A New Constitution and "Preparing for the Worst" on the Economy, Says Raul Castro

In his speech in the National Assembly, General Raul Castro stood up for Nicolás Maduro and described international pressure on the Venezuelan government as “unconventional methods of warfare.” (@AsambleaCuba)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 10 April 2019 — The proclamation, this Wednesday, of the new Constitution of the Republic of Cuba was accompanied by the bad news that the ex-president Raúl Castro was commissioned to announce in a speech before the National Assembly. He warned that the country faces “additional difficulties and that the situation could worsen in the coming months.”

The day began with a symbolic act, where Castro was not present, in the Camagüey town of Guaimaro, where on April 10, 150 years ago, the country’s first Constitution was approved.

Later, in the Palace of Conventions in Havana, the parliamentarians began the act of promulgating the constitutional text that the ex-governor defined as a “child of its time,” which “guarantees the continuity of the Revolution” and “safeguards, as fundamental pillars, the unity of all Cubans and the independence and sovereignty of the country. “

Given the criticism the constitutional text has provoked, Castro said that “as expected, the historical enemies of the Revolution have sought to question the legitimacy of this comprehensive constitutional exercise,” and he noted that among those who voted No in the referendum there were those who rejected only some issues of the Constitution.

With regards to the worsening of the economic situation, the 87-year-old general clarified that “it is not a question of returning to the phase of the Special Period of the decade of the 90s… Today is another scenario in terms of the diversification of the economy, but we must always prepare for the worst variant.”

“Faced with the turbulent scenario that has been formed,” he said, “we have defined as an unavoidable priority the preparation of the country for defense and the development of the national economy,” he said. He gave as an example the measures adopted “in the interest of strengthening the capacity and combative disposition of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and the entire defensive system of the country, under the strategic conception of the war of the whole people.”

In his speech, the general stood up for Nicolás Maduro and described international pressure on the Venezuelan government as “unconventional methods of warfare.” He recalled that last year he had warned that “the siege of the empire is tightening around Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba.”

The new Constitution has 229 articles, 2 special provisions, 13 transitory and 2 final. The text was updated with several of the economic reforms of recent years in an attempt to get closer to the reality of the Island, in a way that recognizes private property and applauds foreign investment.

However, the new Constitution does not leave open any possibility for a change in the country’s political model and consecrates the supremacy of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) over other organs of powers, in addition to ratifying, in its preamble, communism as the ultimate goal.

With its publication, today, in the Official Gazette, the Constitution enters into force. However, the adoption of a new electoral law is pending, which will be presented in Parliament in July during the next ordinary session.

Then, the Parliament will have three months to elect its president, vice president and secretary, the other members of the Council of State and the President and First Vice President of the Republic.

The new Constitution, which limits the office of President of the Republic to two terms, creates the figures of a prime minister and also of provincial governors.


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