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News > Cuba

What Do You Need to Know About Sunday's Cuban Referendum?

  • A woman watches a banner reading I Vote Yes in Havana, Cuba, Feb. 5, 2019.

    A woman watches a banner reading I Vote Yes in Havana, Cuba, Feb. 5, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 22 February 2019

A widely participatory process of popular debate modified 134 articles of the Cuban Constitution.

On Sunday, Feb. 24, the Cuban people will participate in a referendum to approve the Republic's new Constitution, a text that modernizes the current one through 760 modifications, which range from the elimination of articles, phrases and words to additions of new laws.

Cubans Abroad Start Voting in Constitutional Referendum

Between August and November 2018, the constitutional project was reviewed by Cubans through assemblies in which thousands of proposals were analyzed and debated.

The Cubans' opinions and ideas were gathered in 9,595 "standard proposals", 50,1 percent of which were approved and the rest were discarded because they were inappropriate from the legal viewpoint, that is, they were not constitutional proposals but "doubts, questions and other statements which do not make sense in terms of a constitutional logic," Homero Acosta, secretary of the Council of State, explained.

Likewise, the opinions of Cubans living abroad were grouped into 978 "standard proposals", 391 of which were reviewed, synthesized, accepted and delivered to the National Assembly of People's Power (ANPP). In Dec. 2018, this legislative institution debated on the changes suggested by the Cuban people.

After modifying 134 articles, eliminating 3 articles and keeping 87 articles unchanged, the ANPP presented the final text to the Cuban people. The main changes to the new constitutional text can be summarized according to themes.

Rights and duties

- "Cuban citizen" was changed to "the people of Cuba".

- Human dignity is recognized, by means of a new article, as the fundamental support of all rights and duties.

- Holding another citizenship will not imply the loss of the Cuban nationality.

- The Peoples' socialist property includes now mineral deposits and beaches.

- The character of the State is explicitly declared.

- Respect and protection of national symbols, as well as of flora and fauna, is a new national duty.

- Market, private property and foreign investment are necessary to boost the Cuban economy, which has been under the U.S. embargo since 1962.


- The new Carta Magna specifies that Cuba will never return to capitalism, which is "a regime based on the exploitation of man by man".

- The term "political freedom" was replaced by "freedom", which implies a broader concept.

- The 'President of the Republic' position replaces the figure of 'President of the Councils of State and of Ministers', which is the office currently occupied by Miguel Diaz-Canel.

- The Prime Minister position is created.

- The presidential term will last 5 years with the option of immediate re-election for equal time.

- The minimum age required to exercise the Presidency will be 35 years and the maximum age will be of 60, at the time the candidate applies for the first time. Diaz-Canel is now 58 years old.

Work, education, and health

- The new Constitution mandates that "all people receive the same salary for the same work".

- Free quality-education is a right from early childhood programs to postgraduate studies.

- Public Health is asserted as the responsibility of the Cuban State, which must guarantee quality services.


- The State must have institutions and services that facilitate working families to carry out their responsibilities.

- The State recognizes and protects families, "whatever their form of organization be".

- The equal marriage is approved in so far as the new Constitutional text affirms that marriage is the union between "two people" without specifying their sex.

- Families could be constituted by either legal or factual links.

- The offspring responsibility with parents and grandparents is reinforced: "Offspring are obliged to respect, care for, and protect their mothers, fathers and other relatives."

- Children and adolescents are considered 'subjects with full rights'.


- Cuban society's main media cannot be privatized under any circumstances.

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