Cubans go to the polls in high-stakes constitutional referendum

© Reuters. Cuba’s President Miguel Diaz-Canel prepares to vote through the referendum to approve the constitutional reform in Havana

By Marc Frank and Nelson Acosta

HAVANA (Reuters) – Cubans flocked to the polls on Sunday in a vote anticipated to approve a brand new structure that institutes modest financial and social adjustments whereas sustaining the one-party socialist system.

Debate over the structure has dominated politics within the nation for months, even because it struggles with financial stagnation and because the deepening disaster in Venezuela brings its ally into the crosshairs of the U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.

Many Cuban evangelicals had been anticipated to vote in opposition to the proposal as a result of they worry it opens the way in which for homosexual marriage whereas the Roman Catholic Church has additionally voiced criticism.

A marketing campaign to reject the structure as a result of it entrenches Communism was launched on social media by dissidents and exiles.

“This 24th the Cuban individuals’s rejection of the system imposed by the Communist social gathering can be felt,” Rosa Maria Paya, chief of the Cubadecide group of presidency opponents inside and outdoors of Cuba, wrote on Twitter.

The federal government orchestrated a grass roots debate on a draft of the brand new structure final yr, however because it authorised a closing model for Sunday’s vote it has used its monopoly of conventional media and public areas to press for approval.

International and native observers mentioned they anticipate between 70 % and 80 % of voters to ratify the brand new structure and a higher variety of no votes and abstentions among the many nation’s eight million registered voters.

The present 1976 model of the structure was authorised by 97.eight % of the citizens.

“Cubans had the chance to debate the structure of their neighborhoods and workplaces,” Lazaro Rodriguez, 58, mentioned as he shopped in a Havana produce market.

“It updates our financial system, which isn’t excellent, however we are attempting to modernize and that’s very constructive,” he mentioned, including that he would vote sure.

The proposed adjustments mirror the gradual opening of Cuba for the reason that fall of its former benefactor, the Soviet Union.

There are references to markets and recognition of personal property, overseas funding, small companies, gender identification, the web, the appropriate to authorized illustration upon arrest and habeas corpus.

The brand new structure would additionally restructure authorities, including a first-rate minister and setting time period limits for the president, amongst different adjustments.

Outcomes can be introduced on Monday.

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