Cuba and its Parliament Active despite COVID-19

Homero Acosta, Secretario Parlamento cubano
Secretary of the National Assembly of People's Power, Homero Acosta Ávarez

Havana: For the first time, the Convention Center in Havana does not receive all the deputies to the Cuban Parliament. The meeting is held virtually due to the epidemiological situation generated by COVID-19.

In an interview with the National Secretary of the National Assembly of People’s Power, Homero Acosta Ávarez, the journalist Angelica Paredes, was interested in the characteristics of the Fifth Ordinary Period of Sessions of the National Assembly of the People’s Power, in its IX Legislature, convened for October 28th, as well as all its previous activities started from this Monday.

Certainly, the epidemic that, since last March, broke our normality, brought us unforeseen events, complexities and challenges; but the highest Cuban legislative body has kept working, according to the reality imposed by the pandemic.

Deputy Homero Acosta Álvarez, Secretary of the National Assembly of People’s Power and the Council of State, brings us closer to the subject.

In times of pandemic, the Cuban Parliament had to sit in a different way, but it remained active. Why do we say that during these seven months the National Assembly of People’s Power kept working in the country, with its sights set on the intense legislative exercise ahead?

It is necessary to understand in the parliamentary design that the Constitution recognizes, that our National Assembly, as the supreme body of the State Power, meets in an ordinary way in two periods in the year and that is happening at the moment. In December we must meet for the second period in compliance with the mandate of the Constitution, but the Assembly does not work only when it is in session in this Convention Center or as on this occasion it is doing it virtually.

Its auxiliary structures, the permanent commissions, also maintained their work through different channels and in the midst of these circumstances the commissions have carried out their work taking advantage of the mechanisms and new technologies, they have carried out control actions in the different territories, which is transferred directly to the Government to correct certain situations that are verified during these control actions.

In addition to this, the legislative activity has been maintained and, therefore, that means that each of the commissions in particular has to work with the projects, with the review of the projects, work on the opinions of the regulations that are going to be argued. It must not be forgotten that the National Assembly has a permanent body that represents it, which is in its place when it is not in session, and that is the Council of State.

It must be said that the Council of State has been meeting, it has held five meetings in this period, adopting very important decisions. 14 decree laws have been approved and different issues and problems of interest to the nation have been analyzed, therefore, we understand this operation in both situations, from the Council of State, from the commissions, from the auxiliary structures and the deputies.

We cannot let to mention the deputies, because there are deputies who have responsibilities in the nation, in the ministries, in the senior management structures, but there are also up to 50% of the members of this Parliament who are grassroots delegates. Precisely, these base delegates have had a very important work during this period of pandemic, they have been there face to face with our people, assuming a lot of responsibility, working with certain groups of vulnerable people, helping in the distribution of medicines, in the food, and even in the areas that have had to be quarantined, they have also been very active.

As we said in recent days, our people have given a plus to the recognition of the delegates and that is also a task that we consider important to understand in the functioning of the system of the organs of People’s Power.

Four draft laws are being debated and must be approved, but what are the challenges faced by Parliament in the face of a legislative agenda as intense as the one we are facing?

It must be expressed that there is a political will to carry out a legislative program approved by the Assembly, which will have to make adjustments, by virtue of the circumstances that we are developing and the period that, for example, we were unable to meet in July. There is a desire for this legislative program to be carried out, because there are fundamentally developed norms that are already in the Constitution, there is a group of norms that are in the transitory ones and others that develop constitutional content, and that will continue developing, implies the work of many of the organizations that are the speakers, the deputies and of many fellow specialists who participate in these processes.

As never before, in many years, the Assembly will have a very intense legislative exercise. We remembered that it would be in the first years of institutionalization, after 1976, with the new Constitution, that many laws had to be made, and today we are in a very similar situation, we even surpassed that initial moment.

And in the international arena, what are the challenges in this complex situation that the world is experiencing and also with the impact that Cuban legislative work has always had on foreign policy issues?

One of the commissions with the greatest work, which has had the greatest performance in this period, is the International Relations Commission, because it has been present in several forums of regional and international parliamentary bodies, denouncing the United States’ blockade policy against our country, raising the voice of Cuba in those scenarios, supporting the causes of the peoples, supporting social justice and the just international order that Cuba advocates in all international forums.

Complex days are to come, we are in a situation from the point of view of the world crisis that also has an effect on the international arena, and also has a reflection on our reality, but even when sirens sounded and praise sounded that the world It had changed and that the left had been left behind forever, especially in this Latin American scenario, today we see how progressive forces are reborn, the forces of the left.

We are convinced that this is a path that the peoples will travel and for that there is also the work of our parliamentarians, of our Assembly, based on those common objectives that we have in pursuit of a foreign policy in favor of our people and the causes jousting of this world.

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