Cuba’s legislative parliament in Havana, the National Assembly of People’s Power, made significant changes to its constitution over the weekend as part of its efforts to open up to the modern world.
Proposed by a Communist Party commission led by the country’s former leader Raul Castro, the revamped constitution will recognize market economics and a right to private property, while maintaining state control over the national economy. The changes remove references to communism, and refers to marriage between two individuals rather than one man and one woman, leading the way for legalizing same-sex marriage.
Furthermore, the new constitution will limit the presidency to two five-year term limits and impose a national ban on gender discrimination.
The new constitution, which will ultimately modify the original 1976 constitution, is expected to be approved by the country’s national legislature in a few days. Afterward, public consultation between citizens and political leaders will be allowed before the final draft is put up for a vote in a national referendum.
While Raul Castro is no longer head of state and government in Cuba, he still remains a powerful leader as the Communist Party’s First Secretary General. His official retirement from politics is planned for in 2021.
Raul’s brother, former leader Fidel, ruled for more than 50 years. He turned the post over to his brother in 2011 and passed away in 2016, due to natural causes.
Wide-ranging U.S. embargoes against Cuba that were established in the early 1960s remain in place.
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