On the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba
Since the text of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba arrived after the
completioll of this book, comment is included in the appendix. (English
Translation, Center for Cuban Studies, N.Y. 1976)
Although Article 4 of the constitution proclaims that " . . . all power
belongs to the working people who exercise it directly or through the
Assemblies of People's Power. . . " the constitution actually
institutionalizes and perpetuates the dictatorship in much the same manner
as the Cons.itution of the Soviet Union promulgated by Stalin. A few
[Article 66:] . . . State organs are based. . . upon the principles of. . .
unity of power [and the totalitarian Lenin-Stalin principle of] democratic
[Article 5:] . . . the socialist State. . . consolidates the ideology and
rules of living together and of proper conduct in Cuban society. . . directs
the national economy. . . assures the educational, scientific technical and
cultural progress of the country...
[Article 38:] . . . education is a function of the state. . . educational
institutions belong to the state. . . [which promotes] communist education
and training of children, young people and adults. . .
[Article 52:] . . . citizens have the freedom of speech and the press [in
keeping with] socialist society [but the exercise of that right is vested in
the statel...press, radio, television, movies and other organs of the mass
media are exclusively state property. . .
[Article 19:] The wage system of Cuba is based upon the. . . socialist
principle of 'From each .ar`~ordino rm hi~ ~hili.~, i
each according to his work...'
_...O ~v I11O c1ulIlty ~ LU
Following the Russian pattern, the Constitution of Cuba " . . . basing
ourselves on the. . . proletarian internationalism. . . of the Soviet Union.
. ." (Preamble) is a hierarchically structured pyramid in which the absolute
power of the state, through its chain-of-command is imposed from the top
down over every level of Cuban society (homes
neighborhoods, municipalities, provinces etc.) '` . . . decisions of
superior state organs are compulsory for inferior ones. . . "
[Article 66:] Starting from the local, municipal and provincial Assemblies
of People's Power, the Council of Ministers and the Council of State,
supreme power is ultimately personified in a
single dictator: The President of the Council of State.
[Article 1()5:] [Decisions of Local Assemblies of People's Power can be] . .
. revoked, suspended or modified . . . by the. . . Municipal and Provincial
Assemblies of Pcople's Power.
[Article 96:] [The Council of Ministers can] ...revoke or annul provisions
issued by. . . heads of central agencies and the administrative bodies of
the local organs [Municipal and Provincial Assemblies] of People's Power...
[Article 88:] [The Council of State can, in turn,] . . .suspend the
provisions of the Council of Ministers and [even the] Local Assemblies of
People's Power which in its opinion run counter to the Constitution. . . or
the general interest of the country.. ."
The prerogatives of the President of the Council of State match the absolute
power exercised by Stalin:
[Article 91:] . . .The President of the Council of State is Head of the
Government and is invested with the power to:
. . . organize, conduct the activities of, call for the holding of and
preside over the sessions of the Council of State and the Council of
Ministers . . . control and supervise. . . the activities of the ministries
and central agencies of the administration . . . assume the leadership of
any ministry or central agency of the administration ...replace.. the
members of the Council of Ministers [Article 88] . . . represent the state
and the government and conduct their general policy. . .
The totalitarian character of the constitution is best summarized in this
extract from its Preamble:
WE adopt the following Constitution. . . to carry forward the triumphant
Revolution [initiated] . . . under the leadership of Fidel Castro [who]
established the revolutionary power...and started the construction of
socialism under the direction of the Communist Party...
Jan. 1, 1959 Batista flees Cuba: Revolution begins.
Manuel Urrutia Lleo appointed President of Cuba. Armed Student Directorio
seizes and refuses to evacuate the Presidential Palace, the seat of
government and the University of Havana campus because Castro unilaterally
appointed his "Provisional Government" without consulting allied
,1 1 11.,
.lan 1 ()
I labeas corpus suspended. C'apital punishment decreed.
People's Socialist Party (PSP-Communists) pledges allegiance to Castro.
Miro Cardona resigns and Castro appoints himself Premier.
Censorship of press, radio, television etc. begins. Strikes prohibited.
Castro government assumes unlimited power. Council of Ministers can decree
laws and change constitution at will.
Agrarian Reform Law (National Institute of Agrarian Reform—INRA) makes
illegal ownership of more than 5 caballerias (I caballeria = 33 ~/2 acres)
of land. INRA institutes state farms on Russian model. Law 43 giving INRA
dictatorial powers reads: ". . . the INRA will appoint administrators and
the workers will accept all orders and decrees dictated by INRA. . . "
Pedro Luis Diaz, Commander of the Air Force and close friend of Castro,
protests growing influence of Communists and leaves Cuba.
Resolution 6, gives Castro unlimited power to spend public funds without
being accountable to anyone.
Article 25 of Fundamental Law further extends death penalty for "acts
hostile to the regime"
Urrutia resigns. The Communist Dorticos appointed new Presiclent of Cuba
Thc day after he resigns, Castro before a delirious mass demonstration of
500,000 people withdraws his resignation as self appointed Premier of Cuba.
The carefully staged proceeding was a cheap publicity hoax.
()ct. 1 3
Jan. 1, 196()
March 1 6
C'uba sells 3,300,000 tons of sugar to Rllssia
Article 149, regulating private schools and education, prohibits teaching of
subjects not taught in public schools, state dictates curriculum.
Castro's close friend and second-in-command, Major Hubor Matos, Military
Commander of Province of Catnaguey' resigns in protest of communist
infiltration of Cuban government. Arrested by order of Castro and after fake
"trial", sentenced Dec. 14 to 20 years imprisonment. Sentence stirred
dormant resentment in armed forces and also civilians who revered Matos, as
hero of the Revolution.
Nationalization of oil property begins.
I 0th Congress of Cuban Confederation of Labor (CTC). Communist candidates
endorsed by Castro are defeated. A little later, officials freely elected by
rank-and-file are dismissed by order of Castro and replaced by Castro's
appointees. The democratically elected Secretary, David Salvador, is
sentenced to 30 year prison term.
Ernesto Che Guevara (who knows nothing about finance) appointed President of
the Bank of Cuba.
I.aw 680 tightens press, radio, television, etc., censorship.
Vice-President of Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union, Anastas Mikoyan,
inaugurates Soviet exhibition in Palace of Fine Arts
Commercial treaty signed by Mikoyan and Castro grants credit of $100,000,000
and exchanges Cuban sugar for Soviet armaments.
Establishment of Central Planning Body (JUCEPLAN) to manage economy. Blas
Roca, veteran communist leader appointed Director of JUCEPLAN.
Instituto Superior de Educacion established to indoctrinate tcachers with
(,ala ( clebration of Lenin's birthday.
Formal diplomatic relations with Russia established.
C ommandante Rolando Cubela (later mortal enemy of Castro) President of the
Federation of University Students (FEW) orders expulsion of anti-communist
students from the University of Havana.
Death Penalty decreed for misappropriation of funds.
Law 851 decrees nationalization of property. In successive months the
property of the Cuban Telephone Co., Cuban Electric Co., three oil companies
(Standard, Shell and Texaco) and 21 sugar refineries are nationalized. (By
the end of 1960, the state expropriated 11,287 companies, equal to
two-thirds of Cuban industry. By March 1961, nationalization totalled 88010
of industrial production and 55°70 of agricultural production.
Most of the faculty of Havana University resigns in protest over communist
Organization of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) to
spy on citizens even in their homes.
" . . . a strike is a counter-revolutionary act in a socialist republic. .
." (Castro). ". . .The destiny of the unions is to disappear..." (Guevara).
"...the Minister of Labor can take control of any union or federation of
unions, dismiss officials and appoint others. . . " (law 647)
With nationalization of 376 additional firms and Urban Reform Law (including
housing) Castro proclaims the completion of the first phase of the
Gala parade in celebration of anniversary of Russian Revolution with
participation of thousands of Russian, Chinese and "socialist" countries'
technicians and "advisors. "
Jan. 1, 1961
.1 an. 29
(hlban Government predicts th.tt in 19(i1, production ol potatoes, beans,
poultry, eggs, corn, and cotton "will have quintuplet)." Actually,
"production between 1958-1963 decreased by 500/0 (Rene Dumont)
Cuba and China sign trade agreement. China buys 1,000,000 tons of sugar and
extends $50,000,000 credit to Cuba.
Castro creates Higher Council of Universities headed by Minister of
Education to rule universities.
2nd anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.
U.S. severs relations with Cuba.
" . . . any counter-revolutionary activity (as defined by the dictators) by
any worker, either in the public or private sector, will be sufficient cause
for immediate dismissal and additional punishment for criminal acts under
the law. . . " (law 934)
6 complete factories arrive from Yugoslavia. 100 due to be delivered by
Russia. Cuba sends 1000 children to Russia to learn how to become obedient
communists. Educational collaboration with Soviet ambassador to Havana, Yuri
Gavrilov, and Czechoslovak ViceMinister of Education, Vaslav Pelishek, to
teach Cuban educators methods used in communist lands.
Cuban Ministry of Education will train teachers in Minar del Fri'o, a
communist school, how to become good Marxist-Leninists.
Stepped up campaign to mobilize hundreds of thousands of "volunteers" to cut
cane and do other important work.
Guevara appointed Minister of Industry (which he knows nothing about)
"Bay of Pigs" invasion by unofficial U.S.-sponsored forces.
March 8, 1962
C astr () proclaims that C uba has hecome the f h-st Socialist Republic in
l.atin Anlerica. Th`~l~s`~'uls parade carrying Inlgc portraits ol Caslro,
Jose Marti', Khrusllchev, Mao, Lenin, Marx and Engels. On behlg awarded the
Lenin peace prize, Castro exults: "GLORY TO THE GREAT JOSE MART:!" "GLORY TO
THE GREAT VLADIMIR II.S ICII LENI N! "
Castro delivers his "I am a Marxist-Leninist Communist" speech.
A forerunner of the Communist Party of Cuba, the Integrated Revolutionary
Organizations (ORI) is organized.
March 12 Law 1015 decrees rationing of most foods and other necessities.
anc~ther version l~l the luturc poll-Castro Ct~nlmunist ['arty of ( uba
Second Ayratian Retorn, restricts ownership oi land to five caballerias.
I ol the first time in Cuba compulsory military service is decreed in
preference to volunteer service in militia.
Feb. 14, 1964 Castro takes personal charge of INRA.
To combat absenteeism and enforce work discipline the government announces
plans to issue in August and September, identification cards which all
workers must show as condition for employment. . . " . . . thereby
guaranteeing full compliance with directives established by the
Revolutionary Government as far as labor is concerned . . . "
Ministry of Labor institutes forced labor in Province of Pinar del Rio' for
"...employees who committed transgressions in lulfilllnellt of their
Aug.-Sept. Drive against political and social dissenters stepped up. FI
Libertario, organ of the Liberation Association of Cuba
(anarcho-syndicalist) forced to suspend publication. Workers threatened with
loss of jobs if they do not "volunteer" to work without pay. Students
housewives and others told they will lose benefits it they do not
"volunteer" their services. Agricultural cooperatives transformed into state
Spring, 1963 Compulsory service for 15 to 17 year-old "delinquents" decreed
to provide a labor force for a wide range of agricultural and civic
projects. Formation of the United Party of the Socialist Revolution (PURS)
The much vaunted militia, "The People in Arms" is practically liquidated as
an independent force. Nationwide disarmament of the militia is decreed.
Militia officers and civilians are commanded to turn their weapons in by
Sept. Ist or face severe penalties. Members of the military reserve and
communities for the Defense of the Revolution must also comply.
Havana Longshoremen refuse to load meat for Italy because of meat shortage
in Cuba. 200 arrested and later released with only stern warnings for fear
of further complications.
Militarily orgarlized labor camps established to rehabilitate "delinquents."
Havana University is again purged. Writers and artists sent to penal camps,
ostensibly to "purify the Revolution. "
March, 1966 Rolando Cubela (former favorite of Castro) sentenced to 25 years
at hard labor for conspiracy to assassinate Castro because he betrayed the
Aug. 22-26 12th Congress of the CTC adopts resolution stating that: " . . .
the labor movement directed and guided by the Communist Party, must
effectively contribute to the mobilization of the masses in fulfilling of
the tasks assigned by the Revolution and strengthening MarxistLeninist
theory . . . "
Jan. 28, 1968
Aug. 2 Aug. 17
Organizatior1 ot the Vanguard Worliers Movement. Likc the Stal~hanovites in
Russia, the Vanguard Workers are expected to set the pace and initiate
speedup of their fellow workers. In c~change Vanguard Workers get special
A program of Youth Reeducation Centers established for youngsters under 16
found guilty of minor offences. They are to perform "a full day's work" and
get military training.
Che'Guevara killed in Bolivia guerrilla campaign.
Castro asserts his domination over the Communist Party. Anibal Escalante, a
prominent communist, is sentenced to 15 years at hard labor for plotting to
subordinate Castro to the discipline of the Party. He was accused of the
typical Stalinist crime of "microfactionalism. "
Castro introduces the "Great Revolutionary Offensive" by nationalizing
58,000 trades, shops and services. Young people are mobilized, military
fashion, for agriculture and sugar production.
Castro defends the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. The Minister of Labor,
Jorge Risquet, announces introduction of 'ilabor card" recording acts of
indiscipline, work record, etc.
A "social-security law" providing incentives for workers who demonstrate
"exemplary" behavior is decreed. Those who exhibit "communist work
attitudes, " renounce overtime pay, are not absent without authorization,
exceed work quotas and enthusiastically perform "voluntary" labor become
eligible for special benefits.
Jan. 2, 1969 Castro introduces rationing of sugar!
Arrnando Hart (prominent member of Casto's ruling junta) praises Soviet
achievements under Stalin and urges C ubans to follow Stalin's example.
The whole labor force is mobilized Imilitary fashion) for harvesting the 10
million ton sugar crop while the rest of the economy is neglected. The
campaign fails and Castro himself takes the blame for setting back the rest
of the economy to the lowest levels since the Revolution, declaring that:
"...1 want to speak of our own incapacity in the overall work of the
Revolution. . tour responsibility to must be noted . . . especially mine. .
. Our apprenticeship as directors of the Revolution has been too costly. . .
A series of drastic measures to strengthen weak labor discipline enacted by
the Labor Ministry and CTC bureaucracy. Sanctions against absentees include
denial of right to purchase goods in short supply (new housing, repairs,
loss of vacations and other privileges. In extreme cases offenders can be
sent to labor camps etc.
There is a dossier for each worker which every worker is obliged to show,
detailing his work record.
Less than half of the workers participate in rigged union elections.
Castro's henchmen screen all candidates. In some locals there was only one
candidate on the ballot.
March 1971 Dissident poet Herberto Padilla arrested on trumped up charges of
"counter-revolution" for writing critical poetry and articles about Cuban
dictatorship. Later, in true Stalinist fashion Padilla "repents his sins"
and is "rehabilitated." The case aroused world-wide protests.
Castro praises "revolutionary achievements" of the military totalitarian
Junta that seized power in Peru.
Dec. 1972 Creation of the super-centralized Executive Committee of the
Council of Ministers.
Between 1972 and 1975 the institutionalization and
~' . .t 1 , :
reorganization of the Revolution was being implcmented.
I\lid-1971 Reform of the judicial system. Courts and all legal
bodies dominat.] and completely responsible to the Executive Committee of
the Council of Ministers. There is no independent judiciary. The Prime
Minister, the Prcsident of the Republic, other ministers, and the members of
the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba are exempt from the
jurisdiction of the regular courts.
Militias ("People in Arms") abolished.
Liability of 18 year olds for "crimes" against the economy, abnormal sexual
behavior, etc., etc., applied to 16 year old "offenders."
Creation of the Youth Army of Work (AYW), a paramilitary organization
controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR).
13th Congress of the CTC endorses and promises to carry out the dictatorial
policies of the Regime.
December Law 1257 decrees creation of regular, conventional army complete
with ranking system and discipline of great military powers.
May 8, 1974 With the establishment of the People's Organization of Popular
Control (PCP) an experiment in "decentralization" and "direct democracy"
designed to promote mass participation in Local, Regional administration is
initiated in Matanzas Province (to be extended to rest of Cuba in 1976). The
system patterned after the fake Russian "soviets" actually reinforces the
Castro proclaims 3 days of mourning for the death of the fascist dictator of
Argentina Juan Pero'n. With Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (Dec.
1975) the institutionalization of the Revolution was substantially
completed. The permanent, legally sanctioned, totalitarian apparatus
intlicts itself on future generatiorls.
I.ibertarian Fedcration of Cuba
L ibertarian Movcment of Cuba in Exile
National Confederation of Labor (Spanish AnarchoSyndicalist)
International Workingmen's Association
(Abbreviations of Cuban organizations with date of founding)
CDR CTC EJT FAR INRA JUCEPI AN OPP ORI PCC PSP PURS SMO SS UMAP UNEAC UJC
Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, 1960 Confederation of Cuban
Workers, 1939 Youth Army of Work, 1973 Revolutionary Armed Forces, 1961
National Institute of Agrarian Reform, 1959 Central Planning Board, 1960
Organs of Popular Power, 1974 Integrated Revolutionary Organizations,
1961-1963 Communist Party of Cuba, 1965 Socialist Popular Party, 1925-1961
United Party of the Socialist Revolution, 1963-1965 Compulsory Military
Service, 1963 Compulsory Social Service, 1973 Military Units to Aid
Production, 1964-1973 National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, 1961
Young Communist League, 1962
A full bibliography of writings on the background of the Cuban Revolution
and the Revolution itself would easily fill several volumes. It is therefore
necessary to list such works in English as seems best for the general
Interestingly enough, the sources are the speeches and writings of Castro
and members of his inner circle (official government publications,
periodicals, newspapers etc.) Another excellent source is the works of the
pro-Castro friendly critics. Both the Cuban officials in the process ot
justifying their dictatorial measures and the friendly critics in trying to
account for the degeneration of the Revolution inadvertently supply valuable
information about the nature of the Cuban Revolution.
C astro s speeches and writings are easily available—a convenient
compilation is The Selected Works ~Jf Fidel Castro: flevo/utionar Struggle;
Rolando Bonachea and Nelson P. Valdes (M. I.T. Press Cambridge, 1971—E7irst
ot three volumes.)
Johrl C,crassi, Venceremos! The Speeches and Writings of Che Guervara (New
Che' Guevara, kpisodes of the Revolutionary Slruggle (Book Institute,
Havana, 1967.) An invaluable, intimate first-hand account ot the early
struggles of Castro's guerrilla band in the Sierra Maestra.
Cramna Weekly Review (Lnglish Language Edition)—of licial organ of the
Communist Party of Cuba. Good for current events, official notices,
Other Background and Source Materials
Cuban Studies Newsletter; published twice yearly by the Center for Latin
American Studies; University of Pittsburgh. Contains many informative
articles, theses and other writings.
The University of Miami's Center for Research on Caribbean Studies; also the
Cuban Economic Research Project, an excellent research staff manned by Cuban
Yale University's Anlilles Program.
Center for Cuban Studies, New York.
United Nations publications.
Background to Revolution; a collection of essays on Cuban history leading to
the Cuban Revolution. A good general survey by competent authorities (Edited
by Robert F. Smith, New York, 1966).
Jaime Suchlicki, From Columbus to Castro, New York, 1974, also his excellent
collection of essays by ten specialists, (University of Miami, 1972).
Suchlicki's works are particularly important because he participated in the
Revolutionary Students' Movement in his native Cuba.
Although Hugh Thomas' massive history The Pursuit of Freedom has been widely
acclaimed, his atrocious work on the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) should be
borne in mind when reading his Cuban volume.
Jules Dubois' Fidel Castro; (Indianapolis, 1959). Dubois, late correspondent
for the Chicago Tribune, interviewed and was on very cordial terms with
Fidel Castro and associates. An excellent account of events from Castro's
landing in Cuba, to the fall of Batista, plus interesting biographical data.
I Icrbert Matthews, New York Thnes correspondent who first i'~ncrvicwed C
astro in the Sierra Maestre, was welcomed to Cuba sc~eral times since then.
Matthews has written extensively on the C uban Revolution. Among his
writings are: f idel Castro; (New York, 1959) and Cuba in Revolution; (New
York, 1975). Though strongly biased in favor of Castro, the latter work
contains valuable information.
Rufo Lopez Fresquet: My First Fourteen Months With Castro; (New York, 1966)
and Andre's Suarez, Castroism and Communism: 1959-1966; (MIT Press,
Cambridge, 1967). Both Fresquet, former Minister of the Treasury in Castro's
cabinet, and Sua'rez, the Assistant Minister of the Treasury, broke with
Castro because they disagreed with his pro-communist policies. Their
revelations contribute greatly to an understanding of the Cuban Revolution.
Under the intriguing title, Does Your Father Eat More Than Castro? (New
York, 1971), Barry Reckord, a Jamaica dramatist, describes the daily life of
ordinary Cubans, and in so doing, tells more about the effects of the Cuban
Revolution than any number of abstract statistical studies. The same is true
of the journalist, Joe Nicholson Junior's Inside Cuba (New York, 1974.)
Fidel Castro's Personal Revolution: 1959-1973 (New York, 1975); an anthology
edited by James Nelson Goodsell, is a good general survey.
Adolfo Cilly's Inside the Cuban Revolution (New York, 1964), although
passionately pro-Castro, is nevertheless a penetrating critique.
In his Castro's lRevolution: Myths and Realities (New York, 1962), Theodor
Draper dispels the euphoria surrounding both the character and achievements
of the Cuban Revolution. A realistic analysis. His Castroism: Theory and
Practice (New York, 1965) develops his themes more fully.
K.S. Karol's Cuerrillas in Power (New York, 1970)—Karol, a Marxist-Leninist
writer who was welcomed to Cuba by Castro, was later excommunicated for his
critical insights and revelations about the unfavorable features of the
Cuban Revolution. His work constitutes an able political history of the
Cuban Revolution, fal superior to Huberman and Sweezy's Socialism in Cuba
(New York, 1969).
Maurice Halperin's The Rise and Decline of Fidel Castro (University of
California Press, 1972) deals primarily with the complex relations between
Castro and the Soviet Union and foreign affairs. His observations on the
sitl~ation in Cuba itself enhance the work. Halperin taught at the
University of Havana for six years and in Russia for three years. His is one
of the better works.
The analytic books of Rene' Dumont: Cuba: Socialism and
)tn'l'/~'pn]t'lll (Nc~` Noll`. 197()) anti /.\ Cubu St)`ic//i.sl'' (New
York, 1')74), ;Il~Ll tl~c ll`IillStt\\iliglV li'NC.\rL'llCti work o'
(.tlll~clo \1cNa-Lago, ( ~t/'U il' r/7e /97().`i (tJni~crsity oi Ne`~-
I\lexico, It)74) 1~a~c alicaLiy been
iiiNCU\NCLI tIIILi IlCCLt 110 fUrtllCr COllllllelll.
Ac~ Ac' Ace Aco
Agric~ Agric~ ana~ .llilit post
]5 pre- R See a,
Aguirre, Ahoru (r A lar~na Alba (jo~ ALC, see
Alerta (ne Algcria, g Alonso, 11 Al\arcz C'c Alvarez y E Anarchists,
Anarcho-syn in Cuba, 4 main princ in Spain, s,
Andre, Arma~ Antorcha, La, Arbenz Guzmi Arcirivo Socia'
Argentina anarcho-sync "Caudillismc Castro and, i See also Fede;
Armed forces under Batista,