Sam Dolgoff Archive

The Cuban Revolution
A Critical Perspective

Written: 1974.
Transcription/Markup: Andy Carloff
Online Source:; 2021

On the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba

Since the text of the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba arrived after the completion of this book, comment is included in the appendix. (English Translation, Center for Cuban Studies, N.Y. 1976)

Although Article 4 of the constitution proclaims that "...all power belongs to the working people who exercise it directly or through the Assemblies of Peoples Power..." the constitution actually institutionalizes and perpetuates the dictatorship in much the same manner as the Constitution of the Soviet Union promulgated by Stalin. A few examples:

[Article 66:] . . . State organs are based. . . upon the principles of. . . unity of power [and the totalitarian Lenin-Stalin principle of] democratic centralism...

[Article 5:] . . . the socialist State. . . consolidates the ideology and rules of living together and of proper conduct in Cuban society. . . directs the national economy. . . assures the educational, scientific technical and cultural progress of the country...

[Article 38:] . . . education is a function of the state. . . educational institutions belong to the state. . . [which promotes] communist education and training of children, young people and adults. . .

[Article 52:] . . . citizens have the freedom of speech and the press [in keeping with] socialist society [but the exercise of that right is vested in the, radio, television, movies and other organs of the mass media are exclusively state property. . .

[Article 19:] The wage system of Cuba is based upon the. . . socialist principle of 'From each according to his ability, to each according to his work...'

Following the Russian pattern, the Constitution of Cuba " . . . basing ourselves on the. . . proletarian internationalism. . . of the Soviet Union. . ." (Preamble) is a hierarchically structured pyramid in which the absolute power of the state, through its chain-of-command is imposed from the top down over every level of Cuban society (homes neighborhoods, municipalities, provinces etc.) . . . decisions of superior state organs are compulsory for inferior ones. . . "

[Article 66:] Starting from the local, municipal and provincial Assemblies of People's Power, the Council of Ministers and the Council of State, supreme power is ultimately personified in a single dictator: The President of the Council of State.

[Article 105:] [Decisions of Local Assemblies of People's Power can be] . . . revoked, suspended or modified . . . by the. . . Municipal and Provincial Assemblies of People's Power.

[Article 96:] [The Council of Ministers can] ... revoke or annul provisions issued by. . . heads of central agencies and the administrative bodies of the local organs [Municipal and Provincial Assemblies] of People's Power...

[Article 88:] [The Council of State can, in turn,] . . .suspend the provisions of the Council of Ministers and [even the] Local Assemblies of People's Power which in its opinion run counter to the Constitution. . . or the general interest of the country.. ."

The prerogatives of the President of the Council of State match the absolute power exercised by Stalin:

[Article 91:] . . .The President of the Council of State is Head of the Government and is invested with the power to: . . . organize, conduct the activities of, call for the holding of and preside over the sessions of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers . . . control and supervise. . . the activities of the ministries and central agencies of the administration . . . assume the leadership of any ministry or central agency of the administration ... replace.. the members of the Council of Ministers [Article 88] . . . represent the state and the government and conduct their general policy. . .

The totalitarian character of the constitution is best summarized in this extract from its Preamble:

WE adopt the following Constitution. . . to carry forward the triumphant Revolution [initiated] . . . under the leadership of Fidel Castro [who] established the revolutionary power...and started the construction of socialism under the direction of the Communist Party...

Chronology 1959-1975

Jan. 1, 1959 Batista flees Cuba: Revolution begins.

Jan. 4 Manuel Urrutia Lleo appointed President of Cuba. Armed Student Directorio seizes and refuses to evacuate the Presidential Palace, the seat of government and the University of Havana campus because Castro unilaterally appointed his "Provisional Government" without consulting allied anti-Batista fighting groups.

Jan. 10 Habeas corpus suspended. Capital punishment decreed. People's Socialist Party (PSP-Communists) pledges allegiance to Castro.

Feb. 16 Miró Cardona resigns and Castro appoints himself Premier.

April 5 Censorship of press, radio, television etc. begins. Strikes prohibited.

May 8 Castro government assumes unlimited power. Council of Ministers can decree laws and change constitution at will.

May 17 Agrarian Reform Law (National Institute of Agrarian Reform - INRA) makes illegal ownership of more than 5 caballerias (1 caballeria = 33 ½ acres) of land. INRA institutes state farms on Russian model. Law 43 giving INRA dictatorial powers reads: ". . . the INRA will appoint administrators and the workers will accept all orders and decrees dictated by INRA. . . "

June 3 Pedro Luis Diaz, Commander of the Air Force and close friend of Castro, protests growing influence of Communists and leaves Cuba.

June 9 Resolution 6, gives Castro unlimited power to spend public funds without being accountable to anyone.

July 7 Article 25 of Fundamental Law further extends death penalty for "acts hostile to the regime"

July 18 Urrutia resigns. The Communist Dorticos appointed new Presiclent of Cuba

July 26 The day after he resigns, Castro before a delirious mass demonstration of 500,000 people withdraws his resignation as self appointed Premier of Cuba. The carefully staged proceeding was a cheap publicity hoax.

Sept. 30 Cuba sells 3,300,000 tons of sugar to Russia

Oct. 13 Article 149, regulating private schools and education, prohibits teaching of subjects not taught in public schools, state dictates curriculum.

Oct. 20 Castro's close friend and second-in-command, Major Hubor Matos, Military Commander of Province of Camagüey resigns in protest of communist infiltration of Cuban government. Arrested by order of Castro and after fake "trial", sentenced.

Dec. 14 to 20 years imprisonment. Sentence stirred dormant resentment in armed forces and also civilians who revered Matos, as hero of the Revolution.

Oct. 27 Nationalization of oil property begins.

Nov. 30 10th Congress of Cuban Confederation of Labor (CTC). Communist candidates endorsed by Castro are defeated. A little later, officials freely elected by rank-and-file are dismissed by order of Castro and replaced by Castro's appointees. The democratically elected Secretary, David Salvador, is sentenced to 30 year prison term.

Nov. 26 Ernesto Che Guevara (who knows nothing about finance) appointed President of the Bank of Cuba.

Dec. 27 Law 680 tightens press, radio, television, etc., censorship.

Jan. 1, 1960 Vice-President of Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union, Anastas Mikoyan, inaugurates Soviet exhibition in Palace of Fine Arts

Feb. 13 Commercial treaty signed by Mikoyan and Castro grants credit of $100,000,000 and exchanges Cuban sugar for Soviet armaments.

March. 16 Establishment of Central Planning Body (JUCEPLAN) to manage economy. Blas Roca, veteran communist leader appointed Director of JUCEPLAN.

April 20 Instituto Superior de Educacion established to indoctrinate teachers with Marxist-Leninist principles.

April 22. Gala celebration of Lenin's birthday.

May 7 Formal diplomatic relations with Russia established.

May 8 Commandante Rolando Cubela (later mortal enemy of Castro) President of the Federation of University Students (FEU) orders expulsion of anti-communist students from the University of Havana.

June 3 Death Penalty decreed for misappropriation of funds.

June 6 Law 851 decrees nationalization of property. In successive months the property of the Cuban Telephone Co., Cuban Electric Co., three oil companies (Standard, Shell and Texaco) and 21 sugar refineries are nationalized. (By the end of 1960, the state expropriated 11,287 companies, equal to two-thirds of Cuban industry. By March 1961, nationalization totaled 88% of industrial production and 55% of agricultural production.

July 15 Most of the faculty of Havana University resigns in protest over communist party takeover.

Sept. 28 Organization of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) to spy on citizens even in their homes. October " . . . a strike is a counter-revolutionary act in a socialist republic. . ." (Castro). ". . .The destiny of the unions is to disappear..." (Guevara). "...the Minister of Labor can take control of any union or federation of unions, dismiss officials and appoint others. . . " (law 647)

Oct. 13 With nationalization of 376 additional firms and Urban Reform Law (including housing) Castro proclaims the completion of the first phase of the Revolution.

Nov. 7 Gala parade in celebration of anniversary of Russian Revolution with participation of thousands of Russian, Chinese and "socialist" countries' technicians and "advisors. "

Nov. 22 Cuban Government predicts that in 1961, production of potatoes, beans, poultry, eggs, corn, and cotton "will have quintuplet)." Actually, "production between 1958-1963 decreased by 50% (Rene Dumont)

Nov. 30 Cuba and China sign trade agreement. China buys 1,000,000 tons of sugar and extends $50,000,000 credit to Cuba.

Dec. 31 Castro creates Higher Council of Universities headed by Minister of Education to rule universities.

Jan. 1, 1961 2nd anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.

Jan. 3 U.S. severs relations with Cuba.

Jan. 4 " . . . any counter-revolutionary activity (as defined by the dictators) by any worker, either in the public or private sector, will be sufficient cause for immediate dismissal and additional punishment for criminal acts under the law. . . " (law 934)

Jan. 21 6 complete factories arrive from Yugoslavia. 100 due to be delivered by Russia. Cuba sends 1000 children to Russia to learn how to become obedient communists. Educational collaboration with Soviet ambassador to Havana, Yuri Gavrilov, and Czechoslovak Vice Minister of Education, Vaslav Pelishek, to teach Cuban educators methods used in communist lands.

Jan. 29 Cuban Ministry of Education will train teachers in Minar del Frío, a communist school, how to become good Marxist-Leninists.

Feb. 10 Stepped up campaign to mobilize hundreds of thousands of "volunteers" to cut cane and do other important work.

Feb. 23 Guevara appointed Minister of Industry (which he knows nothing about)

April 17 "Bay of Pigs" invasion by unofficial U.S.-sponsored forces.

May 1 Castro proclaims that Cuba has become the first Socialist Republic in Latin America. Thousands parade carrying huge portraits of Castro, Jose Marti, Khrushchev, Mao, Lenin, Marx and Engels. On being awarded the Lenin peace prize, Castro exults: "GLORY TO THE GREAT JOSE MARTÍ!" "GLORY TO THE GREAT VLADIMIR ILYICH LENIN!"

Dec. 2 Castro delivers his "I am a Marxist-Leninist Communist" speech.

March 8, 1962 A forerunner of the Communist Party of Cuba, the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (ORI) is organized.

March 12 Law 1015 decrees rationing of most foods and other necessities.

July To combat absenteeism and enforce work discipline the government announces plans to issue in August and September, identification cats which all workers must show as condition for employment... ...thereby guaranteeing full compliance with directives established by the Revolutionary Government as far as labor is concerned...Ministry of Labor institutes forced labor in Province of Pinar del Rió for...employees who committed transgressions in fulfillment of their functions...

Aug. - Sept. Drive against political and social dissenters stepped up. El Libertario, organ of the Liberation Association of Cuba (anarcho-syndicalist) forced to suspend publication. Workers threatened with the loss of jobs if they do not volunteer to work without pay. Students, housewives an others told they will lose benefits if they do not volunteer their services. Agricultural cooperatives transformed into state farms.

Spring, 1963 Compulsory service for 15 to 17 year-old delinquents decreed to provide a labor force for a wide range of agricultural and civic projects. Formation of the United Party of the Socialist Revolution (PURS), another version of the future post-Castro Communist Party of Cuba (CPC)

Oct. 4 Second Agrarian Refom, restricts ownership of land to five caballerias.

Nov. For the first time in Cuba compulsory military service is decreed in preference to volunteer service in militia.

Feb. 14, 1964 Castro takes personal charge of INRA.

Summer, 1965 The much vaunted militia, "The People in Arms" is practically liquidated as an independent force. Nationwide disarmament of the militia is decreed. Militia officers and civilians are commanded to turn their weapons in by Sept. 1st or face severe penalties. Members of the military reserve and communities for the Defense of the Revolution must also comply.

July 4 Havana Longshoremen refuse to load meat for Italy because of meat shortage in Cuba. 200 arrested and later released with only stern warnings for fear of further complications.

Oct. 3 Militarily organized labor camps established to rehabilitate delinquents. "Havana University is again purged. Writers and artists sent to penal camps, ostensibly to "purify the Revolution."

March, 1966 Rolando Cubela (former favorite of Castro) sentenced to 25 years at hard labor for conspiracy to assassinate Castro because he betrayed the Revolution.

Aug. 22-26 12th Congress of the CTC adopts resolution stating that: " . . . the labor movement directed and guided by the Communist Party, must effectively contribute to the mobilization of the masses in fulfilling of the tasks assigned by the Revolution and strengthening Marxist-Leninist theory . . . "

1967 Organization to the Vanguard Workers Movement. Like the Stakhanovites in Russia, the Vanguard Workers are expected to set the pace and initiate speedup of their fellow workers. In exchange, Vanguard Workers get special privileges. A program of Youth Reeducation Centers established for youngsters under 16 found guilty of minor offences. They are to perform "a full day's work" and get military training.

Oct. Ché Guevara killed in Bolivia guerrilla campaign.

Jan. 28, 1968 Castro asserts his domination over the Communist Party. Anibal Escalante, a prominent communist, is sentenced to 15 years at hard labor for plotting to subordinate Castro to the discipline of the Party. He was accused of the typical Stalinist crime of "microfactionalism."

March 13 Castro introduces the "Great Revolutionary Offensive" by nationalizing 58,000 trades, shops and services. Young people are mobilized, military fashion, for agriculture and sugar production.

Aug. 2 Castro defends the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Aug. 17 The Minister of Labor, Jorge Risquet, announces introduction of labor card" recording acts of indiscipline, work record, etc.

Oct. 22 A "social-security law" providing incentives for workers who demonstrate "exemplary" behavior is decreed. Those who exhibit "communist work attitudes," renounce overtime pay, are not absent without authorization, exceed work quotas and enthusiastically perform "voluntary" labor become eligible for special benefits.

Jan. 2, 1969 Castro introduces rationing of sugar!

July 9 Castro praises revolutionary achievements of the military totalitarian Junta that seized power in Peru.

Sept. 24 Arrnando Hart (prominent member of Castro's ruling junta) praises Soviet achievements under Stalin and urges Cubans to follow Stalin's example.

1970 The whole labor force is mobilized in military fashion for harvesting the 10 million ton sugar crop while the rest of the economy is neglected. The campaign fails and Castro himself takes the blame for setting back the rest of the economy to the lowest levels since the Revolution, declaring that: "...I want to speak of our own incapacity in the overall work of the Revolution. . tour responsibility to must be noted . . . especially mine. . . Our apprenticeship as directors of the Revolution has been too costly. . . "

Sept. A series of drastic measures to strengthen weak labor discipline enacted by the Labor Ministry and CTC bureaucracy. Sanctions against absentees include denial of right to purchase goods in short supply (new housing, repairs, loss of vacations and other privileges. In extreme cases offenders can be sent to labor camps etc. There is a dossier for each worker which every worker is obliged to show, detailing his work record. Less than half of the workers participate in rigged union elections. Castro's henchmen screen all candidates. In some locals there was only one candidate on the ballot.

March 1971 Dissident poet Herberto Padilla arrested on trumped up charges of "counter-revolution" for writing critical poetry and articles about Cuban dictatorship. Later, in true Stalinist fashion Padilla "repents his sins" and is "rehabilitated." The case aroused world-wide protests.

Dec. 1972 Creation of the super-centralized Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers.

Between 1972 and 1975 the institutionalization and reorganization of the Revolution was being implemented.

Mid-1971 Reform of the judicial system. Courts and all legal bodies dominated] and completely responsible to the Executive Committee of the Council of Ministers. There is no independent judiciary. The Prime Minister, the President of the Republic, other ministers, and the members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of Cuba are exempt from the jurisdiction of the regular courts.

April Militias ("People in Arms") abolished.

May Liability of 18-year-olds for "crimes" against the economy, abnormal sexual behavior, etc., etc., applied to 16 year old "offenders."

Aug. 2 Creation of the Youth Army of Work (AYW), a paramilitary organization controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR).

November 13th Congress of the CTC endorses and promises to carry out the dictatorial policies of the Regime.

December Law 1257 decrees creation of regular, conventional army complete with ranking system and discipline of great military powers.

May 8, 1974 With the establishment of the People's Organization of Popular Control (PCP) an experiment in "decentralization" and "direct democracy" designed to promote mass participation in Local, Regional administration is initiated in Matanzas Province (to be extended to rest of Cuba in 1976). The system patterned after the fake Russian "soviets" actually reinforces the dictatorship.

July 2 Castro proclaims 3 days of mourning for the death of the fascist dictator of Argentina Juan Perón. With Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (Dec. 1975) the institutionalization of the Revolution was substantially completed. The permanent, legally sanctioned, totalitarian apparatus inficts itself on future generations.


ALC Libertarian Federation of Cuba

MLCE Libertarian Movement of Cuba in Exile

CNT National Confederation of Labo (Spanish Anarcho-Syndicalist)

IWMA International Workingmen's Association (Abbreviations of Cuban organizations with date of founding)

CDR Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, 1960

CTC Confederation of Cuban Workers, 1939

EJT Youth Army of Work, 1973

FAR Revolutionary Armed Forces, 1961

INRA National Institute of Agrarian Reform, 1959

JUCEPLAN Central Planning Board, 1960

OPP Organs of Popular Power, 1974

ORI Integrated Revolutionary Organizations, 1961-1963

PCC Communist Party of Cuba

PSP Socialist Popular Party, 1925-1961

PURS United Party of the Socialist Revolution, 1963-1965

SMO Compulsory Military Service, 1963

SS Compulsory Social Service, 1973

UMAP Military Units to Aid Production, 1964-1973

UNEAC National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, 1961

UJC Young Communist League

Bibliographical Notes

A full bibliography of writings on the background of the Cuban Revolution and the Revolution itself would easily fill several volumes. It is therefore necessary to list such works in English as seems best for the general reader. Interestingly enough, the sources are the speeches and writings of Castro and members of his inner circle (official government publications, periodicals, newspapers etc.) Another excellent source is the works of the pro-friendly critics. Both the Cuban officials in the process of justifying their dictatorial measures and the friendly critics in trying to account for the degeneration of the Revolution inadvertently supply valuable information about the nature of the Cuban Revolution.

Official Sources

Castro's speeches and writings are easily available - a convenient compilation is The Selected Works of Fidel Castro: Revolutionary Struggle; Rolando Bonachea and Nelson P. Valdes (M.I.T. Press Cambridge, 1971 - First ot three volumes.)

Johrl Gerassi, Venceremos! The Speeches and Writings of Ché Guevara (New York, 1968.)

Ché Guevara, Episodes of the Revolutionary Struggle (Book Institute, Havana, 1967.) An invaluable, intimate first-hand account ot the early struggles of Castro's guerrilla band in the Sierra Maestra.

Granma Weekly Review (English Language Edition) - official organ of the Communist Party of Cuba. Good for current events, official notices, proclamations, etc.

Other Background and Source Materials

Cuban Studies Newsletter; published twice yearly by the Center for Latin American Studies; University of Pittsburgh. Contains many informative articles, theses and other writings.

The University of Miami's Center for Research on Caribbean Studies; also the Cuban Economic Research Project, an excellent research staff manned by Cuban specialists.

Yale University's Antilles Program.

Center for Cuban Studies, New York.

United Nations publications.