Patria de Martí Artículos y Ensayos

El lastre político de la dictadura después de la dictadura

El lastMiriam Celayare político de la dictadura después de la dictadura

Días atrás tuve la oportunidad de leer un artículo inteligente y divertido de la autoría de Eugenio Yáñez, en el cual, basado en las edades de los más altos representantes del gobierno, el autor cuestiona la “juventud” proclamada por Castro II en su reciente discurso por el  aniversario 60 del asalto al Moncada. Casi al cierre del mencionado artículo, Yáñez lanza una sentencia acertada en referencia a la gerontocracia verde olivo que todavía detenta el poder en Cuba: “Mejor que en vez de intentar deformar la realidad dejaran paso a las nuevas generaciones, que lo harán mejor, porque es imposible hacerlo peor”.

La formulación del caso, tan sencilla como certera, lleva mi memoria a un debate entre varios amigos en el cual participé hace un par de años, donde el centro de la discusión era el tema de quién o quiénes eran los actores políticos alternativos entre los que podría considerarse a alguien presidenciable para una Cuba en transición. En aquella ocasión hubo análisis interesantísimos en torno a figuras y programas de la oposición de las más disímiles orientaciones y posiciones, incluyendo todo el espectro disidente desde finales de los años 80’ del pasado siglo hasta hoy. Las opiniones de los polemistas, por supuesto, también eran también variadas y por momentos apasionadas.

 No voy a caer en la ingenua tentación de reproducir aquí versión alguna de aquella reunión ni los puntos de vista de cada interlocutor, que en definitiva no se trataba de decidir en un simple diálogo entre amigos la transición cubana. Tampoco existen en Cuba las condiciones mínimas indispensables de libertad y democracia, ni la madurez política, ni el suficiente civismo, incluso entre las filas disidentes, como para tolerar opiniones críticas o valoraciones diferentes a las propias. De hecho, casi cada figura porta dentro de sí el virus del mesianismo o cree desayunar cada mañana el huevo de la verdad absoluta, y solo los más honestos, los mejores, son capaces de reconocer el mal en sus entrañas y de mantenerlo debidamente aprisionado para no dejarlo expandirse y dominarlos. Incluso el público suele interpretar como intentos divisionistas las críticas a cualquier líder o programa. Muchas veces la gente parece necesitar más de los ídolos que de las libertades.

Pero, regresando al tema, el caso es que en aquella singular e inolvidable reunión en la que participaron varias personas inteligentes y agudas, el criterio que más debates levantó fue el de un contertulio que cerró el círculo asegurando: “Cualquiera que resulte democráticamente electo y propicie las libertades cívicas con el ejercicio de todos los derechos humanos me sirve como presidente, puesto que así existirán las garantías de poder criticarlo, de manifestarnos contra su gestión, de exigirle, de obligarlo a escuchar demandas y en un período razonable de unos pocos años podrá ser removido del cargo en nuevas elecciones si no cumple con las expectativas de los electores”.

Confieso que en aquel entonces no comulgué al ciento por ciento con su propuesta, aunque entendí que algo de razón llevaba. Quizás me inspiraba desconfianza imaginar lo que sería el desempeño de ciertos personajes turbios ungidos de poder legítimo al frente de los destinos de la nación en medio del torbellino de una transición que sin dudas será difícil. Todavía esa perspectiva me aterra.

 Sin embargo, el artículo de Yáñez me ha hecho reflexionar nuevamente sobre la realidad cubana y regresar a aquella memorable tertulia en que, como tantas otras veces, un grupo de amigos discutíamos sobre los hipotéticos futuros de una Cuba democrática. Tenía razón aquel amigo, y también la tiene Yáñez: el castrismo lo ha hecho tan concienzudamente mal que ya nadie podría hacerlo peor. Ni siquiera lo peor entre los peores reyezuelos ocultos que tenemos en todos los sectores de la sociedad cubana. Pero elegir “lo malo” para no tener lo peor tampoco me resulta una buena razón política.

Definitivamente, ante una elección democrática yo no votaría por cualquiera. No obstante, ante la tozudez de los eternos mozalbetes octogenarios del Moncada aferrados al poder, no puedo menos que reconocer que cualquier otra opción sería preferible, al menos para la mayoría. Hasta tal punto la dictadura se ha convertido en referente de lo que no debe ser un gobierno que ha sellado de forma maligna buena parte del destino de los cubanos, aun cuando ya se haya ido. Y así, paradójicamente, todavía podría jugar algún papel político, en caso de convertirse en la responsable indirecta de una elección desacertada en el futuro de transición que nos espera.

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A constitutional framework for a Free Cuba

Alfred CuzanA constitutional framework for a free Cuba[1]

Alfred G. Cuzán[2]

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This essay proposes the framework of a mixed constitution for a free Cuba.  By “free” I mean a republican, i.e., representative regime where the government is the product of competitive elections and the population enjoys judicially safeguarded political and civil rights.[3]  By “mixed” I mean one that, in keeping with Aristotle’s advice, incorporates several competing political principles or values in one coherent arrangement.[4]Finally, by “constitution,” I do not mean simply “a mere demarcation on parchment of the constitutional limits of the several departments,” as James Madison aptly put it, for that “is not a sufficient guard against those encroachments which lead to a tyrannical concentration of all the powers of government in the same hands.”[5]Rather, I have in mind what Sartori calls the “living” or “material” constitution, i.e., “the actual configuration of the system.”[6]  It is a structure or pattern of political power that is aimed at here, one thatis expected to emerge from a set of enforceable rules specified in the constitutional text.   

 

Two theoretical assumptions underlie this essay.  One is that political institutions matter.[7]  That is, the constitutional allocation of authority across offices of the state and the rules for electing or appointing public officials and limiting and staggering terms of office structure political incentives and constraints in a predictable manner. Different arrangements make a qualitative difference on how well democracy works.[8]  The other is that, particularly at founding moments in a nation’s history,[9] people can purposefully design their own institutions, that they are not “forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force,” but are “really capable” “of establishing good government from reflection and choice.”[10]

 

This is not to deny Alexis de Tocqueville’s conclusion that culture is more important than the laws in making democracy work.  Assessing that “American legislation, taken as a whole, is extremely well adapted to the genius of the people and the nature of the country which it is intended to govern,” de Tocqueville went on to note that “American laws are therefore good, and to them must be attributed a large portion of the success that attends the government of democracy in America; but I do not believe them to be the principal cause of that success[;] . . . their effect is inferior to that produced by the customs of the people.”[11]However, that at any given moment laws place second, after customs, in determining the success of democracy is no reason to give them short shrift.  In planning for a free Cuba, one should aim at designing the very best set of rules suggested by contemporary political research so as to make the most of that “large portion” of democratic success which is attributable to them.  Moreover, one should not assume that political culture is frozen.  It itself is subject to gradual modification by institutions.  As Lijphart observes, the Swiss did not always have a consensual political culture, having been embroiled in several civil wars.  Although it takes time for institutions envisioned in a constitution or laws to take root in and modify the political culture,[12] and although they usually take a life of their own, evolving in ways not entirely anticipated by those who begot them, it is supposed that, like the characteristics of domesticated animals and plants, the way a country conducts its political life is subject to human manipulation.[13]

 

In crafting a constitution, then, one would be well advised to consider recent empirical findings of the “neo-institutionalist” school of political science, particularly the work of Lijphart on two types of democracy and Shugart and Carey on presidentialism.  Lijphart compares the operation and performance of what he calls majoritarian and consensual democracies in thirty-six countries.  The former concentrate political authority at the national level, where it is exercised by a prime minister whose party’s legislative majority in a single or dominant lower house of parliament is disproportionate to its actual share of the popular vote.  This is most likely to occur when legislators are elected from single-member districts according to a first-past-the-post rule, under which the candidate with the most votes, even a simple plurality, wins.  In a majoritarian democracy, the judiciary, as well as other institutions such as the central bank, plays a subordinate role to the legislature, which can amend and interpret the constitution more or less at will, limited only by tradition, public opinion, and its own self-restraint.  In turn, parliament is dominated by the prime minister and his cabinet, who are leaders of the majority party; other parties are relegated to playing the role of opposition.  The United Kingdom is the model of majoritarian democracy.[14]

 

By contrast, in consensual democracy authority is separated horizontally across branches of government and divided vertically between national and sub-national levels according to a relatively rigid (i.e., difficult to amend) written constitution, under which ordinary laws are subject to judicial review, as in the United States.  Vertically, sub-national units enjoy a great deal of legislative and fiscal autonomy either in a federal or a decentralized unitary regime.  Horizontally, a legislature that is independent or not dominated by the executive is divided between two chambers, each elected by different rules and for different lengths of term. 

Where the executive is a creature of parliament, it is normally composed of members of a coalition cabinet in which several parties are represented.  This arrangement is usually the result of proportional representation in legislative elections.  Where the executive and the legislature are elected separately, as in the United States or France, it is not unusual for each to be controlled by a different party, a circumstance necessitating inter-party “cohabitation,” as the French call it.  This involves having to compromise on major issues and, in some cases, working out a de factobi- or multi-party coalition spanning the two branches of government.  Other institutions, like the judiciary and central bank, enjoy a great deal of autonomy from both the legislature and the executive.  Switzerland is the prototype of a consensual regime.[15]

When comparing the two forms of democracy on a series of performance measures Lijphart found that, although tied on most indicators, where a difference between the two types was discernible with the usual statistical tools, it was invariably in favor of the consensual variety.  Of particular importance was this regime’s relative superiority at reducing political violence and representing the interests and values articulated by minority parties, a factor that contributes to legitimating the regime.  Thus, Lijphart concludes that “the consensus option is the more attractive option for countries designing their first democratic constitutions or contemplating democratic reform” (my emphasis).  He recommends, therefore, that “[d]ivided power institutions--strong federalism, strong bicameralism, rigid amendment rules, judicial review, and independent central banks . . . be prescribed by means of constitutional stipulations and provisions in central bank charters.”[16]

 

Lijphart recognizes that certain features of consensual democracy are not easily transplanted across regions.  For example, in Latin America, where presidentialism has long been the norm, parliamentarism is unlikely to be adopted, or if adopted, to survive.[17]  Also, with an implicit bow to de Tocqueville, he realizes that “consensus democracy may not be able to take root and thrive unless it is supported by a consensual political culture.”[18]  Yet, the latter obstacle is not insurmountable because the relation between culture and institutions is reciprocal:  “although a consensual culture may lead to the adoption of consensus institutions, these institutions also have the potential of making an initially adversarial culture less adversarial and more consensual.”[19]

 

For their part, casting a skeptical glance at the academic consensus against presidentialism forged, inter alia, by Linz and Stepan,[20]Shugart and Carey find that the survival of this type of democracy depends on the actual distribution of authority between congress and president, on the one hand, and the party system, on the other, which are a function of the constitution and electoral rules, respectively.[21]They argue that the performance of presidentialism varies according to the relative powers vested in president and congress, their respective controls over cabinet formation and survival, and the number and internal cohesion of parties represented in the legislature.  Presidential systems which centralize authority in the executive are the most vulnerable to breakdown.  Where the president is granted legislative powers such as a strong veto, exclusive prerogative to submit bills over certain policy areas, strategic initiative over the budget, and rule by decree, and where he has authority to go over the heads of congress by calling a popular referendum to enact his program into law, executive-legislative relations tend to deteriorate to the point where the risks of regime breakdown become unacceptably high.  By contrast, the longest-lived presidential democracies are those where the constitution contemplates a president whose role in the making of laws is marginal at best.[22]  Costa Rica, the oldest continuous democracy in Latin America, is a case in point.

 

Another problematic type is what they call the “presidential-parliamentary” regime, one of shared authority over the cabinet, with the president being free to appoint and dismiss but the parliament has the authority to censure and force the resignation of ministers.  This form of government, plagued by “‘confusion’ over to whom the cabinet is responsible, is a recipe for dangerous cabinet instability.  This is especially true where one branch alone names the cabinet to begin with.”[23]  In a confirmatory study of fourteen Latin American countries over a ten year period, Jones, too, found that “the legislature’s possession of the power to censure government’s ministers results in an increased level of executive-legislative conflict.”[24]  As I shall show, this was an unfortunate feature of the Cuban Constitution of 1940.

 

In the remainder of this essay, I draw on the aforementioned research findings to design a framework for crafting a constitution for a free Cuba.  My purpose is not to expound on all the elements that go into a constitution.  Rather, I limit myself to sketching what, according to Sartori, should be its “core and centerpiece,” i.e., a “frame of government.”[25]  That means a plan for partitioning authority horizontally, across branches of the national government, and vertically, among levels of government, specifying qualifications for office, election or appointment rules, and length and staggering of terms for each office.  Much of what follows is rather conventional, incorporating as it does variations of constitutional formulas of long usage, either in the United States or, as in the case of the supreme electoral tribunal, Costa Rica. However, I do offer a few innovations that, as far as I know, have not been tried elsewhere.

I begin with a brief discussion of the last democratic constitution of Cuba, that of 1940, paying particular attention to what I consider to have been its principal structural weaknesses.  Next, I lay out my proposal.  Then I analyze it in light of the literature discussed above, and compare and contrast its most salient features to those of the 1940 Constitution.

The Constitution of 1940.

 

The Cuban Constitution of 1940, the product of an assembly elected for the purpose in which every political current, including that of the communists, participated, though short-lived, having been in effect a mere twelve years, soon attained mythic status among generations of Cubans.[26]Its legitimacy was such that, when Fulgencio Batista’s 1952 coup d’etat rendered it de facto inoperable, “its restoration soon developed into the rallying cry of the opposition movement.”[27]In 1955, having emerged triumphant in a single-candidate “election” arranged the previous year, even the dictator himself felt compelled to declare that the constitution was again in effect.  Following Batista’s flight four years later, Fidel Castro initially pretended only to have had amended the constitution, even though from the very beginning his regime was in clear violation of its most basic provisions, such as proscription of the death penalty, prohibition of expropriation of property except for matters of public utility or interest and then only after judicially-adjudicated compensation, independent courts, elections for legislative and executive offices, and amendment procedures.  Today, more than six decades after its disemboweling by Batista and discarding by Castro, there are those who argue not only that restoration of the 1940 Constitution should be the first order of business of a post-Castro provisional government but that, it never having been abrogated, the 1940 Constitution remains in effect (in some sort of legal limbo, I suppose).[28]

Institutionally, the 1940 Constitution attempted to do the very thing which Shugart and Carey believe one should avoid, i.e., construct a “presidential-parliamentary” republic.[29]  It provided for separate but concurrent elections of a president and a bicameral congress, all to a four-year term, with half the lower house elected every two years.  The president was free to appoint and dismiss members of his cabinet, but these, including a prime minister, were responsible to the congress.  Either house could interpellate and censure ministers individually or the cabinet as a whole, upon which vote of no confidence they were required to resign.  The president, however, was free to reappoint them to another portfolio. 

 

As diagnosed by Shugart and Carey, this recipe was, indeed, problematic.[30]  Too much scarce congressional energy (and it was scarce, absenteeism being rampant) was spent in a tug of war with the president over his ministers.  On one occasion, the congress censured the Minister of Commerce, whereupon President Ramón Grau San Martín made manifest his contempt for the legislature by promoting him to head Foreign Relations, an action that left the opposition frustrated and bitter.  A contemporary analyst noted that “dangerous friction between executive and legislative branches in the years 1945-1947 presage further deterioration in the chances of ultimate successful operation unless both branches cooperate earnestly to give meaning to the Constitution.”[31]But the problem was not only that of a lack of good will on the part of political adversaries, which was undoubtedly in short supply, with demagogic scandal-mongering and irresponsible oppositionism the order of the day, but also structural, the consequence of a “confused” division of authority between the president and the congress over the cabinet.[32]

 

Two other structural problems in the 1940 Constitution are worth mentioning.  One, shared with many others in Latin America, prohibited the immediate reelection of the president, but allowed him to run again after two terms had elapsed.[33]  One can expect such a rule to have two effects.  One, in his first term the president or his supporters will spend some of his political capital over a scheme to amend the constitution to allow him to run for reelection.  Two, if this stratagem fails, following the end of his term the former president will not abandon the spotlight completely, but from time to time will call attention to himself, hoping for a comeback. Nor he will let go the reins of his political party.[34]

This appears to have happened in the case of President Grau San Martín, elected in 1944.  First, he intrigued to amend the constitution.  That went nowhere, it having met with opposition even from within his party, the Auténticos.  So, after vacating the presidential palace he lost no time in criticizing his successor, Carlos PríoSocarrás, a former protégé, expressing regret at having “‘made’” him president and characterizing him as an “‘unfaithful disciple’.”[35]   That set the two men at loggerheads.  For his part, Batista, who had won a senate seat in 1948, and was eligible for election to the presidency in 1952, entered the race.  A May 1951 survey showed him trailing badly, with only 20 percent of respondents favoring his candidacy. Less than a year later the Auténticos still outnumbered Batista’s party two to one among registered voters.[36]  Three months before the election, Batista staged a coup.

If it is a mistake to prohibit presidential reelection—andI believe it is—theerror is only compounded by allowing the president to try again after sitting out one or two terms.  Better to limit the president to one sole term, as is done in Mexico, than having him wait in the wings until he is eligible to run again.But it is preferable to allow at least one reelection.  As Alexander Hamilton put it in Federalist 72, “re-eligibility”

is necessary to give to the officer himself the inclination and the resolution to act his part well, and to the community time and leisure to observe the tendency of his measures, and thence to form an experimental estimate of their merits.  The last is necessary to enable the people, when they see reason to approve of his conduct, to continue him in his station, in order to prolong the utility of his talents and virtues, and to secure to the government the advantage of permanency in a wise system of administration.[37]

The last organic problem in the 1940 Constitution I will take up has to do with the organization of provinces.  It provided for the election of a governor, but not of a provincial assembly.  Rather, a provincial council, made up of all the mayors of the province, was to exercise the legislative power.  It was given authority to draw up a budget, to be financed by assessing each member municipality a quota in proportion to its revenues.  In this aspect, the provincial government resembled a confederal arrangement.  Not having read any studies of their operations, I have no empirical knowledge how the provincial governments worked in practice.  However, my guess is that they were plagued by collective action and free-rider problems that are the bane of  confederations, i.e., indifference or shirking on the part of many of their members, great difficulty in getting them to agree to undertake projects of common interest, and many municipalities falling in arrears with their financial obligations. 

That said, and without minimizing the seriousness of these organic flaws, the Cuban Constitution of 1940 amounted to an earnest attempt to decentralize authority in a manner that is consistent with consensual democracy.  Specifically, it provided for a bi-cameral congress, judicial review, an electoral tribunal administered by the judiciary, a Tribunal de Cuentas (a national inspector of accounts charged with auditing the books of all government entities), and municipal autonomy.  At a time when most of Latin America and Europe were under the thrall of one dictatorship or another or rent by political conflict, this was no mean feat. As Hugh Thomas put it, “The new Constitution was one of the most serious political achievements of the Cubans, and it was achieved as a result of an unusual degree of cooperation between the different politicians.”[38]

A Proposed Constitutional Framework.[39]

In this section, I present a constitutional framework for a free Cuba. I begin with a set of working assumptions.  First, that in Cuba, as elsewhere in Latin America, it would be futile to attempt to introduce a parliamentary system.  The constitution will be presidential.  Second, that the Cuban state will be unitary, not federal.[40]  And third, that the new republican regime will restore the six historic provinces of Pinar del Río, La Habana, Matanzas, Las Villas, Camagüey, and Oriente.[41]  This would be desirable for a number of reasons, not least that these units would be large enough, in area or population, to support strong regional governments that, collectively, would function as an effective counterpoise to the national level.  A related advantage derived from their size is that, if the provinces were made coterminous with electoral districts, these would be of sufficient magnitude to reduce the probability of electoral disproportionality.[42]

In a unitary republic, it is meet to begin with the national government.  Here authority is to be partitioned into overlapping branches, legislative, executive, and judicial.  As in the 1940 Constitution, the legislative power, including the power to tax and spend, would be vested in a bicameral congress, composed of a lower house (cámara de representantes) and a senate (senado).  The congress would also have the power to impeach the president, vice-president, all cabinet and sub-cabinet officers, as well as all judges, but only for cause. 

To be eligible for election, candidates for all legislative offices would be required to be Cuban citizens.[43]To run for congress, a candidate for the cámara would have to be 25 years or older, and for the senate 30. The cámara would consist of 125 members,[44] known as representantes apportioned to the provinces according to population.[45]The representatives would be elected to a three-year term[46] according to a system of proportional representation by party list,[47] the province serving as an electoral district.[48]The terms would be staggered, one third of the cámarabeing up for reelection every year.[49]There would be no limit on reelection.  The parties would have to receive at least five percent of the provincial vote to elect any members. 

The senate would consist of 36 members, six from each province, elected at large, to a six-year term.[50]  The terms would be staggered so that every year one-sixth of the senators, one per province, would be up for reelection.[51]  Any candidate who comes first with more than 40 percent of the provincial vote is declared the winner; if no candidate crosses that threshold, within a month a second round would be held between the two top vote getters.Again, there would be no limit to reelection.

Legislation could originate in either the cámara or the senate, except for expenditure and revenue bills, which would have to be voted out of the lower house first.  In both chambers, a simple majority of the membership would constitute a quorum. To be enacted into law, a bill would have to be approved by both houses. Differences between the two versions of the same bill would have to be ironed out in conference.  A three-fifths vote in both chambers would override the president’s veto.  All cabinet departments and agencies not specifically mentioned in the constitution would be established by law. Their employees would be required to testify under oath regarding the performance of their duties when called upon to do so before either branch of congress.

Additional congressional checks on executive power would be divided between the two houses as follows.  All appointments (but not their dismissal) to the president’s cabinet,except for four reserved for the senate,would need approval by the cámara.  Appointments to the departments of foreign affairs, interior (police), justice, and treasury,and to the boards of autonomous agencies (more about these below), as well as ambassadorships, and promotion of military officers to the rank of general (and their equivalent in the air force, navy, other armed services, and national police), would require confirmation by the senate.  So would appointments to the highest courts.  Also, all treaties with foreign nations would need senate ratification by a two-thirds vote of those present.[52]Impeachments would originate in the cámaraby majority vote and trial would be conducted by the senate, with the chief justice of the Supreme Court presiding, conviction requiring a two-thirds vote.

 

The executive power would be vested in a president, elected in a nation-wide popular vote for a three-year term. To be eligible for election, a candidate would have to be at least 40 years old. The president would be eligible for reelection three more times, either sequentially or after a break, for a maximum tenure in office of twelve years.[53]As with elections to the senate, any candidate who comes first with more than 40 percent of the vote is declared the winner; if no candidate crosses that threshold, within a month a second round would be held between the two top vote getters.[54]Along with the president, a vice-president of the same party or coalition of parties would also be elected on the same ticket.  The vice-president would have to meet the same qualifications as the president, and would assume the presidency in case of death, resignation, or disability of the president.

The president would be charged with “faithfully executing the laws,” act as commander in chief of the armed forces and national police, be responsible for conducting foreign affairs, and subject to senate confirmation make appointments to the cabinet, ambassadorships, the autonomous agencies, and the courts.

On the other hand, the president’s legislative power would be limited to a moderate veto (congress could override with a three-fifths vote of both houses), which must be cast within ten working days of congress having sent him a bill.  He would not have line-item veto authority:  any bill would have to be vetoed in its entirety or not at all.  Concerning “pocket” vetoes, this would be discouraged by the following rule:  any bill sent to the president fewer than ten days before the congress adjourns, which he neither signs nor vetoes, becomes law if, within three months of the new session of congress, it passes both houses by simple majority vote.  The president would be explicitly prohibited from issuing decrees except for the express purpose of implementing a law or judicial decision, regulating a statute as provided for by congress, or arranging the internal administration of the executive branch, narrowly conceived, and then again never contrary to law.  In other words, “the authority of the executive to establish laws in lieu of action by the assembly”[55] would be nil.

 

As for the budget, the president would be required to submit a proposal nine months before the start of the new fiscal year, but it would be up to the congress to decide what, if any, of the president’s plan to adopt in one or more revenue and expenditure bills.  Neither would the congress have to wait for the president’s budget to consider revenue and appropriations bills.  This would reduce the executive’s strategic advantage over fiscal policy, an advantage derivative from his having the budgetary initiative, as is the case in many countries,[56] including the 1940 Cuban Constitution.  

The judicial power would be vested in the courts, to consist of ordinary tribunals established by law,[57] capped by a supreme court, and one constitutional court.  The former would be the final court of appeals in law and equity in civil and criminal cases. Questions regarding the constitutionality of any law, decree, ordinance, or regulation issued by any level of government, or of judgments rendered by the supreme court, would fall under the jurisdiction of the constitutional court.  Appointments to these two bodies would be made by the president, subject to senate confirmation.  To be eligible, candidates would be required to have a law degree from any accredited university in the world and be at least 40 years old.  There would be a mandatory retirement age of 70.  Both courts would consist of ten members, nine associate justices and a chief justice.  Except for the chief justice, whose appointment would extend until retirement, the term of office would be nine years, renewable once.  In both the supreme and constitutional court, the chief justice would chair meetings and would have voice but no vote except to break a tie.  All judicial appointments would be staggered so that one-third of the membership would be up for reappointment every three years.[58]

A number of autonomous agencies would be charged with administering a range of public responsibilities. The following would have constitutional standing:  an electoral tribunal, a Tribunal de Cuentas, the central bank, and university boards of trustees.  The electoral tribunal would be charged with voter registration, administering elections, certifying winners, and apportioning seats to parties according to the proportional representation formula specified by congress.The Tribunal de Cuentaswould be charged with auditing government accounts at all levels, national ones annually and provincial and local ones at least biennially, something it would either do itself or contract out to CPA firms, reporting its findings to congress and making them available to the press and the public.  The central bank would be charged with safeguarding the value of the currency so that it is not eroded by inflation.  Public universities would be governed by boards of trustees that would set policy, appoint top administrators and generally oversee their operations.  (There would be no prohibition against provincial or private universities.)Except for the supreme electoral tribunal, these agencies would each be governed by a nine-member board appointed by the president with the consent of the senate, for staggered, nine-year terms, with one-third of the membership renewable every three years, with reappointment possible for another term, sequentially or after a break.  For its part, the supreme electoral tribunal would be governed by a nine-member board appointed by the constitutional court for the same length of term and schedule for staggering appointments as those applicable to itself.  The congress would be free to create additional autonomous agencies by law. 

 

Below the national government, there would be provincial governments and municipalities.  Both the provincial and the local governments would have legislative and fiscal autonomy, subject to the following constraints.  On the revenue side, taxes over exports and imports would be the exclusive prerogative of the national government, and in taxing (and regulating) industry and commerce provincial and local governments would be prohibited from discriminating between items produced or sold within their jurisdictions and those without.  On the expenditure side, the national government could mandate provinces or local governments to provide for schools, water and sewers, public health, environmental protection, and other items the neglect of which at the regional or local level would have adverse national impact.  To ensure at least minimal compliance with national mandates, provincial or local officials who ignore or flatly refuse to carry them out would be subject to civil suits and liable to judicially-imposed fines.[59]  However, one would expect that the national government would rather rely on a fiscal carrot, offering grants-in-aid and similar subsidies to persuade recalcitrant provincial or local governments to comply.  Another means would be for the congress to hold hearings on the state of public services in jurisdictions that are grossly under-performing, something which would attract unfavorable publicity and, presumably, negative electoral consequences for the officials responsible.

Other than that, provinces and municipalities would be free to levy taxes on property, income, sales or consumption, charge user fees for any service, and borrow money by issuing bonds, subject only to such regulations as are deemed necessary to guarantee transparency in all their financial transactions and to pay off creditors in case of default.[60]  Similarly, over and beyond that required to fulfill national mandates, provinces and municipalities would be free to spend their revenues for any purpose that finds favor with the voters.  All provincial and municipal accounts would be subject to at least biennial auditing by the Tribunal de Cuentas or by CPA firms contracted by it for the purpose.     

 

Provincial governments would consist of an elected unicameral assembly, which would exercise legislative power, and an elected governor charged with executing the laws.  Half of the assembly would be elected from single-member districts and the other half by proportional representation to provincial party lists subject to a five percent threshold.[61]Single-member districts would be drawn following the contours of municipal boundaries.  Several municipalities of few inhabitants could be combined into one district, and one populous municipality divided into two or more districts, but in no case would a district be drawn with parts of two or more municipalities.  This would reduce the opportunity for incumbents to gerrymander districts.  All municipalities would be governed by a council or commission (elected by proportional representation, at large, or from districts, or some combination of the three) and either an elected mayor or an administrator appointed by and responsible to the council.

Within these constraints, each province would be free to draw up a charter to govern its own affairs, subject to approval by referendum of the residents of the province, on the one hand, and by the senate, on the other.  Similarly, each municipality would draw up its own charter subject to approval, on the one hand by its residents and, on the other, by the corresponding provincial assembly.  Also, municipalities may, by referendum, extend or contract their boundaries according to rules established by the provincial government. Provincial and municipal charters might include a provision for provincial and local courts, respectively, with jurisdiction over their own legislation or ordinances, or either or both levels may opt to rely on the ordinary national tribunals to interpret and adjudicate their own laws, regulations, or ordinances.  In either case, all decisions made by provincial and local tribunals would be appealable to the national judiciary. 

The electoral calendar would follow a three-year, staggered cycle of terms.  To begin the cycle, elections for all offices would be held simultaneously in the first year.[62]  The president, all provincial governors and mayors, and one-third of all legislators (senators, representatives, and municipal councilors) chosen by lot would serve a full term. At the end of the first year, one-third of all legislators chosen by lot would face the voters, and those elected would serve a full term.  The same process would be followed at the end of the second year with another third of all legislators chosen by lot. At the end of the third year, the president, all governors and mayors, and the remaining one-third of all legislators would be up for reelection. 

 

To amend the constitution, two options would be available.  One, initiated “from above,” would be by a two-thirds vote of both houses of congress, followed by a popular referendum, with a three-fifths margin required for enactment.  The other, initiated “from below,” would be for two-thirds of the provincial assemblies, each by a two-thirds vote, to endorse an identically worded proposed amendment, followed by a popular referendum at the next election, with a three-fifths vote required for enactment.  A transitory provision would stipulate that, upon completion of two full election cycles for the senate, i.e., in thetwelfth year, the votersby a three-fifths vote would decide whether to maintain the schedule of staggered terms or thenceforth to hold elections at all levels concurrently every three years.  If this amendment were adopted, senate terms would be staggered so that half its membership would be renewed every three years. 

Analysis and justification.

Although it does not fit it perfectly, several of the principal elements of the proposed constitution match those of a consensual type. These are: a legislature not dominated by the executive; a bicameral national congress, with the branches roughly equal in authority, elected according to different rules and for varying lengths of term; proportional representation in the lower house of congress; equal representation of the provinces in the senate; an independent constitutional court to which a relatively rigid constitution is entrusted; an independent central bank; additional autonomous agencies; and vertical decentralization, with elected provincial and local governments enjoying local autonomy.

 

Several features are sufficiently unusual or controversial as to require justification.  Frequent elections are desirable for a number of reasons.  For one thing, elections function as the linchpin of a republican regime, the pivot on which government policy moves in response to public opinion. In the ratification debates, one of the objections of the anti-federalistswas that the proposed constitution did not provide for annual elections for congress.[63] A problem with their argument was that it failed to distinguish between the length of term of an office and the frequency of elections. By staggering the terms of all legislative offices in the manner proposed here, the framework combines the best of both worlds: a sufficiently long term in office for stability and continuity in government, along with annual input from the electorate.  The latter feature should keep in check any majority’s tendency to exceed their mandate, as Erickson, MacKuen and Stimson found to be the case in the United States.[64]  Policy is more likely to be adjusted or fine-tuned in response to quick feedback from the public. Second, after more than two thirds of a century of dictatorship Cubans need to acquire, in relatively short order, the habits and skills of republicanism. Annual elections would speed up the learning process.[65]  Third, frequent elections hold out hope to the losers of any one contest of victory in the next.  They are much more likely to accept defeat graciously, something that contributes to legitimating the regime, if, having lost at one level, they can look forward to a new election at another level shortly thereafter. Thus, a losing presidential candidate can seek election to the senate the following year. Similarly, those who fail to win a seat in the senate or the lower house can contest another seat in either house of congress or look to provincial or local opportunities the very next year.  Again, with only one-third of all legislative seats up for election every year, the constitution strikes a balance between stability and change in government personnel and, hence, in policy.

 

A senate with fewer members than the number provided for in the 1940 Constitution (36 vs. 54), elected for longer (six years vs. four), staggered terms, so that one senator per province (one sixth of the total) comes up for renewal every year needs defending. First, the size, length of term, and schedule of senatorial elections are all meant to endow this body with sufficient authority, prestige, and independence, and the individual senators with enough stature so as to make the office an attractive alternative to the presidency for ambitious politicians.  Ambitious politicians whose hunger for political recognition cannot be easily satiated but for whom the presidency is an improbable attainment, as it must be for all but a handful of aspirants every three or four decades, should find a senatorial career to be a satisfying one.[66]In turn, their ambition (and jealousy, too)would be harnessed into providing checks on the inordinate pretensions on the part of an overweening executive.  As James Madison put it in Federalist 51, for a system of checks and balances to be effective in practice, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition.”[67]More positively, channeling political ambition into a senate career would harness talent and energy into legislating and overseeing long-term public interests in the areas of foreign policy, the armed forces and national police, taxation and revenue, the currency, the justice system, higher education, in short, in all areas governed or regulated by institutions to which presidential appointments require senate concurrence. 

As to senate terms being staggered so that one-sixth or one per province is renewed every year, this would amount, in effect, to electing senators from single-member districts. This would tend to reduce the number of effective parties represented in that chamber, balancing the multi-party system that by design[68] is likely to emerge in the cámara, elected on a proportional representation system.  Also, at- large elections would allow for extraordinary persons who have distinguished themselves in other walks of life and have not previously been involved in internal party politics to make an independent run.  Such potential competition from independents would help prevent political parties from taking the voters for granted.  In short, the senate as conceived here would be a prestigious body, worthy of the cravings for distinction on the part of spirited individuals, something which would lend necessary ballast to the ship of state and function as an effective counterpoise to the executive even as it remains uniquely in tune with public opinion by annual electoral infusion into the chamber.[69]

As for equal representation in the senate by provinces that differ in population size, it need be said, first, that the ratio of the largest to the smallest of the pre-Castro Cuban provinces, Oriente and Pinar del Rio, respectively, is only about 6:1. This is nothing like the disparity in the United States, where California is 76 times larger than Wyoming. More to the point, though, equal representation in the senate takes into account the fact that a country or nation is not like one gigantic bag offreely rolling marbles that tilts this way or that in response to shifts in direction of the larger number. Rather, it consists of people who live and work in specific locations, eachwith its own distinctive geography, environment and social networks, to which they feel various degrees of emotional attachment.[70]To capture this plurality, a consensual constitution incorporates more than one principle of representation.[71]Thus, along with the principle of one person-one vote built into the election of the cámara and the presidency,[72] what for a lack of a better term one might call the federalist or corporatist principle is given electoral expression in the senate.  

It may be objected that having legislative elections every year will interfere with the process of governing.  One might surmise that the president and his party, on the one hand, and opposition parties represented in the congress, on the other, would be at constant loggerheads, seeking maximum electoral advantage from every disagreement or confrontation over policy.  Engaged in a permanent electoral campaign, they would be less likely to compromise over issues that divide them.  The plausibility of such a hypothesis led me to ask Professor Mark P. Jones to see if he could find a relationship between election year and executive-legislative conflict in his data set.  He graciously agreed to my request, and reported the results by e-mail:  "There was no statistically significant difference in the level of executive‑legislative conflict between election years and non‑election years for the analysis population of Latin American democracies during the 1980s and 1990s."[73]  This finding cannot be viewed as anything but tentative.  Nevertheless, it is at least reassuring to know that the test came out negative, that empirical evidence on executive-legislative conflict in one statistical test applied to Latin America over two decades does not lend ready support to what is otherwise an entirely plausible hypothesis.  In any case, if these results do not put the issue to rest, the fact that only a third of the lower house and one-sixth of the senate would be up for grabs every year may very well ameliorate the phenomenon, if it indeed exists.

 

A three-year term for all elected offices, including the executive (butexcepting the senate) is short by world standards and goes against the grain of Latin American practice. As far as I know, only Australia, New Zealand, and Sweden have tried it.By contrast, two-thirds of Latin American countries have adopted a five or six year presidential term. Yet, the advantages of a three-year presidential term are manifest.[74] If the incumbent makes wrong decisions, and loses public support, the nation is not saddled with an unpopular and hence weak executive for long.  Also, if congress and president reach an impasse, the stalemate will be short-lived, thus reducing the risk of the government becoming mired in chronic “immobilism,” one of the allegedly potential pitfalls of presidential regimes.[75]Furthermore, requiring the president to be endorsed by the voters within three years of his having been elected would contribute to his keeping in mind where the source of his authority lies. Instilling humility into presidents, who tend to be short on this virtue, would be desirable.

 

A last advantage of a three-year term is that it reduces the cost of presidential reelection.  That this is a sensitive subject in Cuban history is evident from the extremely difficult procedure which the 1940 Constitution stipulates before the clause prohibiting presidential reelection can be changed.  Twice in the nation’s history a revolt broke out when the incumbent president attempted reelection or to extend his term of office.  The traditional Cuban aversion to continuismo cannot but have become stronger after the seemingly interminable Castroite dictatorship, a dubious Latin American record.[76]Nevertheless, for the reasons offered when discussing the Constitution of 1940, I believe that, on balance, it is more prudent to allow reelection than to proscribe it.  By limiting the presidential term to three years, and keeping in mind that the proposed framework contemplates both a reduction of the president’s powers relative to the congress and autonomous agencies and a senate worthy of political ambition, presidential reelection should be less threatening to the opposition.  Lastly, to allow presidential reelection is not to guarantee it.  Nothing is more likely to deflate the pretensions of presidents and would-be presidents than an occasional defeat of one of their number in his bid for reelection.

            In summary, the constitutional framework proposed here combines several principles of institutional design and representation, hopefully for best effect. Although encased in a unitary design, the provinces and localities enjoy considerable autonomy to act within their respective spheres.  Horizontally, the division of powers across the traditional constitutional offices of executive, a bicameral legislature, and a judiciary is extended to include a constitutional court and several independent agencies, including a central bank, an auditing organ, and public universities.  The design incorporates two principles of representation, proportional and federal or corporate, and are held frequently in both single- and multi-member districts at several levels of government, municipal, provincial, and national.  Elected by proportional representation in provincial party-lists with a five percent threshold, the lower house of congress would likely include several parties reflecting multiple shades of opinion and interests, including many minority views. Majoritarian interests general to a province would find their voice in the senate, and those across the entire nation in the presidency.  The mode of election of the latter would satisfy the object of “counter[ing] the potentially disaggregating effects of legislative and subnational competition.”[77] With half of their membership elected by proportional representation and half from single member districts, the same combination of territorial and ideological interests would be fashioned in the provincial assemblies, with the governor providing the majoritarian counterweight.  A multi-party system is likely to emerge as a result.  My guess is that over time two or three large, multi-issue parties will take in most of the votes and an equal number of smaller parties, some with an occupational or strictly regional or local coloring will divide up the rest, thus giving expression to a wide variety and scale of opinions and interests.[78]

The analysis of the proposed framework would not be complete without a systematic comparison of its key provisions with those of the Constitution of 1940.  This is shown in the Appendix.  There are parallels as well as differences between the two designs.  Taking the correspondences first:  like the 1940 Constitution, the proposed framework calls for a presidential, bicameral, and unitary regime.  It provides for separation of powers and checks and balances between the executive and legislative branches, judicial review, a supreme electoral tribunal beyond executive or legislative control, an independent Tribunal de Cuentas, provincial governments, and municipal autonomy.  Both are difficult to amend.  Thus, in form, the two designs are very similar.

 

Substantively, however, the proposed framework is more consensual, taking the horizontal separation and vertical division of powers much farther than the 1940 Constitution.  The most important departures from the 1940 Constitution are the following.  First, the features characteristic of the “presidential-parliamentary”constitutional type are done away with in favor or a pure presidential regime, one where the survival of the cabinet is independent of the legislature (except in cases of impeachment).  Second, the president is elected by a qualified plurality vote for a three-year term, with reelection for up to three more terms permitted.  Third, the lower house of congress is electedfor a staggered, three-year term while the senate is elected for a six-year term, staggered so that every year one senator per province is elected.  Fourth, such functions as judicial review, the administration of elections, and a central bank, all contemplated in the 1940 Constitution, are placed in separate, specialized, autonomous institutions.  Fifth, a full-fledged provincial government—withan elected assembly and an elected governor—isprovided for, and both provincial and municipal governments are granted greater autonomy.  Finally, appointments to the supreme and constitutional courts would not be for life but for fixed, renewable terms.[79]

Conclusion.

The constitutional framework proposed in this paper is intended to promote the establishment and development of a presidential democracy in post-Castro Cuba which, although necessarily majoritarian in some aspects, incorporates many elements associated with consensual democracy.  In form, the design parallels the Cuban Constitution of 1940 in most respects, an attribute that should enhance its palatability.  Substantively, the proposed framework retains the better features found in the 1940 design while remedying its structural flaws, and introduces certain innovations designed to make for a more perfect democracy.  It is hoped that this proposal will contribute to discussion and debate pursuant to the crafting of a magna carta for a free Cuba.

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Appendix I

Suggested Framework Compared to the 1940 Cuban Constitution

Item

 

Cuban Constitution

 

Suggested Framework

 

Regime

unitary, presidential, bi-cameral

Same

Congress: mode of election

lower house elected from each of six provinces, one per 35,000 inhabitants,

for four-year staggered terms, one-half renewed every two years; candidates

must be at least 21 years of age

125 member lower house elected from each of six provinces, for a three-year term, by proportional representation, with minimum threshold set at five percent of the vote; candidates must be at least 25 years of age

 

upper house composed of nine senators from each of six provinces, for a total of 54, elected on same day, for a four-year term; candidates must be at least 30

years old; minority parties allowed representation [subsequently interpreted by the electoral code so that six senators went to the majority party and three to minority parties]

upper house composed of six senators from each of six provinces, for a total of 36, for staggered, six-year terms, one senator elected from each province every year; candidates must be at least 30 years old

Congress:

power of impeachment 

lower house has power to impeach the president by a vote of 2/3 of its membership; trial conducted in the senate, joined by members of the supreme court, and presided by its chief justice [with verdict reached presumably by majority vote]

lower house has power to impeach the president by majority vote; trial conducted in the senate, chief justice of the supreme court presiding; 2/3 vote of senate membership required for conviction

Congress:

vote of no confidence

either house, by a vote of an absolute majority of its membership, may register a vote of no-confidence in a cabinet minister or the whole cabinet, which requires immediate resignation by one or all, as the case may be

N.A.

Congress:

unique powers of lower house

has priority in discussion and approval of the budget of the nation

all revenue and spending bills must be voted out of this chamber first;

Congress:

power of the senate

approves heads of diplomatic missions and treaties with other nations negotiated by the president; approves all appointments to cabinet except for Foreign Affairs, Justice, National Police, and Defense

approves presidential appointments of heads of diplomatic missions, other ambassadors, and treaties with other nations negotiated by the president; approves all appointments to the departments of Foreign Affairs, Defense, Justice, and Interior (police);  Supreme Court, the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the Tribunal of Accounts, the Central Bank, university boards of regents, other autonomous institutions established by law; promotions in rank to general or its equivalent

Congress:   overriding veto

by 2/3 vote of both houses

by 3/5 vote of both houses

President:  mode of election

elected by the provinces for a four-year term, the candidate receiving a plurality in a province being credited with a number of provincial votes equal to the total of senators and representatives to be elected from that province, the candidate receiving the largest number of provincial votes being elected; immediate reelection not allowed; to run again, a president must sit out two consecutive terms; candidates must be at least 35 years old

elected by the nation at large for a three-year term; if the first-place winner receives more than 45% of the vote, he is declared the winner; if not, a run-off is held between the two top vote-getters in the first round; reelection allowed consecutively or after a break for a maximum number of four terms in office; candidates must be at least 40 years old

President: legislative power

may introduce bills in congress; can veto bills; “pocket” veto is not allowed: if the congress will adjourn less than ten days after submitting a bill to the president, and he intends to veto it, he must communicate to the congress his intentions within 48 hours, so that the congress may stay in session and vote to override; if the president does not inform the congress, the bill becomes law without his signature

can veto bills subject to override by congress; line-item veto not allowed, the president must veto entire bill or not at all; neither is “pocket”veto permissible:  any bill sent to the president less than ten days before the congress adjourns, which he neither signs nor vetoes, becomes law if, within three months of the new session of congress, it passes both houses by simple majority vote. 

President:

decree powers

to issue decrees and orders advisable for the purpose of executing the laws and for whatever is pertinent to the government and administration of the State, without in any case contravening what is established by law

to issue decrees and orders only for the purpose of executing laws duly enacted by congress, to implement judicial rulings, and what concerns the internal administration of the executive branch, narrowly construed, without in any case contravening what is established by law

President:

budget power

sixty days before it is due to take effect, he presents the house with a budget; the congress may not increase funding of any of existing services beyond what is planned by the executive; nor may it abolish any “permanent”tax without enacting another in its place or reducing expenditures proportionately

the president is required to submit a proposed budget nine months before the start of the new fiscal year, but it is up to the congress to decide what, if any, of the president’s plan to adopt in one or more revenue and expenditure bills; there are no restrictions on congressional authority to increase or decrease taxes or expenditures   

Cabinet

president “freely” appoints and removes members of the cabinet, including a prime minister who represents the government to congress; the cabinet is responsible to congress, and members of the cabinet, individually and collectively, are subject to a vote of no confidence by either house of congress, which requires their resignation; members of congress may serve in the cabinet, and vote in their respective chambers

president appoints, with approval of the lower house, members of the cabinet, and is free to remove them; no member of congress may serve in the cabinet without resigning his seat first; no prime minister

Supreme Court: mode of appointment

members of the court appointed by the president from a list of three names proposed by an electoral college appointed for the purpose by the supreme court, the president, and the law faculty of the University of Havana; chief justice and chiefs of sections shall be appointed by the president on proposal of the full bench of the supreme court with approval of the senate

appointed by the president with the approval of the senate

Supreme Court:

qualifying age and length of term

must be 40 years old, appointed for life

must be 40 years old, appointed by president with senate approval; nine members appointed for staggered terms of nine years, with reappointment possible for another term (plus a chief justice, who is appointed for life); mandatory retirement at 70

Constitutional Court

supreme court doubles as constitutional court in one of its sections

a separate institution, appointed in the same manner and length of term as the supreme court

Supreme Electoral Tribunal

composed of three justices of the supreme court and two from the Havana court of appeals, named for a period of four years by the full bench of their respective courts

a separate institution, governed by a nine-member board appointed by the constitutional court for the same length of term and rules for staggering appointments as those applicable to itself

Tribunal           of Accounts

composed of seven members, four attorneys and three accountants (or business professors); the supreme court appoints two of the lawyer members, the president and senate one lawyer and one accountant each, and the university council one accountant or professor of business; appointed for a term of eight years; lawyers must be 40 years old and accountants 35

composed of nine members, six certified public accountants or university professors of business and three attorneys, appointed by the president with approval of the senate, for staggered terms of nine years, with reappointment possible for another term, for a maximum length of service of 18 years; must be 40 years old

Central Bank

a National Bank of Cuba will be established; at the time of its creation, the State may require that existing banks contribute to its capital; those who comply with this requirement will be represented in its board of directors

a central bank is charged with safeguarding the value of the currency so that it is not eroded by inflation; it will be governed by a nine-member board appointed by the president with the consent of the senate, for staggered, nine-year terms, with one third of the membership renewable every three years, with reappointment possible for another term, for a maximum length of tenure of 18 years; must be 40 years old

Provincial government

an elected governor and a provincial council composed of all the mayors of the province; fiscal powers are subject to conditions, such as, in certain cases, approval by the Tribunal de Cuentas or popular referendum

an elected governor and an elected assembly, each elected for a three-year term. 1/3 of the assembly elected every year; each province will draw up its own governing charter, subject to approval by the senate; complete fiscal autonomy, except for periodic audits by the Tribunal de Cuentas, laws designed to insure financial transparency and protect creditors in case of default, and prohibition of taxes levied on imports, exports, or taxes and regulations that discriminate between products produced or sold within and those without the province

Local government

the municipality is an autonomous entity; it can draw up its own charter, as long as it fits one of three possible models (commission, council-manager or mayor-council) subject to approval by referendum; fiscal powers are subject to restrictions similar to those imposed on the provinces; municipal elections will be held on a day different from that of general elections

the municipality is an autonomous entity; it can draw up its own charter subject to referendum and approval by the provincial assembly; complete fiscal autonomy, except for the same restrictions applicable to the provinces; one third of council seats elected every year concurrently with the same fraction of the provincial assembly, the lower house of congress, and 1/6 of the senate

Constitutional

amendment

two ways to enact most reforms to the constitution: (a) by petition from at least 100,000 voters, whereupon the congress will meet in joint session and within thirty days convoke the election of a constituent assembly or a referendum; (b) by congressional initiative, by petition from at least one-fourth of the joint membership of congress, whereupon it takes a 2/3 vote of congress, meeting jointly, during three sessions in a row; certain reforms, such as one negating national sovereignty, or removing prohibition against reelection or  extending the term of office are even more difficult to pass

two ways to enact constitutional amendments: (a) “from above”: a two-thirds vote of both houses of congress, followed by a popular referendum, with a three-fifths required for enactment; (b) “from below”: two-thirds of the provincial assemblies endorse a proposed amendment by a two-thirds vote of their respective memberships, followed by a popular referendum, with three-fifth  vote required for enactment

         

Appendix II.

Apportioning Cámara Members to Pre-Castro Provinces

Province

Population

Members

Election (7)

Pinar del Río (1)

594,560

9

3

La Habana (2)

3,079,133

33

11

Matanzas (3)

670,427

9

3

Las Villas (4)

1,672,906

18

6

Camagüey (5)

1,270,409

15

5

Oriente (6)

3,912,657

41

13 or 14

       

Total

11,200,092

125

 

Notes:

(1) Approximately the same as the present-day province.

(2) Includes the present-day city of Havana along with current Mayabeque, Isla de la Juventud [i.e., Isla de Pinos], and the following municipalities of Artemisa Province: Alquizar, Artemisa, Bauta, Caimito, Guanajay, Güira de Melena, Mariel, and San Antonio de los Baños.

(3) Approximately the same as the present-day province.

(4) Includes present-day Provinces of Cienfuegos, Villa Clara and Sancti Spíritus.

(5) Includes present-day provinces of Camagüey and Ciego de Ávila, and two municipalities of South-Western Las Tunas: Amancio and Colombia.

(6) Includes the remainder of present-day Las Tunas as well as Granma, Holguín, Santiago de Cuba and Guantánamo.

(7) Number of representatives elected annually. 

 

ENDNOTES

[1]  This a substantially revised and expanded version of a paper that was presented at the 10th annual meeting of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE), Coral Gables, FL, August 3-5, 2000. The original appeared in the conference’s proceedings, Cuba in Transition, Volume 10, pp. 399-416. I have made important changes to the original proposal, the most significant having to do with the electoral cycle.

A number of scholars read the original or this version of the essay, and gave me the benefit of their comments and encouragement, or their criticism: Charles W. Anderson, John M. Carey, Juan del Aguila, Mark P. Jones, Arend Lijphart, Juan L. López, David Myers, David Ramsey, Mario Rivera, James A. Robinson, and Mauricio Solaún. Although nearly all of them disagreed strongly with at least one element in this framework, they deserve my thanks, even as they are exempt from responsibility for any errors of fact or insufficient political sagacity on my part. Thanks, also, to graduate assistant Erica Evans for proofreading the text, building the bibliography from the notes, and reconfiguring the pre-Castro Cuban political map for the purpose of apportioning members of the cámara to the six historical provinces in proportion to what their respective populations would be today.

[2] Distinguished University Professor of Political Science at The University of West Florida. 

[3]Freedom House has been classifying regimes according to these criteria since the 1970s. In 2013, Cuba is the only country in the entire Western Hemisphere that it classified as “Not Free.” https://www.freedomhouse.org/report-types/freedom-world

[4] Aristotle, The Politics(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 94-95.  Edmund Burke was another champion of a mixed constitution, one, however, that grows organically, so as “to unite into a consistent whole the various anomalies and contending principles that are found in the minds and affairs of men.” See his Reflections on the Revolution in France, New York, Viking Penguin, 1969, p. 281.

[6] Giovanni Sartori, Comparative Constitutional Engineering.  An Inquiry into Structures, Incentives and Outcomes, New York University Press, 1994, p. 202.

[7] The contrary assumption, that “constitutions do not matter, that free societies result from societal pluralism far more than from constitutional contrivance” is dismissed as “the behavioral absurdity” by Sartori, Comparative Constitutional Engineering,p.200.

[8]  See, in particular, ArendLijphart, Patterns of Democracy.  Government Forms and Performance in Thirty-Six Countries (Yale University Press, 1999); Matthew SobergShugart and John M. Carey, Presidents and Assemblies.  Constitutional Design and Electoral Dynamic(Cambridge University Press, 1992).  Recent research has included more fine-grained analysis of these issues.  See RenskeDoorenspleet, “Which Type of Democracy Performs Best?” ActaPolitica, 48, 3 (2013), 237-267.

[9] On the significance of founding moments, see Seymour Martin Lipset, Continental Divide.  The Values and Institutions of the United States and Canada (New York: Routledge, 1990).

[10]Alexander Hamilton, “Number 1.” https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed01.asp

[11]Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America (New York: Everyman’s Library, 1972), p. 321.

[12] Robert D. Putnam, Making Democracy Work.  Civic Traditions in Modern Italy (Princeton University Press, 1993), pp. 58-60.

[13]  A supposition as old as Plato’s Republic, running through the works of Aristotle, Locke, Rousseau, Burke, de Tocqueville, and Mill, down to the “neo-institutionalists”of today. 

[14] For a positive assessment of this form, see Quentin L. Quade, “Democracies-To-Be: Getting it Right the First Time,”Freedom at Issue,  113 (1990), pp. 4-7.

[15]Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy, Chapters 2-3 and 14-17.

[16]Ibid, p. 302. Lijphart’s analysis and recommendations, particularly electing the legislature by proportional representation and organizing coalition cabinets, has not gone unchallenged. See the “debate” between him and his critics published in Journal of Democracy, 2 (3), 1991:  Guy Lardeyret, “The Problem with PR,” pp. 30-35; Quentin L. Quade, “PR and Democratic Statecraft,” pp. 36-41; ArendLijphart, “Double-Checking the Evidence,” pp. 42-48. See also Sartori, Comparative Constitutional Engineering, pp. 70-74, 129. For a recent review of the main points of contention, and conditions under which Lijphart’s findings are most reliable, see NJils-Christian Bormann, “Patterns of Democracy and Its Critics,” Living Reviews in Democracy, 2 (2010).

[17]Shugart and Carey point out that there has not been a single instance of a country exchanging a presidential system for a parliamentary one, although changes in the reverse direction have occurred.  See Presidents and Assemblies, p. 3.

[18]Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy, p. 306.

[19]Ibid, p. 307.

[20] Juan Linz, “The Perils of Presidentialism,”Journal of Democracy, 1, 1 (1990) pp. 51-70; Alfred Stepan, “Constitutional Frameworks and Democratic Consolidation,”World Politics, 46, 1 (1992), pp. 1-22.

[21]  See, also, Scott Mainwaring and Matthew SobergShugart (Eds.), Presidentialism and Democracy in Latin America(Cambridge University Press, 1997), especially Chapters 1 and 11 and, by the same authors, “Juan Linz, Presidentialism, and Democracy,” Comparative Politics, 29, 4 (1997), pp. 449-472.

[22]Shugart and Carey, Presidents and Assemblies, pp. 154-161.

[23]Ibid, p.130. 

[24] Mark P. Jones, Electoral Laws and the Survival of Presidential Democracies, (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1995), p. 52.

[25]Sartori, Comparative Constitutional Engineering, p. 198.

[26] René Gómez Manzano, “Constitución y CambioDemocrático en Cuba,”Cuba in Transition, 7 (1997), pp. 395-414; NéstorCarbonell Cortina, “La Constitución de 1940: Simbolismo y Vigencia,” Cuba in Transition, 7 (1997), pp. 415-421.

[27]Marifelli Pérez Stable, The Cuban Revolution.  Origins, Course, and Legacy, Second Edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), p. 9.

[28] José D. Acosta, “El Marco Jurídico-Institucional de unGobierno Provisional de UnidadNacional en Cuba,” Cuba in Transition, 2 (1993), pp. 61-84.

[29] I relied on Spanish and English versions of the text of the 1940 Constitution.  For the former, see Mariano Sánchez Roca, LeyesCiviles de Cuba y suJurisprudencia, Vol. I, La Habana, Editorial Lex, 1951, 1-100 and, for the latter, Amos J. Peaslee, Constitutions of Nations, Volume I, Concord, NH: The Rumford Press, 1950, 526-594.  For the motivations of the drafters, and how well the system actually worked in practice, see William S. Stokes, “The Cuban Parliamentary System in Action, 1940-1947,” The Journal of Politics, 11, 2 (1949), pp. 335-364; Hugh Thomas, Cuba or The Pursuit of Freedom, Updated Edition (New York: De Capo Press, 1998), pp. 691-789; Charles D. Ameringer, The Cuban Democratic Experience. The Auténtico Years, 1944-1952(Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000). An on-line version of the 1940 Constitution, in Spanish, is available at http://pdba.georgetown.edu/constitutions/cuba/cuba1940.html#mozTocId826212

[30] This is not to deny that extra-constitutional factors played at least as important a role in the demise of Cuban democracy. The appeasement of political gangsters by both Grau and Prío was a particularly nefarious practice. See Ameringer, The Cuban Democratic Experience.  

[31] Stokes, “The Cuban Parliamentary System,” p. 362.

[32] Something pointedly denied by Carbonell, who concludes that “los fallos de nuestrosistemasemiparlamentario . . . no fueronrealmenteorgánicos, sinofuncionales--producto de viejascorruptelas y de hábitospresidencialistasarraigados.  Esosfallos son superables, a mi juicio, con unabuenadosis the democracia, experiencia, y probidad.”  Carbonell, “La Constitución de 1940,” p. 421.

[33] Although the trend appears to be in the direction of relaxing the prohibition against reelection, as of 2009 over half of Latin American countries still enforce it:   four limit the president to a single term and another seven allow it but only after one or two interim terms.  Only Venezuela places no limits on reelection, a feature that was no doubt designed by Hugo Chávez to allow him to rule for life. Source:  John M. Carey, “Rules on Presidential Reelection, as of February 2009” (Power Point slide, n.d.).

[34] Venezuela offers two examples of former presidents who, bent upon making a come-back, prevented their parties’ renewal:  APRA’s Andrés Pérez and COPEI’s Rafael Caldera.  These two men bear at least some responsibility for the decline of their respective parties, an erosion which paved the way for the populist demagogue Hugo Chávez to sweep the political slate clean.

[35]Ameringer, The Cuban Democratic Experience, pp. 77-78.

[36]Ibid, pp. 153, 162.

[37]https://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed72.asp

[38] Thomas, Cuba, p. 720.

[39] For earlier papers published by ASCE that address many of the issues dealt with here, see, in addition to those already cited, the following:  Néstor E. Cruz, “Legal Issues Raised by the Transition: Cuba from Marxism to Democracy, 199?-200?,” Cuba in Transition, 2 (1993), pp. 51-60; Jorge Salazar-Carrillo, “The Case for an Independent Central Bank,” Cuba in Transition, 4 (1994), pp. 77-79; Matías F. Travieso-Díaz and Steven R. Escobar, “Overview of Required Changes in Cuba’s Laws and Legal Institutions During its Transition to a Free-Market Democracy,” Cuba in Transition, 4 (1994), pp. 262-291; Luis L. Ubierna and Juan J. Ondarza, “Proyecto Constitutional:  República Federal de Cuba,” Cuba in Transition, 4 (1994), pp. 330-349; Néstor E. Cruz, “Legal Policy for a Free Cuba: Lessons from the Civil Law,” Cuba in Transition, 5 (1995), pp. 191-194; Alberto Luzárraga, “El Tribunal Constitucional y suOrganización: UnaPropuesta de Reforma,” Cuba in Transition, 7 (1997), pp. 422-426; Lorenzo L. Pérez, “ComentariosSobre el Artículo XVII SobreHaciencaPública de la Constitución de 1940 de Cuba,” Cuba in Transition, 7 (1997), pp. 427-429.

[40] These two assumptions are contrary to those posited by Ubierna and Ondarza, who propose a constitution for a federal, parliamentary government evidently modeled after that of the German Federal Republic.  See their “Proyecto Constitutional:  República Federal de Cuba.”

[41] An assumption not shared by Gómez Manzano.  His list of all the “most obvious objections” to a restoration of the 1940 Constitution just as it was when buried by Batista begins with the following: “Contiene la enumeración de lasantiguasseisprovincias, lo cual--comoeslógico--no se ajusta a la realidadcubana de hoy” (“Constitución y CambioDemocrático en Cuba,” 409).  But this begs the question on whose authority Fidel Castro dismembered and mangled the country, breaking up the six provinces into more than twice their number.  In my judgment, just as in Russia one of the first things that was done after the demise of the Soviet Union was for old cities like St. Petersburg to recover their venerable names, so in Cuba one of the first orders of business after the Castro regime has finally expired is to restore the sexpartite division of the Island.  Of course, the new constitution, like that of 1940, should include a provision for provincial subdivision, but something that is to be done not arbitrarily, as the Castro regime did, but with the consent of their elected representatives and that of congress. 

[42]Lijphart, Patterns of Democracy, p. 150.

[43] Of course, the legal definition of citizen would have to be specified. With so many Cubans and their descendants living abroad, and so many of them being citizens of other countries, something like Israel’s “Law of Return” may have to be applied to the Cuban case.  

[44] Cuba’s present population is around 11 million. By comparison, among the American states with population between 8 and 13 million (in ascending order, Virginia, North Carolina, New Jersey, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Illinois) the size of the lower house ranges from 80 in New Jersey to 203 in Pennsylvania.  The mean size is 126 members.  Another basis of comparison are three Latin American countries of population of similar size to Cuba and whose lower house is elected in a single-tier proportional representation system as the one proposed here:  Bolivia (11 million inhabitants), Dominican Republic (10 million), and Honduras (9 million).  Their legislatures range in size from 113 to 130, with a mean of 120 members.  Note that the means of these three lower houses is about the same as that of the lower houses of American states of comparable population. Accordingly, I choose 125 as the number for the Cuban cámara.

[45] See Appendix II for the approximate apportioning of representatives to the provinces according to population, with slight adjustments to that no province has fewer than nine representatives and in all but one case, Oriente, the number is divisible by three. Thanks again to Erica Evans for reconfiguring Cuba’s political map according to the historical sexpartite division

[46] Three years is the length of term for the unicameral legislature in El Salvador and the lower house in the Mexican congress.  See Mark P. Jones, “A Guide to the Electoral Systems of the Americas,” Electoral Studies, 14, 1 (1995), p. 14.

[47]  There are several formulas for allocation seats to parties in relation to their vote shares.  See Nils-Christian Bormann and Matt Golder, “Democratic Electoral Systems around the world, 1946-2011,” Electoral Studies, 32 (2013), pp. 362-363.

[48] “Multi-member districts are used to select members of the lower house in all presidential systems, with the exception of the United States . . . .” Jones, “A Guide to the Electoral Systems of the Americas,” p. 9.

[49]The six pre-Castro provinces would make for rather large electoral districts.    Compared to a single-member, first-past-the-post or plurality electoral system, combining proportional representation with districts of large magnitude incurs well-known trade-offs.  On the one hand, it allows many parties to win seats, and this results in the “inclusion of the broadest possible array of partisan views in the legislature.” On the other hand, such an outcome makes it more difficult to organize a stable government that is accountable to the electorate, and awards disproportionate policy influence to small parties.  As it turns out, in a study of more than 600 elections held in 81 democracies of a million or more inhabitants between 1945 and 2006, Carey and Hix find that most of the benefits of proportional representation can be had in a system where the median district magnitude lies “between four and eight seats,” a number that has only a moderate impact on “party system fragmentation and coalition complexity.” See John M. Carey and Simon Hix, “The Electoral Sweet Spot:  Low-Magnitude Proportional Electoral Systems,” American Journal of Political Science, 55, 2 (2011), pp. 384, 395. By staggering legislative elections so that one-third of the lower-house of congress is up for reelection every year, as is proposed here, the effective magnitude of the median district would be six, exactly in the middle of Carey and Hix’s “ideal” range (see Appendix II).  Moreover, with one senate seat being contested every year and the governor having to face reelection every three years (see below), these provincial contests would exert centripetal pressures on the party system (and might pull party positions closer to the center of the voter distribution) further limiting the multiplication of parties.

[50] Using the same American states for comparison as for the lower house (see above), the average number of senators is 46. In Ohio (33), Michigan (38), New Jersey (40) and Virginia (40), the size of the senate is very close to what is herein proposed for Cuba. The outliers are Georgia (56) and Illinois (59).

[51] Should the present subdivision be retained, the number of senators elected from each province would be reduced to three and their terms staggered so that one would come up for reelection every other year.

[52] Thus, the most important matters of state, those having to do with the administration of justice, the military, police, and foreign affairs, would be the purview of the senators, who by virtue of their six-year term are expected to take a longer view. At the same time, responsibility over things of greater moment would contribute to the Senate’s enhanced status, something that, for reasons argued in the text, is desirable.

[53] In recent times, outstanding leaders like Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair of the United Kingdom served as Prime Minister for 11 and 10 years, respectively; Helmut Kohl served 16 years as Chancellor of Germany; and Pierre Trudeau served 15 years as Prime Minister of Canada (11 years and, after a term out of office, another four). Other great leaders of the 20th century also enjoyed long tenure in office: Franklin D. Roosevelt, 12 years and a few months as President of the United States; Konrad Adenauer, 14 years as Chancellor of West Germany; Charles de Gaulle, 10 years as President of France; Winston Churchill 15 consecutive years and, after one term out of office, another three and a half years (which, admittedly, he should never have attempted) as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. These were outstanding leaders who, by their very nature, arise only occasionally. Even in their case, twelve years seems to be about the limit of what the electorate will stand. In fact, it is very possible that if they had had to face the voters every three years, as would be in the Cuban case, their tenure in office would have been shorter-lived. In any case, it is safer to allow such occasional over-achievers to offer themselves to the voters four times than to deny them, and the voters, the opportunity to make the choice.

[54]The 40% plurality rule is the one used in Costa Rica, the one Latin American country with the longest uninterrupted series of competitive elections.  Since 1953, on average the winner has received 48% of the vote. Only once, in 2002, did no candidate cross the 40% threshold, but the candidate who came ahead in the first round, with 38% of the vote, went on to win the run-off handily. 

In email communication, Prof. Carey suggested an alternative qualified majority rule for electing the president: Any candidate who wins an absolute majority of the vote (50% + 1), or whose shortfall from 50% is less than half that of the second-place candidate, is declared the winner; if there is no first-round winner, a run-off election is held between the top two vote-getters. 

[55] John M. Carey and Matthew Soberg Shugart, Executive Decree Authority (Cambridge University Press, 1998), p. 9. They note that “The boundaries of executive discretion, if any, are established by the constitution.” Ibid, p. 14.

[56] Shugart and Carey, Presidents and Assemblies, p. 139.

[57] I leave open the qualifications, mode of appointment, and length of term of  the trial and appeals courts.  Like other civil law systems, e.g., present-day France and Portugal, the 1940 Cuban Constitution provided for a sort of judicial civil service, admission to which was by competitive examinations. I am agnostic as to whether this system should be replicated in the new constitution. 

[58] These specifications are a composite drawn from several actual models.  According to McWhinney, “By a sort of common consensus among constitutionalists, in various, widely differing legal systems, the norm seems to have emerged that a final tribunal should be composed of eight or nine members.”  Also, appointing judges to the highest magistracy of the nation not for life but for a fixed term, “with or without right of renewal of the term, seems more in tune with contemporary constitutionalism and constitutional trends in it.”  Edward McWhinney, Supreme Courts and Judicial Law-Making: Constitutional Tribunals and Constitutional Review (Dordrecht: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1986), pp. 36, 63.  In the Cuban Constitution of 1940 (as in the United States), the president nominates and the senate confirms lifetime appointments to the highest court.  The French constitutional court consists of nine judges, appointed for nine years, staggered so that one-third is replaced every three years.  In the International Court of Justice, the same applies, except that reappointment is possible.  In Japan, the mandatory retirement age is 70.  There, as in France, judges are normally appointed in their sixties.

[59] Alexis de Tocqueville showed how in early 19th century New England local governments would be brought into compliance with state laws not through a hierarchy of administration but by judicial action.  See Democracy in America, pp. 70-79.

[60] The fiscal power of provinces and municipalities would be subject to several political checks, including those exercised at the voting booth and, perhaps most importantly, by businesses and residents who would “vote with their feet,” changing place of residence in response to high taxes, bloated budgets, and otherwise irresponsible fiscal management .

[61] The higher the electoral threshold, the lower the likelihood of extremist parties winning representation.  See Alan de Bromhead, Barry Eichengreen and Kevin H. O’Rourke, “Political Extremism in the 1920s and 1930s: Do German Lessons Generalize?” The Journal of Economic History, 73, 2 (2013), pp. 371-406.

[62] I am assuming that the end of the Castro regime would be followed by a provisional or interim government that would call for the election of a constitutional assembly under rules specified by it. The elections herein discussed are for the government, not the convention.

[63] See “The Address and Reasons of Dissent of the Minority of the Convention of Pennsylvania to their Constituents,” December 12, 1787.  https://www.constitution.org/afp/pennmi00.htm

See, also, Cato’s fifth letter to the Citizens of the State of New York, November 22, 1787, https://www.constitution.org/afp/cato_05.htm

[64] Robert S. Erikson, Michael B. Mackuen and James A. Stimson, The Macro Polity (Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 360-368.

[65] Be it noted that in the decade of the 1990s “Taiwan held a major election every year . . . except in 1999.” James A. Robinson, “What do you think about Taiwan’s democracy?”

(http://www.cosmosclub.org/journals/1999/robinson.html). Taiwan, be it noted, had one of the smoothest transitions to democracy on record.

[66]For a study of the successful pursuit of power within the political opportunity structure in the United States, see Joseph A. Schlesinger, Ambition and Politics. Political Careers in the United States (Chicago:  Rand McNally & Company, 1966) and, by the same author, Political Parties and the Winning of Office (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1994). Schlesinger finds that in the United States, the road to the White House runs through a state governorship or the U.S. Senate, and that many politicians make a career of serving in the latter.           

[68] There appears to be a positive association between the number of parties represented in parliament and human welfare. See Nisha Mukherjee, “Party Systems and Human Well-Being,” Party Politics, 19 (2013), 601-623.  Other research shows that the number of parties is positively associated with the size of government, something that in light of the fiscal crises that most democracies are undergoing at present, would seem to be a less desirable outcome. See Bumba Mukherjee, “Political Parties and the Size of Government in Multiparty Legislatures:  Examining Cross-Country and Panel Data Evidence,” Comparative Political Studies, 36 (2003), 699-728.  A solution may lie in limiting the size of government, but having it spend its resources on the right things, i.e., those that enhance human welfare. 

[69] On the “necessity of a well-constructed senate,” see Federalist 62 and 63.  http://avalon.law.yale.edu/18th_century/fed62.asp  Also, one of the criticisms that Burke leveled against the French revolutionaries was that they had made no provision for a senate.  See Reflections on the Revolution in France, p. 316.

[70]To explain, in part, why during Cuba’s final war of independence the members serving in units of the “liberation army” (ejército libertador) operating in a province or locality hailed largely if not overwhelmingly from those places , Pérez Guzmán puts it this way: “The drawing power of the small country [patria chica] derives from a profound sentiment rooted in the natural environment, the stages of life that leave the strongest emotional and psychological footprint, like infancy, adolescence and youth, family heritage, and friends Francisco Pérez Guzmán, Radiografía del Ejército Libertador, 1895-1898 (La Habana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 2005), p. 164.” Here as elsewhere, unless otherwise noted all translation from the Spanish are mine.

[71] The Aristotelian view is that the state is a plurality, in contrast with theories that view it as an organic whole, e.g., National Socialism. 

[72] Actually, as well as including equal provincial representation in the senate, the 1940 Constitution applied the federal principle to the election of the president, as well.  He was elected not in a straight national vote, but by a sort of shadow “electoral college.” That is, the Constitution provided that the computing of the vote for president would be done by province.  The plurality winner in the province would obtain as many electoral votes as the number of representatives and senators of the province.  As in the United States, the candidate with the largest number of electoral votes was elected president.  See Appendix I.

[73] Mark P. Jones, personal communication, October 3, 2000.

[74] The average presidential term in Latin America five years (Jones, “A Guide to the Electoral Systems of the Americas,” p. 10).  Mainwaring and Shugart suggest the possibility of a three-year term for the president. See their Presidentialism and Democracy in Latin America, p. 38.

[75] Some research casts doubt on the idea that presidents with minority representation in congress are unable to forge a governing coalition. See José Antonio Cheibub, Adam Przeworski and Sebastian M. Saiegh, “Government Coalitions and Legislative Success under Presidentialism and Parliamentarism,” British Journal of Political Science, 34, 4 (2004), pp. 565-587.

[76] Fidel Castro exercised absolute power from 1959 to 2006, when his brother Raúl took over.  Thus this “revolutionary” duo joins the dynastic club of the Trujillos and the Somozas of yesteryear without, however, suffering the opprobrium of the latter two.  On the double-standard applied to Latin American dictatorships by the Latin American Studies Association, see my two items in the bibliography.

[77] See Matthew Soberg Shugart, “Elections: The American Process of Selecting a President:  A Comparative Perspective,” Presidential Studies Quarterly,34, 3 (2004), p. 634.

 

[78] Sartori’s view is “electoral systems should have one logic which conforms to their purpose” (emphasis in the original), either to promote “representative justice”or “governing capability.” He thinks that “all the mixed systems—thereby including the incomplete ones—are objectionable in that they confuse voters and, secondly, require parties to become Janus-faced.” He argues that “To require an ordinary voter to engage simultaneously in sincere (proportional) and in strategic (majoritarian) choices is a sure way of blurring them. By the same token, parties, too, are prompted to engage in schizophrenic behavior.” Giovanni Sartori, “The Party-Effects of Electoral Systems,” Israel Affairs, 6, 2 (1999), pp. 22-23. I do not regard Sartori’s arguments as dispositive. For one thing, every system makes substantial cognitive demands on the voters. Even what may appear as a simple choice between two or three parties requires weighing the entire package of policies offered by each. As for parties being Janus-faced, they would regard themselves as fortunate indeed if they had to present only two faces to the electorate. Given the many and varied contradictory demands and pressures they face in a democracy, to succeed they need to shape themselves into a multi-headed hydra. This is because, more fundamentally, a state is a plurality, analogous to a kaleidoscope; it requires multiple angles of reflection to capture the many moving beads of opinion and interests as they combine, separate, and recombine in changing ways in response to cultural change and environmental shocks.  An electoral system needs to be designed accordingly.  See, again, Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, p. 281.

[79] This should provide a check on the contemporary trend, witnessed not only in the United States but in many places around the world, of judges arrogating to themselves legislative and even administrative powers that in a republican regime are or should be the prerogative of elected officials.  See C. Neal Tate and Torbjörn Vallinder (Eds.), The Global Expansion of Judicial Power (New York:  New York University Press, 1995).

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Algunas apreciaciones acerca del embargo estadounidense al régimen de Cuba

 

A De ArmasAlgunas apreciaciones acerca del embargo estadounidense al régimen de Cuba:

Ahora que sube, como cada cierto tiempo, la fiebre a consecuencia del embargo estadounidense al régimen isleño visto como un síndrome maligno; mal de males. Sería saludable puntualizar algunos aspectos sobre el tan llevado y traído embargo. Como ha de saberse este fue establecido en febrero de 1962, durante la administración de John F. Kennedy, como una respuesta a la confiscación de propiedades estadounidenses por parte de La Habana sin compensación alguna y en violación descarada de las leyes internacionales. Pero el embargo derivó enseguida hacia la función de arma política, ante el hecho de los fusilamientos masivos y el encarcelamiento de los opositores en la isla; así como por la eliminación acelerada de la prensa libre, el derecho a entrar y salir del país, el pluripartidismo, los sindicatos independientes y los más elementales indicios de sociedad civil.

También el embargo fue una respuesta a las expediciones filibusteras enviadas por La Habana desde el mismo año 1959 a países como Santo Domingo, Panamá, Venezuela, Guatemala, Nicaragua y Colombia con el objetivo de imponer en ellos el modelo comunista; además de una respuesta a la estructuración de redes internacionales de subversión y desestabilización con el propósito declarado de incendiar el continente americano.

Lo primero que salta a la vista aquí es que Castro no se vuelve malo y despechado y va a echarse en la cama con el amo soviético porque Washington lo obligó a ello con su incomprensión, la dura retórica y las medidas del embargo; como se ha asegurado con una ingenuidad rayana en la bobería. La verdad parece ser que Estados Unidos apostó a favor de Castro desde el año 1958 cuando decretó un embargo a la venta de armas para el gobierno de Batista, que una vez llegado Castro al poder hizo todo lo humana y diplomáticamente posible por tener unas relaciones cordiales con el nuevo detentador del poder en la vecina isla y que las presiones norteamericanas, en verdad tímidas, fueron una respuesta a la desbocada conversión de Cuba en satélite soviético nada menos que en su propio traspatio. Entonces, si el embargo económico derivó en un arma política para Washington, es explicable que los cubanos anticastristas vieran con simpatía esa arma e intentasen utilizarla para su propio beneficio en contra del enemigo y que, lógicamente, procurasen mantenerla a toda costa; arma que, la verdad sea dicha, nunca se ha usado cabalmente pero que en ocasiones es la única que se ha usado.

Al exilio cubano se le ataca por apoyar una política de mano dura en contra de Cuba, dicen, en una manipulación del uso del lenguaje que intenta hacer ver que Cuba y Castro son una cosa y lo mismo; así, de un plumazo, se confunde a la víctima con el victimario. Se nos quiere convencer de que cualquier daño infligido al victimario es un daño infligido a la víctima. Dicen por otro lado que con Castro hay que ser respetuosos y moderados, que no se le puede ofender ni con el pétalo de una rosa porque entonces se pone muy bravito y puede llegar, oigan esto, a atrincherarse y aumentar la represión; como si desde siempre no hubiese estado atrincherado y reprimiendo, como si fuese un pobre tipo incomprendido que hay que mantener contento a todo trance; un tipo que nunca sería responsable por ningún crimen, sino que, los responsables serían los otros, los que le ofrecen resistencia y le impiden (¡faltaba más!) andar a sus anchas en la impunidad.

La verdad es que la historia de Castro muestra que sólo se detiene ante la fuerza, que sólo a la fuerza respeta y que su diálogo el de la fuerza es; y por ahí entramos en otro de los tópicos que más detractores ha sumado al denominado núcleo intransigente del exilio, el de su negativa a dialogar con Castro; no por falta de disposición y capacidad para el diálogo como se pretende, sino por la comprensión meridiana de la imposibilidad de conversar con Castro, o al menos conversar para que democratice al país y deje vivir civilizadamente a los cubanos. Con Castro y el diálogo parece ocurrir como con la interpretación hermética y ocultista del mandamiento bíblico del “No matarás” que advertiría a los hombres no acerca de la prohibición del acto de matar, que sería en última instancia un acto imposible debido al principio de la eternidad del alma. Si el Antiguo Testamento apercibe a los incautos de la pérdida de tiempo en el intento de liquidar a un prójimo, el exilio por su parte apercibe a los incautos de la misma pérdida de tiempo en el intento de dialogar con ese prójimo a 90 millas llamado Castro.

Los hechos demuestran eso una y otra vez, pero no importa, una y otra vez hay individuos, organizaciones, instituciones y gobiernos empeñados en dialogar con Castro, en oír monologar a Castro, y se dan situaciones que lindan entre lo ridículo y lo kafkiano como el accionar de esos personajillos que periódicamente llegan de Cuba después de viajar allí en parafernalia mediática y declaran (orondos que no les cabe un alpiste en el tercer ojo), el haber conversado con Castro seis horas seguidas, mayormente durante las noches y hasta el amanecer; pero a los pocos días vienen otros que más osados rompen el récord y proclaman erotizados haber conversado siete horas seguidas con Castro; alguno de esos va y sale con algún preso, prueba de que con Castro sí se puede hablar y obtener concesiones (¡hombre lo que hay es que tener talante!); pero nada más dar la vuelta el personajillo, o antes de darla, ya Castro ordena que metan tras las rejas no a uno, sino a ocho infelices, negocio redondo, suelta uno y mete ocho; y entre tanto el personajillo dialogante acrecienta su capital político, tranquiliza su conciencia y aplaca las críticas de esos incómodos e inciviles exiliados de Miami. Es como si la política internacional respecto al régimen cubano se hubiese reducido a una especie de periódicos campeonatos de la conversadera.

La realidad es que en el exilio siempre ha habido organizaciones dispuestas al diálogo probablemente debido a una mezcla de principios y estrategia; no porque verdaderamente crean en la posibilidad de llevarlo a cabo. Me refiero, por supuesto, a organizaciones serias y realmente anticastristas…; no a esas otras, en verdad la mayoría de las que proclaman el diálogo con La Habana, que sólo pretenden hacer el juego a la tiranía (que gane tiempo y dinero), y que de paso engañe a los incautos en Washington o en Bruselas.

El terco acontecer se encarga de enseñar que cualquier intento de ablandar la política respecto al comunismo isleño, deviene no en un relajamiento de éste en pago a las buenas intenciones mostradas, sino en un aumento del endurecimiento y la agresividad del mismo; pues la característica gansteril del comunismo, y en ello Castro es impecable e implacable, nunca ve las concesiones del enemigo, o el simple adversario, como gestos de buena voluntad; sino como prueba irrefutable de su debilidad. Por ello, en 1974, cuando Estados Unidos procuró un acercamiento con el régimen de Castro y el presidente Gerard Ford sin pedir nada a cambio decretó un levantamiento de algunos aspectos del embargo, y permitió que compañías estadounidenses radicadas en terceros países, o sus sucursales, pudieran establecer relaciones comerciales con la tiranía, ésta no respondió con una apertura política en el plano externo o interno, como esperaríamos acorde con los pronósticos de la progresía, sino que ocurrió todo lo contrario: Castro ordenó el desencadenamiento de la intervención militar en Angola, Etiopía y Namibia, envió contingentes de tropas y asesores a involucrarse en el conflicto del Oriente Medio (una brigada de tanques de la isla combatió en las Alturas del Golán de parte del régimen de Siria y contra el Estado de Israel) y en las guerras de Indochina. Mientras que eso sucedía en el exterior, dentro de Cuba los isleños seguían con la cartilla de racionamiento, las cárceles repletas y los fusilamientos puntuales al amanecer; junto a una escalada de la retórica monolítica y los cánticos guerreristas, disparados sin piedad a los aturdidos oídos de los transeúntes desde altoparlantes instalados en cada cuadra sobre los viejos y descascarados camiones militares rusos.

A los cubanos de Miami se les señala como esencialmente criminales y anticubanos, al son de la Guantanamera entonada por Castro y sus cajas de resonancia, por el apoyo decidido a eso que denominan bloqueo yanqui. La primera falsedad evidente aquí es que se le llama bloqueo a lo que no es otra cosa que embargo, embargo que en la mayor parte del tiempo se cumple a medias y a regañadientes. Lo de bloqueo no es más que una reminiscencia de la mentalidad militarista de Fidel Castro en el manejo del lenguaje que suele confundir la limpieza de un campo de caña con una batalla y el azote de un viento platanero con una invasión imperialista y que, como hemos apuntado anteriormente, extrapola los marcos territoriales del totalitarismo isleño e infecta en su manipulación el mundo mediático. Así, por poner un caso, en el titular de un cable de la AFP del 27 de septiembre de 2005 se puede leer: “Endurecimiento de bloqueo de Estados Unidos a Cuba golpea finanzas y viajes familiares”. Aparte de llamar bloqueo a lo que no lo es, repite el lugar común de confundir a Cuba con su verdugo y señala sutilmente como culpable de la separación familiar cubana, no al verdugo entre cuyas prioridades estuvo siempre dañar los lazos de sangre entre los isleños para más fácil poder someterlos, sino al arma que procura combatirlo, y detrás de esa arma, por supuesto, la Derecha Norteamericana y la Mafia Cubana de Miami.

Al embargo, y a los exiliados cubanos que cabildean constantemente para mantenerlo, se le pretende culpar de la escasez de alimentos y medicinas en la isla, cuando lo cierto es que Cuba no tiene limitaciones para comerciar con el mundo entero, excepto con Estados Unidos, y que alimentos y medicinas pueden ser comprados por los agentes del régimen en México, Panamá y Canadá, por sólo mencionar países del entorno regional; países donde, irónicamente, esas medicinas y alimentos pueden comprarse a más bajos costos; de hecho las medicinas en dichas naciones se adquieren al menos a un 25 % más baratas que en Estados Unidos. En cuanto a los alimentos, ni siquiera habría que ir a buscarlos a ningún otro lugar fuera de esa isla que posee los suelos más feraces que imaginarse pueda; para probar lo anterior no hacen falta estadísticas, baste saber que los niños campesinos solían jugar, en tiempos más felices, a lanzar puñados de maíz al azar sobre la tierra sin cultivar para, al cabo de unos días, ver asombrados y alborozados el milagro de la fertilidad manifestado en matitas que se prendían sin más a la superficie de la tierra.

La verdad es que no habría que buscar los alimentos básicos de la dieta nacional en ninguna parte, si sobre la isla no se hubiese aplicado el más terrible de los bloqueos, ¡éste sí!, a la iniciativa y propiedad privadas, a la libertad en suma, que hacen del socialismo no sólo el sistema más ineficiente de la historia, sino el más eficiente en la multiplicación de la miseria. Caben aquí al menos dos preguntas: ¿Cuál es el embargo que prohíbe al cacao producido en las provincias orientales de la isla pasar a las provincias occidentales? Aceptemos que el embargo norteamericano pudiera dificultar el trasporte por la falta de combustible y piezas de repuesto, etc; pero, ¿cuál es el embargo que prohíbe al cacao bajar a lomo de mulo desde las montañas hasta esas mismas ciudades orientales ubicadas en sus faldas? ¿Cuál es el embargo que impide a los niños occidentales y orientales por igual comerse sus chocolatinas? ¿Cuál es el embargo que impide a los frutos del mango pasar a lomo de bicicleta desde las frondosas arboledas en la carretera de Rancho Luna hasta la ciudad de Cienfuegos, situada nada más que a dos o tres kilómetros de distancia de donde los mangos se pudren en el suelo? Por cierto, niños hambrientos de la otrora Perla del Sur que han intentado romper el bloqueo castrista sobre los mangos han muerto asesinados a tiros por efectivos de la policía del régimen; pregunten (¡vayan y pregunten!) a las madres de esos niños acerca de la crueldad del embargo norteamericano.

Referente a la medicina, es bueno recordar que pese al embargo es precisamente Estados Unidos el país que más medicinas dona a Cuba y que en los últimos años, según datos de la Fundación para los Derechos Humanos en Cuba, esas donaciones han alcanzado cifras superiores a los 472 millones de dólares. Medicinas que por otra parte no van a parar a los hospitales del llamado pueblo trabajador, de eso nada, van a parar a los hospitales para celebridades y dignatarios extranjeros donde se paga única y exclusivamente en la moneda del enemigo, quiero decir en dólar, y a los hospitales donde se atiende a la clase gobernante y se paga en lealtad y sumisión perrunas. En esos hospitales no faltan medicamentos ni los más modernos equipos. Esas medicinas también se venden por dólares en las llamadas diplotiendas para extranjeros de a pie, no importa que sean de a pie, pero que sean extranjeros y paguen con los verdes patriotas norteamericanos. ¿Y los alimentos donados durante las famosas campañas de solidaridad con Cuba? Se les puede adquirir en los hoteles para turistas, los únicos que hay, y en las mencionadas diplotiendas, previo pago en divisas convertibles.

Según cifras de la citada Fundación para los Derechos Humanos en Cuba, durante los últimos 20 años anteriores a la espectacular desintegración de la Unión Soviética, el régimen cubano recibió de su metrópoli eslava unos tres mil millones de dólares al año en subsidios. Ese dinero, es de destacar, no fue usado para mejorar los niveles y condiciones de vida del pueblo cubano, ni para emprender obras públicas significativas y remodelar las ciudades del país, desvencijadas por la desidia y la ineptitud.

Nada de eso. El pueblo y las ciudades siguieron en su declive hacia lo que algunos analistas nombran como la acelerada “haitianización” del país. Ese dinero fue empleado en crear el octavo ejército más grande del mundo; capaz de librar guerras en los más recónditos lugares del planeta, nada menos que un ejército imperial (¡téngase en cuenta que estamos hablando de una pequeña nación del tercer mundo, como gusta decir la propaganda misma del régimen!). Ese dinero fue usado para la subversión de los gobiernos latinoamericanos, para las mencionadas guerras en el África y para engrasar convenientemente la maquinaria represiva del Ministerio del Interior con unos 92 mil agentes y otros miles más de informantes, conocidos popularmente como chivatos, para el sostenimiento del Dr. Castro en el poder.

Hasta aquí se evidencia que esos exiliados esencialmente criminales y anticubanos, lo que realmente logran con su apoyo decidido al embargo es privar al régimen de unos recursos queserían empleados, no para beneficio de la población, como los hechos demuestran, sino para financiar sus aventuras militaristas internacionales y el sofisticado aparato represivo dentro de Cuba. De hecho, a partir del momento en que Castro ha comenzado a recibir los subsidios petroleros del ex golpista Hugo Chávez hemos visto un renacer de la inestabilidad política y social en América Latina, se rumora inclusive la posibilidad de revivir el imperio comunista del Bloque Este en Latinoamérica con La Habana y Caracas como capital dual, y una vuelta anunciada (casi como la Crónica de una muerte anunciada de su íntimo Gabriel García Márquez) al férreo estatismo staliniano de las décadas pasadas, esas en que recibía miles de millones de rublos por la tubería soviética. Estatismo estaliniano que los ingenuos creían superado y que no era otra cosa que retroceso táctico por la orfandad financiera en que deja a Castro la caída del comunismo en Europa Oriental.

Y a los hechos me remito: en noviembre de 2005 el semanario Tribuna de La Habana, órgano del Comité Provincial del Partido Comunista, da a conocer con orgullo revolucionario el parte de la heroica batalla entablada en contra de los mercados libres campesinos[1], esos que habían sido abiertos en los años 80, cerrados luego, y abiertos nuevamente en los 90; batalla, según afirma el libelo, librada a base de redadas policíacas en las que se decomisó a los llamados cuentapropistas, sólo en la capital y en cuestión de horas, 1700 quintales de mercancías y 36 camiones de carga; redadas efectuadas al calor de patrióticas declaraciones de Castro en contra del insolente dólar norteamericano, ese mismo que él había legalizado e impuesto en la economía cubana para paliar el descalabro financiero de la década pasada; por cierto que miles de jóvenes cubanos fueron a parar a las cárceles por uso y tenencia ilegal de dólares, que muchos de esos jóvenes continuaron en las cárceles aún después de que la moneda estadounidense fuese legalizada y (¡horror!) si finalmente Castro vuelve a penalizar el uso y tenencia de dólares, algunos de esos jóvenes continuarían todavía purgando sus penas tras de que su delito hubiese desaparecido y vuelto a aparecer en el panorama de la economía isleña, y al cabo de 12 años; jóvenes que habría que recordar en el futuro democrático de Cuba como verdaderos luchadores (así les nombra el pueblo), a favor del capitalismo y la libertad de comercio en la isla.

¿Alguna moraleja? Sí, por supuesto, apriétese decididamente el cuello de Castro y, acción reflejo, éste inmediatamente se verá obligado a dar un alivio a su propia presión sobre el cuello de sus víctimas, dentro o fuera de la isla; déjese respirar a Castro a sus anchas y estrangulará a sus víctimas, dentro y fuera de la isla. De entrada, la tan manoseada apertura de los cuentapropistas y un cierto dejar hacer de la disidencia más moderada en la década del 90, así como una disminución considerable de su laboreo subversivo en el continente, no fue otra cosa que una consecuencia del descalabro económico por la desaparición de los subsidios soviéticos y el mantenimiento, pese a todo, de las medidas restrictivas del embargo.

Por tanto, parece que el mantenimiento del embargo que procuran esos exiliados de Miami no sólo se encamina a dificultar las violaciones de los derechos humanos en Cuba, sino a hacer del mundo un lugar menos violento e inestable.

Respecto al embargo se han puesto de moda teorías muy curiosas, a la derecha y a la izquierda del espectro ideológico. Una de ellas apunta a que Castro en realidad no quiere que le levanten el embargo, mientras otra va más lejos en la especulación y asegura que éste caería irremediablemente en cuanto se lo levanten. Es como si siempre hubiese que buscar un culpable por la permanencia de Castro sobre el caballo del poder, un culpable que paradójicamente nunca sería el propio Castro y su aparato represivo; sino una entidad, digamos, ante la cual Castro no sería tan malo, puesto que es ella y no Castro la responsable de que éste se comporte como un empedernido dictador.

Uno se queda atónito. ¿Serán tontos o se hacen? Es lo que comúnmente uno esperaría oír de la izquierda y sus intelectuales. Pero, ahora resulta que un conservador y anticastrista de la talla del español José María Aznar asegura en su libro Retratos y perfiles: De Fraga a Bush (Ed. Planeta, Madrid, 2006) haberle dicho a Castro en una reunión en La Moncloa que si de él dependía levantaba el embargo y acababa con su régimen en tres meses, que éste era uno de sus grandes aliados. Aznar agrega en su libro que Castro le contestó que él necesitaba el embargo para esta generación y la siguiente. Es decir que un conspirador consuetudinario como Castro le confiesa sin más, no digamos ya a un amigo entrañable, sino a un enemigo ideológico del calibre del ex presidente del Gobierno Español, su más íntimo secreto para sostenerse en el poder y mantener la tiranía. ¡Castro nada menos!

Pero Aznar no está solo, le acompañan los granjeros de la extrema derecha del Oeste Medio norteamericano que ahora cabildean desesperadamente (¡compromisos contraídos en La Habana entre mulatas y daiquiris!), para que se levanten las restricciones del embargo al régimen comunista con un lema de campaña que asegura que ellos serían los democratizadores de la isla con sus intercambios comerciales (¿no pretendían lo mismo los intercambios culturales de la izquierda?), y sus sombreros alones recalentados al sol del mediodía que cae como plomo derretido sobre las televisadas, CNN incluida, Ferias Agrícolas de La Habana; allí donde los isleños hambreados se agolpan tras las cercas, siempre tras las cercas, para ver si les lanzan una postica de pollo imperialista.

 

La lucha por el levantamiento del embargo parecería unir en el mismo noble empeño a gente muy dispar, gente que probablemente en ninguna otra cosa estaría de acuerdo, o que en cualquier otra cosa andaría a la greña, como el mencionado ex jefe de Gobierno de España por la derecha, José María Aznar, y el ex mandatario de esa nación por la izquierda, Felipe González, por no hablar del patriarca franquista y ex presidente de la Xunta de Galicia, Manuel Fraga Iribarne, o el mismísimo Francisco Franco y Bahamonde (¡Caudillo de España por la Gracia de Dios!), que en vida fuera probablemente el mejor aliado occidental de Fidel Castro para la violación del embargo estadounidense, así como el ex gobernante de ese país por el Partido Socialista, José Rodríguez Zapatero. ¿Alguien en su sano juicio se atrevería a probar de ese coctel molotov del sinsentido, los intereses y la ideología?

Parecería que Fidel Castro es un idiota redomado empeñado en gastar millones de dólares para que le levanten el embargo y que, al mismo tiempo, no quiere que se lo levanten porque se caería (¡supongo que de la cama y de la risa!). Gastos que incluyen la compra en efectivo, y hasta por adelantado, a los agricultores estadounidenses con vista a crear la absurda idea de que su finca es un gran mercado que se estaría perdiendo Estados Unidos por culpa de esos fanáticos aguafiestas de Miami que mantienen secuestrada la política exterior norteamericana respecto al régimen de la isla; cabe apuntar en este punto que si bien se nos había venido asegurando que los cubanos exiliados eran unos lacayos del imperialismo que apoyaban sin escrúpulos las medidas contra la isla, ahora resulta por el contrario que sería el imperialismo el lacayo de los exiliados; puesto que son ellos los que mantienen secuestrada la política exterior de ese imperio en relación con Cuba. Compras que realizan los oficiosos agentillos del régimen en diferentes distritos electorales para estratégicamente contar con un mayor número de representantes que, presionados por sus votantes productores de granos, presionen a su vez al gobierno estadounidense con el objetivo de que levante las restricciones comerciales.

¡Cómo pretender que Castro prefiera el embargo, cuando éste ha causado en los últimos 40 años unos 82 mil millones de dólares en pérdidas a sus arcas! Al menos eso es lo que asegura el último informe de la tiranía (septiembre de 2005), que se gasta el obvio y lacrimoso título de Necesidad de poner fin al bloqueo económico, comercial y financiero impuesto por Estados Unidos a Cuba. Por lo pronto, si lo que realmente quisiera es permanecer embargado, ¡reconozcamos!, el hombre debería ser un poquito menos enfático en lo que pide no vaya a ser que, ¡ay!, se lo levanten.

No sé si se han fijado que lo primero que piden todos esos intelectuales que simpatizan con la tiranía cubana en sus declaraciones y cartas abiertas es el levantamiento del embargo, como también es lo primero que piden en sus conclusiones todos esos costosos congresos y encuentros que organiza el régimen con semanas pagadas en hoteles de Varadero (el servicio incluye circuitos cerrados de televisión y micrófonos a cargo de la policía política para grabar las probables escenitas comprometedoras entre un intelectual de fuste y un nativo de fusta), como también es lo primero que piden los escritores cubanos de la isla cuando se les permite viajar al exterior o los escritores cubanos, dizque exiliados, residentes en el exterior cuando se les permite viajar a la Feria del Libro de La Habana en la Cabaña (esa fortaleza colonial donde el Che fusilaba a los infelices cubanos), al Premio Casa de las Américas o a cualquier otro evento de relaciones públicas organizado por el comisariado cultural del régimen.

La verdad es que no todos los que piden el levantamiento del embargo son castristas, ni mucho menos, pero no deja de ser verdad también que todos los castristas, sin fallar, piden el levantamiento del embargo.

Porque, vayamos por partes, decir que Castro no quiere que le levanten el embargo porque entonces se quedaría sin pretexto para la represión y la ruina económica del país, además de no ser serio, es una inapropiada subestimación del dictador caribeño, pues de otra manera nadie pretendería que éste necesite una coartada moral para proceder en el desempeño de su dictadura; y no la necesita porque (deberían saberlo a estas alturas) Castro es dueño de una moral superior, esto quiere decir, más allá de toda moral, la moral revolucionaria, esa que como ya sabemos es doble, triple, cuádruple, infinita en sí y para sí; y en caso de necesitar coartadas morales, él sabría perfectamente como inventarlas. Si no es el embargo sería el recalentamiento global, la Enmienda Platt o la toma de La Habana por los ingleses en 1762.

De hecho, cuando le levanten el embargo, si es que alguna vez se lo levantan, lo primero que verían los azorados norteamericanos es a los tribunales castristas, los mismos del paredón, demandar a Estados Unidos por miles de millones de dólares como compensación, justa y necesaria dirían, por concepto de las pérdidas producidas por el embargo y, convenientemente, el régimen seguiría reprimiendo y mantendría al país en ruinas porque después de medio siglo decruel bloqueo, ¡cómo se les ocurre a esos gringos y otras especies pensar que una pequeña nación como la nuestra puede darse el lujo de la prosperidad, la propiedad privada, los derechos humanos y otras zarandajas!

Uno de los argumentos que se esgrime como prueba de que Castro no quiere que le levanten el embargo es que, aseguran rotundos, cada vez que hay un intento de acercamiento él reacciona con una acción agresiva para no verse en la embarazosa situación de que (¡huy qué miedo!) le levanten las llevadas y traídas restricciones; y ponen como ejemplo más socorrido la pulverización en el aire de los aviones de Hermanos al Rescate con sus cuatro tripulantes, en un momento en que la administración Clinton parecía empeñada en levantar el embargo y en normalizar las relaciones con el régimen.

Análisis errado. La verdad es muchísimo más elemental, Castro reventó en el espacio a los dos pequeños aparatos de la organización de exiliados porque, en primer lugar, este episodio criminal venía como anillo al dedo para desviar la atención a los ojos de la opinión pública internacional de los inéditos acontecimientos de fortalecimiento y cohesión de la oposición política interna en torno a Concilio Cubano y, tras la cortina de humo de los aviones que caían, descabezar a la dirigencia y a los más activos dentro de Concilio mediante la cárcel o el destierro; y en segúndo lugar, cortaba de raíz una peligrosa alianza entre el exilio miamense y la disidencia interna, alianza en la que Hermanos al Rescate parecía estar a la vanguardia en ese momento, y de paso eliminaba las incómodas incursiones de dicho grupo que ya había dejado llover sobre La Habana octavillas de solidaridad y apoyo con el pueblo y la oposición de la isla; y en un lejano tercer lugar, quizá, el tema del embargo; no es que Castro dé, como dicen, una salida violenta para que se haga prácticamente imposible levantarle el embargo; sino que, en última instancia, lo haría para no verse obligado (en el supuesto de que algo así pudiera suceder con este espécimen) a hacer la más mínima concesión política que conllevaría el toma y daca de los probables acuerdos porque, la verdad sea dicha, ni siquiera alguien como Clinton, o ahora Obama, estaría dispuesto a levantar el embargo a Castro si éste no hace la más leve apertura política, aunque sea de índole puramente formal; y si ese es el precio, por pequeño que sea, ahí sí Castro no quiere levantamiento del embargo ni nada que se le parezca. Aquí tienen una explicación plausible: Castro quiere que le levanten el embargo, pero sin tener que entregar absolutamente nada a cambio.

Hay que decir, no obstante, que el levantamiento del embargo como tal no es la prioridad de Castro; su prioridad es el poder acceder a los créditos y al turismo norteamericanos, es más, usando la lógica de los que sostienen la idea de la conveniencia del embargo como pretexto, es efectivamente muy probable que Castro prefiera el mantenimiento de un embargo nominal, pretexto pintado a su medida, pero que en cambio le abriera las gruesas tuberías de dólares por concepto del degradante turismo gringo y los onerosos mecanismos crediticios.

Lo de turismo degradante lo puede pasar por alto acorde con la dialéctica marxista, en fin de cuentas los turistas estadounidenses, como los canadienses, los europeos o los mexicanos, no irían a hablar de derechos humanos a la población; sino probablemente a acostarse con esa población que (¡eso hay que reconocer como logro revolucionario!), posee entre sus integrantes las prostitutas y los prostitutos más complacientes y de menores tarifas en todo el hemisferio; y lo de los créditos (¡ah!), eso sería verdaderamente su sueño de verano (¡qué subsidio soviético ni subsidio petrolero chavista ni qué niño muerto!), pues los créditos le permitirían el acceso a miles de millones de dólares (¡no rublos ni bolívares, esos papeluchos!), que nunca pagaría y que, obviamente, terminaría pagando el contribuyente norteamericano devenido ahora en sostenedor (¡éste sí!) de la tiranía cubana y su megaproyecto internacional.

Ahora, la única manera de impedir ese acceso de Castro al turismo y el crédito de los estadounidenses es el mantenimiento y endurecimiento, todo lo más que se pueda, del tan atacado e incomprendido embargo. Es cierto que el embargo no va a tumbar a Fidel Castro; pero, aparte de que sí pudiera ser un factor desencadenante, lo más interesante e importante del embargo no es precisamente la caída o no de Castro; lo más interesante e importante es que cuando eso ocurra, como quiera que eso ocurra, el embargo esté ahí como la más poderosa, y probablemente la única, fuerza de negociación al servicio de Estados Unidos y de los demócratas cubanos en la isla y en el exilio; esa que, a falta de una fuerza militar, o de la voluntad de usarla, sería capaz de decirle a los nuevos detentadores del poder en Cuba que la única posibilidad real que tienen de que le levanten las restricciones y de tener unas relaciones normales con Estados Unidos es entrando obedientes por el aro de la democracia y el libre mercado, y, evidentemente, levantarlas no de golpe, sino en la misma medida en que las nuevas autoridades den muestras de seriedad y compromiso, por conveniencia o convicción, con los derechos y libertades fundamentales del individuo.

Reconozco que enseguida saldrán las monsergas sobre la autodeterminación de los pueblos y la imposición de una democracia a la americana; pero la verdad es que en referencia a lo primero, casi siempre de lo que se habla es de la autodeterminación de los tiranuelos de turno para someter a sus pueblos; en cuanto a lo segúndo, si lo que se impone es democracia, ¡bienvenida pues la imposición!; y respecto a lo tercero, cuál es el inconveniente con la democracia a la americana porque (dejemos la demagogia), si alguien conoce una democracia moderna que no sea a la americana que venga y me la muestre, no importa dónde prospere, si es democracia siempre tendría que ver con ese fenómeno raro de fines del Siglo XVIII que se nombró Revolución Americana.

[1] Es bueno subrayar que cada vez que el régimen ha permitido el funcionamiento de los llamados mercados libres campesinos, las ciudades del país se han abastecido de los más variados productos del agro, muchos de ellos desaparecidos durante años, en una prueba más de la superioridad de la iniciativa privada sobre el estatismo, y de que la isla no sufre otro embargo que no sea el del régimen marxista implantado en el país a punta de bayoneta por casi medio siglo.

Revista Hispano Cubana

 

 

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El color del cristal

 

Armandoribas SEl color del cristal

   Es indudable que el Papa Francisco ha alcanzado un papel trascendente en “este mundo traidor donde nada es verdad ni es mentira todo es según el color del cristal con que se Mira” Jorge Manrique” Una muestra de esa realidad es sin lugar a dudas la trascendencia que ha tenido su reciente visita al Brasil. Es en función de esa realidad que no tengo alternativa a volver a analizar las implicaciones políticas de sus palabras, las cuales nos guste o no definen el color del cristal. Ese cristal que es cada día es más rojo, en el mundo occidental y cristiano al cual pertenece América Latina.

    No me cabe dudas de la buena fe y las buenas intenciones del vocabulario del Papa, pero me atrevería a decir que en las mismas encuentro algunas contradicciones que tienen en nuestro medio efectos contrarios a la buena voluntad de Francisco I. En todas sus expresiones ha manifestado la virtud de la pobreza, al tiempo que se preocupa por la situación de los pobres en la Tierra. Por una parte considera que la pobreza es una virtud, en la que estaría aplicando la premisa de la dificultad del camello de atravesar el ojo de la aguja. Por ello no ha dejado de predicar que la riqueza impide el camino a Jesús, o sea al cielo. Entonces me pregunto: ¿Si la pobreza es el camino al cielo, cual es la causa de preocuparse por la situación de los pobres en el camino al Edén?

   

    Por otra parte no puedo menos que valorar su honestidad y valentía al atreverse a reconocer públicamente la corrupción imperante en la Iglesia y en particular en el banco del Vaticano, que habría venido a sustituir al pasado corrupto del Banco Ambrosiano. Esta posición adoptada al respecto, implica un riesgo considerable, pues ya debiéramos de saber que ella le costó la vida a Juan Pablo I. Al mismo tiempo se ha atrevido igualmente a reconocer la corrupción que igualmente implicala pedo filia de los curas y obispos en el mundo católico, y que le habría costado a la Iglesia miles de millones de dólares por indemnizaciones.              .

   

    No obstante como antes dije mi reconocimiento de la buena fe de las palabras del Papa respecto a la pobreza, que ellas van a ser y ya son aprovechadas una vez más por la izquierda en su acceso al poder, creando pobres que después los votan. Yo me permito pensar que ya se debe de saber que ha habido un solo sistema que ha permitido la libertad y la creación de riqueza por primera vez en la historia. Y solo en el es posible mejorar la situación de los pobres en la tierra, por más que los que la generan tengan más dificultades para atravesar el Ojo de la Aguja.

   

    Por el contrario la experiencia ha demostrado al mundo el fracaso del socialismo, ya fuere dictatorial o por elección. La demagogia que el implica fue explicada por Aristóteles hace ya 2.500 años. Fue así que en su “La Política” escribió: “Los demagogos queriendo congraciarse con la multitud, llegan a irritar a las clases superiores del Estado a causa de las injusticias que con ellas cometen, pidiendo el repartimiento de tierrasy haciendo que corran a su cargo todos los gastos públicos, o se contentan con calumniarlos para obtener la confiscación de las grandes fortunas”. Por ello dice Adam Smith: “Tales impuestos cuando han crecido a cierto nivel son una maldición igual  a la aridez de la tierra y la inclemencia del cielo”. Vemos que había previsto la evolución del socialismo, que igualmente se opone aunque parezca mentira al cristianismo y ahí tenemos la parábola de los talentos donde se reconoce la responsabilidad individual por el resultado de losnegocios. Así dice San Mateo el señor re conoció la habilidad de sus siervos, así como la inoperancia del tercero para ganar riqueza a partir de los talentos que le había entregado en su partida.

   

    Entonces igualmente debemos reconocer la sabia observación de Ayn Rand cuando dijo que la compasión no crea una hoja de trigo. Y asimismo se refirió Hanna Arendt: “Cuando se violan los derechos en nombre de la compasión, desaparecen la justicia y la libertad”. Fue en razón de estas realidades que fue solo a partir del año 1.800 que comenzó la creación de riqueza en el mundo. Hasta esa fecha se vivía como en tiempos de Jesucristo. Así lo explica Alexander Bernstein en su obra “El Nacimiento de la Abundancia” y en el capítulo “Síntesis del Crecimiento” dice: “Son las instituciones-derechos de propiedad, libertad individual,la norma jurídica (The Rule of Law) la tolerancia intelectual implícita en el racionalismo científico, y la estructura de los mercados de capitales lo que importa”.

   

    No me voy a referir específicamente a los anteriores conceptos, pero es indudable que la referencia trata de un sistema que comenzó en Inglaterra a la luz del pensamiento de John Locke, y que fue la Glorious Revolution de 1688 cuando se establecieran los principios de la libertad y de generación de riqueza. Ese sistema fue el que permitió la conocida Revolución Industrial, de la cual se desconocen sus orígenes ético-políticos. Y ese sistema fue llevado a sus últimas consecuencias por los Founding Fathers en Estados Unidos que en solo cien años pasó a ser la economía más poderosa del mundo. Y valga la redundancia, pero el tercer país en la historia que aplicara el sistema fue La Argentina, y así recientemente Mario Vargas Llosas reconoció que a fines desiglo XIXse había adelantado a Europa.

   

     La otra pregunta pertinente es porqué algunos países se desarrollaron y otros quedaron atrasados y pobres. Por supuesto todo parece indicar que está vigente alrespecto la explicación de Lenín en su “Imperialismo Etapa Superior del Capitalismo”.En tanto el capitalismo siga siendo lo que es, el capital excedente será utilizado, no con el propósito de elevar el nivel de vida de las masas, en un país dado, porque esto significaría una declinación en las ganancias de los capitalistas, sino con el propósito de aumentar las ganancias exportando capitala los países subdesarrollados.” Ese pensamiento se ha convertido en la “conditio sine qua non” de la demagogia para lograr el poder político en nombre del antiimperialismo. Por supuesto se ignora que mientras los países desarrollados no crecen la China a donde se dirige el 40% de la inversión extranjera en el mundo, tiene problemas económicos porque solo crecerá esteaño un 7,5%.

   

    Esa situación demagógica hoy no se limita a la América Latina, sino que es la base de la crisis europea y por supuesto ha llegado a Estados Unidos, donde se ha incrementado el gasto público a niveles desconocidos anteriormente, multiplicado las regulaciones y por supuesto aumentado la deuda publica al 120% del PBI. Por tanto no puede menos que preocuparme que las palabras del Papa sean utilizadas en nombre de la demagogia para lograr el poder creando más pobres que los votan. Y ese es el origen del sistema que provoca la corrupción, a la cual el Papa ha manifestado vehementemente su oposición. En otras palabras cada vez es mas rojo el cristal con que se mira, y por supuesto más oscuridad en lo que se ve.

 

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