existing procedures for exercising this right.
The authorities can be reached with one hundred thousand citizen signatures, or with none. There is no requirement in this regard. In any case, the authorities are constitutionally required to receive and respond to any citizen petition. However, this does not mean that they will satisfy what the petition puts forward.
In its content, the Varela Project is more relevant to the right of complaint and petition, than to legislative initiative as outlined in its legal basis. It makes several requests to modify existing laws, but does not specify concrete reforms of these rules and how they would appear after the proposed modifications.
The Regulations of the National Assembly of the People’s Power (Parliament), adopted in 1996, rules for the what in which it must exercise its legislative initiative. A procedure not followed by the promoters of the Varela Project.
This regulation requires the submission of a bill to the president of the Parliament, accompanied by the foundation that must meet determined form and content requirements. For example, if you intend to modify the electoral law you must specify the articles that will undergo changes, always from the basis of the political, economic, and social point of view underlying the transformation.
It doesn’t seem nor is it easy to meet all these requirements. Not even the government itself could meet the process as it is designed. Both the application and the constitutional reform of 2002 were illegitimate. But that was not taken into account by the promoters of the Varela Project. Because, like their adversaries, they didn’t know the law.
When, in March 2001, the Varela Project was presented, it suffered from a lack of study of the constitutional legislation and its associated regulations. If even knowing its deficiencies, they had decided later to collect signatures again for a new process of submittal, then congratulations and success in the enterprise.
I repeat: their relaunch currently is incoherent from the legal point of view. The legal faults it suffers from prevent taking it to the doors of the National Assembly and they would wait in vain for their demands to be met.
It seems that neither the imprisonments in 2003, nor the inhumane conditions in which the first opposition figures who promoted the Varela Project find themselves have been enough. Who can replace the absence of these fathers, sons and husbands. The first time they acted in ignorance, the second time they have been warned.
“Love your neighbor as thyself,” reads one of the Biblical Ten Commandments. How can someone be asked to sacrifice for something, knowing the act is useless?
If suffering repression, intimidation, abuse, persecution and prison for an initiative that returned no result, is being patriotic, then I am not. The day I risk my freedom or my life, it will be for something worthwhile. Meanwhile, I will use my time to transmit my knowledge to others. This is how I feel useful.
However, why does the regime react with so much repression and why is it so afraid of a process of collecting signatures? Simply because the Cuban government fears everything that opposes it, even a word as generic as “change” on a white bracelet. The regime fears not only the Varela Project, but any proposal that comes from the dissidents.
If at the time I criticized the Varela Project it was in order to perfect it. It’s too bad that it is not responsive and does not accept constructive criticism. Cuba doesn’t need more political prisoners, nor opponents on the front page of Miami’s El Nuevo Herald newspaper. It needs its children to wake up and have enough weapons to learn and defend their rights. But he who dies for his pleasure, may that death taste glory.