Cuba is one of the last one-party states in
the world. The constitution, which is designed according
to a Soviet model, states that Cuba's Communist Party
should play the leading role in society and the state.
No other parties are allowed. Anyone who opposes the
system risks harassment and, in the worst case, prison.
The Communist Party (Partido
Comunista de Cuba, PCC) controls and
directs all governing bodies from the government down to
the municipal council. The party also appoints all
managers within the administration, at state-owned
enterprises and at a number of social functions such as
hospitals and universities.
Total population and chart of Cuba for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
The Communist Party's highest body is the party
congress. The delegates at the congress elect a central
committee of 115 members. They in turn appoint a
15-member police bureau.
According to the constitution, the highest power is
held by Parliament, the National Assembly,
but it has in fact limited influence and only meets a
couple of times a year to push through the government's
bill. The real power lies with the Government with 31
members. The Prime Minister's chair is the head of
state, head of government and commander-in-chief. The
members of the Council are appointed by the National
Assembly after ordinary parliamentary elections.
Elections to the National Assembly are held every
five years. All candidates must be approved in advance
by the party and there is only one candidate for each
term. Candidates must win more than 50 percent of the
vote in their constituency. If this fails, a new
candidate must be appointed and a new round of elections
Voters can to some extent express their will by
voting blank / leaving invalid votes or deleting any of
the proposed names (each ballot includes several
mandates and names). The party has previously carried
out major mobilization campaigns to get the Cubans to
actively vote for the proposals, the so-called unanimous
vote, but before the 2013 parliamentary elections,
mobilization failed for the first time. As much as 25
percent then chose not to support the party's proposal.
In the 2018 election, the share was close to 20 percent.
At the same time, turnout has decreased. In 1998, more
than 98 percent of Cubans went to the polls. At the 2018
election, the share had dropped to just over 83 percent.
In the municipal elections held every two and a half
years, there is more than one candidate for each seat,
but all are appointed at party-supervised neighborhood
meetings in each constituency. Previously, candidates
were required to be party members, but at the 2015 local
elections independent candidates were allowed for the
first time if they received enough votes at the
nomination meetings. The change hardly impacted on the
2015 local elections, but when the procedure was
repeated in 2017, the opposition tried to bring forward
several hundred people who could be described as either
independent or opposition. The government responded by
discrediting and disqualifying opposition candidates in
various ways. Some were temporarily imprisoned so that
they could not attend the nomination meetings. None of
the opposition candidates succeeded in being nominated.
The task of the municipal assemblies is to elect
delegates to the provincial assemblies and the national
Cuba is divided into 14 provinces and 169
municipalities. The island of Isla de Juventud has a
special status and is governed by the central
At the local level, the Communist Party, through
so-called Committees for the Defense of the Revolution
, controls the task of overseeing
"anti-social behavior", that is, opposition activities.
The committees will also cooperate against common crime
and coordinate social campaigns, such as for
vaccinations and cleaning of public places.
The party has also created mass organizations for
workers, young people, women, farmers and so on. The
organizations serve as a forum for spreading the
government's message in broad layers.
Politically, Cuba is divided between those who are
still faithful to the ideal of the revolution and a
growing proportion of the population hoping for a
development towards greater political and economic
freedom. The dissatisfaction is especially great among
young people who have no memories of the oppression and
poverty before the revolution of 1958–1959. For this
group, improved living conditions are more important
than demands for democratic reform.
The right to organize is severely restricted. The
opposition is divided into several hundred small groups
that are opposed and persecuted. Security forces, or
gangs acting on behalf of the party, regularly break up
meetings and protests organized by opposition groups.
Activists are threatened, beaten, imprisoned, at risk of
losing their jobs and prevented from traveling abroad.
Several of the opposition groups are dedicated to
documenting the regime's violation of human rights. The
most well-known organization is Ladies in White. The
women gather at a church service on Sundays and then
conduct a silent march in protest of their relatives
being imprisoned on political grounds. The manifestation
is often interrupted by the police who arrest the
participants for a few hours before being released
# Otro18, Candidates for Change, and
Pinero's Autonomous Party are other
examples of opposition groups.
Throughout the years, Cuba has been repeatedly
criticized by the UN and the EU for the persecution of
dissent, and the country has refused to allow any
inspectors with the mission to review the situation.
However, at the beginning of 2008, Cuba signed two basic
UN human rights conventions.
In 2010, the majority of the opposites arrested in
2003 were released (see Modern History). That same year,
one of the country's best-known regime critics,
42-year-old Orlando Zapata, passed away after 85 days of
hunger strike. Zapata, who had been incarcerated since
2003, refused to eat in protest of the prison
conditions. In Cuba, the prisons are characterized by
overcrowding, inadequate sanitary conditions and
insufficient access to health care. In early 2012,
another hunger-striking dissident and prisoner, Wilman
Villar, passed away.
According to the Cuban Commission on Human
Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN),
the authorities changed tactics after 2010. Instead of
condemning opposition to prison for a long time, the
police engaged in arbitrary short-term arrests in
greater numbers. In 2017, the CCDHRN reported that the
organization has documented over 51,800 arrests on
political grounds since 2010.
Judging from the surveys conducted by the
Transparency International organization each year, Cuba
belongs to the less corrupt countries in the region, but
corruption is prevalent, especially in the tourism
sector. Waste of public funds is another problem. Under
Raśl Castro, who was president from 2006 to 2018, the
fight against corruption intensified, and he brought to
life a sleepy national audit firm with the task of
reviewing the accounts of public institutions. The
agency's initial investigations revealed major
shortcomings and difficulties when government employees
working in top-tier institutions would adapt to the new
accounting rules. In the agency's annual report for
2016, Chief Gladys Bejerano, (called the Lady of Iron),
wrote that the losses that the agency discovered in 2015
alone amounted to the equivalent of five million US
dollars. It was about IT equipment, fuel, building
materials, tires and spare parts and more that have come
to rest. The Ministry of Agriculture, the Department of
Commerce and the administration in Havana were
identified as the worst culprits.
During the campaign against corruption, some senior
officials have been prosecuted, convicted and
imprisoned. Lower-level corruption in the system has
been more difficult to access.
The courts are under the influence of the Communist
Party and help to maintain the system by judging and
punishing oppositionists. The laws make it possible to
convict people for vaguely defined crimes such as
"creation of general disorder" and "lack of respect for
The Supreme Court is subordinate to the National
Assembly, which appoints and dismisses judges. There is
no constitutional court that can repeal laws that
violate the Constitution.
Regarding common criminal and civil cases, the legal
system functions as a traditional legal system.
Cuba has formally retained the death penalty, but no
executions have been carried out since 2003 when three
people were arched for hijacking a passenger ferry to
flee to the United States.