December 21, 2018 / 4:41 AM / 4 months ago

Cuba reinserts 'communism' in draft of new constitution

People cheer and wave Cuban flags at a tribute to former Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba, December 3, 2016. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido/Files

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba has reinserted the goal of “advancing toward a communist society” into the draft of the country’s new constitution after its removal from the first version had sparked concern among thousands of citizens, state-run television said on Thursday.

The national assembly is this week debating a revised draft of the constitution, designed to replace a Soviet-era one to better reflect the times, for example acknowledging private property and opening the door to same-sex marriage.

Cuba is one of a handful of countries worldwide still run by the Communist Party and has insisted its one-party socialist system is irrevocable.

Still, the commission writing the new constitution, headed by party chief Raul Castro, took the mention of “communism” out of the first draft that it published in July and put to a nationwide, three-month popular consultation.

Thousands of citizens at community-level meetings then called for it to be re-inserted, according to Cuba’s state broadcaster, and as a result it was re-inserted into the draft now under debate by the national assembly.

“The true revolutionary is the one who always looks to overcome the limits of the possible and that is why we must maintain this aspiration (to communism),” lawmaker Yusuam Palacios told the assembly on Thursday.

The inclusion of “communism” is one of 760 changes to the first draft made on the back of the popular consultation.

The government has insisted the drafting of the constitution is participatory democracy at its best, while critics point out that the fundamentals of the Cuban system were never up for discussion and say its methodology is questionable.

If this latest draft passes, as expected, a national assembly vote this week, it will go to a nationwide referendum on Feb. 24.

Reporting by Nelson Acosta; Writing by Sarah Marsh, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien

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