Cuba constitution referendum date set for February 2019

The national referendum to ratify Cuba's new constitution will take place on February 24, 2019, state television said Thursday.

The Caribbean nation's parliament in July approved a new draft constitution that will be submitted for citizens to debate from August 13 to November 15. The current version was passed in 1976.

"We have a very important challenge, which is to prepare ourselves to participate in the consultation process for our new constitution and the unconditional support on February 24," Revolutionary Armed Forces major Lazaro Arronte told channel Cubavision.

The new constitution would recognize for the first time the role of the market and private sector in the island's heavily controlled socialist economy, though under the watchful eye of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC).

The changes would give legal backing to economic reforms initiated a decade ago by former president Raul Castro, which have now been left in the hands of his successor Miguel Diaz-Canel.

The document would also provide a legal path for same-sex marriage, an important demand of the socialist island's LGBT community.

Cuba plans to let its 1.4 million expatriate citizens contribute to its new constitution, the first time emigrants will have a say in the island's affairs since the 1959 revolution. However, it is not known if they will be able to participate in the referendum.

The referendum's date coincides with the anniversary of the proclamation of the current 1976 constitution -- and with the beginning of the Cuban War of Independence in 1895.

  • Published in Cuba

A country (and a Constitution) with Everyone and for Everyone

The Republic’s first law should be that of respect to the dignity of all its children. In the country we dream and need, there cannot be space for discrimination.

The fact that the new Constitution of the Republic of Cuba explicitly rejects any discrimination is an achievement of all Cubans, regardless their beliefs, age, gender, skin color, skills, sexual orientation…

Without euphemisms, with all the letters, the project that is now reviewed by the citizenship opens a path for the effective reformation of some laws that still hinder (even, without the expressed attempt of doing so) the full exercise of rights.

That should be the nation dreamt by José Martí, of everyone and for everyone’s welfare. We must approach it dialectically. Because to try to arbitrarily compare views from the nineteenth century with those of the XXI century would mean to ignore the contributions of so many years of struggle and debates in all fields: social, political, cultural, economic…

The renovating postulates of this project of Constitution (they are many, although few focus on article 68 that establishes that marriage is the union between two people, without sex specifications), are not anyone’s whim: they are the outcome of deep reflection that has taken into account the demands and just aspirations of the citizenship.

The Constitution, obviously, is not enough to solve all conflicts. But it’s an indispensable rule: the beginning of a path that concerns us all. It’s not, it cannot be, a despotic imposition; it has to be the result of a national, respectful and deep debate, free of prejudices and devious interests.

It’s not worthy to negotiate a right: there are absolute rights. Granting them to those who don't enjoy them doesn't mean to strip them off of those who already have them. The limit of a man’s freedom is the one set by the freedom of another.

Can anyone affirm—speaking of the aforementioned article— that giving the right to two men or two women to get married, takes away that same right from a man and a woman?

There will be conceptual debates (let them be welcomed if they are respectful and well founded); but the right exists.

Education guarantees that the necessary changes can be assumed with fewer traumas, from convincing and not from imposition.

But education has to be a permanent process. There is so much left to educate, and much to discuss. But the Constitution should guarantee the foundation of that education and that discussion: to lay the road.

When the Revolution established laws against skin color or sex discrimination, not the entire population was persuaded of the need of those laws.

Racism and machismo were deep rooted in Cuban society. Does it mean that laws eliminated all manifestations of racism and machismo? Regrettably that was not true. But the law offered shelter to millions of people who were direct or indirectly discriminated against. And it was platform for an educational work that doesn't end, but that has attained unquestionable results.

To conquer all justice: that must be the objective of socialism. In order to achieve this, we must have a modern, functional, effective legal system, in permanent dialogue with the science and the conscience.

We need to learn from the past to build the present; we must take a look back to remember what we’ve done, but it’s imperative to look forward: a country, and a Constitution, where we all fit in.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

Draft of New Constitution in Cuba, the People Have the Floor

The People's Power National Assembly (Parliament) called on Cubans to express their criteria on the Draft Constitution that would replace the carta magna in force since 1976 with a document according to the transformations under way in the country.

Gathered at the first plenary session of the 9th Legislature (2018-2023) at Havana's Conference Center on Sunday, the lawmakers agreed on holding a popular consultation from August 13 to November 15, after which the text would return to Parliament.

Enriched by the opinions of Cubans, the Draft Constitution would be shaped at the National Assembly before being submitted to a referendum for its approval or not.

When speaking at the closing of the first ordinary session of the 9th Legislature on Sunday, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel noted the importance of the consultation, as it is an 'exercise of direct participation by the people' and 'will acquire more political relevance and will be another example that the Revolution is based on the most genuine democracy'.

Every Cuban will be able to express their opinions freely and contribute to achieving a constitutional text that will show the today and future of the Homeland, the president noted.

The draft of the new Constitution ratifies Cuba's socialist nature and contains changes in the structure of the State, including the creation of the posts of president and vice president of the Republic and prime minister to replace the current president of the Councils of State and Ministers.

It also expands people's rights by including matters like the guarantees of due process, habeas corpus, the presumption of innocence and the social reinsertion of prisoners.

It also includes several forms of ownership, including socialist property of the entire people, mixed and private properties, and changes in the institution of marriage, as it defines it as the union of two persons, while the current Constitution establishes the voluntary and agreed union between a man and a woman.

The proposal on the modification of the institution of marriage was one of the most debated here and perhaps the most reported one internationally.

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New Constitutional Reformation in Cuba: Following Life

The people will have its saying in the coming constitutional reformation that looms ahead. Not just for the civic rights that benefit it, but because Cuba as it is today is not the same of ten years ago.

And that, of course should be evident in the so-call Magna Carta.

First will be the deputies to the National Assembly of People’s Power who you/they will have the chance to assess and propose approaches about the preliminary draft law of what will be the new Constitution of the Republic.

After that the people, in every last of the districts, workplaces, and educational centers will debate chapter after chapter what should remain or needs to be changed.

CubaSí presents today the approach of three university students from Law School who not only have the vision of the people, but also that of a professional.

"The Constitution should respond to the reality of a country therefore, the constitutional reformation is a common process, a matter of upgrading, that is, the true reality of a country should be reflected in its judicial reality", explained Alejandro Redondo, from Havana University.

Unaware of how deep the changes will be, the young man affirmed that if we take into account the upgrading process of the Cuban economic and social model. We can tell that the inclusion of private property will be among the modifications, which today is not included in the text.

Another matter, very discussed in the last years, is the issue of same-sex marriage. "Although the modification of the Family Code is a working process, there is a constitutional barrier that forbids the same-sex marriage; the current Constitution only rules marriage between a man and a woman.

"This is one of the matters I’d like to approach, keeping in mind that we live in a progressive nation. For society, this would strengthen the equality among all Cubans. That is we are all equals, before the law."

Alejandro highlighted his faith in the Commission in charge of writing this preliminary draft law (presided over by the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Party, Army General Raúl Castro) and he commented: “We are proud and honored that the national president of the University Student Federation, Raúl Alejandro Palmero is in it. Then we can also infer that the interests of students will count."

A similar viewpoint of the matter is that of Claudia Castañeda Sueiro, from Granma University. "Our laws must resemble what we are living, and the reformation is necessary because Cuba has changed, but there are other elements that need a new look, like the recognition of same-sex marriages.

"Besides the necessary changes, according with the new times, our Magna Carta will maintain its socialist essence, always keeping in mind that the world changes and that Cuba cannot fall behind. This reformation is going to be the reflection of what we’ve been lived these years, of the work done on laws, and the judicial knowledge our population has acquired.

"If in 1976 more than 97% of voters they said yes to the project of Constitution, I believe that now the process of popular referendum will bring a larger figure. The Cuban people sticks to its principles."

José Ángel Fernández Castañeda, from Oriente University, national vice-president of the University Students Federation - recently elected in its 9th Congress – highlighted that the importance of the Carta Magna upgrade has to do with the very national dynamics as well as the execution of the Guidelines for the Economic and Social Politics of the Party and the Revolution.

The reformation will give greater judicial security - he commented - and citizens will have the possibility to participate in its passing. Our Constitution since year 1976, when it was approved by 97,7% of voters, it has only had three modifications, a formal modification in 1978, and two others in 1992 and 2002.

"What to modify? The changes should include the new forms of property, keeping in mind self-employed workers, as well as the foreign investment. What I mean is that the reformation must consider all points of view, and not just economy.

“It’s indispensable to upgrade the Constitution, it should reflect our reality. The reformation should defend, especially, those articles that are irreversible for principles, because somehow we’ll be preserving the Revolution”.

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

Preliminary Draft of Cuban Constitutional Reform under Study

The 7th Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) looked into the constitutional draft that introduces important reforms to the Magna Carta, Granma newspaper reported Wednesday.

In the two-day meeting, chaired by First Secretary of the Central Committee of the PCC, Raul Castro, it was explained that although the draft contains significant changes to the law of laws of the island, it will maintain the fundamental precepts of socialism as a political and social system.

Without elaborating details the report adds that at the end of the debate, Raul Castro who chairs the temporary commission charged with drawing up the draft of the new Magna Carta, highlighted the political significance of the ongoing process.

The aforementioned working group is made up of, among others, the president of the island, Miguel Diaz-Canel, and the second secretary of the Central Committee of the Party, Jose Ramon Machado Ventura.

The Cuban leader said in the National Assembly the importance of the work done since last month by the 33 members of the commission, considering that the Constitution, in force since 1976, responds to historical circumstances that have changed over time.

On that occasion, he insisted that the enunciation of the Magna Carta will take into account the humanist and social justice principles prevailing in the island, as well as the irreversibility of the socialist system adopted by the people in 2002, in the last reform.

The project that is approved by the deputies will be submitted to popular consultation and later to referendum, after being analyzed in the National Assembly of People's Power, convened for the July 21.

  • Published in Cuba
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