Cuba: The New Family Code; an Historic Leap

By Ángel Guerra Cabrera on September 22, 2022

Humanity is Diversity. photo: Bill Hackwell

On September 25, the Cuban people will be voting in the referendum for the approval or rejection of the Code of Families. The new legal instrument will codify a set of very advanced rights for which Cuban society and the State have been fighting and will convert into legal text new realities arising from a much more diverse population. The new order creates institutions radically opposed to patriarchal and homophobic conceptions and practices on the organization of the family and society.

As a great liberating event, the Cuban revolution early on oriented its steps towards the broadening of the rights of all members of society. The right to equality between men and women, the rights of boys and girls, the rights of the elderly. The eradication of illiteracy, the frontal battle against racism and discrimination based on skin color, sex or national or rural origin were very early part of the greatest efforts of the young revolution. The deed initiated with the attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953 has constituted a great forging of thought and practice for the betterment of human beings.

Fidel Castro and the revolutionary leadership always expressed, acted and fought for the most ambitious expansion and deepening of the rights of human beings. The family and the rights of its members, as a central element in the organization of society, underwent important cultural and spiritual transformations through the participation of its members in the construction of the new society. Men gradually lost the hegemonic position they had in the neocolonial capitalist society to stand side by side with women on an equal footing. The tremendous effort of the heroine of the revolution Vilma Espín to achieve this and arrive where it is today must be recognized.

The new reality required a new legal system to give it legal support. The same is valid for education and children’s rights. Thus, in 1975, the Family Code was approved, an instrument that managed to turn these transformations into a norm. However, despite having undergone modifications, in the 21st century that legislation was far from reflecting the new realities, dreams and aspirations of Cuban society. In this regard, Dr. Ana María Álvarez Tabío, a specialist in Civil and Family Property Law at the University of Havana, states: “Aware of the changes, needs, expectations and realities of the contemporary Cuban family, the Constitution of the Republic of 2019 introduced a series of principles that have radically transformed the traditional criterion that of this important social group has prevailed for too long and of its rights as an institution, as well as those that correspond to each of the members of the same, starting from the value-principle of dignity… Transposed to the family level means…. the right of all persons to contract marriage and to found a family, to organize it in the form dictated by their convictions, to have access to all the institutions that are protected in the family space, to the balanced use of time that allows them to develop integrally without domestic and care overloads and to the co-responsibility in the tasks of caring for the children and those needed by the rest of the members in the different stages of their lives”. The new instrument speaks of families in the plural, because it recognizes that there are already several types of families.

The drafting of this code has been lengthy and, from the early stages, has involved highly qualified specialists in law, psychology, sociology, demography, statistics and other areas of the social sciences. Subsequently, the text was the subject of a broad debate among specialists from all over Cuba between September 25 and October 15, 2021, from which a new version was submitted to popular consultation between February and April 2022, in which 61.97 percent of the more than 6 million participants expressed themselves in favor of the proposal. This explains why the version submitted for approval by the National Assembly of People’s Power was number 25. The Family Code is the first law of this nature in the world to be submitted to referendum.

In Cuba, despite the existence of a deep-rooted tradition of popular consultation, only two referendums have been held, which submitted to popular vote the constitutions of 1976 and 2019.  Socialist democracy and the Cuban tradition of consensus building require making popular consultation a daily instrument, even for decisions about the municipality. Naturally, the hate-mongers have already poured all the venom in existence against the new code. They cannot imagine how much this prefigures a splendid Cuba of the future.

Source: La Pupilia Insomne, translation Resumen Latinoamericano – US