Commission outlines content of future Constitution

Cuba has published the outline details of its new draft constitution which among other proposals allows for the limited recognition of the ownership of private property, recognises the role of the market, makes changes in the organisation of Government, and seeks to formalise the rights and responsibilities of all Cubans.

A two-page article published in Granma on 14 July, entitled ‘Visión hacia el presente y el futuro de la Patria’ set out the principal changes proposed and detailed the background to the new draft proposed by a Constitutional Commission which will be debated over three days when the National Assembly meets from 21-23 July.

In outline, Granma said that the proposed new constitution will:

  • Maintain Cuba’s current economic system in a manner that retains the ‘essential principle of socialist property of all the people’ and control of production and planning as the main component of state management;
  • Add recognition of the role of the market and new forms of private ownership in accordance with key policy documents published last year on Cuba’s Economic and Social Socialist Development Model and the Communist Party’s socials and economic guidelines;
  • Confirm that state enterprises remain the principal component of the national economy while recognising that their autonomy to take decisions is an essential operating principle;
  • Ratify constitutionally the importance of foreign investment for the economic development of the country, with relevant guarantees;
  • Recognise in respect of private property on land that there will continue to be limits on its transmission and acknowledge the preferential right of the State to its acquire it at a fair price;
  • Propose the introduction of a concept of ‘effective citizenship’ (ciudadanía efectiva) which will mean that Cuban citizens when in Cuba cannot make use of foreign citizenship;
  • Guarantee access to health care and education, and other rights in relation to justice and due process, religious belief, plus an obligation on the state to protect and assist the elderly, the disabled and to improve their quality of life. The draft also recognises in the context of the right to equality ‘non-discrimination in relation to gender identity, ethnic origin and disability’

In return, the new constitution will require respect for the rights of others, collective security, general welfare, and respect for public order, the Constitution and the law. The new constitution will also recognize and define civic and political duties to be fulfilled by citizens, including taxation, and require citizens to ‘conserve and protect the goods and resources that are put at the service of the entire people’.

On changes in the government structure, the new constitution will maintain the existing role and relationship between the National Assembly and the Council of State and will confirm that the President, Vice-President and Secretary are members. In addition, it will confirm that the President is head of state and can hold office for two terms only.

A post of Prime Minister (First Minister) will be established within the Council of Ministers which remains the highest executive and administrative body and constitutes the Government.

On national defence and security, the new constitution will have a title defining Cuba’s strategic concept of defence based on the doctrine of the War of the Whole People. It will specify that the National Defence Council is a superior body of the State that directs the country during exceptional situations and disasters

Beyond this, Granma set out other changes that will be introduced in relation to the justice system; the role and position of the Comptroller General; the National Electoral Council; the creation of provincial governments composed of a Governor and a Council in place of provincial assemblies; and recognition of municipal autonomy to enable problems to be more rapidly addressed. The new constitution will also allow the convening of popular consultations and greater local dialogue.

The Constitutional Commission is chaired by the former President, Raúl Castro, the First Secretary of the Communist Party and includes the new President Miguel Diaz-Canel and leading members of Government and Party.

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