Cuba’s new constitution aims to build socialism

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People walk in front of Cuba’s Capitol, or El Capitolio, in Havana, Cuba, July 21, 2018. Cuba’s national assembly is currently debating a draft of the document to replace its Soviet-era constitution. Reuters

HAVANA (Reuters) – A draft of Cuba’s new constitution omits the aim of building communism, recognises private property and opens the door to gay marriage, in a sign of changing times, although it keeps the Communist Party as the guiding force of the one-party system.

Cuba’s national assembly is currently debating a draft of the document to replace its Soviet-era constitution, reflecting political, social and economic changes designed to make its brand of socialism sustainable and implementing new ones too.

Once lawmakers have approved the draft, it will be submitted to a popular consultation. The final document, which could include changes, will then be put to a national referendum.

The current draft omits a clause in the 1976 constitution on the ultimate aim of building a “communist society”, instead simply focusing on socialism.

Laying out the new constitution to lawmakers on Saturday, the secretary of the council of state, Homero Acosta, said it included the recognition of private property, something long stigmatised by the Communist Party as a vestige of capitalism.

Cuba’s current constitution only recognises state, cooperative, farmer, personal and joint venture property.

Under the new constitution, the president will no longer be the head of the council of state and council of ministers.

One of the other top items at Saturday’s assembly was the recognition in the draft constitution of marriage as between two individuals rather than a man and a wife.

The draft also sets an age and term limits for presidents, stating they must be under 60 when they first take office and can carry out no more than two consecutive five-year terms.

This month, Cuba issued some regulations to limit business licenses to one per person.

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