HAVANA TIMES – Cubans have approved a new constitution with almost 87% voting in favor, the country’s National Electoral Commission said Monday, reported dpa news.
Just over 7.8 million voters (84.4%) participated in Sunday’s referendum, with the election authorities saying 6,816,169 million (86.85% voting in favor and 706,400 – 9% – voting against. They said About 4% submitted blank or spoiled ballots.
In all, around 13% of those going to the polls rejected the massive call from the Communist Party and government to vote SI (Yes).
The current constitution was approved in 1976 by nearly 98% of voters.
The Campaign for the New Constitution
The government carried out a saturation campaign in favor of the SI vote with some of its supporters dubbing those opposed counter-revolutionaries and non-Cubans.
Only publicity for voting SI was allowed in the State-controlled media, on billboards, public buildings, buses and on the streets. On TV programs to discuss the Constitution up for referendum, only voices in favor were allowed.
Those preferring a NO vote or Abstention were limited to independent websites and the social networks in a country where most citizens are not readily connected due to the relatively high price for Internet use.
There are some changes
The new text acknowledges the right to private property, the existence of markets and the importance of foreign investment. It maintains the State businesses as the favored mainstay of the centralized economy when it comes to public or foreign investment.
Meanwhile, Cubans living on the Island and abroad are not allowed to invest in the more lucrative business opportunities, only open to the foreign investors and the State.
It also introduces the figure of a prime minister and reduces presidential terms to two 5-year terms – previously unlimited for the sake of Fidel Castro.
Significantly, the final version eliminates a formulation which would have paved the way for gay marriage. It was opposed by evangelical churches and conservative communists.
The constitution maintains both socialism as the state ideology and a one-party system. Raul Castro is the leader of the Cuban Communist Party.