|Stalin and Castro presided over constitutional reforms in their respective regimes.|
|June 26, 2002, Fidel Castro votes in favor of Cuban Constitution's modification|
Evidence that the newest version of the Constitution will be a continuation of the existing system, or worse, can be seen not only in the text of the new draft, but also in laws drafted and enacted in 2018 such as Decree 349. Censorship had already existed in Cuba since 1959 but now with Decree 349 artists are specifically targeted and radically restricted from their work. Cuban artist Coco Fusco in Frieze magazine outlines the full breadth of this law.
Decree 349, was made public last summer and went into effect on 7 December. It criminalizes independent cultural activity that is not authorized by the state. It entails the creation of a cadre of roving inspectors that will be empowered to shut down activities in private recording studios, home-based galleries and clubs. Sanctions range from stiff fines to confiscation of privately-owned equipment to the seizure of homes. Artists on the island see the law as a return to the repressive cultural policies of the 1970s. Before it became law, Amnesty International called Decree 349 a ‘dystopian prospect’ for Cuba’s artists.Fabian Socialists Sidney and Beatrice Webb in 1937 believed Stalin's Soviet Constitution was a democratic example to be emulated by progressives and that the Soviet Union, under Josef Stalin was an inclusive democracy. The tens of millions of dead under Stalin, and the secret alliance with Hitler in 1939 to divide Poland that erupted into World War II led many progressives to grow disillusioned with the Soviet Union. The Webbs managed to continue defending the Soviet Union as a "new civilization" despite these unpleasant facts.
The favorable coverage today of the Cuban government, that ignores its efforts to consolidate the Castro family dynasty with a revised constitution and puppet leadership, is reminiscent of the coverage Stalin received at a time that his regime was engaged in crimes against humanity while unveiling a new constitution. Today, tens of thousands of Cuban troops serve as an occupation force in Venezuela, and Cuban officials are assisting the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua as it violently crushes dissent killing hundreds.
Finally, the fact that both Raul Castro and Josef Stalin served as head of their respective constitutional commissions, and personally invested great time rewriting their respective constitutions should be a cautionary reminder of the nature of the regime in Cuba for those now making optimistic assessments. Historian J. Arch Getty's words with regards to those who lauded Stalin's constitutional reforms should haunt many Cubanologists today:
Many who lauded Stalin's Soviet Union as the most democratic country on earth lived to regret their words. After all, the Soviet Constitution of 1936 was adopted on the eve of the Great Terror of the late 1930s; the "thoroughly democratic" elections to the first Supreme Soviet permitted only uncontested candidates and took place at the height of the savage violence in 1937. The civil rights, personal freedoms, and democratic forms promised in the Stalin constitution were trampled almost immediately and remained dead letters until long after Stalin's death.Raul Castro's reform of the Cuban Constitution seeks to advance socialist legality which means being more effective at crushing any attempts to offer a non-violent and legal alternative to the existing Communist regime. Considering the prominent role played by General Castro, one should call this newest charter of the Cuban regime, Castro's Constitution.