Cuba enacts new constitution amid concern for the economy

 

Guillermo Nova, DPA

 

HAVANA – Cuba's parliament on Wednesday enacted a new constitution maintaining the one-party system but allowing economic openings, amid concern over the deterioration of the island's economy.

 

The constitution, which replaces the 1976 one, was approved by more than 86% of voters in a February referendum.

 

It reaffirms the socialist nature of the political system and the leading role of the Communist Party, but allows for a small economic opening after decades of state monopoly.

 

The text recognizes the right to private property, the role markets can play and the importance of foreign investment.

 

"The new constitution is a daughter of its time and reflects the diversity of society. It will be a legacy for the new generations of Cubans," former President Raul Castro, who headed a commission that drafted the constitution, told parliament.

 

The constitution requires parliament to enact a new electoral law and to elect a president, vice president and the new figure of a prime minister.

 

President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who succeeded Castro in April, is expected to remain in office.

 

The constitution is entering into force at a time when the economy is facing difficulties due partly to the crisis in Venezuela, Havana's close ally, whose oil deliveries to Cuba have plunged.

 

Castro, who remains at the helm of the Communist Party, warned citizens to be prepared for "the worst variant" even if the country is not facing another Special Period.

 

The Special Period was an extended economic crisis in the 1990s after Cuba lost most of its international trade following the dissolution of its Soviet ally.

 

However, Cuba is now in a better position to face an eventual crisis thanks to the diversification of its economy, Castro said.

 

He also accused the US of using economic sanctions to destroy Cuba's revolution and said the island "does not fear threats such as those derived from the aggressivity of the government of the United States."

 

Cuba's economy only grew an estimated 1.2% last year, down from 1.6% in 2017.

 

The Communist Party newspaper Granma had to reduce its number of pages due to lack of paper, and Havana residents report increasing shortages of foodstuffs such as chicken and oil.

 

 

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