Comparative law and justice/Cuba

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Anelpichardo 19:36, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

Basic Information[edit]

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Geographical Information Cuba is in the Caribbean. It is an island in between the Caribbean sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. The island consists of 110,860 sq km and is 150 km south of Key West, FLorida.[1] Cuba is the largest country in the Caribbean and westernmost island of the Greater Antilles. [2] It is slightly smaller than Pennsylvania. Cuba borders the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay 29 km.[3] Demographic Characteristics Its population is ranked 72 in comparison to the world with a total population of 11,451,652 (July 2009 est.)[4] The age structure in Cuba consists of 0-14 years: 18.3% (male 1,077,745/female 1,020,393)15-64 years: 70.4% (male 4,035,691/female 4,030,103)65 years and over: 11.2% (male 584,478/female 703,242) (2009 est.) The median age is a total of: 37.3 years and 36.6 years for males and 38 years for females. (2009 est.) Religion Cuba is 85% Roman Catholic prior to CASTRO assuming power; Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jews, and Santeria are also represented. [5] Ethnic Groups According to the 2002 census, there are: 65.1% white, 24.8% mulatto and mestizo, 10.1% black. Language Spanish is widely spoken in Cuba.

Brief History[edit]

In 1492, Christopher Columbus made the European discovery of the Island of Cuba. [6] Spanish settlers established the raising of cattle, sugarcane, and tobacco as Cuba's primary economic pursuits.[7] As the native Indian population died out, African slaves were imported to work the ranches and plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1886.[8]

Cuba was the last major Spanish colony to gain independence, following a lengthy struggle begun in 1868. [9]Jose Marti, Cuba's national hero, helped initiate the final push for independence in 1895. In 1898, the United States entered the conflict after the USS Maine sank in Havana Harbor on February 15 due to an explosion of undetermined origin.[10]In December of that year, Spain relinquished control of Cuba to the United States with the Treaty of Paris. On May 20, 1902, the United States granted Cuba its independence but retained the right to intervene to preserve Cuban independence and stability in accordance with the Platt Amendment. [11]In 1934, the Platt Amendment was repealed. The United States and Cuba concluded a Treaty of Relations in 1934 which, among other things, continued the 1903 agreements that leased the Guantanamo Bay naval base to the United States. [12]

Economic Development, Health, and Education[edit]

Economic Development The loss of the Soviet aid and domestic inefficiencies has caused for the average Cuban's standard of living to be at a the lower level. Since 2000, Venezuela has been providing oil on preferential terms, and it currently supplies about 100,000 barrels per day of petroleum products. Cuba has been paying for the oil, in part, with the services of Cuban personnel in Venezuela including some 30,000 medical professionals.[13] The GDP (purchasing power parity) is $110.8 billion (2009 est.) Cuba's country comparison to the world is ranked at 65. The GDP per capita (PPP) is $9,700 (2009 est.) and it's country comparison to the world is ranked at 109. Cuba's industries consist of sugar, petroleum, tobacco, construction, nickel, steel, cement, agricultural machinery, pharmaceuticals. Cuba's imports are estimated to be at $10.86 billion (2009 est.) with a country comparison to the world ranked at 83.[14] Import commodities are petroleum, food, machinery and equipment, chemicals. With import partners being Venezuela 29.8%, China 11.8%, Spain 10%, Canada 6.4%, US 6.3%, Brazil 4.6% (2008).[15] Cuba's exports are estimated to be at $3.253 billion (2009 est.) with a country comparison to the world ranked at 118. It's export commodities are sugar, nickel, tobacco, fish, medical products, citrus, coffee. With export partners being Canada 27.8%, China 26.7%, Spain 6.2%, Netherlands 5.6%(2008).[16] Health After the 1959 revolution, health conditions have greatly improved and sanitation is generally really good. On the other hand, Cuba no longer receives the same level of foreign support and has fallen behind in many of its social services due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. in 1993 100% of the population was reported to have access to health care. In 2000, 95% of the population had access to safe drinking water and 95% had adequate sanitation. [17]

Infant mortality declined from more than 60 per 1,000 live births before 1959 to 6 in 2000. About 8% of babies born in 1999 were considered low birth weight.[18] Studies show that as of 1998 79% of married women (ages 15 to 49) used contraception.[19] The government claims to have eradicated malaria, diphtheria, poliomyelitis, tuberculosis, and tetanus. In 1997, children up to one year of age were immunized as follows: tuberculosis, 99%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 99%; polio, 97%; and measles, 99%. [20]

Life expectancy was an average of 76 years for women and men in 2000 and the overall death rate was 7 per 1,000 people in 1999.[21] In 2000, major causes of death, with incidence per 100,000 people, were circulatory system diseases (235), cancer (124), injuries (61), and infectious diseases (44).[22] There were 15 reported cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 in 1999. The incidence of TB decreased steadily from 1979 to 1991 (503 cases), but there was a reversal in the following years.[23] As of 2001 the number of people living with HIV/AIDS was estimated at 2,800, and deaths from AIDS that year were estimated at 120. HIV prevalence was 0.06 per 100 adults. [24]

Education Education has been a high priority of the Castro government. In 1959 there were at least one million illiterates, and many more were only semi literate. [25] A literacy campaign was inaugurated in 1961, when 100,000 teachers went out into the countryside. For the year 2000, UNESCO estimated the illiteracy rate of persons aged 15 years and over to be 3.6% (males, 3.5%; females, 3.6%).[26] Education is free and compulsory for six years (6–11 years of age).[27] In 1997, Cuba's 9,926 primary schools enrolled 1,094,868 students and employed 92,820 teachers. Student-to teacher ratio stood at 12 to 1. Secondary education lasts six years beyond the primary level. In 1997, 712,897 secondary students were instructed by 70,628 teachers.[28] As of 1999, 99% of primary-school-age children were enrolled in school, while 80% of those eligible attended secondary school. [29]The pupil-teacher ratio at the primary level was 12 to 1 in the same year. [30] Cuba has five universities: the University of Havana (founded 1728), Oriente University at Santiago de Cuba (1947), the University of Las Villas at Santa Clara (1952), University of Camagüey (1974), and the University of Pinar Del-Rio. Workers' improvement courses (superación obrera), to raise adults to the sixth-grade level, and technical training schools (mínimo técnico), to develop unskilled workers' potentials and retrain other workers for new jobs, were instituted after 1961.[31] Today, special worker-farmer schools prepare workers and peasants for enrollment at the universities and for skilled positions in industrial and agricultural enterprises. In 1997, tertiary education enrolled 111,587 students, with 22,574 teachers. [32]


Constitution: February 24, 1976; amended July 1992 and June 2002

The Constitution of 1976, which defined Cuba as a socialist republic, was replaced by the Constitution of 1992, which is guided by the ideas of José Martí, Marx, Engels and Lenin.[33] [4] The constitution describes the Communist Party of Cuba as the "leading force of society and of the state".[34] [4] The first secretary of the Communist Party, is concurrently President of the Council of State (President of Cuba) and President of the Council of Ministers (sometimes referred to as Prime Minister of Cuba).[35] [74] Members of both councils are elected by the National Assembly of People's Power. [36]

According to the Cuban constitution, Cuba is an independent socialist republic that is controlled by 1 party: the Cuban Communist Party (PCC), of which Fidel Castro is the head, with his brother, Raul Castro as vice-president.[37] The Communist Party is led by a group of 25 individuals chosen by its head. Molded by this elite group of communists are organizations that encompass every facet of society, including youth, women, workers, and small farmers, among others.[38] Around 80 percent of the population has membership in at least one of these organizations. This network ensures that the agenda of the Communist Party is disseminated (communicated) to the masses. The National Assembly is the legislative body of the Cuban government. [39]The Assembly is composed of 601 members whose terms last 5 years. For these positions, the Council of State nominates candidates, who are then subject to a direct vote by the Cuban people.[40] The National Assembly also elects the Judicial Branch. On the local level, members of Municipal Assemblies are chosen by direct local election. Local government is closely over-seen by the Communist Party.[41] As is evidenced by Fidel Castro's almost complete control over decision-making, most policies are the direct result of his personal desires. The Cuban governmental structure is heavily bureaucratic (organized into many agencies). Until 1993, the Central Planning Board (JUCEPLAN, or Junta de Planificación Central), was responsible for economic planning. After 1993, in a move to create greater efficiency and to decentralize, different sectors of the economy became the responsibility of various ministerial bodies, including the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Science, Technology, and the Environment, the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Sugar Planning, and the Ministry of Foreign Investment and Economic Cooperation, among others. [42]

Executive Branch Chief of state: President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers Gen. Raul CASTRO Ruz (president since 24 February 2008)[43] Legislative Branch Unicameral National Assembly of People's Power or Asemblea Nacional del Poder Popular (number of seats in the National Assembly is based on population; 614 seats; members elected directly from slates approved by special candidacy commissions to serve five-year terms) )[44] Judicial Branch People's Supreme Court or Tribunal Supremo Popular (president, vice president, and other judges are elected by the National Assembly)[45]


Elections in Cuba take place by secret ballot.[46] Since Cuba became a one-party republic and the Communist party became the official political party, Cuba has been both condemned and praised by certain Cuban groups, international groups, and foreign governments regarding democracy. Although the media is operated under the supervision of the Communist Party’s Department of Revolutionary Orientation, which "develops and coordinates propaganda strategies" [47]

Courts and Criminal Law[edit]

In 1973, the Cuban government promulgated a new Law of Judicial Organization. This law established a hierarchical and more formal court system, replaced the private practice of law with law collectives known as bufetes colectivos, and strengthened the emphasis on "socialist legality."[48] This period was also marked by increasingly close relations with the Soviet Union, and increased economic dependence on COMECON - the trading bloc of socialist nations. [49] The Supreme Court of Cuba serves as the nation's highest judicial branch of government. It is also the court of last resort for all appeals against the decisions of provincial courts. [50]

Legal Personnel[edit]

Independent legal practice is not permitted in Cuba. As of 1999, 30% of lawyers worked as legal advisors to state agencies, ministries, and commercial enterprises.[51]These lawyers receive a lower salary than their counterparts in the bufetes, but this is offset somewhat by added perks and bonuses from their employer.[52]The salary of lawyers is based upon the number and complexity of the cases which they handle. Better lawyers typically earn a higher salary.[53]Bufetes Colectivos are collective law offices, first established by the Ministry of Justice after the private practice of law was abolished, and currently under the oversight of the National Organization of Bufetes Colectivos (ONBC).[54] In order to practice in a bufete, one must graduate from law school in Cuba or a foreign country with Cuban validation. Exceptions to this can be made under extraordinary circumstances. Once in a bufete, lawyers may practice anywhere in the country.[55] Currently, approximately 2,000 lawyers practice in some 250 bufetes throughout Cuba, collectively handling some 200,000 cases per year.[56] Lawyers in bufetes typically have large caseloads and work under difficult conditions. A small number of bufetes specializing in providing legal assistance to foreign nationals have arisen in recent years. [57]

Law Enforcement[edit]

The Ministry of Interior is the principal entity of state security and totalitarian control. Officers of the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR), which are led by Raul Castro, the President's brother, have been assigned to the majority of key positions in the Ministry of Interior in the past several years.[58] In addition to the routine law enforcement functions of regulating migration and controlling the Border Guard and the regular police forces, the Interior Ministry's Department of State Security investigates and actively suppresses political opposition and dissent.[59] It maintains a pervasive system of surveillance through undercover agents, informers, rapid response brigades (RRB's), and neighborhood-based Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR's). [60]

Crime Rates and Public Opinion[edit]

  • Executions 5 executions [20th of 22]
  • Murders committed by youths 348 [15th of 73]
  • Murders committed by youths per capita 9.6 [16th of 57]
  • Prisoners 0 prisoners [156th of 168]
  • Prisoners > Per capita 0 per 100,000 people [157th of 164]

Cuba is principally a source country for women and children trafficked within the country for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation and possibly for forced labor; the country is a destination for sex tourism, including child sex tourism, which is a problem in many areas of the country; some Cuban nationals willingly migrate to the United States, but are subsequently exploited for forced labor by their smugglers; Cuba is also a transit point for the smuggling of migrants from China, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Lebanon, and other nations to the United States and Canada[61]

Violent crime is officially viewed as a threat to national stability. In 1999 the death penalty was extended to certain narcotics offenses, robbery involving firearms, attacks on security officers, and sexual corruption of minors. In the biggest crackdown in a decade, 75 prodemocracy activists were arrested in March 2003 and summarily tried. Shortly afterward a de facto three-year moratorium on executions was ended by the execution of three ferry hijackers.[62]

Estimated arrests for drug abuse violations by age group, 2000-2007

  • Year:2000 Adult: 1,375,600 Juvenile: 203,900
  • Year:2001 Adult: 1,384,400 Juvenile: 202,500
  • Year:2002 Adult: 1,352,600 Juvenile: 186,200
  • Year:2003 Adult: 1,476,800 Juvenile: 201,400
  • Year:2004 Adult: 1,551,500 Juvenile: 194,200
  • Year:2005 Adult: 1,654,600 Juvenile: 191,800
  • Year:2006 Adult: 1,693,100 Juvenile: 196,700
  • Year:2007 Adult: 1,645,500 Juvenile: 195,700

Source: Crime in the United States, annual, Uniform Crime Reports

Nonfatal firearm-related violent crimes, 2000-2008 [63]

  • Year: 2000 Firearm Incidents: 428,670 Firearm Victims: 533,470 Firearm Crime Rate: 2.4 Firearm Crimes as percent of all violent incidents: 7
  • Year: 2001 Firearm Incidents: 467,880 Firearm Victims: 524,030 Firearm Crime Rate: 2.3 Firearm Crimes as percent of all violent incidents: 9
  • Year: 2002 Firearm Incidents: 353,880 Firearm Victims: 430,930 Firearm Crime Rate: 1.9 Firearm Crimes as percent of all violent incidents: 7
  • Year: 2003 Firearm Incidents: 366,840 Firearm Victims: 449,150 Firearm Crime Rate: 1.9 Firearm Crimes as percent of all violent incidents: 7
  • Year: 2004 Firearm Incidents: 280,890 Firearm Victims: 331,630 Firearm Crime Rate: 1.4 Firearm Crimes as percent of all violent incidents: 6
  • Year: 2005 Firearm Incidents: 416,940 Firearm Victims: 474,110 Firearm Crime Rate: 1.9 Firearm Crimes as percent of all violent incidents: 9
  • Year: 2006
  • Year: 2007 Firearm Incidents: 348,910 Firearm Victims: 394,580 Firearm Crime Rate: 1.6 Firearm Crimes as percent of all violent incidents: 7
  • Year: 2008 Firearm Incidents: 303,880 Firearm Victims: 343,550 Firearm Crime Rate: 1.4 Firearm Crimes as percent of all violent incidents: 7


Family Law[edit]

The Family Code was developed in the early 1974. The Family Code was so important to the Cuban people that they deemed it vital to have a complete and “far reaching” discussion about it. People as young as junior high school students got enthusiastically interested in the Code, and had debates and discussions about it as the first law to have tremendous importance to their future. The plan for the discussion of the code was announced by Blas Roca at the Women’s Congress. Roca was a very active member of the Orthodox party. And by then he was Secretariat and head of the committee to draft new laws. He is now the president of the national People’s Assembly. The Family Code covers marriage, divorce, marital property relationships, recognition of children, obligations for children’s care and education, adoption, and tutelage.[64] The following are Clauses 24, 25, 26, 27, and 28 of the Cuban Family Code:

24. Marriage is constituted on the basis of equal rights and duties of both partners. .[65]

25. The spouses must share the same home, be faithful to one another, help, consider and respect each other. The rights and duties established by this code will subsist in their entirety as long as the marriage has not been legally terminated, in spite of the fact that for justifiable reasons a common household cannot be maintained..[66]

26. Both spouses are obligated to care for the family they have created and cooperate with each other in the education, formation and guidance of their children in line with the principles of socialist morality. As well, each to the extent of his or her capabilities and possibilities must participate in governing the home and cooperate toward its best possible care..[67]

27. The spouses are obligated to contribute toward satisfying the needs of faculties and economic capacities. Nevertheless, if one of the spouses contributes only through his or her work in the home and child-care, the other spouse must provide full economic support without this meaning that he or she be relieved of the obligations of cooperating with the housework and child-care..[68]

28. Both spouses have the right to exercise their professions or crafts and must lend each other reciprocal cooperation and aid to this effect, as well as in order to carry out studies or perfect their training, but in all cases they will take care to organize their home life so that such activities be coordinated with fulfillment of the obligations imposed by this code.” .[69]

Human Rights[edit]

Cuba's government controls all aspects of life through the Communist Party and its affiliated mass organizations, the government bureaucracy, and State Security Department.[70]The latter is tasked with monitoring, infiltrating, and controlling the country's beleaguered human rights community.[71]Despite having signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights in February 2008, Cuba has yet to ratify either or meet the obligations assumed in these instruments, continuing to commit serious abuses and denying its citizens the right to change their government.[72]Cuba is also a signatory of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and sits on the UN Human Rights Council, yet routinely arrests citizens who seek to exercise internationally recognized fundamental freedoms.[73]The government incarcerates people for their peaceful political beliefs or activities. The total number of political prisoners and detainees is unknown, because the government does not disclose such information and keeps its prisons off-limits to human rights organizations and international human rights monitors.[74] One local human rights organization lists more than 200 political prisoners currently detained in Cuba in addition to as many as 5,000 people sentenced for "dangerousness." [75]

Cuba, with a population of approximately 11 million, is a totalitarian state that does not tolerate opposition to official policy. [76] The country is led by Raul Castro, who holds the positions of chief of state, president of the council of state and council of ministers, and commander in chief of the Revolutionary Armed Forces. [77]Although the constitution recognizes the unicameral National Assembly as the supreme authority, the Communist Party (CP) is recognized in the constitution as the only legal party and "the superior leading force of society and of the state." Fidel Castro remained the first secretary of the CP. [78]The January 2008 elections for the National Assembly were neither free nor fair, and all of the candidates had to be preapproved by a CP candidacy commission, with the result that the CP candidates and their allies won 98.7 percent of the vote and 607 of 614 seats in the National Assembly. [79]Civilian authorities, through the Ministry of the Interior, exercised control over the police, the internal security forces, and the prison system.

The government continued to deny its citizens their basic human rights, including the right to change their government, and committed numerous and serious abuses. [80]The following human rights problems were reported: beatings and abuse of prisoners and detainees, harsh and life-threatening prison conditions, including denial of medical care; harassment, beatings, and threats against political opponents by government‑recruited mobs, police, and state security officials acting with impunity; arbitrary arrest and detention of human rights advocates and members of independent professional organizations; and denial of fair trial, including for at least 194 political prisoners and as many as 5,000 persons who have been convicted of potential "dangerousness" without being charged with any specific crime.

Authorities interfered with privacy and engaged in pervasive monitoring of private communications. [81] There were also severe limitations on freedom of speech and press; denial of peaceful assembly and association; restrictions on freedom of movement, including selective denial of exit permits to citizens and the forcible removal of persons from Havana to their hometowns; and restrictions on freedom of religion and refusal to recognize domestic human rights groups or permit them to function legally. Discrimination against persons of African descent, domestic violence, underage prostitution, trafficking in persons, and severe restrictions on worker rights, including the right to form independent unions, were also problems.. [82]

The government places severe limitations on freedom of speech and press, as noted by international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Reporters Without Borders.[83]The constitution provides for freedom of speech and press insofar as views "conform to the aims of a socialist society."[84]In March 2008, demonstrators distributing copies of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were attacked by an orchestrated mob and later detained.[85]Despite the government's decision to permit Cubans to purchase personal computers, access to the Internet is strictly controlled and given only to those deemed ideologically trustworthy; Internet restrictions were tightened further in March and April 2008 to block access by Cuban citizens to certain independent websites.[86]

Freedom of assembly is not constitutionally guaranteed in Cuba.[87] The law punishes unauthorized assembly of more than three persons. The government also restricts freedom of movement and prevents some citizens from emigrating because of their political views. Cubans need explicit exit visas from their government to leave their country, and many people are denied exit permission by the Cuban Government, despite the fact that they have received travel documents issued by other countries. [88]

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