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Cuba for all

Si ConstitucionWhat has been done in the field of human rights, whatever the context, always implies progress, because the achievements in this area are for everyone without distinction, and their recognition in the Constitution means protection on an equal footing. Rights also have a progressive nature, that is, what has been achieved leaves no space for retrogression.

This was the explanation recently offered by Dr. Yuri Pérez Martínez, professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Havana’s Law School, when referring to human rights and their guarantees in the Cuban Constitution.

However, these statements were not made, as usual, before his students, but rather, an audience of the Cuban Interfaith Platform, in a meeting that brought together followers of different religions, fraternal associations, and religious institutions established in Cuba.

Beyond rights, the conception of which is extended in the new constitutional text, Pérez spoke about the values that distinguish the Constitution that will be submitted to a popular referendum on February 24.

He spoke of dignity and its roots in Martí’s thought; of solidarity and freedom. He spoke of respect, key to recognizing the rights of others: “Respect is an invitation to dialogue,” he stressed.

That will to dialogue, and commitment to inclusion “of all and for the good of all,” in the new Constitution, was also highlighted by David Prinstein Señorans, first vice president of the Jewish Community of Cuba, a responsibility he has assumed for a decade.

This new text, he noted, “is superior to what we had, and the advances in recognition are visible. From now on, many of the religions present in Cuba will be able to include other elements that help their daily practice. In addition, the section on rights is expanded, which benefits all people, not just the religious.

“Today, many wonder how interfaith dialogue is possible in our country. But in addition to dialogue, we have interfaith action, especially for social welfare. And the basis of this Platform is the will that the Cuban state has had, with its leaders at the forefront, in ensuring interaction among the different religions of Cuba, without distinguishing one from the other.”

Another basic issue, he explained, is that we do not allow any of our different religions to dominate, which is reaffirmed by the declaration in the Constitution of a secular state. “We rely on basic principles that are common in all religions to act in favor of society.”

In addition, he highlighted two strengths of the new Constitution: the massive participation of the people in the consultation process, which gave rise to changes to more than 60% of the draft text; and the possibility also offered by the referendum for the people to have the last word. “Without a doubt, we are all included in the future of the country for many years.”

Meanwhile, Manuel Delgado Hernández, pastor of the Fraternity of Baptist Churches of Cuba and coordinator of the Council of Churches in Mayabeque, underlined the importance of recognizing Cuba as a secular state. “That was the spirit for a long time, and it means that no church is recognized over another, and that between both parties, that is, between the state and religious institutions, there must be respect, which in fact transcends tolerance.”

In his opinion, “No Constitution can satisfy all the individual interests of each person, rather it is a commitment to that which implies greater well-being for all. And each Constitution must mean an advance compared to the previous one, as in this case.

“There are important elements, such as respect for individual rights, and for people to be recognized whatever their beliefs. In our religion, we believe in freedom of conscience, because we understand that God made man free to believe or not. That spirit of inclusion and recognition of all, whether based on faith or not, we appreciate in our Constitution.”

The pastor also praised the popular consultation process, noting that from this modifications arose in regard to churches, such as the recognition of their properties, for example, included in the new clause f) of Article 22.

Delgado also noted other aspects of the text that stand out, such as the principle of non-discrimination, according to Article 42. “We accompany all people, from the church, regardless of their social background,” he stressed.

“A Constitution like that which will be submitted for approval is an ideal platform for our work, because our Order is subordinated to the legislation of the country where it is present and participates in the development of society. If Cuba didn’t have a legal system such as it does, this fraternity would not be here.”

This was the simple explanation offered by Esteban Lázaro Aquino Nieto, president of the Rosicrucian Order AMORC National Coordination Committee for Cuba, regarding the importance of the new constitutional text.

“Without singling out any particular article or content, I totally approve our Magna Carta. And if I had to highlight a particular value present in the Constitution, I would lean toward respect. We have as a motto the broadest tolerance in the strictest independence, but respect covers a broader concept.”

According to Aquino, this fraternity, present in more than a hundred countries, bases its principles on peace and a profound humanism, which invariably leads to human development in all spheres. The Rosicrucian Order is multi-religious, multiracial, and professes non-discrimination and that, he pointed out, is a statement of respect.

Meanwhile, Josefa Alfonso Sarría, a member of the Path of Light and Love Society, belonging to the Spiritist Federation of Havana, emphasized the way in which the new Constitution favors unity and fraternity among all Cubans.

“We must be genuine; we must accept ourselves as we are, because acceptance is a principle of happiness. And that will to assimilate the diverse, stands out in the Constitution. It’s about coming closer together as a society, believers and non-believers,” the psychiatrist at Calixto García Hospital emphasized.

In the midst of the heterogeneity of beliefs in Cuba, the Constitution, with its renewed content, was a unifying element as, according to Reverend Juan Ramón de la Paz Cerezo, representative of the Episcopal Church of Cuba, our actions should lead us toward “unity, the harmony, and peace of the homeland, which we all love, and are committed to its progress.”


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