Cubans to vote on new constitution

Global Business

The Cuban parliament adopted a final draft of the island nation’s new constitution last December.

It establishes the most important changes to the constitution since 1976, including the recognition of owning private property on the island.

Even for those who have started up projects under a self-employment license, the new Cuban charter will open doors to greater possibilities.

CGTN’s Luis Chirino reports.

More than 8 million Cubans are expected to go to the polls this Sunday to vote on a new constitution that would shape the country’s economic, social and political future.

A final draft of the new constitution was adopted by the Cuban parliament last December after the document was submitted to the people’s discussion island wide. The charter establishes important changes including the recognition of owning private property.

Niuris Higueras is one of many Cuban citizens who launched a private business under a government decree, which expanded what is known as self-employment back in 2010. She opened her own restaurant: “This is a family project on our own capital, and I was favored by that opportunity they initially gave us so that we could develop our own projects to live on.”

For years the development of the private initiative in Cuba was ruled by government decrees alone, however, the new constitution establishes a legal framework protecting this non-state economic sector, and this is good, Higueras pointed out: “I think it’s a big recognition since we now really have our space, right? Of course, I would also like to see the approval of small and medium enterprises, though I think it’s a good step to see that the Constitution takes it into account.”

But the recognition of private enterprises beyond what is defined as self-employment depends on the materialization of new legislations according to political analyst Rafael Hernandez. ”The law will define what is medium and small; it is fundamental to separate the micro-enterprise, which is the family business from the medium and the small enterprise in order to make a clear difference.”

At present, over half a million Cubans are involved in the private economic sector which represents 13 percent of the island’s labor force.

The new charter to be submitted to popular referendum on Sunday also includes other important changes related to the government structure and performance, the presidential age and term limits, social and economic rights, among other areas.

If the Cuban people ratify the new charter on Sunday, they will have agreed to a restructured government and a new constitutional order in tune with the country’s current times.

Luis Carlos Battista discusses the first major changes to Cuba’s constitution since 1976

CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke to Luis Carlos Battista about the first major changes to Cuba’s constitution since 1976.