By Guillermo Nova (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban Parliament approved Sunday the bill to reform the current Constitution, which will introduce the recognition of private property, the role of the market in the socialist economy, and opens the doors to same-sex marriage.
The 1976 Constitution only recognized state property and the agricultural cooperative, in addition to the ownership of housing and other assets, while now the new article will include “other forms of property such as cooperatives, mixed ownership and private property.”
The new text eliminates the goal of working for the “advance towards the communist society”, a topic that generated controversies among some deputies who considered that suppressing the text was losing the essence.
“This does not mean that we renounce our ideas, only that in our vision we think of a socialist, sovereign, independent, prosperous and sustainable country,” said Esteban Lazo, president of the National Assembly.
Lazo recalled that the context was different when the Constitution was approved in 1976, and “the world lived other situations.” In the 1990s there was “the destruction of the socialist camp and all the rest we already know”, in reference to the economic crisis that the country experienced as the “Special Period”.
Despite the elimination of communism in the Constitution, the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) will continue to be recognized as the only legal entity in the country and will maintain its status as the “highest leading force in society and the State.”
The new text will also recognize the role of foreign investment for the growth of the national economy, seeking to transmit confidence to foreign entrepreneurs to invest in the island.
Cuban authorities have repeatedly acknowledged that they need to attract more than 2.5 billion dollars a year from foreign investments in order to for the national economy to grow.
One of the points that generated more debates was the modification of Article 68, which considered marriage between a man and a woman the only possibility, to replace it with a broader formula that talks about marriage between two people, in response to the demands of the LGTBI community (lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual and intersex).
The change was approved without objection from the legislators who approved it Sunday. However, a proposal by deputy Mariela Castro, daughter of former President Raúl Castro, to change the final part of the article to make possible adoption by any married couple was not accepted.
The deputy proposed to delete the paragraphs in which the reproductive condition of marriage is explicit. “If you are saying that marriage has reproductive purposes, then all Cuban families must be guaranteed by the State the rights and ways to achieve these ends,” said Mariela Castro.
After more than two hours of debate, the deputies agreed to approve the same-sex marriage and leave the issue of adoptions for the drafting of the new Family Code.
The reformed constitution seeks to adapt the economic, political and social reality of Cuba and that of the international community, explained Secretary of the Council of State, Homero Acosta, an official of the highest confidence of Raúl Castro and who is the architect of institutional reforms on the island.
Once approved by the deputies, a process of popular consultations will take place in neighborhoods and businesses between August 13 and November 15. The start date was selected because it coincides with the day the former Cuban president Fidel Castro was born in 1926.
The current president, Miguel Diaz-Canel, encouraged the population to “freely express their opinions so that the text reflects today’s Cuba and the future of the country.”
When the debates are over, citizens will vote in a referendum to ratify the text, although there is no announced date yet. Then a period of one year opens to adapt norms in the Penal, Family and Civil Code to the future constitution.