Cubans bombarded with message to vote 'yes' for new constitution

Anti-referendum advocates claim harassment for opposing document

By Hatzel Vela - Cuba Correspondent

HAVANA - With ten days before Cubans head to the polls, the Cuban government continues its vigorous campaign to convince the public to vote in favor of the proposed constitution. 


Despite a ban on political campaigns in Cuba, the signs and bumper stickers supporting the new constitution can be found in many places: homes, roadway signs, buses and the side of buildings. 


The proposed document was unanimously approved by the Cuban National Assembly back in December. It keeps Cuba as a centrally planned economy ruled by a single communist party. 


Among other other things, it also recognizes private property and creates the role of prime minister in its government structure. 


On February 11, by way of Twitter, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said in Spanish: “In 15 days we will have an approved constitution we all collaborated on and for the good of everyone.”



“The president is getting a head of the popular vote,” said Cuban government critic and opposition leader Manuel Cuesta Morua, who adds the Cuban government’s campaign for a 'yes' vote reflects a fear the people may not legitimize the new constitution. 



While the Cuban government argues this is a democratic process, Cuesta Morua argues it can not be when you don’t give the opposition the same platform to voice their opinion. 


Some who have publicly showed their dismay with the document claim they have been persecuted by the government. 


Jose Daniel Ferrer, leader of the Patriotic Union of Cuba in Santiago de Cuba, alleges he was arrested and several homes where his members live were ransacked by police simply for taking an anti-referendum stand. 


“I’m going on a hunger strike,” said Ferrer, who added more than 20 other activists will be doing the same as a way to protest the referendum. 


On Tuesday, the Organization of American States was also highly critical of Cuba’s constitution. 


On the same day, the Cuban government fought back and called it a "new show against Cuba" by an organization that is at the service of U.S. imperialism.


“The constitution eminates from the people’s sovereign authority,” said Eugenio Martinez, director for Latin American and the Caribbean at Cuba’s Foreign Ministry. 

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