Photo: Joe DiMaggio
For the first time in decades since the end of the communist revolution, Cuba will recognize private property under a new constitution. This is one among many expected reforms to be put into place in the near future.
Cuba’s current constitution, in place since the Soviet-era, was approved by the Communist Party in 1976. It only recognizes state, farmer, cooperative, personal and joint venture property. Property sales were banned in 1959 upon Fidel Castro’s rise to power, but permitted after a change in the law in 2011.
The recognition of private property could possibly allow more legal protections for local entrepreneurs, as well as for foreign investors. Which would be a step in the right direction. Not everyone is so optimistic, though.
Luis Carlos Battista from the Center for Democracy in the Americas warns that the Cuban government acknowledging private property does not mean they want to give private enterprise a greater role. Noting that they recently published more regulations on the self-employed, ranging from increasing fines to property confiscation.
The updated constitution will also create a new prime minister position to serve alongside the president. This separates the role of head of state and head of government, as well as imposing a term limit on the presidency of no more than two consecutive five-year periods.
The commission revamping the country’s constitution is set to present a draft to the national assembly this upcoming week. It is expected to be followed by a national referendum later in the year.