Raúl Castro, who stepped down as head of Cuba’s government last April, has proposed a series of constitutional reforms that include term limits for the office of president and the recognition of same-sex marriages, among other proposals.
Castro, 86, remains in charge of the Communist Party and heads a commission tasked with writing a draft proposal to reform Cuba’s Constitution, which dates to 1976 during the Cold War, the Miami Herald reported.
The proposed reforms also would recognize private property and foreign investment, but the Communist Party would remain as the sole controlling component of the country’s economic, political, and social affairs.
Pro-government website CubaDebate announced on Sunday that the Cuban Parliament had unanimously approved the draft proposals, which will now head to a public referendum on Aug. 13.
If approved, the reforms would define marriage as “the consensual union between two people, regardless of gender,” the Herald reported, citing CubaDebate.
“We can be certain that following a public referendum, we will have a proposal [for constitutional reform] that helps unify the nation,” President Miguel Díaz-Canel said.
According to the Herald, LGBTQ groups and Raúl Castro’s daughter, Mariela, were instrumental in lobbying for the recognition of same-sex marriages to be included in the reforms.
Also proposed are two-term limits, of five years each, for Cuba’s president. If adopted, a new constitution would require presidents to be 60 or younger at the start of their terms. However, citizens still wouldn’t be allowed to directly elect their presidents, who would be selected by the country’s parliament, called the National Assembly.
The Herald noted that the “Assembly, if the draft is approved as is, also would have the power to interpret the constitution — a role held by the highest courts in most other countries.”
Also over the weekend, Cuban lawmakers approved the members of Díaz-Canel’s Cabinet, which mostly is composed of ministers from Raúl Castro’s government, the Associated Press reported. But gone will be Economic Reforms Minister Marino Murillo, who helped guide Raúl Castro’s limited economic opening on the island over the past decade.
The proposed reforms would transform Cuba’s political structure, creating the position of prime minister in addition to the president. Some observers expect the reforms would limit the president’s power under future governments.