Sunday, July 29, 2018

Fake Change in Cuba: Pinkwashing Cuba's New Communist Constitution

Window dressing as reform.

Constitutional project to perpetuate communist party rule in Cuba
The Castro regime is attempting to legitimize their six decade and ongoing dictatorship with cosmetic reforms and a "change" in the presidency, but the reality is that beyond window dressing nothing has changed. Reuters news wire service recognizes now a hundred days into President Miguel Diaz-Canel's presidency that "the Castro dynasty is still calling practically all the shots" and that there has been a change in style but not in substance.  The Economist on July 26, 2018 highlighted the campaign for the regime to legitimize itself concluding, "[y]et for all the headlines Raúl’s reforms have yielded, the twin pillars of Fidel Castro’s rule—the Communist Party’s monopoly on power, and the state’s domination of the economy—remain in place."  One element in this campaign is that the new constitutional draft, overseen by Raul Castro, opens the way for gay marriage in Cuba.

It is important to recall that the same leadership of the Castro regime, now in their 70s and 80s, who remain in power today, and carried out anti-Gay draconian policies in the past, are the ones now advocating for the change on gay marriage in the constitution.

One should not forget that the Castro regime placed Gays and Lesbians in forced labor camps beginning in 1964 in what they called Military Units to Aid Production or UMAPs (Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Producción). These forced labor camps were for those suspected of or found guilty of "improper conduct."  Persons with "effeminate mannerisms": what the Cuban government called "extravagant behavior" were taken to these camps. Twenty years later with the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic in Cuba the regime rounded up all who were HIV positive. Cuba is the only nation in the world that mandated universal HIV testing and enforced isolation of all virus carriers in detention facilities from 1986 to 1994.

This Constitutional initiative by the Castro regime is a textbook example of pinkwashing. Pinkwashing is "the practice of presenting something, particularly a state, as gay-friendly in order to soften or downplay aspects of its reputation considered negative."
 Amnesty International issued a statement welcoming same sex marriage in Cuba, but also recognizing that the repressive state machinery remains intact. Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International, was quoted as follows:
“The news that Cuba’s National Assembly has signed off on a new constitution that, among other things, opens the path to legalize same-sex marriage if approved by referendum in the coming months, is a potentially huge step forward for the rights of LGBTI people in Cuba and the Caribbean. We welcome this advance and urge the government to embrace dialogue with all sectors of society and allow plurality of voices as it makes further reforms. However, during the first 100 days of the Díaz-Canel presidency, we continued to receive frequent and alarming reports of Cuban authorities arbitrarily detaining human rights defenders and holding them in short-term detention. Environmental activist Ariel Ruiz Urquiola was conditionally released earlier this month, although the authorities could still return him to prison for the rest of his sentence, while another prisoner of conscience, Eduardo Cardet, remains behind bars almost 20 months after his arrest simply for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression. Clever showmanship by public officials at Cuba’s Universal Periodic Review before the UN in May failed to mask the reality of life on the island, where the authorities maintain a web of control through practices such as arbitrary use of criminal law and discriminatory dismissals of state employees."
The Castro regime has gotten positive press, but at the same time the underlying repressive nature of the regime remains intact and nothing substantive has changed. However lost in the conversation and highlighted by Cuban human rights defender, Rosa María Payá is "that the constitutional referendum is not legitimate because the dictatorship violates all guarantees of a credible electoral process, nor possibility to campaign, nor presence of independent observers, nor possibility of parallel counting, nor freedom to vote without coercion." Worse yet voting yes or no in this rigged process is a trap.
The new constitution will drop the objective of constructing a "communist society" but maintain the one party system ruled by the Communist Party. Whether you vote "yes" or "no" you are voting for the perpetuation of one party rule under the Cuban Communist Party, and the head of the party (currently Raul Castro) as the ultimate power in Cuba. This is found in the old Constitution and remains unchanged in the new draft.

What should one call a reform process without reforms? Cuban dissident Oswaldo Payá Sardiñas,  called this "fraudulent change" and it cost him his life on July 22, 2012.

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