Martes, 19 de Marzo de 2019
Última actualización: 16:03 CET


Nicolás Maduro and Cilia Flores. (EFECTO COCUYO)

That the Government of Cuba supports Venezuela's is common knowledge. Their intelligence apparatuses turn opposition activism into persecuted dissidence.

Their control and propaganda cover up the Venezuelan political and humanitarian crisis, as messages are broadcast via Telesur.

Today's ailing basic services - with which Chávez made a comeback from his unpopularity in 2002 - once sufficed to ensure neighborhood clientelism. In the practical dimension of politics today, however, Cuba is now a decisive factor for the maintenance of a regime that currently enjoys less than 20% of the population's support.

Where the archetype has been most problematic and veiled is the model character of Cuban institutional design, as a desirable paradigm for el chavismo. Although its organization and leadership always harbored authoritarian impulses, its social heterogeneity, ideological eclecticism, and the electoral context of Chavez's rise to power prevented his project from pursuing an autocratic Constitution.

The Constitution of 1999 actually combined a respect for civil and political rights with a liberal matrix and institutions of representative democracy (parties, tripartition of powers), and expanded participation (at the community and the plebiscitary levels), social inclusion, and human rights in an innovative and generous way.

It was post-liberal, not anti-liberal, and included mechanisms that allowed the sovereign party - the real, diverse and dynamic people - to support some proposals by the Executive (presidential recall of 2004, introduction of reelection in 2009) and to reject others (constitutional reform of 2007) – always via universal, free and secret votes. That's why when Maduro, deprived of support, convokes an ad hoc, popular Constituent Assembly, it’s a ploy. His "people" are a minority faction that ought to be subject to the political control and ideological loyalty of the country’s citizens. Though their numbers, and their allegiance, are waning, he intends to use them, through a corporate scheme and vertical designation, to overturn the current Constitution. In this way, typically illicit Caribbean political winds are blowing.

The enactment of the Cuban Constitution was the antithesis of democracy and republicanism. It was written by a 20-member body, designated by high-ranking State and Party leadership, from which it received specific instructions as to its basic contents and principles. Unlike its liberal (1901) and social (1940) predecessors, the Stalinist Constitution of 1976did not emanate from an elected and convened assembly. Its preliminary draft was approved at the First Congress of the (unchallenged) Communist Party. Popular deliberation in the "constituent process" was directed centrally, following pre-established guidelines. There was no possibility of real social and political diversity being recognized, or any opportunity for the horizontal communication of ideas, or contrasting points of view with regards to the official proposal. Participation was fragmented, with few chances to control the agenda.

That Constitution has since been revised twice (1992 and 2002), but always in accordance with the regime's designs. The Cuban National Assembly is a "parliament" that does not deliberate or legislate, meets little, and votes unanimously. Like its counterparts ​​in the Soviet world, the Constitution, theoretically, grants the legislature primacy, but real power resides in the Councils of State and Ministers, and, above all, at the highest levels of the Party. Maduro wants to take things in this direction by suppressing, de jure and de facto, political plurality, debate and autonomy, including those of his allies. For this he has brought, from Havana and with certain Mussolinian embroideries, a suit that has been tailor-made.

This article originally appeared in the Mexican newspaper La Razón. It is published and translated here with the author's permission.