Project description

Since last year, Cuba went through a series of interesting moments that changed the political, social and economic context. On April 10 a new constitution will be proclaimed and will be ruling the destinies of our country. This document had a long process before being approved. First, it was proposed by a Constitutional Commission that proposed a first draft. This project was widely debated in a physical way by the Cubans and the annotations that were made in those debates were recorded to conform what would later be the final document that was approved in Referendum on February 24, 2019. Next April 10 it will be official.

In Postdata.club we made one of the most profound coverages of this phenomenon, both by providing voters with an app to inform themselves and writing relevant proposals or comments on related topics and also, from the approach with data to the results of the process.

At first, discussions about the project began to appear also in digital spaces such as social network discussion groups and comments in official publications. However, these debates were not structured and Postdata.club created an app that allowed users to comment on each articles of the project. Besides that they can compare every article with the similar ones of the previous constitution and see the differences between them ( additions, suppressions, moves and changes). Also you can search in the document, and go to the debate related to the issue you were searching.

This tool was very useful insofar as it led to a structured debate, but also in that it gathered expert analysis, which allowed readers to learn from the debate and, when voting, to make it known. The data from the constitutions comparison as well all the comments and proposal were widely used by different media and organization

Also, during the constitutional reform process we did analysis from data perspective of the most controversial topics that were discused among the people.Thus, we approach the restrictions of age, mandate and eligibility that will have the President of the Republic of Cuba. On the other hand, in the text \”Same-gender marriage is not new in the world\” we analyzed, in comparison with other countries, the issue of homosexual marriage, one of the most debated issues which appeared in the project but ultimately did not go to the final document. Other approaches to the constitution occurred in the texts \”Remote voting: a right to conquer\”, \”Direct participation of citizens: a debt\” \”Provincial councils, less is more?\” And \”How constitutions are reformed\”, each one of them he mentions aspects that the Magna Carta collected and that were novel, such as the new way of reforming the Constitution or other matters that should have been included in the new law, such as distance voting. For these
we used a lot of data (the constitutions of more than 200 countries, the laws of this countries, the cuban laws and many other documents)

After the debate, we approach the results. At this time, we proceeded to analyze the numbers resulting from the discussion on our site and also the comments and interactions in a Facebook group that turned out to be one of the most active during the consultation process.

We also made a complete analysis of the differences between the project and the final constitutional document. To do this, we did not limit ourselves to comparison, but we approached key words that had varied in their use, as well as the analysis of each title on whether the changes had really been significant or whether they were style corrections and drafting.

Finally, we made a short analysis of the referendum results and made a summary of the long research we have been doing for so long.

What makes this project innovative?

This is the first time that a debate of so much public interest was analyzed from the data. With the information that we made available to people, they had more elements to exercise their right to vote. In Postdata.club we not only focused on the analysis but also wanted to promote citizen participation in the best possible way. So we proposed the only participatory tool focused on this purpose. All the works we developed were also offered in a friendly and enjoyable way, from the interactive visualizations of data, which made the coverage more attractive for those interested. It is also innovative that the tool proposed by us was the only one that offered the opportunity to debate the constitution project in a structured way in online spaces. This tool, in addition, showed a detailed comparison of the changes between the current constitution and the constitution that was proposed, so that the differences with respect to similar articles could be visualized.  In addition, our analyzes were very complete insofar as they included data on the constitutions of more than 200 countries, added to the historical data that we gathered about constitutions in Cuba. We also use all kinds of available sources, from official ones to international ones, and to round up our analysis we rely on information extracted from social networks, legal documents, legislation and press releases. Thus we covered the whole process from the beginning of the popular consultation process until the constitution was voted in referendum.

What was the impact of your project? How did you measure it?

In the debate generated in the tool proposed by Postdata.club, more than 760 amendments were proposed to the Constitution, which was relevant to the extent that the decision makers could also access the results of this debate, which in the long run would mean including the opinion of hundreds of Cubans in the new Magna Carta. All our texts and tools, as well as the databases that we made available to readers, were widely received and were reproduced on social networks. They were also widely used as sources of other research. In addition to being used as a source, our work was mentioned in many news sites, which we referred to as reliable information on the subject of the approval of a new Constitution in Cuba. Many sites also praised our work and partially replicated our results and analysis. In the Facebook group that was created to discuss the draft constitution, our work was also cited many times to clarify doubts and indicate thematic lines. The tool proposed was the one that was used as a reference for those who analyzed the process. In this sense, we received notifications from Ambassadors of the diplomatic staff accredited in the country that they were using it in this regard and who recommended it for their use. We were also notified that it was used in discussions and diplomatic representations of Cubans outside the country. We were invited to various events and meetings so that we could discuss our work on the subject. Several of our works and analyzes were republished in other media. And our data and conclusions were used and cited in many other texts made by researchers, institutions and media.

Source and methodology

To carry out the application, we first take the constitution draft and the constitution that would be reformed to plain text. Then, using similarity metrics, we look for the most similar paragraphs between the two documents. From here we perform the curatorship manually verifying both the similar articles as well as noting the differences between one and the other. All this was structured in a document in JSON format. With this document the tool for the debate was built. Thus, similar items and their differences could be identified. Likewise, the tool was provided with a navigation structure so that one could reach any article in debate in multiple ways. Likewise, a search index was created so that the articles that were searched for could be found quickly. For the debate was created, given the nature of Postdata.club published from Github, for each article a discussion thread in discuss and this was done bygrammatically. All this was done from the browser without the need for new connections. For the analyzes, data from multiple data sources were used. The Constitute.org project was used, as well as the IDEA project, the Cuban laws published in the Official Gazette, and other informations published on the media. In each case, analyzes focused on the topics of discussion were made. With them, databases were structured that were used both for the construction of the works and for the visualization of data. For the analysis of the tool, all Disqus proposals were downloaded and processed in python by programs created by us for this purpose. In the case of Facebook, the statistical information of the Discussion Group was downloaded and the analysis was made based on it. Once the final text of the Constitution was published, all the previous analyzes were taken and the different issues were discussed as a team. Likewise, in a procedure similar to the one carried out to identify the changes between the draft constitution and the one that was reformed, the changes between the Constitutional Project and the final text that would be put to a vote were identified. To analyze the final voting data, the official data of the National Electoral Commission were taken, as well as the statistics of previous electoral processes that were published in the last published statistical yearbook of Cuba.

Technologies Used

Spacy and NLTK were used to work with the computational texts and other texts and everything was programmed in python. All the data was structured in files in json format. Disqus was used as a backend for discussions in the app. Lunr was used for indexing and text search in the browser. For the interactive graphics, D3JS and C3JS were used. JVectormap was used to work with maps. For minimalist graphics, the Peity library was used. All this was programmed in Javascript using JQuery, HTML5, CSS3 and CSS libraries like Bootstrap and Simptip.

Project members

Yudivián Almeida Saimi Reyes Ernesto Guerra

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