HAVANA TIMES – Cuba’s National Assembly on Saturday voted unanimously in favor of a new draft constitution, with its latest modifications, the government newspaper Granma reported, finalizing the path for a referendum on its approval.
All 583 present out of the 602 lawmakers voted in its favor, – absent lawmakers accounted for the 19 missing votes, according to Granma. In Cuba, it is customary that legislation is passed unanimously, and would actually be big news if one legislator raised their hand in opposition or even abstained.
The new constitution, which will replace the 1976 version, will be submitted to a referendum on February 24.
A small difference between the 1976 constitution and the draft is that the new document makes no mention of the goal of reaching a communist society, though it does reaffirm the socialist nature of the political system and the dominant role of the Communist Party, the only legal political party.
The draft also recognizes the existence of private property, mentions the role markets can play and the importance of foreign corporate investment. It does not mention investment by Cuban citizens residing on the island nor those living abroad.
Language in the intial draft that could have opened the way to the legalization of same-sex marriage was removed from the final document to be submitted to a public referendum, following pressure from Evangelical churches and homophobes within the Communist Party itself.
While the government is expected to use all its resources to encourage citizens to vote “Yes” in the referendum, those opposed to the draft constitution for different reasons will not have access to “public” media to encourage a “No” vote.