Law and social order
The legal issue has been a fundamental component of Cuban political and revolutionary struggles to guarantee national independence, as is reaffirmed today with the municipal elections. This text, published in 2013 in the pages of JR, is a tribute to its author.
Published Saturday, November 26, 2022 | 11:01:05 pm.
Updated: November 26, 2022 | 11:54:42 pm.
Translated by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
Latin America and the Caribbean have as their highest symbols Simón Bolívar, José Martí and a legion of heroes and thinkers who represent their historical conscience of a cultural and specifically ethical value that will be of enormous importance in the world throughout this 21st century. They are born of a history full of great events that we can synthesize in the Bolivarian idea that we are "a small human race".
The idea of Law and legality, and its importance in the political and social evolution of Cuba, and even in the foreign projection of our country, has been expressed with transcendental universal values and in ways that show the juridical and ethical richness of the Cuban national culture.
Having said this, let us remember that recent events in different parts of the world have dramatically shown the enormous importance of the juridical in the political life of nations. Historically, it has always been the counterrevolution and the reactionary classes in Latin America that have placed themselves at the margin of legality and, nevertheless, have cynically pretended to present themselves with the banners of Law. Hence the importance of assuming in this continent the defense of a legal tradition that enshrines the rights of the people and their institutions.
A long and rich tradition
Cuba has a long tradition and rich historical experience on the subject of the State and the Law. This should be known, first of all, by all legal workers in our country, students, professors and researchers of these key disciplines to clarify political paths in times like the present.
The first Cuban Constitution expressed, since then, the highest levels of the juridical, political and social culture of the emerging nation. In its content were revealed the highest scales of the so-called western culture. The Republic in Arms embodied the interests of the nation that came from La Demajagua and Yara; it established, only six months after the armed uprising, a Cuban State of Law. That is the true day of the Republic of Cuba.
Since those times, the subject of Law has been a fundamental component of the Cuban political and revolutionary struggles oriented from the beginning to guarantee national independence and the defense of the interests of the poor and exploited. The decrees of abolition of slavery constituted the initial link of a chain of juridical ideas directed towards justice in its full meaning, that is to say, universal, and based on solid moral principles. Likewise, in our juridical tradition the need for the unity of the country in the face of its powerful enemies has been present.
In that first Constitution, the equality of all men and women before the law and the liberation of slaves were enshrined. In that republic, as the struggle became more radical, the indestructible link between national independence and social liberation was consolidated.
When calling for the resumption of the war in 1895, after the fruitful truce (1878-1895), the Apostle and General Máximo Gómez pointed out in the Manifesto of Montecristi that this was the continuation of the feat begun in 1868. In the memorable conversations between Martí, Gómez and Maceo in La Mejorana, practical agreements were reached after the death of the Apostle were expressed in the constitutions of Jimaguayú and La Yaya, giving expression and juridical continuity to the struggle for independence. This presupposed the Cuban Revolutionary Party, the political organization that was the soul of the Revolution, and a democratic government to which the Liberating Army was subordinated.
Radicality of the revolutionary process
The 20th century began in Cuba in the midst of the American intervention, the 1901 Constitution and the Platt Amendment; the frustration of Marti's ideal that those events meant and the emergence of a national conscience that rejected the imperialist tutelage. These circumstances generated in the country a revolutionary struggle that would culminate in the fight against the Machado tyranny in the third and fourth decades of the century. At the forefront of this process was the best of the Cuban intelligentsia together with the popular classes.
In spite of the deep weaknesses derived from the dominant social system, the Magna Carta of 1940 promulgated later was one of the most progressive of its time in Latin America. Among the nations of the so-called West, it was one of the closest to advanced social thought and it would be necessary to promote among legal scholars comparative law research of that Constitution with other texts of the time. Of course, its most advanced measures were never complied with, because the corrupt and surrendered governments that succeeded it prevented it from doing so.
In spite of these circumstances, in the struggle against Batista's tyranny, the defense of the Constitution of the Republic, which we had as a banner, had an important influence. This had its foundation in the legal tradition described above, and was exemplified in a very evident way in two moments of the neocolonial period (1902-1959). There were, at that time, two governments that clearly and blatantly violated the Constitution in force and established a tyranny: those of Gerardo Machado (1926-1933), with the extension of powers, and that of Fulgencio Batista (1952-1959), with his infamous coup d'état. Both generated the most radical revolutionary processes that had as their starting point the struggle against the breaking of the law. The popular rejection of the illegitimacy of tyrannical governments is, as can be seen, at the core of Cuban legal and political culture.
Thus began the struggle against tyranny. Then the Revolution went far beyond the framework of the Constitution that had been cut down.
The sovereign process in the hands of the working people
The socialist Constitution, approved in 1976 by means of an exemplary and massive popular plebiscite, reflects the Cuban tradition, which had already surpassed the multiparty system, since it was ineffective to unite and democratically organize the struggle of our people. When Fulgencio Batista, in the service of the empire, carried out a coup d'état against a constitutional government on the eve of general elections in which a party of popular extraction was going to triumph and where leftist forces were moving, the institutional crisis became evident. The party regime was unable to prevent the coup d'état, much less to organize the resistance against it; it could not restore the destroyed legality. The party system, most of which were corrupt to the core, collapsed in the process of struggle against tyranny even before the triumph of the Revolution.
In Cuba, the socialist conception of the State overcame the old divisionist formula and the assemblies of the working people concentrate the sovereign power of the State in a democratic organ of state leadership to which all the institutions of this character are subordinated. The leading role of the Party and its democratic functioning come to represent the theoretical and practical solution that our people have reached and have today to consolidate and expand socialism, in accordance with our characteristics and traditions, our history and realities.
The Cuban legal system is the expression of the democratic power of the people. Law and democracy live and develop within our Revolution, but they must do so within a framework of order, discipline and exigency. Every political issue, economic or human event has direct or indirect links with the legal system. For any debate in the social, economic and political fields, it is necessary to think about the law and its application. To care for and strengthen the revolutionary power of the people means that the institutional legal system works effectively on the basis of the ethical and political principles of the nation.
It is necessary to carry out research that favors a legal and ethical practice and a policy adjusted to our realities and that leads to the broadest popular participation in the affairs of the State. It is also necessary to exalt the best juridical tradition of humanity and to march on its foundations in favor of the interests of the poor of the Earth, that is to say, to renew it in favor of justice.