Cubans Expected To Voice Unprecedented Opposition In Constitutional Vote | 2/5/2019 | Staff
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HAVANA (Reuters) – For the first time since the 1959 Revolution, Cuban voters on Sunday may express significant dissent, when they go to the polls to ratify a new constitution that institutes modest economic changes while maintaining the one-party system.

Opposition to the new charter could reach a quarter of the vote, one Cuban analyst said, a major increase from the low single digits of past votes.

Document - Introduces - Changes - Cuba - Cold

The new document introduces important changes to Cuba’s Cold War era constitution, recognizing private property for the first time, as well as the role of foreign investment and the Internet.

While it confirms centralized economic planning, the charter introduces presidential term limits, adds a prime minister and restructures local government. It also enshrines fundamental principles such as the right to legal representation upon arrest and habeas corpus.

Constitution - Percent - Voters - Favor - Voting

The current constitution was approved in 1976 with 97.7 percent of 5.6 million registered voters in favor, and just 54,000 voting no. Most analysts expect the new version to pass by a lesser margin among today’s 8 million registered voters.

“This time, I would say that around three-quarters of the population will vote yes,” said Rafael Hernandez, a leading Cuban political analyst and editor of Temas, a reform-orientated cultural magazine.

Idea - Something - Percent - Consensus - Countries

“We have become accustomed to the idea that if something does not pass by 98 percent there is no consensus, even though in other countries gaining 65 percent would be huge.”

A grassroots debate last year, instigated by the government, resulted in some secondary changes when a final version was approved in December by the National Assembly.

Cuba - Government - Monopoly - Spaces - Transportation

Since then Cuba’s government has used its monopoly on public spaces, transportation and traditional media to launch an all-out campaign for approval.

“Because it defends the sovereignty, independence and dignity of Cuban men and women, I vote yes,” Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel tweeted.

Government - Yes

The government has portrayed a “yes”...
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