Politics of Cuba: Wikis


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Cuba is constitutionally defined as a "socialist state guided by the principles of José Martí, and the political ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin." The present Constitution also ascribes the role of the Communist Party of Cuba to be the "leading force of society and of the state."

Cuba is the only authoritarian country in the Americas, according to the 2008 Democracy Index. Cuba's extensive censorship system was close to North Korea on the 2008 Press Freedom Index.[1] The media is operated under the Communist Party’s Department of Revolutionary Orientation, which "develops and coordinates propaganda strategies".[2] According to Maria Werlau, the extreme concentration of power to Castro family seems comparable in modern times only to that of North Korea under the regimes of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung.[3]

Executive power is exercised by the Cuban Government, which is represented by the Council of State and the Council of Ministers. Legislative power is exercised through the unicameral National Assembly of People's Power, which is constituted as the maximum authority of the state. Currently Raúl Castro — brother of former President Fidel Castro — is President of the Council of State, President of the Council of Ministers (sometimes referred to as the Prime Minister), First Secretary of the Communist Party, and Commander-in-Chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces. Ricardo Alarcón is President of the National Assembly.


Institution of Mangems

Political parties and elections

Suffrage is afforded to Cuban citizens resident for two years on the island who are aged over sixteen years and who have not been found guilty of a criminal offense. Cubans living abroad are denied the right to vote. The national elections for the 609 members of the National Assembly of People's Power are held according to this system, and the precepts of the 1976 Constitution. From 1959 to 1976 there was no legislative branch. In 1992 the Constitution was reformed to allow direct vote to elect the members to the National Assembly, but the candidates are pre-screened by the Communist Party. There was only one candidate for each seat in the January 19th, 2003 election. The system [4] works as a stepping ladder: neighbors meet to propose the candidates to the Municipal Assemblies. The candidates do not present any political platform, but only their resumes. Then the municipal candidates elected in each neighborhood elect the Municipal Assembly members. The Municipal Assembly members in turn elect the Provincial Assembly members, who in turn elect the national Assembly members. Then direct vote is cast so the people can ratify or not the decanted members that appear in the final step. From 1959 to 1992, the Cuban people was not afforded the right to vote for the members of the legislative power. The executive power is elected by the National Assembly. There is no vote for the President or the Prime Minister. Political parties besides the Communist Party of Cuba exist within the country legally since 1992. Nevertheless, the Constitutional reform of 1992 that granted their right to exist, at the same time denied their right to gather or publicize their existence, The most important of these are the Christian Democratic Party of Cuba, the Cuban Socialist Democratic Current, the Democratic Social-Revolutionary Party of Cuba, the Democratic Solidarity Party, the Liberal Party of Cuba and the Social Democratic Co-ordination of Cuba.

e • d  Summary of the 19 January 2003 Cuban Parliament election results
Members Seats
609 candidates (one candidate per seat). Up to 50% of the candidates must be chosen by the Municipal Assemblies. The candidates are otherwise proposed by nominating assemblies, which comprise representatives of workers, youth, women, students and farmers as well as members of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, after initial mass meetings soliciting a first list of names. The final list of candidates is drawn up by the National Candidature Commission taking into account criteria such as candidates' merit, patriotism, ethical values and revolutionary history. [5] [6] 609
Total elected 609

. None of these parties are allowed to present any candidate to any elected position.

Executive Branch

Executive power is exercised by the government. Until February 2008, Cuba was led by President Fidel Castro, who was Chief of State, Head of Government, Prime Minister, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba (CPC), and Commander in Chief of the armed forces. The Ministry of Interior is the principal organ of state security and control.

According to the Cuban Constitution Article 94, the First Vice President of the Council of State assumes presidential duties upon the illness or death of the president. On July 31, 2006, during the 2006 Cuban transfer of duties, Fidel Castro delegated his duties as President of the Council of state, first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party and the post of commander in chief of the armed forces to first Vice President Raúl Castro.

Legislative Branch

Cuba has an elected national legislature, the National Assembly of People's Power (Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular), which has 609 members, elected every five years and holds brief sessions to ratify decisions by executive branch. The National Assembly convenes twice a year in ordinary periods of sessions. It has, though, permanent commissions to look after issues of legislative interest. Among its permanent or temporary commissions are those in charge of issues concerning the economy, the sugar industry, food production, industries, transportation and communications, constructions, foreign affairs, public health, defense and interior order. The National Assembly also has permanent departments that oversee the work of the Commissions, Local Assemblies of the People's Power, International Relations, Judicial Affairs and the Administration.[7]

Article #88(h) of the Constitution of Cuba, adopted in 1976, provides for citizen proposals of law, prerequisite that the proposal be made by at least 10 000 citizens who are eligible to vote. In 2002 supporters of a movement known as the Varela Project submitted a citizen proposal of law with 11,000 signatures calling for a national referendum on political and economic reforms. The Government response was to collect 8.1 million signatures to request that Cuba's National Assembly make the Socialist Constitution untouchable. Critics point out that the signatures of 99.5 percent of Cuba's eligible voters were collected by the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, "Castro's neighborhood watch committees".[8]

Judiciary Branch

The People's Supreme Court is the highest judicial body. The constitution states that all legally recognized civil liberties can be denied to anyone who opposes the decision of the Cuban people to build socialism."

Cuban courts are organized into three tiers that match the governmental divisions (national or Supreme Court, provincinal, and municipal). Most civil and criminal cases tried at the municipal and provincial levels are adjudicated by a panel of two lay judges and one professional judge. Cases that involve a potential sentence longer than eight years or complex civil law issues are heard, at the provincial or supreme level, by a panel of three professional judges and two lay judges. Both professional and lay judges are elected to their positions by the legislative assembly.

Committees for the Defense of the Revolution

The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution are a network of neighborhood organizations across Cuba and most Cubans are members. The organizations are designed to put medical, educational or other campaigns into national effect, and to report "counter-revolutionary" activity. The CDR officials have the duty to know the activities of each person in their respective blocks. There is an individual file kept on each block resident, some of which reveal the internal dynamics of households. Citizens must be careful of their actions and of what they say, as they are being constantly monitored.[9]

Cuba and Democracy

Since the time Fidel Castro came to power, the Cuban Government has been condemned by certain (mostly dissident) Cuban groups, some international groups, and foreign governments for engaging in activities labeled by some as undemocratic. The United States Government has initiated various policy measures; these have been ostensibly designed to encourage Cuba to undertake political change towards a multi-party electoral system. These plans have been condemned by the Cuban Government, who accuses the United States of meddling in Cuba's affairs.[10] The distinct nature of political participation in Cuba has also fostered discussion amongst political writers and philosophers. Varied conclusions have been drawn, some of these have led to Cuba being described as a dictatorship, a totalitarian state, a grassroots democracy, a centralized democracy or a revolutionary democracy.[11]

Human Rights

According to the Human Rights Watch, Castro constructed a "repressive machinery" which continues to deprive Cubans of their basic rights.[12]

The Cuban government has been accused of numerous human rights abuses, including torture, arbitrary imprisonment, unfair trials, and extrajudicial executions (a.k.a. "El Paredón").[13] The Human Rights Watch reports that the regime represses nearly all forms of political dissent. There are many restrictions on leaving the country.[14]


In their book, Corruption in Cuba, Sergio Diaz-Briquets and Jorge F. Pérez-López state that while corruption existed before Castro, the Castro regime institutionalized it; Castro's state-run monopolies, cronyism, and lack of accountability turned Cuba into one of the world's most corrupt states.[15] As in other former socialist countries, few citizens hesitate to steal from the government when given opportunity. Since the vast majority of people are in state jobs and the state makes up much of the economy, petty crime is widespread.[15]

Foreign relations of Cuba

Vladimir Putin and Castro in 2000.

Cuba's foreign policy has been scaled back and redirected as a result of economic hardship after the collapse of the Soviet bloc. Without massive Soviet subsidies and its primary trading partner Cuba was comparatively isolated in the 1990s, but has since entered bilateral co-operation with several South American countries, most notably Venezuela and Bolivia. Cuba has normal diplomatic and economic relations with every country in the Western hemisphere except El Salvador and the United States. El Salvador, under the new government of Mauricio Funes, is expected to institute both in June, 2009.[16] The United States continues an embargo "so long as it continues to refuse to move toward democratization and greater respect for human rights."[17] The European Union accuses Cuba of "continuing flagrant violation of human rights and fundamental freedoms", but also "Reiterates its condemnation of the US embargo on Cuba, and calls for it to be lifted forthwith, as the UN General Assembly has repeatedly demanded."[18] Cuba has developed a growing relationship with the People's Republic of China and Russia. In all, Cuba continues to have formal relations with 160 nations, and provided civilian assistance workers - principally medical - in more than 20 nations.[19] More than two million exiles have escaped to foreign countries. Cuba's present foreign minister is Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla.


  1. ^ "Press Freedom Index 2008". Reporters Without Borders. 2008. http://www.rsf.org/IMG/pdf/cl_en_2008.pdf.  
  2. ^ "10 most censored countries". http://www.cpj.org/censored/censored_06.html.  
  3. ^ Maria C. Werlau. "Fidel Castro, Inc.: A global conglomerate". http://lanic.utexas.edu/project/asce/pdfs/volume15/pdfs/werlau.pdf.  
  4. ^ http://www.cubasocialista.com/democracia1.htm
  5. ^ ipu
  6. ^ dodgson.ucsd
  7. ^ Cuban Political system Cuba education tools.
  8. ^ Cuban American National Foundation
  9. ^ Lanic Texas
  10. ^ Cuban official discounts US action | WORLD | NEWS | tvnz.co.nz
  11. ^ Chavez appears with Castro in TV broadcast - World news - MSNBC.com
  12. ^ "Cuba: Fidel Castro’s Abusive Machinery Remains Intact". Human Rights Watch. http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2008/02/18/cuba-fidel-castro-s-abusive-machinery-remains-intact.  
  13. ^ "Information about human rights in Cuba" (in español). Comision Interamericana de Derechos Humanos. April 7 1967. http://www.cidh.org/countryrep/Cuba67sp/indice.htm. Retrieved 2006-07-09.  
  14. ^ "Cuba". Human Rights Watch. 2006. http://hrw.org/english/docs/2006/01/18/cuba12207.htm.  
  15. ^ a b Sergio Diaz-Briquets, Jorge F. Pérez-López. Corruption in Cuba.  
  16. ^ "US Lawmakers Say Normalize Cuba Relations", lataminfo.org, April 2009.
  17. ^ "Cuban Democracy Act of 1992". State Department. http://www.state.gov/www/regions/wha/cuba/democ_act_1992.html.  
  18. ^ "EU-Cuba relations". http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2004:076E:0384:0386:EN:PDF.  
  19. ^ Cuba (09/01) US Department of State report

External links

Further reading

  • Erikson, Daniel P. (2005) Charting Castro's Possible Successors. SAIS Review 25.1, 89-103
  • Evenson, Debra (1994). Revolution in the balance: Law and society in contemporary Cuba. Westview Press, Boulder. ISBN 0-8133-8466-4

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