Cubans Citizens at Home and Abroad Examine New Constitution


By Ivette Hernandez

Havana.- Cubans continue to analyze in and out of the island the draft Constitution, a process that began on August 13 and will close on November 15.

Different opinions have emerged from the debates, which are held in schools, factories, workplaces, civil and military centers and in the most remote Cuban communities. The Cuban people call this process heartening and democratic.

The changes proposed for the structure of the State, the creation of the position of the president, the prime minister and governors, citizens’ rights and duties, economic issues and the definition of marriage are among the most debated topics.

The participants have praised the autonomy that the constitutional reform gives local governments and have proposed that concepts such as concentration of property be clarified, so that they are not subject to personal interpretation by ministers or other officials.

As for marriage, conservative opinions are in favor of leaving it the way it is in the current Constitution -between a man and a woman. However, others support the idea of recognizing same sex marriage, because it would mean a step forward for human rights in Cuba.

It has been also suggested that labor be described as an obligation and not a duty. Another proposed paragraph reads that salaries must match the current levels of prices and consumption.

The creation and implementation of programs that increase the attention to the elderly has been suggested as well, taking into consideration that the Cuban population is aging rapidly. In this regard, some people have referred to the importance of increasing the birthrate through programs for fertility and family planning.

Several people have advocated for the right to euthanasia to be included in the constitution, and others call for greater attention to the rights of animals and stricter laws against those who disrupt citizen’s tranquility.

Similarly, it has been stressed that the president should remain in power longer than what the constitutional documents proposes -two consecutive five-year terms- as long as that person is in full command of his/her physical and mental faculties and has had a successful performance.

It has also been suggested that the citizens vote for the president directly.

As part of an unprecedented event, over 1,400,000 Cuban residents abroad have been giving their opinions about the draft constitution since the first week of September, through a section available on the Cuban Foreign Ministry’s (MINREX) website Nación y Emigración (Nation and Emigration).

The draft document reforms the entire Constitution and ratifies the socialist character of the State and the role of the Communist Party of Cuba as the main pillar for the country’s unity and political, economic and social order.

It grants constitutional status to several foreign policy principles defended by the Cuban Revolution for decades, calls for world peace, Latin American and Caribbean integration and environmental protection.

The doubts and opinions collected during the popular consultation will be analyzed by Parliament to draft the final version which will then be voted on by the Cuban people.

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