Cubans Hopeful and Cautious, as New Constitution Passed
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Cubans Hopeful and Cautious, as New Constitution Passed

October 9, 2019


Scenes like this one are what the Caribbean
island of Cuba has become famous for. However, slowly, American automobiles from
the first half of the 20th century and Ladas from the former Soviet Union have been giving
way to European, as well as Korean and Chinese ones. Perhaps less noticeable from a street view
are the tremendous political changes in recent years. From the historic 2016 visit by U.S. President
Barack Obama as part of efforts to normalize relations between the two countries to the
death of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro just months later, the island has been undergoing
deep transformations. 2018 saw the election of a new president named
Miguel Diaz-Canel. His first major initiative has been seeing
through a process to change the country’s constitution. As you know, there was a commission created
in the National Assembly which drafted the first constitutional proposal, that is, the
arguments. They worked for a month on the first draft,
then it was brought back to the National Assembly so that members could give their evaluation
of the proposal. In July, the National Assembly of People’s
Power that Diaz-Canel now heads up approved the text for Cubans to vote on, with the February
ratification vote being the culmination of a months long debate around the nation’s
future. There was an immediate decision to undertake
a popular consultation with all Cubans. That included, of course, all the workers
and all the workplaces that it was carried out, as well as in the rest of the population,
the residential areas, the various mass and political organizations in our society. To have everyone’s contribution to the final
constitution presented would be the best version possible. And afterwards, it was once again submitted
for debate among the legislators. And based on the feedback, nearly 63 percent
of all the original proposals were changed. Almost 800,000 proposals were analyzed by
parliamentarians, following a 130,000 local meetings in neighborhoods, workplaces and
civil society organizations, among others. The process was really enriching. Lots of meetings, things on TV, lots of explanation,
and above all, a lot of information to clarify for what and why, which is very important,
to know why you would support a new constitution. Cuban lawmakers, who are also not professional
politicians, but rather workers and representatives from society at large, finally adopted language
that amounted to 750 changes to the 1976 constitution. These changes included issues ranging from
the economy, to marriage, to term and age limits for Cuba’s top post. There were many changes, some 700 or so changes
from the 1976 constitution. And people expressed their opinions. And where there were the most conflicting
views was on the issue of marriage. The definition of marriage dominated local
debates. And despite efforts by government leaders
to modify language in order to permit equal marriage, there was significant pushback during
consultations. The new Constitution defers the definition
to a law that will come up for review in the next two years. Though voting is not mandatory, turnout surpassed
84 percent, with over 90 percent approving the reform, according to officials. Despite little signs of a campaign against
the proposal around the island, 700,000 Cubans voted no, a fact that some observers see evidences
the political shifts underway. 75 percent of Cubans who were eligible to
vote voted yes, that they supported this new constitution. That meant 25 percent either voted no, I think
that was about 13 percent, or abstained, or ruined their ballot or something like that. And so, I think what we’re seeing is a more
real kind of referendum, election, whatever you want to call it, in Cuba. People are feeling more like they can either
not bother to vote or they can vote no. And so, I think we’re seeing a sort of more
real political dynamic in Cuba. Others worry about the potential social impacts
of deepening the economic reforms that started at the beginning of the decade. However, the ratification also showed the
population’s support for the changes that been taking place, and the proposals to continue
these. Personally, as someone who is self-employed,
certain parts have benefitted me. And I’ve seen that things have improved,
and we’ll just have to keep working. For myself, and I think for all the self-employed,
we have benefited. The referendum vote comes as Washington renews
hostilities against Cuba and its allies in the region. The Trump administration has been pressing
for regime change in Venezuela and has openly stated that it also has its sights set on
Cuba as part of a campaign to curb socialism and purportedly to restore democracy across
the hemisphere. Many were undeterred by the calls for boycott
and escalating aggressions from Washington. One of the principal ideas of this constitution
is to maintain socialism in Cuba and to make this irrevocable, that nothing and no one
can undo socialism in Cuba. The new constitution and the February 24 vote
reflect the complex duality where Cubans want both change and continuity within the process
they set off on 61 years ago. At various polls around Havana, Cubans from
all walks of life spoke of hope for the future under the new constitution. There have been a lot of changes, but I think
everything will be OK. Much strength to the Cuban people, and we
have to keep moving forward because that’s what we want.

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  1. Good for the Cubans. Their biggest challenge will be to keep US influence out of their business. These are positive things happening in Cuba and for sure the US Gov't doesn't want anything positive to be known. Thank you for the video.

  2. And this is how Democracy works in Socialism not Capitalism. Viva Cuba! I hope to visit one day soon. Best wishes to you.

  3. Still a socialist one party sate. No fundamental change. This is a propaganda piece which ratifies the narrative of the Cuban government.

  4. Today, the most difficult challenge Cuba faces comes from the North. Rubio, Bolton, Pompeo are directing Trump's policy toward Cuba and imposing sanctions left and right. A new bellicose language has replaced that used by Obama when he reestablished relations with Cuba, bringing hopes for a better future. That is all gone now. In fact, I've seen Marco Rubio type of Cubans rubbing their hands at the prospect of a new "Special Period" of poverty taking place in Cuba, one they describe as "potentially worse" than the one people suffered in the early 1990s. No, this group does not want any positive changes to take place over there. They want to prevent them and then to impose a puppet government of the most heinous kind. Although Trump has praised Vietnam as a "model", particularly its economic system, this group of people under Trump does not want Cuba to go that route. They figure that, if Cuba prospers, they are lost. Their hopes to effect a regime change will be dashed. So they go for economic asphyxiation and actual threats of military action. Bolton listed Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba as countries to be targeted for regime change. This has little to do with democracy. It has everything to do with domination and having all countries in Latin America surrender their sovereignty and obey Washington's orders.

  5. As competition is an intelligence dictatorship, the degree to which the new Constitution allows those more intelligent to enrich themselves upon the misery of those in a lower-class, this is the degree to which socialism has been destroyed.

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