2019 Cuban constitutional referendum

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2019 Cuban constitutional referendum

24 February 2019 (2019-02-24)

Do you ratify the new Constitution of the Republic?
Votes %
Yes 6,816,169 90.61%
No 706,400 9.39%
Valid votes 7,522,569 95.85%
Invalid or blank votes 324,774 4.14%
Total votes 7,848,343 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 8,705,723 90.15%

2019 Cuban constitutional referendum - Results by province.svg
Results by province

A constitutional referendum was held in Cuba on 24 February 2019.[1] Voters were asked whether they approved of a new constitution passed by the National Assembly of People's Power in July 2018.[2] The reforms were approved, with 90.61% of valid votes cast in favour. The new constitution came into force on 10 April 2019 after it was proclaimed in the Cuban National Assembly and published in the Official Gazette of the Republic.[3]


While the structure of Cuban society and its political system had not fundamentally changed, the 2010s saw the Cuban thaw and more openness with the constitutional referendum, which was described as a relatively open process. Some observers noted that even though the political system remained largely the same, civil liberties had recently increased, even if not enough. The referendum recognized both private property and foreign direct investment, among other things, such as removing obstacles to same-sex marriage and banning discrimination based on gender, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability, the introduction of habeas corpus and restoration of a presumption of innocence in the justice system which was last provided for in the 1940 Constitution of Cuba, and other political reforms, such as presidential term and age limits, as checks on government power.[4] One of the prospective drafts of the constitution omitted the aim of building a communist society and instead works towards the construction of socialism.[5] However, following a series of community meetings across Cuba which debated the draft,[6] it was readded in the final draft before going to a vote.[7]

Constitutional changes[edit]

Proposals in the new constitution include:[8][9][10][11][12][13]

  • The recognition of private property.
  • The recognition of foreign direct investment.
  • The restoration of the position of Prime Minister of Cuba.
  • The transfer of head of Council of State to the President of the National Assembly.
  • The position of mayor being added to that of president of a municipal assembly.
  • The creation of a required ratification of presidential-appointed Provincial Governors and Deputy Governors by local municipal governments.
  • The creation of new Provincial Councils made up of members chosen by municipalities to replace the current system of provincial assemblies modeled after the National Assembly of People's Power.
  • The introduction of a mandatory maximum age limit of 60 years for any President of Cuba entering their first term.
  • The creation of a two consecutive five-year term limit for the presidency.
  • Extending the terms of municipal council delegates to five years.
  • Banning discrimination based on gender, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
  • The restoration of a presumption of innocence in the justice system, last provided for in the 1940 Constitution of Cuba.
  • Introducing the right to legal counsel immediately upon arrest.
  • Introducing the ability to sue the government for damages or negligence.
  • Introducing the right to appear before a judge and report unlawful imprisonment through habeas corpus.[14]

The new Constitution came into force after being proclaimed by the National Assembly on 10 April 2019.[3] Laws which were passed to enforce the Constitution's reforms to the country's judicial system must be enacted within 18 months.[14][15] An electoral law detailing the restructuring of government must also be passed within six months.[14][15] A Cuban President must then be elected by the National Assembly in the following three months and then appoint Provincial Governors and a Prime Minister.[14][16][17]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

The new constitution also removes the requirement that marriage be "between one man and one woman". An earlier draft of the new constitution would have changed the language to "a union between two people" ... "with absolutely equal responsibilities". This language was removed due to backlash from the more conservative sectors of Cuban society,[18] with the new constitution not specifically recognizing same-sex marriage, but still removing the constitutional obstacles to its recognition by specifically avoiding a definition of marriage. Mariela Castro, a Cuban LGBT rights activist, daughter of Raúl Castro and director of the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, has stated that this change is "not a setback" and that the issue would be addressed in the upcoming family code amendment.[13] It was expected that same-sex marriage would be part of a new Cuban Family Code, which was due to be put to a new referendum within the next two years.[19][20][21] The 2022 Cuban Family Code referendum resulted in a 2/3 vote in favor of a law legalizing same-sex marriages on the island.


The Patriotic Union of Cuba (UNPACU) denounced the violent break in of several headquarters of the organization on the island by the political police of the Cuban government.

More than 200 Cuban military (assault troops) and police forces, with the presence of the high command of the Ministry of the Interior, stormed 8 UNPACU headquarters in the early hours of this morning [Monday night to Tuesday] with extreme violence. Without search warrants and simultaneously, using grinders, they broke the gates of the houses, which had been under siege for nights, and entered, beating all the people who inside.

— Communiqué of the Patriotic Union of Cuba

Among those arrested were the elderly, pregnant women and minors, according to José Daniel Ferrer, a conscientious objector and coordinator of UNPACU who was also arrested and beaten; he also denounced that both his five-month pregnant partner and his 78-year-old grandmother were attacked, that several belongings were stolen from their home and that the political police seized a list containing the names of 600 observers that UNPACU was to deploy to monitor the referendum day in order to denounce irregularities.[22][23]

The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) considered the referendum "illegitimate" and assured that it only serves to "mask the dictatorship" before the international community. The Cuban executive accused the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, of formulating "slander and lies".[22][23]

The Cuban Observatory for Human Rights (OCDH) denounced: "It has become evident that this Constitution (as the previous one), imposed by the Communist Party, does not represent or respect the plurality of Cuban society. Nor does the National Assembly of People's Power itself, the organ of unanimity, represent such plurality."[24]


Choice Votes %
For 6,816,169 90.61
Against 706,400 9.39
Blank votes 198,674
Invalid votes 127,100
Total 7,848,343 100
Registered voters/turnout 8,705,723 90.15
Source: Prensa Latina
Votes cast for "No" by province

By province and equivalents[edit]

Province For Against
Votes % Votes %
Pinar del Río 380,326 94.11 23,784 5.89
Artemisa 314,356 91.00 31,099 9.00
La Habana 1,235,178 89.34 147,380 10.66
Mayabeque 228,856 88.70 29,151 11.30
Matanzas 456,967 92.72 35,888 7.28
Cienfuegos 248,007 92.21 20,964 7.79
Villa Clara 497,482 92.25 41,794 7.75
Sancti Spíritus 310,212 93.76 20,651 6.24
Ciego de Ávila 283,004 93.68 19,108 6.32
Camagüey 473,335 91.68 42,955 8.32
Las Tunas 316,983 88.97 39,313 11.03
Granma 507,351 91.92 44,585 8.08
Holguín 567,837 84.75 102,161 15.25
Santiago de Cuba 635,901 91.92 55,878 8.08
Guantánamo 278,851 85.58 46,970 14.42
Isla de la Juventud 51,171 92.21 4,321 7.79
Overseas voters 30,352 98.71 398 1.29
Total valid votes 6,816,169 90.61 706,400 9.39
Source: Consejo Electoral Nacional


  1. ^ "Cuba's Reformed Constitution, a Democratic and Participatory Process". Havana Times. 23 July 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2021
  2. ^ "Cuba's new constitution paves way for same-sex marriage". The Guardian. 23 July 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  3. ^ a b "Cuba proclaimed its new constitution" (in Spanish). Prensa Latina. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  4. ^ Teresa García Castro, Teresa; Peña Barrios, Raudiel (10 April 2019). "Cuba Has a New Constitution. What Happens Next?". Washington Office on Latin America. Retrieved 16 July 2021.
  5. ^ "Cuba ditches aim of building communism from draft constitution". The Guardian. Reuters. 22 July 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  6. ^ "Cuba reinserts 'communism' in draft of new constitution". Reuters.
  7. ^ "Cuba's constitution of 2019" (PDF). constituteproject.org. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-02-28.
  8. ^ Cuba to reshape government with new constitution The Washington Post, 14 July 2018
  9. ^ Cuba sets out new constitutional reforms BBC News, 15 July 2018
  10. ^ Communist-run Cuba to recognize private property in new constitution Reuters, 15 July 2018
  11. ^ Marc Frank (February 21, 2019). "Explainer: What is old and new in Cuba's proposed constitution". Reuters. Retrieved February 24, 2019.
  12. ^ Antonio Recio (21 August 2018). "Some Traps in Cuba's New Constitution". The Havana Times.
  13. ^ a b "Cuban lawmakers approve new constitution which heads to referendum". Reuters. 23 December 2018. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  14. ^ a b c d Marsh, Sarah (April 10, 2019). "Castro says Cuba will not abandon Venezuela despite U.S. 'blackmail'" – via www.reuters.com.
  15. ^ a b Vela, Andrea Torres, Hatzel (April 10, 2019). "Cuba enacts new constitution". WPLG.
  16. ^ "New Constitution proclaimed and Cuba will have a Prime Minister this year". April 10, 2019.
  17. ^ Gámez Torres, Nora (10 April 2019). "Castro warns Cubans of impending economic crisis, slams Trump for meddling in Venezuela". Miami Herald. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  18. ^ "Cuba Scraps Words Establishing Same-Sex Marriage From Drafted Constitution". NPR.org. Retrieved 2019-02-26.
  19. ^ Cuba, Asamblea Nacional (2018-12-18). "En el Código de Familia deberá establecerse quiénes pueden ser sujetos del matrimonio, se realizará #ConsultaPopular y Referéndum, en un plazo de dos años a partir de una propuesta de disposición transitoria recogida en el propio proyecto. #ReformaConstitucional @DiazCanelB pic.twitter.com/D0c45Xvte8". @AsambleaCuba (in Spanish). Retrieved 2019-02-26.
  20. ^ Cuba's constitutional referendum: What you should know Al Jazeera, 23 February 2019
  21. ^ "Cuban lawmakers approve new constitution which heads to referendum". www.msn.com. Archived from the original on 2019-02-27. Retrieved 2019-02-26.
  22. ^ a b Gaviña, Susana (10 January 2019). "Se extiende la campaña #YoVotoNo por el voto negativo en el referendo constitucional". Retrieved 13 February 2019.
  23. ^ a b Gaviña, Susana (13 February 2019). "El régimen cubano reprime con dureza a los opositores que hacen campaña contra su Constitución". Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  24. ^ "Liberados dos activistas detenidos el día del referendo constitucional en Cuba".

External links[edit]