Cuba’s Progress: New Constitution

Go Lean Commentary

There are 30 member-states in the Caribbean; they all embrace a “Free Market” ideology in some way; but one of them is different; this is Cuba. This country features a communist governmental structure, unique for our region. This affects more than just governance, as communism features a comprehensive philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology.

What does communism really mean?

Classically, it is a socioeconomic order structured upon the common ownership of the means of production (inputs, factories and infrastructure used in the production of economic value) and the absence of social classesmoney,[3][4] and the state.[5]

In Cuba however, communism can be defined as just anti-American. Their 1959 Revolution was a rejection of the societal defects of that day, which highlighted two major social classes that became irreconcilable in the country. The two classes are the working class — those who work for a living; they make up the majority within society—and the capitalist class — a minority who derives profit from employing the working class through private ownership of the means of production; this capitalist class was heavily backed by American interest and many times reflected American direct investors. The Cuban revolution put the “working class” in power and established social ownership of the means of production in Cuba, which is the primary element in any transformation of a society towards communist principles and theory.[8]

After a 60 year experiment with communism, Cuba is progressing away from its previous ideology (and failures). We have observed-and-reported on this trend during the last 5 years. But rather than just being a trend, Cuba is now codifying this progress in the country’s constitution.

See the full story and VIDEO here, published before the referendum on Sunday February 24, 2019; (the results: the measure passed by 87 percent):

Title: Cubans vote on new constitution to replace Cold War-era charter
Vote presents ‘unique opportunity’ to show how many Cubans voice dissent, analysts say.
By: Heather Gies

Cubans began voting on Sunday in a referendum on a draft constitution to update its 1976 charter on the heels of significant economic reforms on the island over the past few years.

The new constitution, approved in the National Assembly late last year after a popular consultation, enshrines private property and promotes foreign investment. State enterprise remains the cornerstone of the economy, though the new constitution dictates state-owned companies have autonomous management.

On the political front, the document limits the president to two consecutive five-year terms, but does not open the door for Cubans to elect the president directly. The Communist Party remains the central political force in a one-party system.

Jose Jasan Nieves, editor at the non-state media outlet El Toque, told Al Jazeera by legalising economic measures put in practice in recent years, the new constitution “adapts” to a set of reforms already under way.

“This is the first opportunity the Cuban people will have in 43 years to express ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in the face of a government programme,” he said. “That is a unique opportunity because it will allow us to know what percentage of the Cuban society will start to express dissent.”

He estimated one-quarter of voters could reject the new constitution.

‘Most Cubans hoping for more’
Eight million Cubans are eligible to vote on Sunday. The polls will close at 6pm (23:00 GMT) local time. More than 225,000 electoral authorities will oversee the vote, while some 200,000 students will steward the ballot boxes.

The electoral commission will release preliminary results in a press conference Monday at 3pm local time (20:00 GMT).

“This constitution is a step forward, we cannot deny that. But I think most Cubans were hoping for more,” Camilo Condis, an entrepreneur in Havana, told Al Jazeera. “Most of the changes in the Constitution are to legalise what was already happening in the country.”

Economic reforms introduced under former President Raul Castro in 2010 and 2011 to encourage self-employment and entrepreneurship “helped to boost the private sector”, said Condis, who rents out a residence and works as a contractor for restaurants. But he added that the rollback in US-Cuban relations under President Donald Trump has created fresh challenges.

Now, he sees the Cuban government’s approach to private enterprise as an effort to “regulate but not shrink the private sector”. Close to 600,000 people are currently self-employed in Cuba, up from 150,000 in 2010.

For Maria Jose Espinosa Carrillo, director of programmes and operations at the Washington-based Center for Democracy in the Americas, one of the positive outcomes of drafting the new constitution has been the public debate that grew out of a three-month consultation process. Nearly nine million people attended public meetings to discuss an earlier draft of the Constitution, putting forward more than 700,000 proposals.

“For the first time, people had the opportunity to debate on issues that hadn’t been part of grassroots debates before,” Espinosa Carillo told Al Jazeera. “This, together with access to the internet, has brought new platforms for discussion that was previously not public.”

She expects such public debate to be an “increasing trend”, especially through new digital media outlets, Twitter, and other online platforms.

After the popular consultation, the drafting commission made 760 changes to the draft constitution, revising about 60 percent of articles in the document.

Critics say it was not clear how the commission evaluated and incorporated feedback. More than 11,000 proposals called for a direct vote for the president, for example, but the suggestion was not included in the text.

‘Space and visibility’ to tensions
Meanwhile, marriage equality sparked a debate that is likely to continue after the referendum. An earlier version of the draft constitution defined marriage as a union between two people. But the final draft sidestepped outright legalisation after evangelical protests, leaving the definition of marriage to be determined in a separate referendum at a later date.

“It created a big debate, which is positive because it gave space and visibility to tensions that are happening and that people maybe weren’t even aware of,” Maria Isabel Alfonso, professor of Spanish and Cuban studies at St. Joseph’s College, New York, told Al Jazeera.

State-led mobilisations “are progressively being replaced by these spontaneous associations and ways of thinking”, said Alfonso, creator of the documentary, Rethinking Cuban Civil Society, and cofounder of Cuban Americans for Engagement, an organisation that promotes the normalization of US-Cuba ties.

“Many of them are very emphatic that they don’t want to be in the opposition because the opposition receives, in many instances, funds from the US government,” she added.

Nieves agreed the debate is “complex and varied” beyond clear cut “yes” versus “no” or government versus opposition lines.

“These sectors – journalists, intellectuals, artists, entrepreneurs, LGBTI activists, animal rights activists, religious activists – are sectors of a thriving, growing civil society that don’t necessarily have an agenda of opposition politics, but rather of participation and defence of their respective interests,” he said.

Changes to political and social rights in the Constitution include broader recognition of freedom of thought and expression, a right to request and receive information from the state, and the ability to hold dual citizenship.

The document expands non-discrimination to include on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in addition to sex, gender, age, ethnic origin, skin colour, religious belief, and ability. On women’s rights, the new text guarantees women’s sexual and reproductive rights and protects women from gender violence.

Cubans living abroad also were able to submit proposals for the new constitution in the public consultation process. “That was a great step to include the diaspora,” said Espinosa Carillo.

However, other than diplomats, Cubans abroad will not be allowed to vote in the referendum unless the return to the island to cast their ballots.


Heather Gies is a freelance journalist who writes about human rights, resource conflicts, and politics in Latin America. She is also an editor at Upside Down World.

Source: Posted February 24, 2019; retrieved February 25, 2019 from: 


VIDEO – Cuba Constitution: Millions expected to oppose Government –



  1. Cubans approve a new Constitution: What does the vote mean?
    Although Cubans voted overwhelmingly – 86.85 percent in favour – to approve the Constitution, Sunday’s vote saw a growing portion express dissent. 
  2. Cuba celebrates 60 years since Castro’s communist revolutionposted January 2, 2019; Retrieved Feb, 26, 2019

This referendum is a move away from “pure” communism and towards a “Free Market” economy – the constitutional changes embrace property ownership and Direct Foreign Investments while doubling-down on a more enterprising form of Socialism. The trend of Cuba progressing towards “Free Market” ideology has been observed-and-reported in many previous blog-commentaries by the movement behind the book Go Lean…Caribbean; see a sample list here (in chronological order): Apr 2014 – Cuba Approves New “Law on Foreign Investment” July 2014 – Cuba mulls economic reforms in Parliament session Sep 2014 – ‘Raul Castro reforms not enough’, Cuba’s bishops say Dec 2014 – Restoration of Diplomatic Relations with Cuba Mar 2015 – Colorism in Cuba (Blacks making gains) Oct 2015 – Cuba to Expand Internet Access Feb 2016 – The Road to Restoring Cuba Nov 2016 – Fidel Castro Is Dead; Now What? Jan 2017 – Farewell to ‘Wet Foot/Dry Foot’ Policy for Cubans April 2018 – ‘Red Letter Day’ for Cuba – Raul Castro Retires Nov 2018 – Technology: Caribbean countries – Cuba – fully on board

The Go Lean movement has consistently asserted that change will come to Cuba (and the full Caribbean), especially now that no Castro is the Chief Executive of the country. In fact this referendum appears to be the initiative more of new President Miguel Diaz-Canel, rather than the Old Guard of Cuban leadership.

The Go Lean movement wants to prepare the full Caribbean for more inclusion of Cuba in the political, social and economic fabric of the regional society. Cuba is equal to 25 percent of the region’s population and landmass. No one can be serious about Caribbean integration with out contemplating the roles and responsibilities towards Cuba.

We are serious! In fact the Go Lean book details a full advocacy (Page 236) on reforming and transforming Cuba. The goal is to reboot this island, modeling the Marshall Plan strategies, tactics and implementations as forged in “Post WW II” Europe.

So yes, we can … again … embrace the winds of change; we must shepherd this effort to make Cuba – and all of the Caribbean – a better place to live, work and play. 🙂

About the Book
The book Go Lean…Caribbean serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all member-states, Cuba included. This CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to ensure public safety and protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improve Caribbean governance to support these engines, including a separation-of-powers between the member-states and CU federal agencies.

The Go Lean book provides 370-pages of turn-by-turn instructions on “how” to adopt new community ethos, plus the strategies, tactics, implementations and advocacies to execute so as to reboot, reform and transform the societal engines of Caribbean society.

Download the free e-Book of Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

Who We Are
The movement behind the Go Lean book – a non-partisan, apolitical, religiously-neutral Community Development Foundation chartered for the purpose of empowering and re-booting economic engines – stresses that reforming and transforming the Caribbean societal engines must be a regional pursuit. This was an early motivation for the roadmap, as pronounced in the opening Declaration of Interdependence (Pages 12 – 13):

xi. Whereas all men are entitled to the benefits of good governance in a free society, “new guards” must be enacted to dissuade the emergence of incompetence, corruption, nepotism and cronyism at the peril of the people’s best interest. The Federation must guarantee the executions of a social contract between government and the governed.

xiii. Whereas the legacy of dissensions in many member-states (for example: Haiti and Cuba) will require a concerted effort to integrate the exile community’s repatriation, the Federation must arrange for Reconciliation Commissions to satiate a demand for justice.

xvi. Whereas security of our homeland is inextricably linked to prosperity of the homeland, the economic and security interest of the region needs to be aligned under the same governance. Since economic crimes … can imperil the functioning of the wheels of commerce for all the citizenry, the accedence of this Federation must equip the security apparatus with the tools and techniques for predictive and proactive interdictions.

xxiv. Whereas a free market economy can be induced and spurred for continuous progress, the Federation must install the controls to better manage aspects of the economy: jobs, inflation, savings rate, investments and other economic principles. Thereby attracting direct foreign investment because of the stability and vibrancy of our economy.

Sign the petition to lean-in for this roadmap for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation.

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