New Cuban constitution gets 87 percent approval | Ap Wire

New Cuban constitution gets 87 percent approval | Ap Wire

New Cuban constitution gets 87 percent approval | Ap Wire

Around four percent of ballots were declared invalid. The results are due on February 25.

"A group of presidents on the Colombian border, they look like clowns", said Diaz-Canel.

In recent days, those messages were mixed with words of support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro as tensions rise between Cuba's main ally and the Trump administration, along with Latin American allies who support the Venezuelan opposition and its attempt to force aid into the country.

"Today we are going to win".

After Fidel Castro's death, his brother Raul Castro implemented reforms to reduce restrictions on private enterprise and encouraged foreign investment with public-private deals in the tourism, shipping and energy sectors.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday dismissed a referendum in Cuba on a new constitution that affirmed the central role of socialism, calling it stage-managed "political theater" rather than a democratic vote.

Nevertheless, dueling campaigns to vote "yes", "no" or abstain raged on the internet.

Gutierrez said that 86.85 percent of the voters ratified the constitution, while 9 percent said, "No" to the ratification and 4.5 percent left ballots blank.

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More than 97 percent of the voters had approved the previous constitution in 1976. The Roman Catholic Church issued a critique read in churches, and many evangelicals said they were opposed.

"Cubans had the opportunity to debate the constitution in their neighbourhoods and workplaces", Lazaro Rodriguez, 58, said as he shopped in a Havana produce market.

Meanwhile, 706 thousand 400 persons voted "No", representing nine percent of all those who voted and 7.6 percent of the total registered persons with that right.

"It updates our economic system, which is not very good, but we are trying to modernize and that is very positive", he said, adding that he would vote yes.

Cuba's President Miguel Díaz-Canel casts his vote during the referendum to approve the constitutional reform in Havana, Cuba, Feb. 24, 2019.

There are important changes in the new constitution that reflect the gradual opening of the Caribbean island nation since the fall of its former benefactor, the Soviet Union.

There are also references to gender identity that could pave the way for gay marriage, and the right to legal representation upon arrest and habeas corpus. It includes the addition of a prime minister and imposes term limits on the presidency, among other changes to government structure.

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