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Editorial: 'Treason' in the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba

The crime of 'treason' is always invoked under during times of conflict. It is striking that it is now that the regime is taking into account the risk of treason.


The first page of the recently published Draft Version of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba contains a couple of significant new inclusions. The document’s "Preamble" mentions Fidel Castro as the architect and example who inspires Cuban citizens. He is classed together with José Martí in the same way that they managed to unite the two in Santa Ifigenia: based on an affinity with the cannon.

The other significant inclusion is that of "treason". The third article of the Draft Version of the Constitution states that: "Treason is the most serious of crimes, and whoever commits it is subject to the severest sanctions". The preceding section makes it clear that it is the "socialist nation" that is referred to. That is, the most serious of crimes is to betray the Castro regime, rise up against it, and seek its end.

The crime of "treason" is always invoked under during times of conflict. Thus, it is striking that it is now, after decades of tensions that have jeopardised the regime's existence, that this threat is addressed in the Constitution. What might happen in the future that requires citing "the severest sanctions" against possible traitors?

The answer lies in the regime's new fears. Fidel Castro is already an ideological mummy, his brother and successor in power is about to abandon his position as First Secretary of the country's only party, in three years, so protection is necessary against the "treason" that is bound to spread. Now that the "historical leaders of the Revolution" are disappearing, whether due to death or retirement, it is as if a war were newly waged, and the image of a country besieged, first advanced in January of 1959, is resuscitated.

It is no coincidence that, together with the new Draft Version of the Constitution, Decree 349/2018 has recently been issued, which seeks to suppress artistic activity, in response to which a group of independent creators on the Island has begun to protest.

The existing regime in Cuba, "Castroist" by constitutional dictate, even when not ruled by a dictator bearing that surname, is taking new measures to ensure its survival. It has had to deal with protests and grassroots actions in Venezuela, is following closely what is happening on the streets of Nicaragua, and is poised to tackle any new scenario in Cuba. It harbours new fears and, as a dictatorship, knows that the only way to deal with them is to impose new threats and coercion on citizens, this time through the new provisional version of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba.

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