Havana, Aug 1 (Prensa Latina) Thousands of Cubans in the west of the country already have in their hands the draft of the new Constitution, a text which will also be available today and tomorrow in the center and east of the island.
According to the authorities, 700,000 copies of the document approved on July 22 at the National Assembly of People’s Power were printed and will be submitted to a consultation process from August 13 to November 15.
The distribution in newspaper stands began on Tuesday in this capital and the provinces of Mayabeque and Artemisa, while today it began in the western territories of Pinar del Rio and Matanzas, and in the central cities of Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, Sancti Spiritus and Ciego de Avila.
Starting tomorrow, sales of this text will start in the east of the country (Camagüey, Las Tunas, Holguin, Granma, Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo) and it is also available on the press and state institutions’ websites.
In statements to Prensa Latina, Cubans from various sectors expressed expectations for an unprecedented process of popular discussion in Cuba and perhaps the world for a constitution, which would return to the National Assembly after the consultation, and finally be submitted to a referendum for approval or not.
I think it is very important to have access to the draft new Constitution, because it is up to the people to give their opinion and propose a law which resembles the prosperous socialism to which we aspire,’ said Manuel Gonzalez, a 75-year-old retiree.
For her part, the housewife Regla Mesa considered having the text means appropriating the intellectual tools for debate and discussion on the construction of a more just and equitable country.
Millions of citizens will have the opportunity between August 13 and November 15 to participate in more than 135,000 meetings, planned in work and study centers, armed institutions, the community and abroad.
I will be in the debate in my work and also in the consultation in my neighborhood,’ said Blas Perdomo, a resident of the Havana municipality of Playa.
According to official sources, more than 15,000 people organized in duos will have the mission of conducting the meetings in which the draft Constitution will be discussed with the people. The text is composed of a preamble and 224 articles (87 more than the current Constitution), divided into 11 titles, 24 chapters and 16 sections.
At the end of the process, the National Assembly will receive proposals for amendments, accessions and deletions, as well as the population’s doubts about a text which would replace the Constitution in force since 1976, but would maintain the socialist course on the island and the leading role of the Communist Party in its society.
After analysis by the members of the 9th Legislature (2018-2013), Parliament will be responsible for drawing up and approving the Constitution which will be put to a referendum, which could take place at the beginning of 2019.
In June, the National Assembly activated a commission of 33 parliamentarians, a group responsible for drafting the proposed new law.
The temporary committee headed by the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, Raul Castro, is expected to play an important role in drafting the final text on which the Cubans would vote in a referendum of approval.
The document on which Cubans will express their opinions in the coming days reflects changes in the structure of the State, including the creation of the posts of President and Prime Minister of the Republic, and gives constitutional status to various foreign policy principles defended for decades by the Cuban Revolution.
In this regard, it advocates world peace, Latin American and Caribbean integration and environmental protection; protects human rights; condemns terrorism, interference in the internal affairs of States and aggression; and calls for disarmament, including the elimination of nuclear weapons.
It also recognizes the role of the market and new forms of ownership in Cuba, including private ownership.
With respect to rights, it broadens access to them, since in addition to maintaining health and education free of charge, it enhances the rights to defense, fair process, popular participation and non-discrimination, in the latest case incorporating gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnic origin and disability’.