Challenges for Cubas New Constitution

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A Socialist Project e-bulletin ... No. 1702 ... November 7, 2018

Challenges for Cuba’s New Constitution

Tom Hansen

Cuba is writing a new constitution, part of a lengthy process of political change that can be traced to the 6th Congress of the Communist Party in 2011. The Congress approved a document known as the "lineamientos," a detailed domestic policy blueprint that opened certain sectors of the economy to market dynamics and "change[d] the structure of employment, reduce[d] inflated payrolls and increase[d] work in the non-state sector." The plan was to close State enterprises if they don’t generate a profit, with the private sector absorbing laid-off workers. To date less than a quarter of the "lineamientos" have been implemented, reflecting a slow and careful process of change.

In 2016, the 7th Party Congress approved the "conceptualizacion,"... a theoretical outline for economic reform, with particular emphasis on social property and the role of the socialist State. The "conceptualizacion" provided the theoretical framework for the new constitution. In June 2017, the National Assembly of People’s Power established a commission charged with preparing a first draft of the new Constitution. The Party Central Committee reviewed the draft proposal in June of this year, then passed it to the National Assembly for approval in July. Copies of the proposed constitution went on sale the first week of August for the equivalent of about 4 cents (US), the cost of a local newspaper. Free copies are available on the internet (English translation). The comment period is from August 13 to November 15, after which a referendum is expected early next year.

The comment period includes public events organized, in part, by the seven mass organizations -- Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the Federation of Cuban Women, the National Association of Small Farmers, the Cuban Workers’ Federation, the University Student Federation, the Pre-university Student Federation, and the Cuban Writers and Artists Association. Few Cubans are not members of at least one mass organization, and many are members of more than one. More than 135,000 consultations led by 7,600 pairs of trained facilitators will take place across the island and will include some Cuban communities in other countries.

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