CORBACHO DAUDINOT v. PUIG VALDES et al
Second AMENDED COMPLAINT against YASIEL PUIG VALDES, MARITZA VALDES GONZALEZ, filed by MIGUEL ANGEL CORBACHO DAUDINOT. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A, # 2 Exhibit B, # 3 Exhibit C, # 4 Exhibit D, # 5 Exhibit E, # 6 Exhibit F, # 7 Exhibit G, # 8 Exhibit H, # 9 Exhibit I, # 10 Exhibit J, # 11 Exhibit K, # 12 Exhibit L, # 13 Exhibit M, # 14 Exhibit N, # 15 Exhibit O, # 16 Exhibit P, # 17 Exhibit Q, # 18 Exhibit R, # 19 Exhibit S, # 20 Exhibit T, # 21 Exhibit U, # 22 Exhibit V)(Gonzalez, Avelino)
a country study
Federal Research Division
library of Congress
Rex A. Hudson
Oil the covet: La Iglesia de San Francisco de ASls (Church of
San Francisco) and the plaza fountain in La Habana Vieja
(Old Havana); 1997
Courtesy Mark P. Sullivan
This volume is one in a continuing series of books prepared
by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress
under the Country Studies/Area Handbook Program sponsored by the Department of the Army. The last two pages of this
book list the other published studies.
Most books in the series deal with a particular foreign country, describing and analyzing its political, economic, social, and
national security systems and institutions, and examining the
interrelationships of those systems and the ways they are
shaped by historical and cultural factors. Each study is written
by a multidisciplinary team of social scientists. The authors
seek to provide a basic understanding of the observed society,
striving for a dynamic rather than a static portrayal. Particular
attention is devoted to the people who make up the society,
their origins, dominant beliefs and values, their common interests and the issues on which they are divided, the nature and
extent of their involvement with national institutions, and their
attitudes toward each other and toward their social system and
The books represent the analysis of the authors and should
not be construed as an expression of an official United States
government position, policy, or decision. The authors have
sought to adhere to accepted standards of scholarly objectivity.
Corrections, additions, and suggestions for changes from readers will be welcomed for use in future editions.
Fourth Edition; First Printing, 2002,
Library of CongresS Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Cuba: a country study / Federal Research Division, Library of Congress ; edited by Rex A. Hudson - 4th ed.
p. cm. - (Area handbook series; ISSN 1057-5294) (DA jlain ;
"Research completed Apni 2001."
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-8444-1045-4 (hc : alk. paper) .
1. Cuba. I. Hudson, Rex A., 1947- . II. Library of Congress. Federal Research Division. III. Series. IV. Series: DA pam j 550-152
Headquarters, Department of the Army
For ",,\e by Ibe Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office
Wa.hington. D.C. 20402
Robert L. Worden
Federal Research Division
Library of Congress
Washington, DC 20540-4840
Chapter 4. Government and Politics
The National Capitol (El Capitolio Nacional), the seat ofgovernment until
1959, now houses the Cuban Academy of Sciences (Academia de Ciencias de
Cuba) and the National Library of Science and Technology (Biblioteca Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologla).
Courtesy Mark P. Sullivan
SuDDENLY, DRAMATICALLY, ALMOST unexpectedly, the
Cold War came to an end in Europe, and the world changed.
Communist governments tumbled throughout Central and
Eastern Europe in 1989, and, by the end of 1991, the Soviet
Union itself collapsed. Constitutional governments, increasingly democratic, emerged in the 19905 in much of Central
and Eastern Europe.
For Fidel Castro Ruz (president, 1976- ) and his associates
in the Cuban government and the Communist Party of Cuba
(Partido Comunista de Cuba-PCG), these results were a catastrophe. As a result of a trade protocol signed in Moscow in late
December 1990, Soviet economic subsidies to Cuba ended as of
January 1, 1991. Bilateral trade between Cuba and the Soviet
Union would henceforth be conducted at world market prices..
Whereas in the past Cuba had dealt with only sixty-two Soviet
agencies and enterprises, the trade protocol abolished the central management of trade relations and required Cuba to
develop commercial relations with some 25,000 Soviet firms.
The Russian government, successor to the Soviet Union,
retained similar policies: trade with Cuba would be conducted
"on a commercial basis presuming no "special relationship"
between Russia and Cuba. Stunned and inexperienced, Cuban
government officials at first had great difficulty coping with
these changes. And, bereft of economic subsidies, Cuba's economy collapsed (see The Economic Crisis of the 19908, ch. 3).
Cuba also iost the political and military protection provided
by the Soviet Union that it had enjoyed since 1960. Cuban leaders, consequently, felt nakedly vulnerable facing the United
States. The United States government, for its part, increased its
pressure on the Cuban government in the 19905 to force it to
change or, preferably, to fall.
Cuba was unable to pay on its own for the costs of its worldwide activist foreign policy. Absent Soviet backing, the Cuban
government risked United State$ retaliation for overseas militaryexpeditions. Consequently, Cuban foreign policy retreated
across the "board. In September 1989, Cuba completed the
repatriation of its troops from Ethiopia. In March 1990, all
Cuban military personnel in Nicaragua were brought home. In
May 1991, Cuba's last troops were repatriated from Angola.
Also in 1990 and 1991, Cuba brought back its troops and mili227
Cuba: A Country Study
tary advisers from various other tol1ntries. Cuba's globai military deployments ended nearly instantaneously as the C?ld
War was winding down in Europe and as Cuba was rapidly losing Soviet political, economic, and military backing. Cuba had
become once again only a Caribbean island archipelago-no
longer an aspirant to major-power status astride the world
Born bristling in radicalism, Cuban state socialism changed
in the 1990s, In 1960 the government expropriated all foreign
firms. In 1989 it hiunched a campaign to attract private foreign
direct investment once again (see Economic Reforms, ch. 3).
Iti May 1990, President Castro inaugurated the first of many
foreign-owned hotels on Cuba's premier tourist beach at Varadero. He announced that Cuba would henceforth seek foreign
investment to develop its economy. These policies would soon
be endorsed by the PCG's executive organ, tile Political Bureau
(Bur6 Politico). These changes had implications well beyond
their economic significance. In reversing the regime's founding policies, President Castro and his comrades signaled that
they could no longer govern Cuba as they had and as they
would still prefer. Other modest market-oriented economic
policy reforms further communicated to the population the
state's retreat from orthodox bureaucratic socialism (see Economic Reforms, ch. 3). Cuban leaders were compelled to
change 'by a world suddenly averse to their brand of bureaucratic socialism.
The capacity of the Cuban state weakened at home as well.
This weakening was in part a consequence of the leadership's
unexpected inability to govern as had been their practice. Citizens who witnessed Fidel Castro's reluctant retreat from the
policies he still cherished and had long implemented felt newly
free to begin to take their lives into their own hands. An illegal
economy or black market (see Glossary) boomed in Cuba in
the early 1990s (see The Second Economy, ch. 3). The government could no longer preyent it, nor could it assure an acceptable standard of living- to the population. The grip of the state
loosened gradually in various aspects of social life. Religious
activity revived (see Religion in the Special Period, 1990-97,
chi 2), and intellectual life became more independent in some
respects. Human rights and political opposition activists under.,.
took bolder actions, and their groups became more likely to
Government and Politics
The story of Cuban politics in the 1990s, therefore, has three
principal strands. First, government and pec leaders have
sought to retain enough political support to continue to govern, adapting policies, streamlining organizations, and replacing personnel to make their survival more likely. P~~ticularly
significant have been a major replacement of the pohticalleadership just below the very top of the regime and a substantial
downsizing of the armed forces (see Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces; ch. 5). Second,· a slow political transition has gotten underway, unloved by the rulers but
constructed by Cuban citizens who, step by step, have edged
away from the control that the state and the PCC had held over
Cuban life for the preceding decades. Third, internationally,
the Cuban government has designed a strategy to resist United
States pressures and to fashion a new network of international
relations for the only surviving communist regime outside East
Asia. Cuban leaders have gained support in Europe, Latin
America, the Middle East, Canada, and East Asia from governments that object to United States attempts to force them to
follow United States policy toward Cuba. This "negative" international coalition in opposition to United States policy is a key
to the Cuban regime's capacity to survive seemingly against all
odds years after the Soviet Union crashed.
Cuba features a formidable array of state, government, and
partisan entities. Some have endured for nearly forty years, and
ail have lasted for at least two decades. And yet, in the 1990s as
in earlier decades, these formal institutions manifest only one
of the two "faces of power" in Cuba. Officeholders in state, government, and PCC organs and in the mass organizations often
have less power than it would seem from a description of their
formal rights and duties.
The other "face of power" in Cuba is intensely personal. It
derives its clout from the Revolution in the 1950s and from
"revolutionary accomplishments" in the years that followed. A
key feature of these "accomplishments" is that they appeared to
require heroic deeds and leaders who succeeded in reaching
an impossible dream. Fidel Castro epi.tomizes this source of
power. His towering role in Cuban politics at times has allowed
him to override institutional rules and constraints to veto some
policies and enact others. Other men (and some, but not very
many, women) have also acquired significant public standing as
Govemment and Politics
Cuba: A Country Study
a result of their heroic deeds over the yeats, but most of them
died during the revolution of ~e 1950s and in the 1960s. Fid~I
Castro's capacity to make policies happen, or to stop then
implementation, and his unmatched capacity to pick and
choose officials to whom he delegates extraordinary powers
shape the capacity of these institutions to' function.
The Constitution _
The Fourth Congress of the PCGmet in October 1991 to
review the debris from the collapse of the communist world in
Europe and its impact on Cuba. One of its decisions was to
revise Cuba's constitution of 1976. The leadership dosely con~
trolled the process of constitutional revision, and PCC and
National Assembly committees carried out the task. Although
the text was open to discussion by CU,bans through the ~o~n
try's official mass organizations and other means, no pleblsclte
was held to approve the. substantially revised text. The PCC and
the National Assembly approved the new constitutional text in
The new constitution signaled Cuba's changed circumstances and, especially, a more tolerant approach to certain differences within society. Unlike the old constitution, the text of
the new constitution makes no reference to the Soviet Union, a
country that had ceased to exist. The normative chapters of the
constitution seek to embrace au Cubans, not just those ideologically committed to Marxism-Leninism. Its preamble and opening chapters invoke the mantle of nationalism in an attempt to
cover all Cubans. The new Article 1 (unlike its predecessor)
refers to Jose Marti and affirms that the socialist state seeks to'
serve all and the good of all. The PCC remains enshrined in
.Article 5 as the single party, still Marxist-Leninist, but now also
a follower ofJose Marti. Whereas the old Article 54 proclaimed
that the state based its actions on and advocated a "scientific
materialist conception of the universe," while also guaranteeing freedom of conscience and worship, the neW Article 55
omits all reference to scientific materialism and simply seeks to
guarantee freedom of religion. In these and other symbolically
significant ways, the 1992 constitution seeks to include all
Cubans ready to pledge their allegiance and otherwise
attempts to marginalize none.
The 1992 constitution retroactively legitimizes the changed
property regime inaugurated with the search to lure foreign·
investment that started in 1989 and was made public in 1990.
The 1976 constitution had authorized only state property,
except for what individuals were authorized to own directly.
The 1992 constitution limits state ownership to the "fundamental" means of production (Article 14). Article 15 goes further,
however. It opens by seemingly prohibiting the privatization of
most enterprises and other forms of economic activitiesj but it
goes ort to authorize the privatization of every property, provided such transfer of ownership is approved by the Executive
Committee (Comite Ejecutivo) of the Council of Ministers
(Consejo de Ministros).
The ideological and property regime shifts of the 1992 constitution made the political regime more inclusive and, especially, more tolerant of religious belief, behavior, and
organizations. They signaled as well a much greater emphasis
in public discourse on Cuban nationalism rather than on the
canonical texts of Marxism, Leninism, socialism, or communism. The changes in the property regime, of course, accelerated the process of private foreign direct investment.
The 1992 constitution remains deeply authoritarian, however. The pce remains the only legal political party. The bill of
rights is as riddled with exceptions as it was in the 1976 constitution. The new Article 53 is identical to its predecessor in recognizing freedom of expression, but only so long as it
conforms to the "goals of a socialist society." All mass media
must remain in state hands. And the article also enables the
government to further regulate whatever residual freedoms
remain. Other articles recognize the privacy of the home and
. of personal correspondence, unless, of course, the law states
otherwise. Finally, Article 62 (like its predecessor) prohibits the
use of any of these freedoms "against the existence and purposes of the socialist state." Indeed, in one important respect
the 1992 constitution is more authoritarian than its predecessor. The new Article 67 empowers the president of the Council
of State (Fidel Castro) on his own authority to declare a state of
emergency and to modify the exercise of rights or the obliga. tions embedded in the constitution.
National Assembly of People's Power
The 1992 constitution also institutes some modest changes
in the design of the organs of the state (see fig. 7). The 1992
constitution, like its predecessor, vests all formal legislative
powers (including the powers of amending the constitution) in
the National Assembly of People's Power (Asamblea Nacional
- - - - ---_._--_.. _._--_ ... - ..
Cuba: A CQuntry Study
AUDmNG AND CONTROL
COMPUTER SCIENCE AND
ECONOMY AND PLANNING
FINANCE AND PRICES
FOREIGN INVESTMENT AND
Government and Politics
IRON', STeEl, AND MACHINE INDUSTRY
LABOR AND SOCIAL SECURITY
REVOLunONARY ARMED FORCES
SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, AND ENVIRONMENT
Source: Based on information from Roberto Segre, Mario Coyula, andJoseph L.
Scarpaci. Havann: Two Faces o/IM Antillean Metropolis. New York: 1997, i 78; and
Jorge 1. DomingUez.
Figure 7. G,eittral Administrative Structure, 2001
del Poder Popular-ANPP; hereafter, National Assembly). The
National Assembly has the formal powers, among others, to
declare war in the event of military aggression; make peace;
enact or modify legislation; approve the budget and the
national economic plan; elect the members of the Council of
State (Consejo de Estado), including its president; and elect
the members of the Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo Popular). (The Supreme Court cannot judge the constitutionality of
National Assembly decisions.) National Assembly leaders also
generally oversee the rule-making activities and electoral processes of the provincial assemblies and municipal assemblies.
Despite all of its functions, the National Assembly is no~ a
powerful institution. For the most part, it ratifies decisions
made prior to its meetings; it typically votes unanimously or
nearly unanimously to endorse government bills. Deputies·
have other full-time jobs. and the National Assembly characteristically meets only twice a year, three times at most. Each time
it usually meets for 0'10 or three days. Founded in 1976, the
National Assembly became, in the 1990s. simultaneously marginally less institutionalized but also more effective. Institutionalization declined because officials at times failed to observe
their own ruies. For example, National Assembly elections
should have been held in 1991 but were postponed until February 1993 in order to defer: the electoral process well past the
shock of the collapse of the Soviet Union and other communist
regimes. And, at times in the 1990s, National Assembly sessions
were canceled or deferred arbitrarily instead of meeting at
their normal times.
The National Assembly became more effective, however,
under the leadership of Ricardo Alarcon de Quesada, who
became its president in March 1993. Alarcon reinvigorated the
National Assembly's working commissions, which aid the
National Assembly and the Council of State in carrying out
their functions. Alarcon urged the commissions to audit the
operation of state agencies, ask questions, and write reports.
The National Assembly's debate in its standing commissions
has at times forced the executive branch to amend, reconsider,
or delay the submission of bills for formal approval. Among the
most vigorously debated bills was the Law on Foreign Investment, finally approved after much delay and several drafts in
September 1995. Alarcon has also urged deputies to rernaip in
closer touch with the voters and to campaign actively for office
as if they were contested. In these respects, the National Assem-
..... _ _._-_.
__. _ - - -
Cuba: A Country Study
bly's political efficacy has risen, and so has Alarcon's political
National Assembly deputies are elected for five-year terms.
In 1998 the new National Assembly had 601 members. The
1992 constitution mandates that the depUties be elected
directly by the people, in contrast to the previous system, in
which the provincial assemblies elected the deputies. However,
the Electoral Law of 1992 requires that the number of candidates equal the number of posts to be filled. The old Electoral
Law required that a provincial assembly (Asamblea Provincial)
be given a choice of nominees soinewhat larger than the number of posts to be filled. Thus, the change in national electoral
procedures had the appearance of democratization while
embodying a reduction in effective choice. The election of
deputies through the provincial assemblies had fostered soine
competition within the elite; the 1992 changes reduced the
level of open politicai contestation.
Candidates for National Assembly deputy; candidates for
membership in the Council of State, and candidates for
National Assembly president, vice president, and secretary
originate with a National Commission for Candidacies. This
commission is constituted of appointees designated by the officially sponsored mass organizations. These mass organizations
are the Cuban Workers Federation (Central de Trabajadores
de Cuba-CTC), the Federation of Cuban Women (Federacion de Mujeres Cubanas-FMC), the Committee for the
Defense of the Revolution (Comite de Defensa de la Revoludon-CDR), the National Association of Small Farmers (Asodadon Nadonal de Agricultores Pequenos-ANAP), the Federation of University Students, and the Federation of Secondary School Students (Federacion de Estudiantes de la
Ensenanza Media-FEEM) (see Mass Organizations, this ch.).
The CTC representative chairs the commission. The commission, which consults various national, provincial, and munitipal leaders, proposes a list of precandidates (with a number of
pre candidates equal to no fewer than twice the number to be
elected) to a sintilarly constituted commission at the municipal
level. The latter commission formally nominates the candidates
for deputy. Those nominated for candidacy are almost certain
to be elected because the final list of candidates equals the
number of posts to be filled.
Mter the 1993 national elections, reelected incumbents constituted only 17 percent of the new National Assembly. This fig234
Government and Politics
ure was not the result of voter discontent (all the incumbents
who stood for reelection were reelected), but of a prior elite
decision not to renominate most incumbents. In contrast, after
the 1998 national elections, reelected incumbents constituted
35 percent of the new National Assembly. (Average age in the
National Assembly rose from forty-three to forty-five from one
election to the next.) In general, this pattern of sweeping personnel change in the early 1990s but somewhat greater continuity in the late 1990s reflected the top leadership's greater
confidence that it had removed the "dead wood" and identified
a good political team to ensure the continuation of the political regime. A similar pattern would be evident in the composition of the PCC's Central Committee (Comite Central) (see
Political Bureau and Central Committee, this ch.).
The proportion of female members of the National Assembly rose from 23 to 28 percent from the 1993 to the 1998 elections. In addition, 78 percent of the deputies were university
graduates in 1998 (versus 75 percent in 1993). The number of
deputies on active duty in the Revolutionary Armed Forces
(Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias--FAR) or in the Ministry of
Interior remained the same (thirty-five deputies). The number
of high PCC officials dropped substantially, however, from 24
percent to 11 percent in part as a result of the downsizing of
the PCC's Central Committee in 1997.
Council of State
The Council of state is elected by the National Assembly and
is empowered to make all decisions on behalf of the National
Assembly when tlle latter is not in session, which is most of the
time. Among other powers, the Council of State can appoint
and remove ministers, ambassadors, and other high officials,
issue decrees with the force of law, declare war or make peace;
ratify treaties, and suspend or revoke the decisions by all provincial or local governments. In effect, the Council of State, not
the National Assembly, is the routine, constitutionally authoritative collective decision maker.
The president of the Council of State, who under "the constitution is also president of the Council of Ministers, is the chief
of state. These functions had been performed by different individuals before the adoption of the 1976 constitution, as had
been the norm in communist countries. Since 1976, these posts
have been held by Fidel Castro, who, in taking on these func-
Cuba: A Country study
tions, adopted a pattern of presidebtialism familiar to Latin
The six vice presidents of the Council of State are among
Cuba's most important politicians. The first vice president is
General of the Army Raul Castro Ruz, minister of the FAR and
Fidel Castro's formally designated successor. The other vice
presidents are Commander of the Revolution Juan Almeida
Bosque, who has long played a role in maintaining discipline
and morale in the military and the PCC; Army Corps General
Abelardo Colome Ibarra, minister of interior and decorated
heto of the republic of Cuba for his role in Cuba's wars in
Mrica; Carlos Lage Davila, secretary of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers and, in effect, chief operating
.officer for the Cuban economy;Jose Ramon Machado Ventura,
long-time secretary of organization of the PCC's Central Committee; and Esteban Lazo Hernandez, first secretary of the PCC
in Havana City Province (Ciudad de La Habana Province).
The Council of State has thirty-one members, including its
president, vice presidents, and secretary, all ofwho.m were
reelected in 1998. Its membership had been relatively stable
from the mid-1970s to the early 1990s. Six leaders-the Castro
brothers, Almeida, Armando Hart Davalos, Machado, and
Pedro Miret Prieto-have been members of the Council of
State since its establishment in 1977 and were reelected again
in 1998. In 1998, however, there was a major overhaul of the
council's membership. the only top leadership organ to be
reorganized so thoroughly in the late 19908. Only seventeen of
the thirty-one members of the 1993 Council of State were
reelected in 1998; only two of the departing fourteen members
had died. On balance, there were three fewer ministers in the
1998 Council of State, two fewer generals, and none of the
three members of the old council without significant political
responsibilities. However, three local government officials
joined the Council, as did two intellectuals. Some of the rotation was intended to retain the representation of a political
role.that had passed from one individual to another. By tradition, the heads of the most important inass organizations
belong to the Council of State. The number of women in the
Council of State was the same in 1993 and in 1998: five women,
one more than in the first Council of State chosen in 1976.
There are six Afro-Cubans in the 1998 Council of State (the
non-white share of Cuba's population was one-third in the 1981
census). In general, the slight changes in membership led away
Fidel Castro Ruz in the early
Courtesy Ministry ofForeign
from those with administrative responsibilities and toward
those with political responsibilities, paying little attention to
concerns for gender or racial representation.
Council of Ministers
The Council of Ministers is the highest executive and administrative organ. The constitution empowers it to issue regulations to administer laws and decrees and to authorize
exceptions to state ownership of the means of production. It.
responds to the National Assembly and to the Council of State.
Ministers are formally chosen by the National Assembly on the
recommendation of the president of the Cot).ncil of State, but
they can be changed as well by the Council of State, on its president's recommendation.
Ministers are replaced one by one, or in small numbers.
There has never been a wholesale replacement of the Council
of Ministers; there is no provision for such National Assembly
action in the constitution. In the 19905, the National Assembly
began to ask for more information from ministers about the
work of their agencies, but ministers are, in practice, principally responsible to the Executive Committee of the Council of
Ministers and to President Castro. On April 21, 1994, the
Cuban government adopted a drastic reorganization and simplification of its administrative structure, reducing the number
of ministries to twenty-seven and abolishing, combining, or
Government and Politics
Cuba: A Country Study
downsizing another sixteen m3Jor agencies of the national government. In 2000, the Council of Ministers included a presiden t (Fidel Castro), a first vice president (Raul Castro), a
secretary (Carlos Lage), four vice presidents, a minister of government, twenty-six ministers, the president of the central
bank, and the directors of four cabinet-level institutes.
The Supreme Court of Cuba is organized into five chambers:
criminal; civil and administrative, labor, state security, and military. The members of the Supreme Court are nominated by the
minister of justice and confirmed by the National Assembly,
with two exceptions. First, the Supreme Court's president and
vice president are nominated by the president of the Council
of State (Fidel Castro); second, the members of the military
chamber are nominatedjointIy by the ministers of justice and
the FAR (the latter minister is Raul Castro). The minister of
justice exercises administrative control over all the courts,
including the Supreme Court; the Ministry ofJustice thus has
full authority over budget, payroll, and personnel.
The Supreme Court and all the courts are subordimi.te to
the National Assembly and the Council of State (Article 121).
The Supreme Court has no authority to declare a law unconstitutional. Th~ courts are formally much less independent,
therefore, than in other political systems. Judges are appointed
for a term, not for life, and they can be removed from office if
proper cause is shown. AS a result of these measureS, the courts
·show considerable deference to executive authority and are
marked by political timidity.
There are also provincial courts in each province. These
courts have four chambers, the same as for the Supreme Court
except for the military chamber. The provincial courts exercise
jurisdiction over crimes for which punishment will not exceed
eight years; thus, about three-quarters of all crimes fall within
There ate municipal courts in each municipality. They serve
as trial courts at the lowest level, and they have jurisdiction over
minor crimes that typically carry a penalty of imprisonment for
less than one year or small fines. They are also the courts of
first instance in civil and labor cases. Municipal courts are not
divided into chambers, but trials are always held before a panel
of three judges.
All of Cuba's courts have both professional and lay judges.
Each of the chambers of the Supreme Court, for example, has
professional and lay judges, as is also the case at the provincial
and municipal levels. The reliance on lay judges reflects a political judgment that decisions in courts belong to the people,
and that ordinary citizens with relatively little training are
appropriate judges nonetheless. (In United States jurisprudence, the role of juries bears some resemblance to this Cuban
procedure.) Professional judges are selected through a competitive examination administered by the Ministry of Justice.
About half of Cuba's judges are members of the PCC, with a
higher proportion of PCC members in the Supreme Court.
The role of the Cuban courts is quite similar to that in other
countries. The courts are key institutions in law enforcement.
In Cuba they also seek to educate the population about their
rights and obligations. The Supreme Court, as an appellate
court, is responsible for ensuring uniformity in the application
of law throughout the country; the Supreme Court revokes
lower-court decisions that are contrary to law or precedent.
Cuban courts are unusual in one respect: they are very harsh
in their treatment of the political opposition. Cubans can be
jailed for speaking ill of their rulers or for organizing groups to
contest political power. The number of political prisoners has
declined from the very high levels of the 19605, but it remains
characteristically in the hundreds. In the 1990s, the Cuban government often released some political prisoners at the request
of visiting foreign dignitaries. For example, in 1998, many
political and common prisoners were released on the occasion
of Pope John Paul IJ'svisit to Cuba that January. Nonetheless,
the existing rules to protect "state security" make it probable
that the overall number of political prisoners remains the
same: some are freed, but others are arrested.
The Office of the State Prosecutor (Fiscalia General de la
Republica) is subordinate to the National Assembly, which formally elects the prosecutor (Fiscal General de la Republica),
and the Council of State. The prosecutor has wide latitude to
review the past conduct and prospective actions of all organs of
state power. The prosecutor has specific oversight over all law
enforcement, with a rank equal to a Supreme Court justice.
The prosecutor is directly responsible for cases of treason or
..- .... _.....
_-_.._ - - - -
Cuba: A Country Study
Provincial and Local Government
Cuba has fourteen provinces. From west to east, they are:
Pinar del Rio, La Habana, Ciudad de La Habana, Matanzas;
Villa Clara, Cienfuegos, Sancti Spiritus, Ciego de Avila,
Camagiiey, Las Tunas, Granma, Holguin, Santiago de Cuba,
and Guantinamo. The Isla de laJuventud (Isle of Youth) , the
Cuban archipelago's second-largest island, is a special municipality.The entire national territory is subdivided into 169
Each province is formally governed by a provincial assembly
and each municipality by a municipal assembly (Asamblea
Municipal). The respective assemblies elect municipal committees. The president of a provincial assembly's provincial committee functions as a provincial governor; the president of a
municipal assembly's municipal committee functions as mayor.
Provincial assembly delegates serve for five years; municipal
assembly delegates serve for two and orte-halfyears. Provincial
assemblies must have no fewer than seventy-five members,
although some are larger because of a province's greater population.
The Provincial Commission for Candidacies, constituted in
the same manner as the National Commission, proposes precandidates for provincial assembly delegates to the Municipal
Commission for Candidacies. The list of precandidates equals
no fewer than twice the number of posts to be filled, The
Municipal Commission formally nominates the candidates for
delegates. As at the national level, the number of candidates
for provincial delegate equals the number of seats to be filled.
Voters have no choice among candidates for provincial delegates, just as they have no choice among candidates in the vote
for national deputies. (The Provincial Commission also nominates the candidates for provincial assembly president, vice
president, and secretary.)
The Municipal Commission for Candidacies is constituted in
the same way as its national and provincial counterparts. Formally, it nominates candidates for municipal assembly president and vice president. The Municipal Commission also
formally sorts out the pre candidacies for provincial delegate
and national deputy, and presents i:he respective lists to the
municipal assembly for final nomination. As a practical matter,
the political process that leads to these nominations is controlled carefully from national headquarters. Nonethelessj
because the number of pretandidates is twice the number of
Restored and unrestored homes
in Old HaVana
Courtesy Suzanne Petrie
A cobblestone side street in Old
Courtesy Suzanne Petrie
Cuba: A Country Study
Govemment and Politics
eventual nomimi.tions and posts, there is some significant competition among insiders for these symbolically important posts.
The elections for municipai assembly are different, however.
Nominations come from assetnblies of neighbors held at the
precinct level. For each post, there must be at least two candidates, and there may be inore. To be elected, a candidate must
receive more than half the valid votes cast. Because of mUltiple
candidacies, runoff elections between the top two contenders
from the first round are comtnon in many municipalities. In
the municipal elections in spring 2000, for example, 5.7 percent of these municipal posts were filled in the second round.
Overall, approximately half of the incumbent municipal assembly members were reelected in these elections.
Research by Cuban scholars shows that many voters are often
unaware whether candidates for municipal assembly delegate
are members of the PCC. Membership in the poe serves typically neither as an asset nor as a liability in local elections,
although, in fact, most elected officials are party members. The
main motivations for voters are whether local candidates have a
reputation for honesty, good neighborliness, and humane sensibilities. Cubans vote for their friends and neighbors for local
office in ways hot unlike voters do in United States local elections. Thus, it is noteworthy that.many of these are, indeed,
PCC members; the party members seem to be held in high
regard even if the PCC as an institution is not an object of popular affection.
Municipai governments provide social services and run
retail trade enterprises, as well as restaurants and cafeterias, at
the local level. 1;'hey also build residential housing. They have
no control over provincial and national enterprises that have
offices or subsidiaries in the municipality, but they can at times
develop collaborative relations with the larger state firms for
the benefit of the community. Through their relations with
local governments, large national state enterprises, in effect,
have local "charitable" activities that are somewhat similar to
the practices of large firms in other countries.
The main limitation on the scope of municipal government
is the principle of double subordination. That is, local firms
and agencies supposedly owned and operated by the municipality must still meet the standards for quality of performance
and personnel set at the national leveL In practice, this principle has greatly limited the municipality'S actual discretionary
powers; there are few significant policies they can change on
In 1988 the government authorized the creation of People's
Councils (Consejos Populares) to expedite the administration
of services at the local level. There are several People's Councils within each m,unicipality. Each People's Council includes
the municipal delegates elected within a given territory as well
as representatives from the mass organizations and state institutions operating within that locality. People's Councils became,
in effect, one more layer in Cuba's administrative structure;
they did not materially change the efficacy of the delivery of
services or the quality of political representation.
Cuba's provinces face significant problems in carrying out
their tasks. Froin 1986 to 1996, the percentage of nationwide
budget expenditures disbursed at the provincial and municipal
levels fell from 35 percent to 27 percent. For the most part, this
drop was accounted for by the collapse of subnational government entrepreneurial and investment expenditures, while local
governments attempted to sustain .their funding of basic services. In 1996 every provincial government ran a deficit
(although Havana's budget was nearly balanced). Tl~e size of
the deficit of the provincial governments of Ciego de Avila, Las
Tunas, Matanzas, Pinar del Rio, Sancti Spiritus, Santiago de
Cuba, and Villa Clara was equal to more than half of the revenues of these provinces. The size of the deficit of the provincial
governments of Granma and Guantanamo was larger than the
revenues of these provinces.
National and local Elections
Elections for the National Assembly are held in multimember districts. Voters have three choices: they can vote for the
single official slate; they can vote for some of the candidates on
the official slate (but never for opposition party candidates); or
they can cast a blank ballot. To be elected, a candidate has to
receive more than half of the valid votes cast. No candidate
failed to be elected in the 1993 and 1998 National Assembly
elections. The government; the pce, and the mass organizations campaign vigorously to increase voting turnout, and, in
particular, they urge citizens to vote for the entire single official
slate. Thus, one measure of lawful dissent is the percentage of
Cubans who vote for something other than the single slate (see
Table 17, Appendix).
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Government and Politics
Cuba: A Country Study
In the 1998 National Assembly elections, the overall results
were slightly more favorable to the government than in i 993,
reflecting the trend toward economic stabilization and recovery during the intervening years. In 1998,89.7 percent of the
voters cast their ballots for the single slate, and only 5 percent
of the voters voided their ballots or voted blank. The results
were also more favorable to the government in La HabaIia
Province, where the single .slate received 88.4 percent of the
votes cast and the percentage of null or blank ballots fell to 7
percent. These results necessarily imply, however, that the single slate performed less well in some of the other provinces.
Comparative inter-provincial data, available for the 1993
National Assembly election and the 1997 and 2000 municipal
elections, show a fairly consistent geographic distribution of
dissent (see Table 18, Appendix). Voiding one's ballot or voting
blank are the only two means of expressing displeasure with
the political system at the municipal level, so the percentage of
voters who choose them, is somewhat larger than in national
elections. At the National Assembly level, there is the addi~
tional option of hot voting for the entire official slate. In all
three elections, the largest proportion of dissenters was fo:und
in the western provinces (Pinar del ruo, Ciudad de La Habanaj
La Habana, Matanzas, Villa Clara, and the special municipality
ofIsla de laJuventud, or Isle of Youth). And in all three elections, the ~mallest proportion of dissenters was evident in four
eastern provinces: Las Tunas, Granma, Santiago de Cuba, and
Guantanamo. The overall trend toward a decline in voting null
or blank was evident in both National Assembly and municipal
elections in the 19905.
Cuba's Electoral Law of 1992 treated national, provinCial;
and municipal elections differently with regard to campaigning. Up until 1992, there was no campaigning at all for any
post. At the municipal level, the ';campaign" was limited to the
posting of the photographs and biographies of the candidates
in public places. These biographies were prepared and posted
by the public authorities and could include derogatory comments about the candidates. At the provincial and national leveIs, provincial delegates and national deputies were chosen by
the municipal assemblies. Their names were made known only
after they were so chosen.
The 1992 Electoral Law did not change the procedures for
municipal elections. For provincial and national elections, as
already noted, one change enacted in 1992 was direct popular
election-a change rendered nearly meaningless because there
was no choice among candidates in the 1993 and 1998
National Assembly and provincial assembly elections.
Another change was the posting of photographs and biographies of provincial and national candidates in public places
and encouraging candidates to meet voters and answer questions. Thus. since 1992, the Electoral Law has featured multicandidate single-party elections with no effective campaigning
at the municipal level and entirely uncompetitive rules but
some campaigning at the provincial and national levels.
At all levels, the political regime sharply constrained the
freedom of political association. Cubans were not free to associate in a political party other than the PCC to contest elections.
Candidates for office in different provinces and municipalities
on the official slate could not even associate into formally constituted "factions." The public authorities and the PCC
retained the right to shape associational patterns at all levels.
Communist Party of Cuba
Fourth and Fifth Party Congresses
In October 1991, the Fourth Congress of the PCC met to
assess the wreckage of international communism. The Soviet
Union was on the verge of disintegration, and the Soviet Communist Party was rapidly losing its hold on power. The Fourth
Congress declared that the collapse of the Soviet Union and
the communist regimes of Europe was a "political disaster" that
stemmed from avoidable mistakes, which the PCC would avoid.
One consequence, according to the Fourth Congress, was the
establishment of a "unipolar world" in which United States military power reigned. And one manifestation of that power was
the Gulf War on Iraq. which was designed to intimidate any
government daring to differ with the United States.
Thus, the Fourth Congress took heart that Cuba had been
invited to the first Summit of Iberoamerican heads of government, held in Guadalajara, Mexico, months earlier, and hoped
that Latin American countries would join to advance their
common interests. It hailed the world's remaining communist
governments, all of them in East Asia. But it reached out generally to governments everywhere in search of support. It underlined the repatriation of Cuban troops from Mrican soil and
Cuba's disposition to work within the United Nations system. It
clearly sought to avoid needless trouble.
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Cuba: A Country Study
At home, the Fourth Congress affirmed its conviction that
Marxism-Leninism remained its guide to the future, but it
noted-for th~ first time in the history of these documentsthat this ideology "should not be applied dogmaticaUy." Moreover, the PCC would apply these principles taking into account
Cuba's new circumstances. The Fourth Congress recognized
that "the world has changed. Today the enemies of the people
feel stronger than ever." But it stated its conviction that a
greater strength is the "will to independence, freedom, and
development of every people. The duty of every revolutionary
continues to be to make the Revolution; and to defend it."
Thus, tlie Fourth Congress proclaimed that it would make no
concessions, for concessions are the path to ruin. Defiant still,
Fidel Castro's government was not ready to fold.
And yet, the Fourth Congress understood that it had to
adjust to the changed international circumstances. One adjustment has already been mentioned: the full repatriation of
Cuban troops, mainly from Mrica but also from other countries, which was completed by the time the Fourth Congress
met. A more regime-changing adjustment Was the reorientatioh of economic policy. The Fourth Congress set its own priority clearly: "The supreme objective [is] to save the Homeland,
the Revolution, and Socialism." The Fourth Congress endorsed
the continued use of traditional instruments, such as mass
mobilizations, to produce food or address other tasks; these
measures had typically been"inefficient in their use of resources
and often ineffective in terms of reaching their objectives, however.
In Cuba's newly dire circumstances, the Fourth Congress
understood that it had to authorize changes in economic policy. It endorsed the development of an international tourism
industry as a new engine of growth that, by the late 1990s, had
become a crucial earner of foreign exchange (see Key Economic Sectors, ch. 3). The Fourth Congress authorized a slight
liberalization of self-employment, especially in services, even
though clear preference was expressed for centralization of
ownership, management, and planning; such liberalization of
self-employment would be implemented two years later.
More dramatically, the Fourth Congress authorized retroactively a new policy on foreign direct investment. In so doing,
the Fourth Congress departed from a foundational decision at
the origins of revolutionary rule in Cuba, namely, the expropriation of all foreign firms. The Fourth Congress affirmed that
Government and Politics
foreign investment should be not just tolerated but "promoted"
and that considerable flexibility should govern its terms of
An important social and political change had also been
authorized by the PCe's Political Bureau prior to the Fourth
Congress and simply ratified by it. In the "Call to the Fourth
Congress," the party pledged "sincere communication with ...
members of various religious denominations who share our life
and endorse our program ... although some aspects of their
ideology may differ from ours." At the Fourth Congress, PCC
Statutes were changed to permit religious believers to join its
ranks provided they otherwise supported the party's program.
Despite these significant changes, the main thrust of the
Fourth Party Congress was to resist widespread political
change. In December 1~91; Carlos Aldana Escalante, PCC secretary for ideology and for international relations and Fidel
Castro's principal political agent in the late 1980s and early
1990s, addressed the National Assembly. Aldana had been the
only top PCC leader who had ever implied in public that he
thought well of "reform communism" in Central and Eastern
Europe and the Soviet Union in the 1980s. Aldana rectified his
views. He denounced those who still advocated the implementation in Cuba of reforms akin to those blamed for the collapse
of communist regimes in Europe. Despite his adoption of this
harder line, Aldana, too, was dismissed from office for various
reasons in September 1992.
In October 1997, the Fifth Congress of the PCC convened,
to the general relief of its members. They had survived. Their
political regime had endured. Cuba had succeeded in resisting
the sharper onslaught of United States policies during the
1990s. The Cuban economy had nosedived in the early years of
the decade as a consequence of the ending of Soviet subsidies
and the disruption of Cuban international trade, but the economy's decline had stopped in 1994, and a modest economic
recovery had begun. Cuba was the only extant communist
regime outside East Asia. The forecasts of many in Washington
and Miami that the Cuban regime would tumble like other
communist regimes had proved off the mark. From the per~
spective of the leadership of the PCC, Cuba's survival was a
Nonetheless, there was a cloud hovering over the party. Fidel
Castro had disappeared from public view during the preceding
summer months. Now he looked gaunt, having lost much
Cuba: A Country Study
Government and Politics
weight in the interim. As if seeking to reassure the 1,500 delegates to the Fifth Congress that he was still in fine shape, Castro
spoke for six hours and forty minutes. He recalled the difficult
days of the early 1990s and detailed the significance of their
success in overcoming those problems. The PCC, he believed;
had made "acceptable concessions" in its preferred policies in
order to survive. As he had said so many times during the early
19908, Castro emphasized that he did not like the policies that
he and the government and the party had been compel1ed to
authorize, in particular the large-scale development of the
tourism industry and the welcome to foreign investment. But
these policies were necessary to obtain capital, technology, and.
access to markets; and they had already proven successful, he
Castro noted new sources of concern. Market-oriented policies had generated new inequalities. Crime had increased. And
some of the newly preferred strategies for development, such
as Basic Units of Cooperative Production (Unidades Basicas de
Produccion Cooperativa-UBPC), which are semi-private agricultural cooperatives, were not working well. But he praised
the party's resourcefulness in overcoming the "setbacks, bitterness, and deceptions" associated with the collapse of the Soviet
Union. The PCC had rallied to the defense of the regime, said
Castro, and it had prevailed.
The principal debate at the Fifth Congress centered on the
new economic policy of the 1990s. Successful though it had
been in rescUing the Cuban economy from further catastro-·
phes, it was very different from the preferences of many Fifth
Congress delegates for a centralized command economy. Vice
President Carlos Lage, the political architect of the economic
reforms, admitted that prices in those food markets and restaurants where demand and supply were allowed to play freely
were often well above the purchasing power of Cuban workers.
But he resisted suggestions for renewed state intervention in
these markets, arguing instead for further incentives to
increase production. Lage warned that renewed statism would
stimulate criminality and the black market. Lage also resisted a
generalized salary increase; the nation could not afford it. He
preached the virtues of efficiency, balanced budgets, and control of inflation. Fortunately for Lage, he was publicly backed
by Fidel Castro. Castro acknowledged the problems and reiterated his dislike of these "painful remedies," but argued that
current economic policies were sound.
The Fifth Congress's resolution on the economy reflected
the prevailing balance of power. The Fifth Congress took note
that the United States should be expected to continue its "economic war" on Cuba. Consequently, Cuba would continue to
face an adverse international economic and financial environment. Therefore, the "key objective of economic policy is efficiency," provided, to be sure, that all of the changes already
adopted or about to be introduced "would always be directed
to preserve the socialist essence of the Revolution."
The Fifth Congress stood firm on political changes. Perhaps
its aversion to change is best summarized in the title of the
political resolution approved by the Fifth Congress: "The Party
of Unity, Democracy, and the Human Rights That We Defend."
The closing phrase of the title implied that there were some
human rights that this party chose not to defend.
Political Bureau and Central Committee
The PCC's Political Bureau is the party's leading dedsionmaking institution, and Cuba's most important decision-making entity (see fig. 8). The Political Bureau meets regularly to
discuss the nation's key issues. Membership on the Political
Bureau best identifies Cuba's most powerful leaders. Political
Bureau members typically have responsibilities in other
spheres of public life as heads of key provinces, military commands, mass organizations, or major PCC posts. Three leaders
have led the Political Bureau since 1965-Fidel Castro, first secretary of the PCC; Raul Castro, second secretary of the party;
and Juan Almeida, chief of the party's disciplimiry commission.
From 1965 through 1980, no member was ever dropped
from the Political Bureau, although its membership expanded
from eight in 1965 to thirteen in 1975 and sixteen in 1980. By
the time of the Third Party Congress (1986), death and voluntary and involuntary retirements had led to a six-member
reduction (37 percent) from the Political Bureau's 1980 membership; meanwhile, four new members joined the bureau in
1986, leaving its membership at fourteen members.
The Fourth Party Congress (1991) witnessed the most dramatic change in membership in the Political Bureau since its
founding. The Congress wanted to promote a younger and
more dynamic leadership. Six of the members (43 percent) left
the bureau during the Congress. Because the Political Bureau's
Gove1'lunent and Politics
Cuba: A Country Study
By the conclusion of the Fifth Congress, only the Castro
brothers and Almeida had served continuously on the Political
Bureau since 1965, and onlyJose Ramon Machado, party organization secretary, had been a member since 1975. The next
two longest-serving members, both since 1986, were Army
Corps General Abelardo Colome Ibarra, minister of interior,
and Esteban Lazo, who had served at various times as party provincial secretary in Matanzas, Santiago de Cuba, and Ciudad de
La Habana Province.
In sum, only six of the twenty-four members of the 1997
Political Bureau had been members of Cuba's top decisionmaking organ before the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
Cuba's top leadership, therefore, has already undergone an
important transition at the levels just below the Castro brothers
and their closest associates. Most Political Bureau members in
the 1990s are themselves the product of a transition that took
place under the communist political system. They do not count
on Soviet subsidies. They do not count on external military
support. They do not expect to be engaged in military or other
foreign expeditions. They are much readier to experiment at
home with various economic policy changes. They are younger.
The median birth year of the 1997 Political Bureau was 1943;
six were born after the assault on the Moncada barracks on July
26, 1953. They expect to have a political future in Cuba regardless of the name of the nation's president or the form of its
political regime. The transition among Cuba's political elite is
In 1991 three women belonged to the twenty-five-member
Politicai Bureau; that number dropped to two hi 1997. in 1991
four military officers on active duty belonged to the Political
Bureau; that number rose to five in 1997. In 199i five of the
provincial first secretaries belonged to the Political Bureau;
that number rose to six in 1997. The post of provincial first secretary is perhaps Cuba's most challenging position, for all subnational responsibilities fall on the persons occupying these
posts. Not surprisingly, three of the five provincial first secretaries from 1991 were dropped from the Political Bureau to be
replaced by others. In the judgment of their superiors, the dismissed first secretaries were poor managers.
In contrast to previous decades, in 1991 Carlos Lage, secretary of the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers,
was the only civilian minister on the Political Bureau. The pce
leadership clearly understood that its problem in 1991 was emi-
Directs, control., or supervises
Elects, appoints, Or nominates
Source: Based on information from Jorge L Dominguez; and Raimundo LOpez,
"Prela Report on pee Membership, Percentages,' October 8. 1997.
Figure 8. OrganiZation oj the Communist Party of Cuba (Partido
Comunista de Cuba-PCC), 2001
size had expanded to twenty-five members, seventeen of its
1991 members (68 percent) were new-unprecedented since
the party's founding in 1965. The Fifth Party Congress (1997)'
dr~pped nine members (36 percent) of the Political Bureau
and added only eight new members. Thus, the Fifth Party Congress's.Political Bureau (twenty-four members) suffered from
less volatility than had its predecessor, as would he expected
from aleadership that felt more politically secure.
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....... - . ".
. .. '
Cuba: A Country Study
Government and Politics
nently political: how to survive the collapse of European communism and retain the support, or at least the forbearance, of
the Cuban people. By 1997 three of the Political Bureau members first chosen at the ·previous party congress had switched
jobs to become government ministers: Alfredo Jordan Morales,
minister of agriculture; Abel Prieto Jimenez, minister of culture; and Roberto Robaina Gonzalez, minister of foreign relations. They were joined by Marcos Portal Leon. minister of
basic industries. Division General Ulises Rosales del Toro
became minister of the sugar industry, although he remained
formally on active military duty. In 1997, with six out of twentyfour Political Bureau members serving also as members of the
cabinet (along with FAR Minister General Raul Castro, Interior
Minister Army Corps General Abelardo Colome, and President
Fidel Castro), the PCC leadership signaled a higher priority for
improving the tasks of governance and in particular the economy's performance.
The PCC's Central Committee, a much larger group than
the Political Bureau, is made up of many key leaders from
intermediate levels of responsibility. The Central Committee
met infrequently in the late 1960s; for the most part, it convened only in times of crisis. The committee met more regularly in the 1970s and 1980s; the original party statutes called
for a meeting of the Central Committee Plenum approximately
every six months to enable the Central Committee to have an
impact on major decisions. The party statutes in place since the
1997 party congress stipulate a plenum meeting at least once a
The history of membership on the Central Committee
resembles that of the Political Bureau. The 1975 First Party
Congress reelected 77 percent of the 100 founding members of
the 1965 Central Committee. The 1980 Second Party Congress
reelected 79 percent of the 1975 full members still active in
1980; the size of the committee had expanded to 148 in 1980.
The 1986 Third Party Congress reelected 61 percent. The
lower rate of continuity in 1986 paraliels what was happening .
at the Political Bureau. The size of the Central Committee
remained stabie at 146.
In 1991 the Fourth Party Congress removed half of the mem"
bers of the old Central Committee, and it expanded the size of
the new Central Committee to 225. Consequently, only 32 per-
cent of the new Central Committee members had served on
the previous committee. Not only was the rate of continuity the
lowest since the Central Committee had been founded, but the
proportion of newcomers was the highest since the PCC's
The Fifth Party Congress stabilized membership on the Central Committee just as it had done for the Political Bureau. The
expansion of the size of the Central Committee in 1991 had
been a temporary experiment that the Fifth Party Congress
reversed in 1997. The size of the Central Committee shrank to
150 members, and 56 percent of the members of the 1991 Central Committee were dismissed. The 1997 Central Committee's
veterans from 1991 constituted, however, two-thirds of the
membership of the new Central Committee, and accordingly
the new body was far more experienced than its predecessor.
The oversized and inexperienced Central Committee in
place between 1991 and 1997 was the least important Central
Committee since the late 19605. Then, as in most of the 1990s,
the Central Committee met rarely-in the 1990s less often than
expected from the party statutes. Moreover, although the party
statutes mandate ·a PCC congress every five years, the Fourth
Party Congress· met nearly six years after its predecessor. The
Fifth Congress met a full year late. In general, the Central
Committee's excessive size, inexperience, and infrequency of
meetings in the 19905 marked a process of party de-institutionalization that the Fifth Congress sought to reverse, hence the
reduction in size and the renewed premium on experience.
One result of these processes, however, was to install and sustain a Central Committee that was younger than its predecessors in the 1970s and 1980s. The Political Bureau and the
Central Committee finished the century with a young and
energetic leadership, steeled in Cuba's troubled life in the
19905, ready for political competition with any challenger.
The Central Committee choseri at the Fifth Party Congress
has an additional characteristic: 36 percent of its members
have posts only in the PCC and its youth wing, the Union of
Young Communists (Union de Jovenes Comunistas-UJC).
This Central Committee is full of municipal party first secretaries, not just first secretaries at the level of provinces or on the
staff of national party headquarters. This Central Committee
represents the party elite better than its predecessors. It is
much less a mere assembly of those who have performed meritorious.service in various spheres of life. It is no longer broadly
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Cuba: A Country Study
representative of Cuban society and institutions. Its members
seek to rule.
Party Organization, Membership, and Role
Formally, the PCC is governed by its party congresses. These
adopt the party's statutes and its programs, and choose the
membership of the Central Committee and Political Bureau.
Party congresses are to meet every five years, the Central Committee Plenum every year, and the Political Bureau once a
week. In practice, as already noted, the Political Bureau is the
party's most important entity and the only one whose actual
power corresponds to the formal organization.
Party structure was simplified in the 19905. The post of
"alternate" for various posts (including Political Bureau and
Central Committee member) was eliminated. The party Secretariat is no longer a separate body but simply the party's staff at
various levels. The party's subnational organization matches
the number of provinces and municipalities. The most Tapidly
replaced significant party post is that of provincial secretary;
that job requires mediation between the demands of the center
and the iocalities and is difficult t6 perform.
The PCC is a party of selection. Not everyone who wishes to
belong to the party has the right to join it, although all party
members must seek to be a member. Party members are chosen
through a complex process. First, all candidates for party membership must be chosen as "exemplary workers" at assemblies
held at their workplace. Then, a party commission in charge of
membership scrutinizes each candidacy and is empowered to
reject any and all. A variant on this procedure is through membership in the UJC, the party's youth wing. Ordinarily, the party
hopes that UJC members will, in due course, also be chosen as
exemplary workers, but the party commissions can bypass such
Concerned that party membership might drop in Cuba in
the 19905 as it had in formerly communist Europe in the late
1980s, the Fourth Party Congress liberalized membership procedures in two ways. First. it eliminated all discrimination
against religious believers; the party no longer required a person to he an atheist or an agnostic to qualify for membership.
Second, the probation time for young UJC members to be eligible for party membership was cut from three to two years. As a
result, in the 1990s party membership grew on average some
46,000 persons per year; cO'mpared with an annual member254
Havana Headquarters of the Union of Young Communists (Union
deJ6venes Comunistas-UjC), 1997
Courtesy Mark P. Sullivan
ship growth of only about 27,000 persons in the 1980s. Party
membership grew to 800,000 members by the time of the Fifth
Party Congress in 1997 out of a population of about eleven million people. In 1997 about 30 percent of the members had
joined during the 1990s. Workers constituted about one-third
of the entire party membership. Another half-million belonged
to the UJC.
The PCC's manner of filling public offices differs from how
political parties elsewhere in the world go about this pursuit.
Elected public offices wield relatively modest power in Cuba.
The National Assembly meets infrequently and has limited
powers. Provincial and municipal assemblies have limited
resources to carryon with their tasks. Although the PCC
screens who is elected to these offices, it focuses its attention
on appointed offices that wield significant power. The pce
commission at the appropriate level must clear and endorse
every officeholder for such posts prior to appointment. Heads
of central government agencies, state enterprises, hospitals,
military commands, and so forth must all be cleared and
Cuba: A Country Study
endorsed. This type of control is the party's principal sow'ce of
PCC officials, especiaHy at the subnational level, also play key
roles as problem solvers and coordinators. When difficulties
arise in a province or a municipality, the party first secretary is
often the only person well positioned to appeal through the
party hierarchy for additional support or resources from
Havana. The party first secretary in the provinces and the
municipalities functions also as an arbiter in disputes that may
arise in various spheres of life. More controversially, the party
municipal or provincial secretary often assumes the responsibility of breaking a national policy directive on the grounds
that local conditions are not propitious. This last role implies
. that party provincial and municipal secretaries are, in some
instances, high risk-takers, hut it also explains why provincial
first secretaries are vulnerable to dismissal.
The PCC organs are loci for discussion and debate over
national, sectoral, provincial, or municipal policies. Although
the Central Committee had become less representative of
Cuban society by the late 1990s, PCC cells (the party's lowest
units) and various assemblies often congregate leaders from
various spheres of life effectively. These fora provide opportunities to clear the air in a heated dispute and to review, understand; and influence decisions issued from on high.
The party generally orients policies at various levels and with
varying degrees of specificity. In contrast to previous decades,
in the 1990s the party's national staff became smaller, and party
officials were instructed to interfere less in the routine running
of government agencies, state enterprises, and social service
entities. The party hi the 1990s retained its key tasks, as outlined above, but withdrew in many cases from becoming a substitute policy executor. This behavior was consistent with
turning the party into, and using it, as a political machine.
Three of Cuba's principal mass organizations were founded
shortly after revolutionary victory, between late 1959 and 1961.
The Federation of Cuban Women (FMC) groups women members, as might be expected. The National Association of Small
Farmers (ANAP) brings together smallholders regardless of
their crops of specialization. Following the 1963 agrarian
reform, many such private smallholders remained. Some cultivated plots on their own or with their families; others did so as
Government and Politics
members of cooperatives. All belonged to the ANAP. The Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDRs) were established in every neighborhood to uncover plots against the
government. "Revolutionary vigilance" was their main task.
The CDRs were also responsible for rooting out common crime
and, from time to time, collaborated in such activities as mass
vaccination campaigns, garbage recycling, park clean-ups, and
The fourth mass organization is much older: the Cuban
Workers Federation (CTC) was founded in the 1930s. The CTC
groups all Cubans who are gainfully employed. It is organized
into federations according to sectors of economic activity, not
according to professional categories or trades. The erc has a
presence in every work center, and it and the ANAP often substitute for government agencies in dispute resolution.
From the 1960s to the 1980s, these mass organizations were
means by which the government and the pce implemented
policies and monitored tlle population. The moment of high€st recognition of their role came at the Second Party Congress
in 1980, when all four heads oftlle mass organizations became
alternate members of the party's Political Bureau.
By the 1980s, however, the capacities of the mass organizations had begun to weaken. Consider the ANAP. One of the top
national objectives in the rural sector was to promote AgricultUral-Livestock Cooperatives (Cooperativas de Producci6n
Agropecuaria-CPAs); the nationalleadetship thought it more
rational for smallholders to pool their resources. CPA membership jumped from 9,103 in 1978 to 82,611 in 1983, but by 1990
membership had dropped to 62,130. The number of hectares
in CPAs peaked in 1986; after this high point, the organizations
lost nearly a fifth of their pooled land.
A generalized weakening of the capacity of the various mass
organizations became evident in the late 1980s. PCC leaders,
worried that these longstanding means of control were breaking down, took decisive action in the early 1990s by replacing
the leaders of three mass organizations. Thus, Orlando Lugo
Fonte replaced Jose Ramirez Cruz, the longtime ANAP presi. dent; Juan Contino replaced Armando Acosta Cordero, the
longtime national coordinator of the CDRs; and Pedro Ross
Leal replaced the longtime CTC secretary-general, Roberto
Veiga Menendez. Lugo Fonte and Contino joined the PCC
Central Committee in 1991; Ross Leal was elevated to the Political Bureau that same year.
Government and Politics
Cuba: A Country Study
Vilma Espin founded the FMC and has reinained its only
president. She is Raul Castro's wife, Fid.eI's sister-in-law. Espin
was promoted to alternate member of the Political Bureau in
1980 and to full Political Bureau membership in 1986. In 1991
she became a member of the Central Committee but remained
as FMC president
Notwithstanding these attempts to reinvigorate the mass
organizations, primarily through new leadership, the FMC, the
CDRs, and the ANAP remain weaker than in decades past in
terms of representing and mobilizing the population. The
CDRs hit bottom in the early 1990s; in the mid-1990s, they
responded to their reduced capacity by concentrating on some
strategic tasks where they are still capable of delivering important support for the political regime. For example, the CDRs
came to play an important role in Cuba's electoral process in
the 19905. (As the 1990s dosed, the CDRs counted 7.5 million
people on their membership rolls.) During the 1998 National
Assembly elections, the CDRs campaigned steadily and massively on behalf of a vote for the single official slate; they combated both blank voting and the process of voting selectively
for some but not all candidates on the official ballot. On election day, the CDRs visited some homes repeatedly to ensure the
highest possible turnout. The CDRs were literally an arm of the
PCC working to achieve the desired electoral results.
The eTC, in contrast, found a new, albeit still limited, role in
the 19905: defending the interests of workers in some respects
and questioning some of the recommendations of government
technocrats. In this latter stance, the CTC differed from its
prior role of just helping the government implement its objectives. In the 1990s, labor unions, for example, delayed legislation that would have forced recalcitrant workers to relocate to
other jobs. As a result, Cuban state firms remained overstaffed
and inefficient, but the government was spared from political
protest and overt unemployment remained relatively low.
Unions also resisted stricter sanctions against labor absenteeism (thus making it easier for workers to moonlight as selfemployed), and fought off linking wages to productivity. The
CTC also spoke out in late 1993 when the government adopted
some of its most far-reaching economic reforms and, spurred
by Finance Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Garda, the government's leading technocrat, began to consider whether to
impose taxes on self-employed and salaried workers. The CTC
opposed the imposition of taxes on the payrolls of salaried
workers and supported a nationwide discussion of the proposed measures in "workers' parliaments" during the first half
of 1994. In the end; taxes were imposed on self-employed but
not on salaried workers (see Tax Reform, ch. 3),
The changes that took place in the 1990s increased the
CTC's autonomy from the state and imbued it with some daims
to represent the interests of state workers. This new political
role, of course, came at the expense of delaying or impeding
economic reform, but it no doubt made the CTC more important. During this period, the CDRs, on the other hand, became
even more closely connected to the PCC's partisan interests.
The ANAP and the FMC have yet to find an effective new role.
Religion and the State
The Cuban state is secular, according to the constitution. In
fact, in the 1960s government policy was designed to weaken
the Roman Catholic Church and other forms of organized religious behavior, while respecting "freedom of religion" at its
narrowest level: Cubans remained free to worship. Active
churchgoers and their children, however, risked being discriminated against when applying to selective schools and the university and when seeking promotions in the workplace. The
PCC was formally atheist until 1991, and membership in the
party was often a prerequisite for jobs carrying significant
responsibilities. Therefore, the Cuban leadership's decision to
drop atheism as a formal requirement for party membership in
1991 and, more generally, in the 1990s to discontinue the
active campaigns against organized religion were significant
decisions with broad impact.
In fact, Cuba witnessed a religious revival in many faiths in
the 1990s. The revival began from a fairly low baseline. A large
survey (N"'3105, with N meaning the size of the random poll
sample) conducted in the early 1990s by Cuba's Center for Psychological and Sociological Research (Centro de Investigaciones Psico16gicas y Socio16gicas-CIPS) showed that 65
percent of respondents believed in the possibility of magical
cures while 43 percent thought well of burial ceremonies. But
only 17 percent approved of baptisms, only 6 percent attended
religious services, and only 2 percent admitted to belonging to
a religious grouping. In 1997 a Cuban government survey
showed that more than four-fifths of Cubans believed in some259
Cuba: A Country Study
thing transcendent, while i5 percent admitted to belonging to
a religious grouping.
Although its social base of support remains modest, the
Roman Catholic Church is Cuba's most hierarchically organized community of faith (see Roman Catholic Church, ch. 2).
The rebuilding of the Roman Catholic Church in Cuba began
in the mid-1980s in preparation for the 1986 Roman Catholic
Congress, the first to be held since 1959. Congress participants
reviewed the situation of the chUrch in Cuba, through history
and in the present. They formulated broad recommendations
for pastoral action and provided the first sustained critique of
aspects of Cuban government policy. The final document
issued by the Congress complained of discrimination in job
promotions suffered by Roman Catholics, criticized official
atheism, and called attention to "moral deficiencies" in contemporary Cuba, including "duplicity, mendacity, fraud."
In the early 1990s, Roman Catholic "bishops criticized the
governmen~ and party poliCies more sharply. The bishops
issued their pastoralletter, "Love Hopes All Things," on September 8, 1993, the feast of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre,
Cuba's patroness, and coincidentally the grimmest moment in
Cuba's sharp economic collapse of the early 1990s. The bishops
developed several controversial themes that would resurface
during the popeis visit in January 1998. In 1993 the bishops
claimed the right to speak to all Cubans, including politicians.
"We bishops of Cuba," they added, "reject any kind of measure
that in order to punish the Cuban government serves to aggravate the problems of our people," specifically mentioning the
United States embargo and other sanctions on Cuba. The bishops criticized official practice "that leads to identifying terms
that cannot be made synonymous, such as homeland and socialism . .. Cuban and revolutionary." They chided the authorities
for limiting freedoms, for "excessive surveillance by the state
security agencies that even extends into the strictly private life
of individuals." They lamented the "high number of prisoners
being held," including those "being punished for economic or
political reasons .. ; ."
IIi November 1996, President Fidel Castro visited Pope John
Paul II at the Vatican and invited him to visit Cuba. The Roman
Catholic bishops had first invited th"e pope in 1989, and informal discussions had been underway since earlier in the 19808,
but the Cuban government had delayed issuing its own invitation. In preparation for the papal visit that took place inJanu260
On the occasion of the June 29, 1997, open-air mass held in
Havana, the first in almost four decades, a sign advertises
the upcomingJanuary 1998 visit of PopeJohn PaulIL
Courtesy Mark P. Sullivan
ary 1998, the first ever to Cuba by a pope, church and state
negotiated extensively. The Cuban government agreed to permit outdoor masses, not limiting them just to the period of the
pope's visit, and authorized religious processions outside
church buildings. In addition, in December 1997, Christmas
Day became an official holiday for the first time since 1969.
The Cuban mass media covered some of the preparation for
the pope's visit, and during the visit radio and television broadcast all public events live. Cardinal Jaime Ortega, archbishop of
Havana, was given a half-hour of free television time shortly
before the pope's visit to explain the meaning and significance
of the forthcoming events. The government also allowed thousands of international pilgrims, including Cuban-Americans; to
visit Cuba for the duration of the visit, and allowed the church
to import paper and other materials to publish necessary information.
Because the pope's visit took place well after a process of
social and religious change had begun, his visit may have a
longer-lasting impact on Cuban society and politics than if it
Government and Politics
Cuba: A Country Study
United States visit Cuba for services on holy days. The Jewish
community has also grown, as older and younger Jews have
sought to explore their religious tradition. (Some Jews, however, have used this reactivation of their community links as a
means to emigrate to Israel. If they are active members of a
Temple, Jews have found it more likely 'that Israel will accept
them as immigrants and that the Cuban government will permit their emigration.)
had taken place without such prior changes. Thus, the papal
visit may be a catalyst or an accelerator offurther changes. The
Roman Catholic church in Cuba has begun to behave like its
brethren in former communist countries or in former Latin
American dictatorships. Some parishes sponsor book or film
cl~bs, or other groups to discuss issues of common 'concern,
not just exclusively religious issues. Several dioceses also publish magazines that cover a wide array of topics, not just those
of religious significance. For example, the Havana archdiocesan magazine PaLabra Nueva often publishes articles that assess
and criticize government economic policy. Vitra~ the magazine
of the diocese of Pinar del Rio, has been the boldest in challenging aspects of govern.ment policy.
It is difficult to assess the relative size of Cuba's various communities of faith. Nonetheless, both before the Revolution and
in the 1990s it is likely that the largest such community is heir
to Cuba's Mro-Cuban religious traditions. Santeria, regia de palo,
spirituaiism, and other forms of Mro-Cuban religiosity command significant popular allegiance, probably more than
Roman Catholicism. The already mentioned large survey from
the early 19905, for example, suggests strong support for beliefs
and practices often associated with Afro-Cuban practices.
According to the survey, more Cubans believed in the worth of
consulting a babalao (an Mro-Cuban religious leader) than a
priest. In the western provinces, Roman Catholic Church attendance OIice a month reached 20 percent by late 1994, but, even
after the pope's visit in 1998, consistent weekly church attendance nationwide Was only about 3 percent, although the proportion was much higher in Havana than in eastern Cuba.
During the 1990s, evangelical Protestantism reportedly greW
rapidly in Cuba, as was the case elsewhere in Latin America and
in former communist Europe. More traditional forms of Protestantism did not grow much, however. To the extent that religious belief and behavior remained a form of distancing
oneself from the government and the PCC, then the fact that
other forms of religiosity grew faster than mainstream Protestantism could be explained in politital terms: Cubans were
unwilling to join those communities of faith perceived as too
close to the political regime, and some Protestant pastors from
mainline Protestant faiths had agreed to serve on the government's single official slate for National Assembly elections.
Cuba also has a small Jewish community but no resident
rabbi, although one or two are in training and rabbis from the
Cuba's most important nonreligious nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are often government operated nongovernmental organizations (GONGOs). This is the case for two
reasons. The nature and extent of government and PCC control over Cuban society and political life have been very extensive. The principal forms of societal organization, for example,
have been the mass organizations, already discussed. By the
late 1970s and thereafter, however, the government and party
found it useful to establish organizations with a greater margin
of autonomy. In the 19905, one additional motivation was that
GONGOs could more readily obtain international assistance
from NGOs in Western Europe and Canada.
There are many examples of GONGOs. They include sports
clubs; environmental organizations; a Cuban variant of a
national rifle association; professional associations of lawyers,
economists, engineers, and so forth; as well as many intellectual and scientific organizations, including think tanks. The
think tanks focused on political, economic, and social analysis,
were founded directly by the PCC, and followed its guidelines
fairly closely through the 1980s. The Center for the Study of
the World Economy (Centro de Investigaciones de la
.Economla Mundial-CIEM), for example, conducted research
principally on the Soviet Union and East European communist
countries until their collapse, but also on the Cuban economy.
The director and deputy director of the ClEM, Oswaldo Martinez and Jos€: Luis Rodriguez, respectively, successively held
the post of minister of economy in the 19905. In the mid-1990s,
more than one-half of the publications produced by the CIPS
(Center for Psychological and Sociological Research) were classified for the use of government and party officials, not for
wider academic circulation.
In the mid-1990s, the most notable GONGO was the Center
for American Studies (Centro de Estudios sobre America263
.. _.... _.
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Cuba: A Country Study
CEA). Founded in the late 1970s by the PCC to generate information and analysis about the United States, Canada, and
Latin America, the CEA, by the early 1990s, was strikingly independent in the development of its work while remaining well
connected to some high-ranking government and party officials. Central Committee members and staff, National Assembly leaders and staff, and ministers of government solicited the
work of CEA staff and at times attended CEA workshops and
In the early 19905, CEA economists working on Cuba distinguished themselves by the originality of their thought and their
willingness to venture past the officially established canon for
discussion of economic policy. One CEA-produced book, Cuba:
La restructuraci6n de la economfa, una propuesta para el debate, provides a searching diagnosis and critique of Cuba's economic
circumstances and proposes economic policies different from
those the government was then pursuing. The CEA economists
wished to accelerate the use of market incentives and instru~
ments, although still within a socialist framework. The CEA
sociologists and political scientists had also been working on
domestic Cuban politics and society. In the spring of 1994, they
held a conference to assess the quality of Cuban democracy. In
that conference and in the resulting book that was published in
1995, some foreign authors were included as well. The publication of these two CEA books, however, alarmed some within
In March 1996, Raul Castro. minister of the FAR, read a
wide-ranging report on behalf of the Political Bureau to the
Fifth Plenum of the Central Committee. One part of the text
sharply criticized the CEA, accusing its academics of parroting
the line of United States scholars on Cuba and, more generally;
of serving United States interests and undermining revolutionary ideology. There followed an investigation led by Jose
Ramon Balaguer Cabrera, party secretary for ideology. The
terms of the investigation resembled a witch hunt. The CEA
senior staff held together, however; insisting that they were
good revolutionaries and good communists. (The United
States government from time to time had denied CEA academics visas to enter the United States precisely for these reasons.)
Although they "confessed" to minor issues (for example, something could have been done better), they held firm in defense
of their substantive ideas and professions of loyalty. In the end,
although they had to leave the eEA (the institution became a
A view of Havana from Fort Spain (Fortaleza La Espana)
Courtesy Danielle Hayes, United Nations Development Programme
pale shadow ofits former self), each ofthe senior academics at
first foilnd employment that, for the most part, permitted the
'continuation of much of their academic research. None was
immediately expelled from the PCC. The survival of the CEA
academics depended greatly on the expression ofinternational
support by scholars and governments in many countries that
had come to value CEA researchers.
NGOs, no matter what their origin might have been, create
spaces between state and society, between ruling party and private citizens. Such an occurrence has been an aspect of the
Cuban experience in the 1990s. The CEA case is instructive
because the CEA was able to resist more effectively than would
have been the case in Cuba in previous decades.
Human Rights and Opposition Groups
It is not news that the Cuban government harasses or jails
human rights activists and groups as well as the political opposition. The news in the 1990s was that the government was no
longer succeeding in its repression. Since the defeat and
destruction of violent counterrevolutionary forces in the mid1960s, the government has not feared violent opposition. But,
beginning slowly and haltingly in the late 1970s and gathering
Cuba: A Country Study
steam in the 1980s, a human rights movement finally blossomed in Cuba in the 19905.
In the 1990s, when the government jailed human rights
activists or opposition political leaders or destroyed some of
their organizations, others, hitherto unknown, replaced them.
Thus, the work of these groups has continued even if the faces.
and names of the people and organizations have changed.
A high-water mark for human rights groups was reached in
1995-96. On October 10, 1995 (the anniversary of the beginning of Cuba's first war of independence), an organization
called the Cuban Council (Concilio Cubano) was founded.
The Concilio was ari attempt by some 140 small, unofficial
opposition groups to coalesce around a minimal p~~gram .. The.
Concilio's aims were a general amnesty for all pohtical pnsoners, full respect for the present constitution and fundamental
laws, a caU on the Cuban government to fulfill its obligations to
respect human rights uhder the United Nations Charter, a
demand for freedom of economic organization, and a call for
free and direct elections oil the basis of the pluralist nature of
In November 1995, the Concillo reaffirmed its commitment
to use oniy peaceful means to achieve its aims. In short, the
Con cillo respected the country's constitution and legal framework while demanding changes within them. In December the
Concilio formally asked the government for permission to hold
a large gathering on February 24,1996 (the anniversary of the
beginning bf Cuba's last war of independence). On February
15, however, the government launched a wave of repression
against Concilio leaders and members; the next day it ballned
the gathering. The Concilio's principal leader and national delegate, Leonel Morej6n, served a prison term for his role in the
organization; several others were jailed as well.
The Concilio Cubano episode was noteworthy because it Was
the largest and most ambitious attempt to consolidate human
rights and opposition groups. Throughout the 19905, the
repression of human rights and opposition activity and the
rebirth in due coUrse were a recurring pattern. In the late
1990s" human righ:ts and opposition activists founded new
groups, some of which created new, smaller coalitions. The government again resorted to repression, and the activists and
oppositionists rebounded as well.
As in decades past, in the 1990s the government responded
to opposition efforts by. forcing some activists into exile and
Government and Politics
sometimes. in effect, deporting them. One means of assuring
political stability since 1959 has been the government's export
of its opposition. Many Concilio Cubano leaders and members
went into exile after the 1996 crackdown, for example. The
government often releases political prisoners only on the condition that they emigrate.
In the 1990s, as in decades past, the state owned and operated all mass media, except for publications of the Roman
Catholic Churth. Because of the high cost of importing newsprint, in the early 1990s the government sharply cut back on
the publication of newspapers and magazines. Many journals
and magazines were shut down; the circulation of newspapers
was cut back.
The principal daily newspaper is Granma, official organ of
the PCC. Granma reads like a collection of press releases. It
often publishes the full texts of otficialspeeches and is generally devoid of editorial or substantive variety. In the late 1990s,
it resumed occasional publication of abbreviated "letters to the
editor" along with responses to them, thereby providing a
glimpse of how official Cuba addresses popular questions.
Juventud Rebelde is the official organ of the UJC (Communist
Youth Union). In the 1990s, it changed from a daily to a weekly.
It is likely to feature opinion pieces that provide a slightly wider
range of political and social commentary. Bohemia is a newsmagazine oflong standing that at times presents investigative
reporting of problems that government leaders wish to bring to
By the end of the 1950s, Cuba had an impressive nationwide
network of television broadcast companies and television sets.
Fidel Castro employed television extensively in 1959 and thereafter to communicate his vision and his policies to the Cuban
people. The Cuban Revolution was the first revolution whose
leaders made extensive use of television. In the 1990s, however,
the costs of production for television led the government to
reduce the number of channels and of hours of transmission.
Nonetheless, television remllins the principal source of communication for entertainment and news.
In the 1990s, however, radio, a lower-cost alternative to print
or television media, became the more dynamic mass medium.
Moreover, the Cuban government's response to the United
States-sponsored Radio Marti Program led to wider freedom of
Cuba: A Country Study
programming for radio. Consequently, Cuban radio engages in
investigative reporting of various misdeeds, ranging from stores
that do not open when they should or that sell shoddy merchandise, to incidents of crime and corruption. Live talk shows
urge listeners to call in with their questions and complaints.
Some radio programs broadcast internationally popular music,
instead of the establishment revolutionary or "solidarity" music
favored by official Cuba. In 1993, for example, Radio Talno was
revamped to broadcast with tlle characteristics of commercialstyle radio. It featured contemporary Cuban and international
Latin dance music, and it carried advertising from foreign
firms operating in Cuba.
In the 19905, the Roman Catholic Church was allowed to
accept donations to import materials and equipment to publish the texts necessary forthe liturgy and to publish magazines
of substantial circulation. As already mentioned, several archdioceses publish magazines and other limited-circulation publications. The most important one, Palabra Nueva, sponsored by
the Archdiocese of Havana, features articles on religious
themes, but it has also published regularly on economics and
sodal issues, at times diverging significantly and critically from
Emerging Political Leaders
Cuba's political process~s at the start of the twenty-first century were more complex than in decades past. President Fidel
Castro remained at the pinnacle of power. Although aging (he
was born in 1926) and less healthy than in prior years, his
energy and talents remained extraordinary. He could still
deliver multi-hour speeches with few notes; and he still kept
the hours of a night owl, insisting on seeing foreign leaders at
midnight or thereafter when the latter were exhausted and he
was in his prime. Castro is still thoughtful, eloquent, inspiring,
decisive, and charming. He is also rufuless, brutal, intolerant,
egomaniacal, and manipulative. These and other traits make
him a politician who is revered and feared, admired and
loathed, but whom none take lightly.
Fidel's slightly younger brother Raul Castro (born in 1931),
the FAR minister, is the designated successor. Raul Castro lacks
the more attractive qualities of his brother's public personality,
but he has inspired respect and loyalty among subordinates for
A view oj downtown Havana (Old Havana), including the
National Capitol (Capitolio Nacional), 1996
Courtesy National Imagery and Mapping Agen0', Washington
his painstaking and effective construction of Cuba's armed
forces. Although no longer a formidable force, the FAR won
the wars that it fought twice in Angola against South African
invasions (1975-76, 1987-88) and once on Ethiopian soil
against Somalia's invasion (1977-78).
Other important political leaders will most likely continue to
playa role in Cuba's future politics. PCC Organization Secretary Jose Ramon Machado was a winner in fue composition of
the Central Committee chosen at the Fifth Party Congress and
positioned himself well for the future. Army Corps General
Abelardo Colome, "Hero of the Republic of Cuba" for his combat service in overseas wars, rose through a professional career
in the army and in the late 1980s became interior minister.
National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon revitalized
Cuba's parliament and, to some degree, political life by reaching out to a wider number of loyal "revolutionary" Cubans who
were not necessarily PCC cadres. Alarcon has remained the
government's chief of relations with the United States. Esteban
Law Hernandez is the party's expert on subnational government, having served as first party secretary in more provinces
(including La Habana) than anyone else. Law (born in 1944)
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Cuba: A Country Study
is the Afro-Cuban who best combines relative youth and significant experience at the top of the leadership. Carlos Lage; vice
president of the Council of State, heads the economic cabinet
and, backed by Minister of Economy and Planning Jose Luis
Rodriguez Garda, was the political architect of Cuba's economic reforms of the 1990s. Younger than these others, Lage
portrays on national television and in person an image of quiet
competence and candor. Also playing political r~les wider than
their ministerial portfolios imply are Culture Minister Abel Prieto, Division General and Sugar Industry Minister Ulises
Rosales del Toro, and Basic Industries Minister Marcos Portal.
Portal in particular was the champion of more efficient administrators in state enterprises.
In the 1990s, unlike the 1960s, Cuba had no clearly identifiable "factions" within the party, but it has witnessed varying currents of opinion. These combine and overlap. In general, pec
cadres and Secretary Machado tend to oppose most economic,
political, and religious reforms. Leading military and internal
security officers in contrast, favor various market reforms. FAR
Minister Raul Castro, for example, took the lead in 1994 to
advocate market reforms in agriculture, contrary to what had
been Fidel Castro's position. The Ministry of Interior, too,
favors· economic reforms to decriminalize activities that would
otherwise occur illegally; ministry officials believe that they
have tougher enemies to fight than parents seeking milk for
their children. Vice President Lage and National Assembly
President Alarcon, among others, have been more willing than
other national leaders to support the various economic and
political experiments that took place in the 1990s.
Political Aspects of the Security and Military Forces
Cuban state security remains effective in many ways. In the
summer of 1994, it controlled and suffocated with a professional use of force a large riot that took place in downtown
Havana, as thousands of Cubans protested the use of force
against those seeking to emigrate without prior lawful authorization. Cuban leaders quietly pointed out -that the People IS Liberation Army of the Peopie's Republic of China used massive
force in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in 1989 to put down protests. The Cuban military was not called in to put down this
riot, however, because internal security forces handled the incident effectively, with restrained use of force. Internal security
Government and Politics
forces also effectively suppressed illegal job actions and
attempted strikes at various moments in the 19905.
Politically, several factors are noteworthy about the FAR.
Most Cuban military officers are also PCC members. In the
1990s, military officers on active duty constituted a consistent
fifth of the membership of tlle party's Political Bureau. Two of
the key members of the Political Bureau were Generals Rau]
Castro and Abelardo Colome. And, after the 1997 Fifth Party
Congress, the military represented 17 percent of the membership of the party's Central Committee, continuing a slide evident over the decades but retaining significant clout (see also
The Military in the Government and Party, eh. 5).
In the 1990s, the FAR became a pale shadow of its former
self, as regards combat readiness and effectiveness. Cuba
stopped receiving weaponry free of charge from the Soviet
Union at the beginning of the decade, and it could not afford
to import sufficient new equipment or even spare parts. As a
result, the FAR had to reduce the frequency and scope of its
military exercises. Its size shrank greatly, downsizing to not
more than 65,000 regular troops. From 1989 to 1997, the size
of the military and internal security budget (in pesos) was cut
by 45 percent. The leadership's downsizing of the FAR was a
major political and budgetary contribution to any future government of Cuba.
To facilitate the demobilization of personnel and to supplement the meager peso-denominated pensions, the government
created semi-private companies (they operate as private companies, but the state is the sole shareholder) to employ former
officers. The military-run tourist firm Gaviota is one example;
many of its taxi drivers, former military officers, are paid in dollars by tourists. However, military officers on active duty are
prohibited from moonlighting and discouraged from receiving
funds from their overseas relatives. As a result, the standard of
living of military officers dropped appreciably relative to other
Cubans who enjoyed lawful access to self-employment or to dollar remittances. Some officers moonlighted, nonetheless, and
in so doing broke the law they were sworn to uphold.
The Widening of Public Space
The most notable change in elite political processes in the
1990s was that some disputes could no longer be resolved just
in private as had hitherto been quite common. In the 19905,
some disputes became quite public. The new Foreign Invest-
_.- -_.. _ - - - - - - - - - - -
Cuba: A Country Study
ment Law 77 of 1995 was vigorously debated and its approval
consequently delayed. Another publicly debated case, that
relating to the imposition of payroll taxes, was the first instance
in which an economic initiative advocated by the leadership
was defeated. Fidel Castro's need to explain and defend publicly his invitation to Pope John Paul II both at the Fifth Party
Congress and in the days prior to the pope's arrival was yet
The widening of public space was most closely associated,
however. with the weakening of the government's control. The
boom of illegal markets in the 19905, discussed in previous
chapters, is the best example of weakened control. The government had been an intrusive micromanager of economic life,
shaping the work place and earnings decisions and outcomes
for every Cuban. In the 1990s, that chahged. Lawfully or not,
many Cubans took hold of their economic lives and became.
largely independent of the state for their livelihood. Given the
context of past decades. this was a major political change, not
just an economic change.
Moreover, President Fidel Castro repeatedly made it clear
that he detested authorizing the limited market-oriented policies that he felt compelled to authorize in the 1990s to ensure
his government's survival. For Cubans long-accustomed to a
ruler who had governed with vast d.iscretion, this, too; was a
stunning political change. Fidel Castro could no longer govern
Human rights and opposition activists understood this new
modest but nonetheless real opening. Each of them might suffer repression. abuse, or imprisonment, but they were newly
confident that others would pick up their falleh standard to
continue to press for wider spaces for democratic liberties.
Cuba's government could no longer prevail even in the one
area that had always mattered the most, namely, the capacity to
eliminate all organized opposition.
The academics associated with the Center for American
Studies (CEA) did not consider themselves dissidents or oppositionists but loyal PCC members; nonetheless, the party leadership came down hard on them. And yet, these academics
resisted, as well, in ways unlike in the past. They did not break
tanks. They did not betray each other. And, to a surprising
degree, they succeeded in continuing at least some aspects of
their academic work.
Government and Politics
"Do not be afraid," said Pope John Paul II during his visit to
Cuba in January 1998. Posters with the pope's photograph,
plastered all over the country, reiterated this fundamental message. Cubans took the pope's message to heart in their participation in the events associated with his visit. The pope's
pilgrimage to Cuba, as already noted, was likely to have some
lasting impact because it rode the crest of a wave of renewed
interest in religiosity.
The political attitudes of Cubans also changed. In the spring
of 1990, Cuba's newsmagazine Bohemia conducted a nationwide
public opinion poll (N=957). Asked about municipal government, more than 40 percent of respondents failed to express
trust in the delegate elected from their district; nearly 60 percent believed that improvements needed to be made in Cuba's
local government structures and procedures. In the spririg of
1990, the PCC also sponsored a nationwide survey. Only 20 percent of respondents said that the food supply was good, and
only 10 perceht said that the quality of transportation was
good. Having thus reported criticism on certain matters, the
poll was believable when it reported that 77 percent of respondents thought that health services were good and 83 percent
believed in the efficacy of the country's schooling. Cubans
were, therefore, unhappy with the capacity of their government institutions and leaders to represent and serve many of
their interests, but they continued to be impressed by performance in education and health care. This legacy of at least partial public support was crucial for regime survival at its moment
of greatest peril, when so many Cubans had come to feel free
to express their severe unhappiness even to PCC pollsters.
In late 1994, an affiliate of the Gallup Poll conducted a large
survey ih Cuba's western provinces. A large proportion of
respondents had no difficulty reporting complaints. Only a
quartl.':r of Cubans believed that their needs for food were fully
met, although half believed their health care needs were being
met arid nearly three-quarters were satisfied with Cuba's education programs. Only one in ten Cubans called themselves
"communists" although half thought of themselves as "revolutionaries"; a quarter said that they were not supporters of the
regime. Half of those surveyed were interested in setting up
small businesses, if the government were to authorize them.
More Cubans supported the value of equality than the value of
Cuba: A Coun"try Study
These views suggest that Cubans had absorbed-'-and supported-a number of socialist values but that many also disagreed significantly with the government and were. not afraid
to voice those disagreements to pollsters. Support for the PCC
was quite low even though, as noted before, many individual
party members were highly regarded by their neighbors.
Cuban politics changed slowly but decisively in the 1990s.
Political leaders could not and did not govern as had been
their custom. They were forced to authorize some changes and
permit others, even when they disapproved of them. Cubans
began to act through the market, legally or not, and chose to
explore new political, religious, and intelledual alternatives.
The PCC and government leaders, in turn, had enacted
important changes on their own to shape Cuba's present and
future. The leadership was substaritially overhauled in the early
1990s. New, younger people were appointed to significant
posts. The armed forces were downsized sharply. Mter a period
of decline and deinstitutionalization early in the 1990s, the government took some steps to strengthen and rearticulate regime
institutions as the decade closed. The regime's leaders and
institutions, however, had changed in perceptible ways even if
their purpose continued to be the retention of power.
Cuba in the i 990s was in the throes of a political transition,
although its end point was uncertain. This "transition to somewhere" did not imply a transition to a liberal democratic
regime as had occurred elsewhere in Latin America or in much
of the former communist world. It was associated with more
open spaces for a private and public life autonomous from government and party power, and with rules that enabled market
processes to operate. Whether Cuba's transition would evolve
toward democratization remained unclear as the decade
reached a close.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the communist
governments of Central and Eastern Europe, Cuba was bereft
ofinternational allies. Its trade, investments, military support,
and political I"elations had been disproportionately concentrated and dependent on governments that no longer existed.
As 1990 opened, the Soviet Union required that all bilateral
trade be conducted at international market prices by whatever
private or state enterprises engaged in pertinent activities. No
The North East Gate, Marine Barracks, Ground Defense Force,
U.S. Naval Base, GuantanamoBay, Cuba, 1993
longer would bilateral trade be mandated and carried out by
the central government in Moscow.
During the 1990s, Cuban economic relations with Central
and Eastern Europe plummeted. Cuban economic relations
with Russia focused principally on barter trade, at market
prices,. exchanging sugar for petroleum (see The Economic
Crisis of the 1990s, cll. 3). Cuba refused to service its large
accumulated international debt to the Russian Federation, but
that was no different from its general policy on nonservidng of
any debts. Russian ground troops, who had been stationed in
Cuba since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, also departed in
Russia and Cuba retained two somewhat more complicated
relationships. The Russian government paid rent to Cuba for
the use of electronic eavesdropping facilities set up south of
Havana at Lourdes (see Relations with Russia, eh. 5) at the
height of the Cold War. And Russia and Cuba continued to
negotiate over the fate of the nearly completed but mothballed
nuclear power plant near Cienfuegos in south central Cuba.
The investment costs of completing the nuclear power plant,
however, were beyond the capacities of both governments.
Cuba: A Country Study
Cuba accepted international inspection of these facilities by
the International Atom.ic Energy Agency.
Cuban relations with China recovered only gradually from
the sharp bilateral spiit that had become manifest in 1966.
With the collapse of European communism, however, po~it~cal
relations warmed more quickly between these two remammg
communist governments. The Cuban government sought to
learn fast and well the magic secrets of China's creation of market Leninism. Economic relations between the two countries'
remained basically what they had been, however: significant fot
Cuba, modest for China, and. conducted at international market prices. Sino-Cuban military relations are modest in scope.
Between 1989 and 1991, Cuba repatriated its overseas troops
from all countries to which they had been deployed. In 1992 it
announced that it had stopped providing military support to
revolutionary movements seeking to overthrow governments in
The international dimensions of the Cuban government's
strategy for survival required the active cultivation of foreign
investment and, therefore, of better political relations with
market-economy countries. To resist the increased United
States economic and political pressures on Cuba, Fidel Castro's
government needed to find some international support.
United States actions led to some sympathy for Cuba. In
October 1992, the United States Congress enacted the Cuban
Democracy Act (see Glossary), whose principal sponsor was
Representative Robert G. Torricelli. The new law prohibited
United States subsidiaries in third countries from trading with
Cuba. Other governments deemed it an extraterritorial secondary boycott in violation of the rules under the General
Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT-see Glossary). In
March 1996, the United States Congress enacted the Cuban
Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act (also known as the
Helms-Burton Act), sponsored by Senator Jesse Helms and
Representative Dan Burton. However, invoking procedures in
the law itself, President William Jefferson Clinton suspended
the enforcement of the act's key feature, Title III, which authorizes United States- citizens and firms to sue in United States
courts those firms from other countries that "traffic" with
Cuba. The law is broadly written to affect most foreign investment in Cuba as well as trade.
These laws provoked strong opposition from Canada, the
European Union (EU-see Glossary), the Caribbean, and
Government and Politics
Latin American countries, among others. The EU, Canada,
Argentina, and Mexico enacted blocking legislation to prevent
their firills from complyingwith.these United States laws and to
protect them if they were sued in United States courts. At the
annual Iberoamerican summits of heads of state, opposition to
these United States policies rose markedly. Although the
Iberoamerican summits endorsed democracy and human
rights strongly, President Fidel Castro was welcomed at each of
these events, and his government's authoritarian practices were
never explicitly criticized.
Within days of the enactment of the Cuban Democracy Act,
in November 1992, for the first time ever Cuba gained overwhelming support in the United Nations General Assembly for
a resolution condemning United States policies toward Cuba.
The enactment of the Helms-Burton Act further tilted the vote
in the General Assembly against the United States. In 1992 the
vote was fifty-nine in favor of Cuba's resolution; three nations,
including the United States, voted against the motion; and seventy-one abstained. In November 1997, 143 countries voted to
condemn United States policy, three voted against, and only
seventeen abstained. United States policy served Cuba's purposes well. (In separate motions, however, the General Assembly repeatedly criticized the Cuban government's violations of
Quban policy was most effective within the Anglophone
Caribbean. Cuba was admitted to the Caribbean Tourism Organization in 1992, and in 1994 became a founding member of
the Association of Caribbean States (see Glossary) led by the
Anglophone Caribbean. Caribbean countries became among
the most vocal opponents of United States policy toward Cuba.
In September 1993, tlle European Parliament (see Glossary)
condemned the Cuban Democracy Act, and in September 1994
it called upon Cuba to enact democratic reforms. Also in 1993,
the European Commission (see Glossary) created for the first
time a humanitarian aid program for Cuba, although Cuba
remained the only Latin American country with which the EU
had not concluded a formal cooperation agreement. In
response to the enactment of the Helms-Burton Act, European
governments challenged the United States and refused to
accept its imposition on European firms.
The government of Canada, along with those of various
Caribbean countries, went the farthest in opposing United
States policies. Canada strengthened its legislation to block the
Cuba: A Count?] Study
impact of United States iaw on Canadian firms, established a
program of official development assistance in addition to
humanitarian aid, and financed the business activities of Canadian firms with Cuba. It facilitated the work of Canadian NGOs
in Cuba; And in 1998, Canada's Prime Minister Jean Chretien
Cuban relations with the United States featured three key
events in the 1990s. In the aftermath of the riot in Havana in
the summer of 1994, the Cuban government lifted all requirements for an exit permit to emigrate and encouraged unauthorized emigration by boat or raft to the United States. Tens of
thousands of Cubans took to the seas. Many were seized by
United States Coast Guard and Navy ships and held for months
at the United States base at Guantanamo Bay. Eventually, the
United States and Cuba reached agreements in September
1994 and May 1995 to end the crisis. The United States
accepted almost all Cilbans who haq em~grated illegally in
1994; although a few criminals were excluded and returned to
Cuba, which accepted them. The United States promised to
accept no fewer than 20,000 legal immigrants per year for the
indefinite future. The United States also undertook to intercept on the high seas and return to Cuba those seeking to
enter the United States illegally and without a credible claim to
refugee status; this policy has be.en enforced. Cuba agreed to
accept those whom the United States had intercepted and not
to discriminate against them. It also agreed to reimpose its barriers on unlawful exit.
The next significant episode occurred on February 24, 1996,
when at least one, perhaps three; unarmed civilian aircraft
piloted by Cuban-American members of a group called Brothers to the Rescue flew into Cuban airspace. (On a prior trip,
Brothers to the Rescue airplanes had dropped antigovernment
leaflets over Havana.) As they were fleeing the pursuit of
Cuban Air Force jets; two of the planes were shot down over
international waters. This Cuban action, condemned by the
International Civil Aviation Association, triggered the enactment of the Helms-Button Act.
In November 1999, a five-year-old boy, tHan Gonzalez, was
rescued in the Straits of Florida, hanging on a raft after his
mother had drowned. At first, the United States Immigration
and Naturalization Service allowed his great-uncle to obtain
provisional custody. Soon, however, the boy's father, Juan
Miguel Gonzalez, claimed custody, requesting the boy's return
Government and Politics
to Cuba. An intense seven-month legal and political battle
developed over the child's custody, engaging both national governments, various local governments in southern Florida as
well as state and Federal courts, induding the Supreme Court.
Consistent with their new migration relations, the United
States and Cuban governments assumed similar positions on
the issue and ultimately prevailed: Eli an Gonzalez, accompanied by his father, returned to Cuba in June 2000. In the
United States, the political battle over Elifm was fierce; in Cuba,
the government used the incident to mobilize nationalist support. In tlle end, the Cuban American community's insistence
that the boy should remain in the United States, and not with
his father in Cuba, received little support. The Elifm Gonzalez
case may have begun a re-thinking of United States policy
During the 1990s, the United States and Cuba also constructed modest confidence-building measures to prevent accidental war and minimize the likelihood of accidents. These
included frequent contact between the two countries' coast
guards to enforce the migration agreements and carry out
search-and-rescue operations. Regular procedures for contact
were. also established between both sides at the Guantanamo
base. In anticipation of potential trouble, both governments
inform each other in great detail and, to the extent possible,
coordinate their actions.
As the twenty-first century began, Cuba's communist leadership believed that it had survived the collapse of the Soviet
Union and the European communist world. It had overcome
increased United States sanctions on Cuba. And it had
stemmed the economy's decline. Cuban leaders were conscious
that popular support had dipped seriously, but they believed
that they retained enough support, and wider tolerance, from
their people to rebuild the political bases of the regime and to
live through the next and perhaps most decisive crisis: Fidel
Castro's death. Although Castro remained firmly in charge, his
health had begun to fail and, for the first time since 1959,
regime loyalists began to contemplate seriously a Cuba without
Much has already changed in Cuba in anticipation of that
filture. Cuba's political institutions from the mid-1960s to the
mid-1980s had been marked by very slow rotation of personnel.
Government and Politics
Cuba: A Country Study
The circulation of elites accelerated dramatically in the early
1990s ahd then stabilized somewhat later in the decade. Most
members of the party's Political Bureau in place in 2000 had
joined the bureau after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. In
effect, a much younger, more dynamic set of leaders was in
place, ready for the regime's future battles for political survival.
The armed forces had also changed. In particular, the forces
were downsized, a move that reduced the political burden on
future governments to do more downsizing.
Cuba's political institutions, however, were weaker, more
brittle, and enjoyed much less political support than in the
past. The National Assembly, despite its partial revitalization in
the 1990s, remained a toothless institution. The PCC's members were well regarded by their fellow citizens, but the party as
such was not. The PCC as an institution we~kened also in the
early to mid-1990s, although an attempt was made to reinvigorate it in time for the Fifth Party Congress. The strengthening
of the PCC in 1997 may have set the basis for a future "renewed
communist" party, as in Poland, Lithuania, or Hungary in the
Ordinary Cubans were ready for change and were already
seizing the reins of the future. They sought and found jobs on
their own. A growing number discovered the value of religion
to their lives. Some courageous ones joined human rights and
opposition groups, and did not desist despite repression. Intellectuals were more willing to challenge the government and
the party. And even Fidel Castro grudgingly and publicly confessed that he could no longer pursue the policies he preferred
The future of Cuba lies also in part with the United States. It
will be made easier or more difficult by United States government policies regarding the daims of American citizens and
firms seeking compensation for the property expropriated in
1959 and 1960. And it will also be greatly affected by the generosity or the revenge of returning Cuban-Americans.
Cuba is an island archipelago, battered by hurricanes, natural and political. There is absolute certainty that real as well as
metaphorical hurricanes will strike it in the years to come. The
only doubt is when and With what force.
Much of the literature on Cuban government and politics in
the 1990s was polemical or speculative, that is, it denounced
the Cuban political regime and imagined a post-Castro future.
As a result, there is less careful analytical and empirical work
on Cuba in the 1990s than there is for previous times. Most of
the material for this chapter had to be constructed from primary sources. Various books do, however, ably place the early
1990s within the broader sweep of Cuban politics since 1959.
Among them are Irving Louis Horowitz's Cuban Communism,
Carollee Bengelsdorfs The Problem ofDemocracy in Cuba, Marifeli
Perez-Stable's The Cuban Revolution, and Susan Eckstein's Back
from the Future. Perhaps the single most comprehensive analytical and empirical work about Cuban politics and economics in
the 19905 remains unpublished, however. It is Cuba in Transition, sponsored by the Cuban Research Institute of Florida
Interhational University (for the series, see http://
journal Cuban Studies continues to provide valuable articles,
book reviews, and bibliographies.
The good news is that significant social scientific work has
been published in Cuba in the 1990s. Until 1996, Cuba's leading scholarly institution for political analysis was the Center for
American Studies (CEA). The works of then-CEA scholars,
such as Julio Carranza, Haroldo DiIla, Rafael Hernandez, and
Pedro Monreal, among others, contributed much to the understanding of Cuba in the 1990s. So, too, did the center's journal,
Cuadernos de Nuestra America. Important work was also produced, although infrequently published, at the Center for Psychological and Sociological Research (CIPS) and at various
research centers within the University of Havana. Cuba's premier social science publication is Temas, edited by Rafael
Indispensable primary sources remain the daily newspaper
Granma, the weekly newsmagazine Bohemia, and the panoply of
journals published, sometimes just occasionally, by Cuba's universities and think tanks. The official legal gazette is the Gaceta
Oficial de la Republica. The official Cuban government web site
(http://www.cubaweb.cu) is also informative and useful. (For
further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)
Table 1. 7. VOters in National Assemb!:y Elections, 1993
Province (from west to east)
Number of Voter.
Voting for Full Official
Pinar del Rio•••••••••••••..•.•.••••••.•.•••••
Voting Blank or Void
Voting for Some But NotAII
Ciudad de La Haban••.........•••......•.•.•.
La Haban •.............•.....•.•••.•......•.
Cienfuegos ................................. .
Villa Clara .................................. .
Sancti Spiritus. ....•..•........•.•••........•.
Ciego de Avila. .............................. .
Caruagiiey .................................. .
Las Tunas ............ , .................... ..
Holguin ................................... ..
Granma .................................... .
Santiago de Cuba ............................ .
Isla de lajuvenrud .......................... ..
TOTAL .................................... ..
Source: Based on information compiled by jorge I. Dominguez from Granma (Havana], March 1], 1993,
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:::':"~ .. ··~·-· .. -~_ifl
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