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A New Dawn for Cuba?

The drafting of a new constitution could offer Cuba a fast track to modernization and a new found respect for individual liberties.

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By Indri Schaelicke | United States

The communist island nation of Cuba is currently undergoing a significant and historic process, which is sure to shape the future of the country. Cuban lawmakers have been working since early summer to create a new constitution, which seeks to modernize the government. The last constitution was created in 1976, meaning the document is due for an update. Former President Raul Castro and his commission proposed a draft version on July 14th. It includes 87 new articles. Several reforms listed have caught the eye of those hoping the nation will begin guarding individual liberties.

Cuba’s Economic Potential

Cuba has a self-proclaimed goal of establishing a communist society. Despite this, the proposed constitution has recognized the right of citizens to own private property. Cuba must embrace freer markets if it seeks real economic growth.  To do so, they must protect the ability of one to own their means of production and use it as they see fit.

A booming Cuban economy will attract foreign investors, which stimulates the economy further. However, Cuban officials insist that the removal of the clause, is not a shift away from the current socialist system.

Shifting Towards Social Tolerance

Another significant change in the draft constitution is a ban on discrimination based on gender, ethnic origin, or disability. Many western countries already have such discrimination codified into law, and doing this will help Cuba progress towards becoming more socially tolerant.

The country has a history of persecuting LGBT citizens. Thus, making clear that such persecution is unacceptable opens the door for them to become more like the West. Doing so also opens the door to same-sex marriage in the future.

Individual Freedom for All

In the US, those on trial are “innocent until proven guilty”. However, this presumption simply does not extend to the island nation to our south. The proposed Cuban constitution creates a presumption of innocence in the justice system for those on trial. This presumption will do wonders to reducing corruption. Hopefully, it will also begin to protect people from false convictions.

The draft constitution also includes articles which will decentralize government power. The constitution will reestablish the office of Prime Minister of Cuba, who will share power with the President of Cuba and create governor positions in each province. Cuba is furthermore taking preliminary steps towards the creation of a democracy, mandating that the final constitution must be approved by the public via a national referendum in late fall.

It is an exciting time for Cuba, as the communist island nation looks to turn a corner and embrace greater personal and economic liberty for all. The rights recognized in the final draft will have a great impact on how citizens lead their lives for generations to come.


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