Cuba to recognise private property under new constitution

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The Cuban parliament in the first session under the new government of President Miguel Diaz-Canel, at the Convention Palace in Havana, on 2 June 2018Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The new constitution is expected to be approved by the national assembly next week

Cuba will officially recognise private property for the first time in decades under a new constitution featuring far-reaching changes, state media say.

Property sales were banned after Fidel Castro came to power in 1959, but permitted after a law change in 2011.

The communist-run state's new constitution will reaffirm that central planning and state enterprise are key to the economy.

It is expected to be approved by a vote at the national assembly next week.

The draft constitution would then be put to a popular referendum for final approval later this year.

If it is passed it will replace the existing constitution which was approved by the Communist Party in 1976.

Recognising private property could potentially mean more protections under law for private entrepreneurs - and foreign investors.

But under the proposed reforms the party will remain as Cuba's dominant political force, the Granma newspaper reports.

Presidents, however, will be limited to serving two consecutive five-year terms and political power will be divided between the president and a prime minister.

It will ban discrimination based on gender, ethnic origin or disability. LGBT groups are hopeful it will also legalise same-sex marriage.

Since 2010, Cuba has undergone a series of market reforms aimed at boosting the island's economy.

The national assembly proposed a number of constitutional reforms last month - including presidential term limits and the legalisation of same-sex marriage - as the country moves to decide its political future.

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Former President Raúl Castro will see through the planned reforms

The last constitutional reform in 2002 decreed that the socialist character of the political system in Cuba was "irrevocable".

The intention of the proposed reforms is to constitutionally formalise the island's economic and social opening-up while maintaining this "irrevocable" socialist system.

President Miguel Díaz-Canel announced last month that former President Raúl Castro will lead the potential reforms.

Mr Díaz-Canel took over from Mr Castro as the country's leader in April.

The Castro brothers, first Fidel and them Raul, ruled the country between 1959 and 2018.