Cuba is planning a series of potentially far-reaching changes, with a new constitution set to recognize the free market and private property, while dividing political powers between a president and a prime minister.
Private property was banned in Cuba after Fidel Castro and his Communist Party seized power in 1959.
Theoretically, the constitutional change could mean that foreign investors and private companies would have more legal protection in the state. But, it is still unclear to what extent will do more than recognize individual ownership. For example, according to Reuters, the Cuban government issued a regulation this month saying it would include property seizure as a possible fine for those who are self-employed.
Articles in the new constitution would also ban any sort of workplace discrimination based on gender, disability, and ethnicity. The fundamental means of production will remain under central control, but foreign investment will be recognized as an important spur to development.
The Communist Party would continue to rule, but the new constitution would limit the amount of time presidents could serve to two five-year terms. The new legislation would also add a prime minister, who would take on the role as the head of government.
Cuba’s new constitution is expected to win approval when presented to the national assembly this week, and then it will go to a public referendum later this year.