Cuba begins public debate on overhauling constitution

HAVANA, - Cuba on Monday began a rare public discussion to overhaul its Cold War-era constitution, a process the government is calling participatory democracy at its best and opponents are branding a fraud.
Cuba's National Assembly approved a draft of changes to the 1976 constitution last month, including amendments that would pave the way for recognition of private small businesses and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights.
The Communist Party-proposed overhaul will be discussed in 35,000 workplaces and community meetings across the Caribbean island scheduled to stretch into November. Once the debate is concluded, the legislature will approve a new draft and submit it to a nationwide vote in February.
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