Cuba’s new Constitution

Last week the government of Cuba presented the complete text of the preliminary draft of a new Constitution to substitute the 1976 document. With relevant modifications in the economic and social fields, the new text proposes the elimination of references to communism, the acknowledgement of private property, the creation of the position of prime-minister and the change in the concept of marriage, which should allow for the legal union of homossexual couples. Regarding the suppression of the term “communism”, according to the Deutsche Welle website, “(…) the president of the National Assembly, Estebán Lanzo, stated that the current situation of Cuba and the international context are very diferent in comparison to 1976”. And whatsmore, according to the same publication, the Cuban leadership says that “This does not mean we have renounced to our ideas, but that in our vision we think of a socialist country, sovereign, independent, prosperous and sustainable.” In addition, the German website points that “the article 21 in the new text submitted to debate also acknowledges ‘other forms of property as cooperatives, mixed property and private property’, and allows for foreign investment as ‘a need and an important element for development’”. Still, the text highlights the role of the State in the economy and the precedence given to the Communist Party, according to Deutsche Welle “the state company is the main agent in the economy as the generator of wealth to the country” and “the socialist property of the whole people is the fundamental core”; in terms of political organization the text indicates that “the socialist character of the social and political system will be maintained” and the Communist Party of Cuba remains as “superior steering power”, even as it establishes a ten-year government to the new position of president of the Republic and proposes the creation of the position of prime-minister.

                Cuba then proposes to move forward with economic and political reforms in search of a new model of development and also for Cuban post-Fidel and Raul Castro politics. The inspiration, in great measure, are the reforms undertaken in China starting from the Deng Xiaoping government, in 1978, in which the country adopted the capitalist economy, but without giving up on State control and presence. From a socialist planned economy to a State capitalism in which the private sector and state companies are infused, and the planning is long term. An example of the Chinese model influence is the creation of “Special Economic Zones” (that exist in other countries), that the 6th Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, in April 2011, approved and that aims at bringing in foreign investment. The objective is that these zones, as did the first one right next to Mariel Port, in the words of the oficial newspaper Granma “make it possible to increase exportation, to effectively substitute imports, to implement projects of high technology and territory development; and that they contribute with new sources of employment” (103th guideline). According to the same newspaper, within the present companies, 5 are of one hundred percent Cuban capital, 19 of one hundred percent foreign capital, 8 companies of mixed capital and two International Economic Associations. The investment is of almost 1,2 billion dollars and almost 5 thousand direct jobs created.

                The Caribbean country has an economy largely dependent on the exportation of natural resources as nickel, iron ores, cobalt, sugar, citrus, tobacco, coffee and on attracting tourists (in 2017 there were 4 million tourists, a record, reports the Cuban Tourism Ministry). After a few years of crisis, in the beginning of the 1990’s, consequence of the end of URSS subsidies (from 4 to 6 billion dollars a year), the country has grown since 1994, and in 2016 it faced the first decrease of 0,9% caused mainly by the highly destructive effects of hurricane Irma. In 2018 the expectation is of a growth of 2%. Cuba garners attention because of the success of its biotechnology industry, which is capable of producing modern drugs and vaccines, and that sustains a pharmaceutical industry that has been having success in exportations. That is possible because of the investments in education, and science and technology, and because of how the results of research investments are measured in terms of the social benefits they generate.

                With indexes much higher than its Latin American neighbors in education, health and other important indicators as, for example, access to potable water (91% of the population) and sewage system (98% of the population), Cuba gradually endeavors to adapt to a world of international capitalist economy without letting go of its social gains and its State control in the economy, seeking economic development to protect and amplify these gains. And in the political axis, without letting go of the control applied by the only party, Cuba reaches for new post-Castro institutions, limiting the governing time of the president of the Republic.

 

References

DEUTSCHE WELLE. Nova Constituição cubana elimina o termo comunismo. https://www.dw.com/pt-br/nova-constitui%C3%A7%C3%A3o-cubana-elimina-termo-comunismo/a-44774843

GRANMA. Zona especial que liga Cuba ao desenvolvimento e ao mundo. http://pt.granma.cu/cuba/2018-04-05/zona-especial-que-liga-cuba-ao-desenvolvimento-e-ao-mundo

All translations of citations in Portuguese into English were done by this Blog.