State and politics
According to the constitution, the country is a socialist
state, led by the Communist Party, and the socialist system
unchangeable. The country's first constitution after the
revolution was adopted in 1976 and stated that the planning
economy with state monopoly on all business activities was
the basis for economic development.
In February 2019, a new constitution was adopted through
a referendum. The biggest changes in the new constitution
were the abolition of the state's economic monopoly and a
gradual opening to private ownership. The state still owns
the strategic means of production, but the constitution
opens for private ownership as a complement, which also
includes foreign players. The media sector remains closed to
Power derives from the "working people" and is delegated
to popular assemblies (Poderes Populares),
which are found at both central and regional and local
levels. The candidates do not need to be members of the
Communist Party but are judged on their "social and
revolutionary merits" and elected by the neighborhood
councils (Comites de Defensa de la Revolución,
CDR) that exist throughout the country. The lists of
candidates must then be approved by the regional authorities
and thereafter general elections will be made to the local,
regional and national parishes.
The National Assembly holds the legislative power and
elects from among its members the president as well as the
members of the Cabinet and the Council of Ministers. The
National Assembly's 605 members are elected in direct
elections every five years and formally have overall
responsibility for the country's politics and long-term
planning. Since the 1959 revolution, all decisions in the
Assembly have been taken in complete unity.
The Cabinet, which consists of 31 members and is chaired
by the president, takes over the legislative power of the
National Assembly between its two annual sessions (which
take place for a few days in June and December).
The president is the country's head of state. The new
constitution limits how long a president can hold his office
to a maximum of two terms of office in five years. At the
same time, a rule was introduced that the person selected
must not be more than 60 years.
The Council of Ministers, which is the country's
government, is the country's highest executive and
administrative body. It is headed by the Prime Minister, who
is elected by the National Assembly on a proposal from the
President. The Prime Minister's post was introduced in the
In practice, the political life of the country is
completely dominated by the Communist Party and its support
organizations (Communist youth, trade unions central
organization, Cuban women's union, various student
organizations, etc.). See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how CU can stand for Cuba.
The party, which was formed in 1961 under the name
Organizaciones Revolucionarias Integradas (ORI),
adopted in 1965 its current name, Partido Comunista de
Cuba (PCC). Its first congress was held as late as
During the 1960s, the party pursued a fairly distinct and
independent policy. In the 1970s and 1980s, however, there
was a consistent pro-Soviet line of military support for
ideologically related regimes in Angola and Ethiopia.
The Communist Party is governed by the Politburo (23
members) and a Secretariat (twelve members with the
President as First Secretary). These are elected by the
Central Committee (150 members), which in turn is elected by
the party congress (225 members).
No organized opposition is allowed in Cuba itself, but
dissident groups exist and are tolerated to some extent by
the government. An entirely different situation prevails
within the large exile group, anchored primarily in Miami.
However, the exile position is fairly fragmented and
contains everything from terrorist organizations to
Fidel Castro was both head of state, head of government
and commander-in-chief as first secretary of the Communist
Party, and in practice held dictatorial power until he fell
ill in 2006. His brother Raúl Castro, who until then was
vice president, first deputy head of government and defense
minister, then took over as acting president and
commander-in-chief. In February 2008, Fidel Castro announced
that he did not intend to stand as a candidate for the
presidential post for another term. Shortly thereafter, Raúl
Castro was appointed President of the National Assembly.
Fidel Castro passed away November 26, 2016.
In April 2018, Raúl Castro was succeeded by former Vice
President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who was appointed new President
of the Council of State. Diaz-Canel thus became Cuba's first
president outside the Castro family since the 1959
See also History.
The revolution has not broken the legal continuity, but a
number of pre-revolutionary laws still apply, including the
code of trade, Código de comercio, introduced by
the Spaniards already during the colonial period. The legal
tradition is generally of a continental European type, let
alone that it has been heavily influenced by Soviet legal
thinking after the revolution.
Some of the legal system cornerstones of civil law book
Civil Code of 1987, family law Código de
Familia in 1975, and the Criminal Code Código Penal
of 1987. The judiciary consists mainly of local people's
courts, Tribunales Municipales Populares, the judge
of first instance, appellate courts at the provincial level,
Tribunales Provinciales populares, and the Supreme
People's Court, the Tribunal supremo popular. Both
professional judges and board members are elected. The death
penalty can be punished for some serious crimes.
The communist revolution and the authoritarian rule
initiated by Fidel Castro in 1959 (see History) are very
much alive in the politics of the Cuban regime. Social
justice is still the goal of the economic and political
system (see Social Conditions), while Cuba maintains its
position as the only country in Latin America that prevents
virtually all forms of political dissent.
Arbitrary detention, travel restrictions, and abuse of
political opponents exist, and trying to leave Cuba
illegally can result in imprisonment or fines.
The government controls all media in Cuba and restricts
access to information from abroad, which seriously violates
freedom of expression. Due to the high cost of internet
connection, only a small fraction of Cubans have the
opportunity to read independent media. In Reporters Without
Borders Press Freedom Index, Cuba is ranked 169 out of 180
The Cuban Constitution provides for the same rights for
women and men and the legislation is generally complied with
in practice as well. Women are found in several technical
professions that have traditionally been male-dominated.
Unlike many of the Central American neighboring countries,
the Catholic Church has no major role in Cuba, although it
is increasing in influence, and women's sexual and
reproductive health is generally respected.
According to reports, crimes related to domestic violence
are not always investigated, although Cuban law prohibits
all forms of harassment and violence against women,
including domestic violence and domestic violence. According
to independent human rights organizations, violence against
women is still a problem.
National legislation specifically provides for the
protection of children and adolescents and no reports on
child labor exist. The extent of sexual commercial
exploitation of children is unknown due to the lack of
reliable statistics but such have been reported in
connection with increased tourism, as well as prostitution.
The situation for LGBTQ people has changed dramatically
since the first decades of the revolution when they were
subjected to systematic discrimination and oppression. In
1979, same-sex relationships were decriminalized, and
although social norms still permeate society, LGBT issues
can now be debated publicly. Since 2008, Cubans have a legal
right to state-funded gender swaps.
The Cuban Constitution guarantees a social safety net for
people with disabilities in the form of therapy,
rehabilitation, special education and employment. However,
access to transport systems and public spaces is generally
poor and, with a few exceptions, not adapted to people with
||occupied by the United States
||José Miguel Gómez
||Mario García Menocal
||Carlos Manuel de Céspedes
||Ramón Grau San Martín
||José A. The child and Vinageras
||Miguel Mariano Gómez
||Federico Laredo Bru
||Ramón Grau San Martín
||Carlos Prío Socarrás