Cubans flock to polls

Cubans flock to polls for vote on Constitution

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12:05 am, February 26, 2019

ReutersHAVANA (Reuters) — Cubans flocked to the polls on Sunday in a vote expected to approve a new Constitution that institutes modest economic and social changes while maintaining the one-party socialist system.

Under a bright sun and the watchful gaze of uniformed grammar school children guarding ballot boxes, 81 percent of the 8.7 million electorate had cast votes by 5 p.m., an hour before polls closed, according to the national electoral commission.

Results were due to be announced on Monday.

No incidents were reported at polling stations, though there were unconfirmed social media accounts of police blocking small groups of dissidents from protesting in eastern Cuba and Havana.

Debate over the Constitution has dominated the country’s politics for months, even as it struggles with economic stagnation and as the deepening crisis in Venezuela brings its ally into the crosshairs of U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration.

White House national security adviser John Bolton ripped the referendum on Twitter as “another ploy of the Cuban regime to cover up its repression and tyranny.”

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said the vote was taking place as events in Venezuela showed the “imperialist threat” facing the region.

“Today we are going to win … It will also be an important victory for Venezuela,” he said after waiting in line in Havana to cast his ballot.Speech

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