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Sun Nov 18, 2018, 11:16 AM

A new dawn for Cuba? The draft constitution explained

Since August, Cubans have been gathering in thousands of government-organised meetings taking place across the island. They came together in hospitals, schools and parks to discuss a new draft constitution, which, if passed, would mark the most significant political change in Cuba for more than four decades.

The public consultation period came to an end on Thursday, and the work of National Assembly to sift through the comments and suggestions now begins. Decades of economic hardship and a changing global political reality has forced communist-run Cuba to reassess its fundamental principles in an attempt to keep pace with a world that has changed vastly since the Soviet-era when the current constitution was enshrined.

Speaking when the draft was approved, President Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez said "each Cuban will be able to freely express their opinions" to build a constitution that "reflects the today and future of the nation". This was done during thousands of meetings where officials took handwritten notes with the public's feedback. The Assembly will now consider those comments and make changes to the draft before Cubans get their final say in a national referendum scheduled for February 24, 2019.

Marriage is redefined as being between "two persons", rather than "a man and a woman". Homosexuality is a divisive issue in Cuba. A change in attitudes, however, is largely credited to the work of Mariela Castro, Raul's daughter, at the Cuban National Center for Sex Education (CENESEX), as well as the growing acceptance of the idea that discrimination of any kind being incompatible with the revolution.
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel:
"It would really be a welcome step forward, of course, if in the constitution same-sex marriage is legalised, it would be the first independent nation in the Caribbean to do so, it would be really important for the region,"


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