Constitution of Cuba

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politics and government of

Even before attaining its independence from Spain, Cuba had several constitutions either proposed or adopted by insurgents as governing documents for territory they controlled during their war against Spain. Cuba has had several constitutions since winning its independence. The current constitution was drafted in 1976 and has since been amended.

Early models

Events in early nineteenth-century Spain, prompted a general concern with constitutions throughout Spain's overseas possessions. In 1808, both King Ferdinand VII and his predecessor and father, Charles IV, resigned their claims to the throne in favor of Napoleon Bonaparte, who in turn passed the crown to his brother Joseph. In the ensuing Peninsular War, the Spanish waged a war of independence against the French Empire. On 19 March 1812, the Cortes Generales in refuge in Cádiz adopted the Spanish Constitution of 1812, which established a constitutional monarchy and eliminated many basic institutions that privileged some groups over others. The Cortes included representatives from throughout the Spanish Empire, including Cuba.[1]

Several models of constitutional government were proposed for Cuba. José Agustín Caballero offered "a charter for Cuban autonomy under Spanish rule" in Diario de la Habana in 1810,[2] elaborated as the Project for an Autonomous Government in Cuba in 1811.[3] The next year, Bayamo attorney Joaquín Infante living in Caracas wrote his Constitutional Project for the Island of Cuba. He reconciled his liberal political principles with slavery in Cuba, noting that slavery exited in the United States alongside republican government. Spanish authorities imprisoned him for his writings.[2][3] In 1821, Félix Varela represented Cuba in the Cortes Generales of Spain during a short period when the Constitution of 1812 was revived. He joined in a petition to the Crown for the independence of Spain's Latin American colonies, supported by his Project of Instruction for the Politically and Economically Autonomous Government of the Overseas Provinces.[3]

Guáimaro Constitution

The Guáimaro Constitution was the governing document written by the idealistic and politically liberal faction in the insurgency that contested Spanish colonial rule in Cuba and imposed on Carlos Manuel de Céspedes, the conservative who claimed leadership of the independence movement. It was nominally in effect from 1869 to 1878 during the Ten Years' War against Spain.

La Yara Constitution

La Yara Constitution written in 1896 was the last Constitution before the defeat of the Spanish. The principal notable passages of this Constitution on equal civil rights, the right of suffrage and the rights governing equal education for all Cubans were written by General José Braulio Alemán. This Constitution was used as template for the 1901 Constitution

1901 Constitution

Two ad hoc constitutions were adopted in the course of Cuba's fight for independence from Spain (1895–1898). On 16 September 1895, delegates representing the rebel forces adopted a constitution in Jimaguayu, the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba in Arms,[4] and set it to be reviewed in two years by a representative assembly. It described relations between civil and military authority. It named key officials and outlined the requirements of a peace treaty with Spain. In September 1897, the assembly met in La Yaya, adopted a new document on 30 October, and named a new president and vice-president.[5]

The 1901 Constitution, was Cuba's first as an independent state. It incorporated eight principles set out in the Platt Amendment without which U.S. troops would not have been withdrawn from Cuba, including the clause that the United States has the right to intervene in Cuba's affairs to protect its independence and guarantee the stability of its government. All but one of the Platt Amendment principles remained in force until a treaty between Cuba and the United States, negotiated as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's Good Neighbor Policy toward Latin America, took effect on 9 June 1934, leaving U.S. only its right to a permanent lease to its Guantanamo Naval Station.[6]

1940 Constitution

During the presidency of Federico Laredo Brú, a Constitutional Assembly was elected in November 1939 to write a new constitution. The Assembly debated publicly for six months and adopted the constitution at the Capitol in Havana. It was signed by the delegates on 1 July 1940, and took effect on 10 October 1940.[7] It provided for land reform, public education, universal healthcare, minimum wage and other progressive ideas, many of which were not implemented in practice. The Constitution abolished capital punishment and established as national policy restrictions on the size of land holdings and an end to common ownership of sugar plantations and sugar mills, but these principles were never translated into legislation. The constitution ordained a presidency and a bicameral congress, both with a four-year tenure, with a ban on direct re-elections to the office of president (though non-consecutive re-election would be tolerated; similar to the current constitution of Chile) with executive power shared with a new, separate office of Prime Minister of Cuba, to be nominated by the president.[8] Fulgencio Batista suspended parts of this constitution after seizing power in 1952. It was completely suspended after the Cuban revolution.

1976 Constitution

After 16 years of non-constitutional government from 1959 to 1975, the revolutionary government of Cuba sought to institutionalize the revolution by putting a new constitution to a popular vote. The Constitution of 1976 was adopted by referendum on 15 February 1976, in which it was approved by 99.02% of voters, in a 98% turnout.[9][10] It took effect on 24 February 1976. This constitution called for a centralized control of the market and re-committed the state to providing its citizens with access to free education and health care, as in the 1940 constitution. The state was further granted the power to regulate the activities of religious institutions and the private ownership of media was prohibited. Article 53 gave citizens freedom of speech, and Article 54 gave citizens the right to assemble.

The dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc plunged Cuba into an era of economic crisis known as the Special Period in Time of Peace. In response, the constitution was amended in 1992 to remove certain limitations on foreign investment and grant foreign corporations a limited right to own property on the island if they established joint ventures with the government.[11] Another amendment established that Cuba is a secular state rather than an atheist state, prompting an expansion of local participation in religious observance, increased social service work on the part of sectarian international charities, and public recognition of religious pluralism.[12] In 2002, the constitution was amended to stipulate that the socialistic system was permanent and irrevocable.[13]

Proposed 2018 constitution

On July 14, 2018, a commission headed by Ex President Raúl Castro had drafted a new constitution. The reforms are seen as part of the attempt to modernize the Cuban government.[14] The draft contains 87 new articles, increasing the total from 137 to 224[15]. Among the reforms are:[16][14][15][17]

The new constitution, which also omits the aim of building a communist society and instead works towards the construction of socialism,[18] was presented to the National Assembly of People's Power by secretary of the Council of State Homero Acosta for approval on 21 July 2018 before being slated to a national referendum.[19][18] The National Assembly then approved the new Constitution on 22 July 2018,[20][21][22][23] a day ahead of schedule.[24] It was announced that a popular consultation which allows citizen input for potential amendments to the text of the proposed Constitution would start on August 13 and conclude on November 15.[23][24][22]

It was announced that 135,000 meetings would be held during the popular consultation.[25] Each of these will be run by 7,600 two-person teams who will receive specialized training.[25] Cuban exiles were invited to take part in the meetings.[26] Following consideration of amendments, a referendum will be held to pass the Constitution on February 24, 2019.[27] The popular consultation began as scheduled on August 13, 2018, in tandem with the 92nd birthday of the late Cuban President Fidel Castro.[28][29][30][31]

See also


  1. Eastman, Scott; Sobrevilla Perea, Natalia, eds. (2015). The Rise of Constitutional Government in the Iberian Atlantic World: The Impact of the Cadiz Constitution of 1812. University of Alabama Press. p. 165. Archived from the original on 14 February 2018. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  2. 1 2 Eastman, Scott; Sobrevilla Perea, Natalia, eds. (2015). The Rise of Constitutional Government in the Iberian Atlantic World: The Impact of the Cadiz Constitution of 1812. University of Alabama Press. p. 156. Archived from the original on 14 February 2018. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  3. 1 2 3 Castellanos, Dimas (29 October 2012). "La Constitución de La Yaya y la futura constitución cubana". Diario de Cuba (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 15 February 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2016. Available in English as Castellanos, Dimas. "The Constitution of La Yaya and the Future Cuban Constitution". Translating Cuba. Archived from the original on 15 February 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
  4. Martínez, Ivan (10 September 2015). "Cuba's Jimaguayu Constitution to be included in UNESCO's Memory of the World Program". Radio Havana. Archived from the original on 20 January 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  5. "Cubans Will Fight On" (PDF). New York Times. 28 November 1897. Retrieved 15 February 2016.
  6. Woolsey, Lester H. (July 1934). "The New Cuban Treaty". The American Journal of International Law. 28 (3): 530–34. JSTOR 2190379.
  7. "Cuban Memories: the Cuban Constitution of 1940, then and today". Cuban Heritage Collection. University of Miami Libraries. Archived from the original on 15 February 2016. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  8. Bonsal, Philip W. (1971). Cuba, Castro, and the United States. Pittsburgh University Press. pp. 43, 70.
  9. Nohlen, p197
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  11. Travieso-Diaz, Matias F. (1997). The Laws and Legal System of a Free-market Cuba: A Prospectus for Business. Quorum Books. p. 106. Archived from the original on 14 February 2018. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  12. Goldenziel, Jill I. (2009). "Sanctioning Faith: Religion, State, and U.S.-Cuban Relations". Journal of Law and Politics. 25 (179). Archived from the original on 31 March 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  13. Venegas, Cristina (2010). Digital Dilemmas: The State, the Individual, and Digital Media in Cuba. Rutgers University Press. p. 27. Retrieved 10 February 2016.
  14. 1 2 Editorial, Reuters. "Communist-run Cuba to recognize private property in new constitution". U.S. Retrieved 2018-07-15.
  15. 1 2 teleSUR/LJS. "Cuba's New Constitution Will Recognize Private Property: Report". Retrieved 2018-07-15.
  16. "Cuba to reshape government with new constitution". Retrieved 2018-07-15.
  17. "Cuba sets out new constitutional reforms". BBC News. 2018-07-15. Retrieved 2018-07-15.
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  22. 1 2
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  25. 1 2
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