The new draft of the constitution, which has 229 articles will maintain the Communist Party as the country’s guiding force and the state’s dominance of the economy, according to local media.
The document legitimizes private businesses that have blossomed over the last decade, acknowledges the importance of foreign investment and opens the door to gay marriage, according to state-run media.
It imposes age and term limits on the presidency, after late revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and his younger brother Raul Castro ruled the country for nearly six decades, and it introduces the role of a prime minister.
The current draft has been incorporated into an original proposal published in July with hundreds of mainly small changes proposed by citizens during a three-month public consultation at community meetings nationwide. It will go to a referendum next Feb. 24.
The draft of Cuba’s new constitution was written after holding 133,681 debates, organized between Aug. 13 and Nov. 15, at the local level that resulted in several citizen proposals. Almost 9 million Cubans participated in these preliminary debates.
“This process is a genuine and exceptional demonstration of the practice of power by the people and therefore of the markedly participative and democratic nature of our political system,” President Miguel Diaz-Canel told the national assembly in a speech closing its week-long, twice-yearly session.
The new draft removes the definition of marriage altogether thus opening the door to same-sex unions, without giving it the symbolic level of backing that was given before pulling out due to people’s protests.
The government has said instead it will update the family code and put it to a referendum in the next two years.
“There is no setback,” wrote Mariela Castro, the daughter of Raul Castro, who has championed LGBT rights in Cuba in recent years on Facebook.
“The fight continues, let’s give a ‘yes’ to the constitution and then close ranks to achieve a family code as advanced as the new constitutional text.”
The Vice President of Cuba,Salvador Valdes told Prensa Latina that the new constitution is a future project for continuing the construction of socialism and achieving a free, independent, sovereign, democratic and prosperous country.