Cubans to approve significant constitutional changes in referendum

Cubans to approve significant constitutional changes in referendum

Voters will decide whether to approve a series of major reforms to the Cuban constitution today that include recognising private

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Photo: Washington Post

Voters will decide whether to approve a series of major reforms to the Cuban constitution today that include recognising private property and instituting presidential term limits.

The motions continue the political and economic reforms initiated by Cuba’s communist government during the détente with the Obama administration in 2016 and is a rare opportunity to express political opinion. Recognition of private property is the most significant change as the state officially retains control over almost all assets. Additionally, it also acknowledges the central importance of the internet and foreign investment to the country’s future development.

The reforms remain popular, but for many the vote itself is a referendum on Cuban socialism and is likely to see a high level of dissent from younger voters. Unofficial polling has estimated that more than 20% of the vote could be against the changes primarily because they still place one-party rule at the centre of the country’s political and economic systems.

The reforms are likely to be approved by voters due to their nascent political importance. Their economic significance will also be of importance as the country continues to diversify into tourism and manufacturing despite the ongoing US embargo. However, the reforms are unlikely to shift Cuba’s long-term relationship with the US.

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