• Thursday, Dec 03, 2020
  • Last Update : 08:42 pm

Cuban lawmakers approve new constitution which heads to referendum

  • Published at 09:56 pm December 23rd, 2018
Miguel Diaz Canel-Cuba President
Cuba's President Miguel Diaz-Canel attends a session of the National Assembly in Havana, Cuba, December 21, 2018 Reuters

The 58-year-old took office from his mentor Raul Castro in April although the latter remains head of the Communist Party until 2021

Cuban lawmakers on Saturday unanimously approved a revised draft of a new constitution that retains the island's one-party socialist system but reflects its socio-economic opening since the fall of the Soviet Union.

The draft new constitution, which has 229 articles and will replace a Cold War era one, will maintain the Communist Party as the country's guiding force and the state's dominance of the economy, according to state-run media. A copy has not yet been distributed to the public.

The document, however also, legitimizes private business that has blossomed over the last decade, acknowledges the importance of foreign investment and opens the door to gay marriage, according to state-run media.

It imposes age and term limits on the presidency, after late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and his younger brother Raul Castro ruled the country for nearly six decades, and introduce the role of a prime minister.

The current draft incorporates into an original one published in July hundreds of mainly small changes proposed by citizens during a three-month public consultation at community meetings nationwide. It will go to a referendum next February 24.

"This process is a genuine and exceptional demonstration of the practise of power by the people and therefore of the markedly participative and democratic nature of our political system," President Miguel Diaz-Canel told the national assembly in a speech closing its week-long, twice-yearly session.

The 58-year-old took office from his mentor Raul Castro in April although the latter remains head of the Communist Party until 2021.

Critics say the fundamentals of Cuba's system were never up for discussion and the government only included suggestions it wanted to.

Some, including opposition groups that typically do not mobilize many people, are already campaigning against the constitution online using the hashtag #yovotono ("I vote no").

One of the articles revised regards the accumulation of property. Whereas the first draft originally banned this, the revised constitution simply stipulates that the state must regulate it, according to state-run media.

However the latest draft also reinserts the aim of "advancing towards communism" that was taken out of the first draft.

One controversial revision is the elimination of an article that recognized matrimony as the union of two persons as opposed to the union between a man and a woman as in the 1976 constitution.

That article was the one that sparked the most controversy in a society that has made great strides in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in recent years but remains conservative on the topic.

The new draft removes the definition of marriage altogether thus still opening the door to same-sex union albeit not giving it the same symbolic level of backing.

The government has said instead it will update the family code and put it to a referendum in the next two years.

"There is no setback," wrote Mariela Castro, the daughter of Raul Castro, who has championed LGBT rights in Cuba in recent years, on Facebook.

"The fight continues; let's give a 'yes' to the constitution and then close ranks to achieve a family code as advanced as the new constitutional text."

She asked for permission to briefly interrupt the assembly meet on Saturday to hug her father in an unusual public display of affection within the Castro family, thanking him for his example "as a parent and as a revolutionary", sparking applause.

Still, the decision to put the family code to a referendum has angered Cuban intellectuals who say fundamental human rights should not be put up for vote. Other laws have not been put to a referendum.

"Equal rights to marriage in Cuba should be a presidential decree, not a referendum that exonerates the state from responsibility and opens the door to conservative homophobia," said Harold Cardenas, a professor of Marxism and blogger.

50
50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail