Fidel Castro gave millions of Cuban workers two days off to watch on TV as the National Assembly made the socialist system “untouchable.” The lawmakers gathered to amend the constitution and protect the system from change. The government said 8 million people—99 percent of all voters—signed petitions supporting the plan. Dissidents said Castro was countering their own drive, known as the Varela Project. Eleven thousand people signed that petition, demanding a referendum to let voters decide whether to make Cuba more democratic. Former president Jimmy Carter touted the movement during his May visit to Cuba, and President Bush promised to ease economic sanctions if the Caribbean nation embraced reform.
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