Cuba Gets Closer To Having a New Family Code

By Alejandra Garcia on April 21, 2022

Joanna Pereira being interviewed by Alejandra Garcia

At the end of April, Cuba will conclude the process of popular discussion of the Family Code, a legal initiative that seeks to be an agreed upon portrait of Cuban society. It came out of necessity, because much has changed in the island’s social panorama since the 1970s, when the current Code came into existence.

Today, families are diverse, and their reality has changed, this was the conclusion reached by millions of Cubans who, from every community and even from their profiles on social networks, have debated and enriched the document and have been part of this essential and urgent process.

Migration, the digital world, and modernity are aspects that cut across our society and have also motivated this process of Cuba’s ongoing social transformation.

Recently, Resumen Latinoamericano and the Union of Journalists of Cuba (UPEC) talked to the vice Dean of the Faculty of Law of the University of Havana, Joanna Pereira, when the process of popular consultation’s about to end. She is one of the experts who helped designed the new Code, which seeks equity and equality, and adds rights for all.

– Why was a Family Code so necessary?

JP: The social interest that the document has aroused in recent months shows how important it has been for our society. Thanks to it, people took to social networks to share their personal stories, to show that, thanks to the creation of the new Code, we all have the same rights, regardless of our gender identity, race, or sexual orientation.

Through the process of popular debate, we were able to learn the story of Pauli, a boy who lives happily with two moms. Or the personal testimony of Dailene Dovale, who lives with her grandparents since her mother left the country. And we also met Gabriela Gonzalez, a trans woman who wanted to dress as a girl since she was a child.

The approval of the new Constitution of the Republic, in 2019, triggered an incredible dizzying process of reforms. Since then, bills on small and medium-sized enterprises, and various other topics, have been created. But no initiative has been as hotly debated as the Families Code.

– It is said that this is a code of affections. Why?

JP: Until now, the world of law had a cold look towards everything related to the family sphere, and it was limited to conflicts, such as marriages, divorces, separation of property, and so on. Above all, it defended the traditional family: mother, father, child. The new version of the Code proposes a more human vision, closer to the people, fairer to our society. It prioritizes and enhances affection and love.

Thanks to the vision of psychologists and sociologists, we include all the types of affections that can make up a family, which can be composed of a mother and a father, two mothers, two fathers, grandparents and grandchildren.

– What changes does the document introduce regarding parenting relationships and family plurality?

JP: It enhances parental responsibility and adds the rights and duties to be fulfilled by parents towards their children and vice versa. It does not remove a single right from those included in the current Code, but adds many others.

It eliminates, for example, child marriage. Before this achievement, the island allowed the marriage of girls over 14 years old and boys over 16, as long as they had their legal guardians’ authorization. Once this occurred, parents lost their legal authority over them.

In addition, it recognizes the progressive autonomy of minors. This term means that parents or legal guardians must protect and assume the responsibilities from their children, based according to their age and needs.

For example, when we have a three-year-old child, we take him to the park by the hand to protect him from danger. When he is six years old, we take him to the playground, but this time, we let him play around alone.

When he is ten years old, the child will go alone to the park, and we will watch him from afar. When he turns 15, he will want to go to other places appropriate to his age. At that time, we will have confidence in him, and we will know what to expect of him. This is what we mean by progressive autonomy.

– What new aspects does it introduce on population aging?

JP: Thanks to the document, the protection of the elderly, as well as vulnerable or disabled people, is expanded.

In many of our households, several generations live along, all together, while in others, the elderly live by themselves. Therefore, the document leaves no one behind.

It includes grandparents that will have the right to communicate with their grandchildren, and they will have their temporary guardianship, in case their parents are off the island.

Likewise, they will be able to choose where to spend their retirement, whether in a nursing home or at home, to decide who will be responsible for them, to whom they will leave their property, if they have any… The document will empower their will and freedom.

– How far is the Code from coming into force?

JP: There is still a long way to go. After finishing the popular consultation stage, the Cuban Assembly will debate the version enriched with the people’s comments. Then, it will be submitted to the people’s vote. And finally, authorities will give it another time frame for its entry into law. But we are getting closer.

Source: Resumen Latinoamericano –  English