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Researching Cuban Law : Getting Started

About

The Republic of Cuba is located 90 miles south of Key West, Florida.  Starting with the 1959 Revolution, led by Fidel Castro Ruz, the island has been governed under the rubric of socialist ideology. Raúl Castro is currently the President of the Councils of State and Ministers, the First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (Partido Comunista de Cuba) (PCC), and the head of the Cuban armed forces. 

Cuba was a Spanish colony until 1898 (when Spain lost Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines in the Spanish-American War). Its legal system still retains civil law attributes, as it is code-based. The system also reflects socialist law influences, although it is not generally classified as a socialist legal system.  Cubans, however, consider the current Cuban Constitution of 1976 to be socialist, and refer to it as such ("The Socialist Constitution"). 

Overall, locating and then interpreting sources of Cuban law can be extremely challenging, particularly for non-Spanish-speaking researchers.  Keep in mind that, when approaching a question related to Cuban law (or foreign law generally), it is often advantageous to start with a secondary source.  Unfortunately, there are very few treatises or guides available in English related to Cuban law.

 

 

Understanding Civil Law

An excellent introduction to civil law systems is available via the link listed below. Other books on civil law may be located using the LUC Libraries' online catalog (see the "Books" tab for more info).

Online Translators

English translations of Cuban legal materials are few in number. Such translations are primarily available for commercial-related laws. 

Many online translators are available on the WWW, but these should be used with caution since web translators do not generally include specialized legal or commercial vocabulary.  Online translators, however, may be of some help in getting the general sense of a document or passage.  Examples of WWW translators are:

Introduction to Researching Cuban Law

The following is a general introduction to Cuban legal research, available on the GlobaLex platform.  See also the "Databases" tab for information on several commercial databases that provide introductions and descriptions of Cuban law and legal resources.

Cuba's Government Structure

The Cuban government is divided roughly into executive, legislative, and judicial powers.  The Councils of State and Ministers are the executive bodies, and there are national, provincial, and municipal Assemblies of People's Power.  The Cuban judiciary includes the People's Supreme Court (Tribunal Supremo Popular) (TSP), and provincial and municipal courts, as well as a separate system of military courts. Although the Communist Party of Cuba (Partido Comunista de Cuba) (PCC) s not officially part of the Cuban government, it drives and contours domestic policy. 

There is a chart of the Cuban government available here in Spanish. 

The National Assembly of People's Power (Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular) (ANPP) website provides descriptions of the various government institutions in Spanish.

See also the description of the Cuban government available here in English on an archived web page of Granma from 2014. 

Looking at Cuba's Legal History

"Looking at Cuba's Legal History" is a blog post contributed to the Rechtsgeschiedenis Blog ("Legal History with a Dutch View") on November 26, 2016.The post was authored by Otto Vervaart, who also administers the blog.

Translating Cuba RSS FEED

Translating Cuba posts English-language translations of blog entries and other current writings from a broad spectrum of Cuba-based independent journalists. According to the site administrators, "Our hope is that the voices on this site will mirror the free, open and plural society we all know that Cuba is ultimately destined to be."

 

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Subject Guide

Julienne Grant's picture
Julienne Grant
Contact:
Loyola University School of Law Library
Philip H. Corboy Law Center
25 E. Pearson St.
Chicago, IL 60611
312.915.8520

"Guide to Cuban Law and Legal Research"

The following article was published in the International Journal of Legal Information (Vol. 45, Issue 2, 2017).  Cambridge University Press is offering free access to the piece until December 31, 2017. 

Julienne E. Grant et al. "Guide to Cuban Law and Legal Research." 45.2 INT'L. J. LEGAL INFO. 76 (2017).

Topics covered include "Executive Powers," Legislation and Codes," The Legal Profession," and "Online Resources."

Embargo Information

There is a complex collection of statutes, administrative regulations, and presidential executive orders that encompass the U.S.-imposed trade embargo, which is currently in flux.  Some of the relevant information is:

U.S. Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control: "Cuba Sanctions" page.  (Includes the most recent info related to President Donald J. Trump's announcement that he was re-shaping the United States' relationship with Cuba.)

U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Industry and Security: "Cuba" page.

President Donald J. Trump, National Security Memorandum on Strengthening the Policy of the United States Toward Cuba (June 16, 2017).

Cuban Law at the Law Library of Congress

This post on the Law Library of Congress' In Custodia Legis blog answers basic questions about the Cuban legal system.  The post was authored by Gustavo Guerra, a foreign law specialist at the Library:

"FALQs:  Cuban Legal System" (January 27, 2015)

Mr. Guerra also wrote a later post describing the Library's collection of Cuban materials:

"Cuban Law:  Global Legal Collection Highlights" (March 17, 2015)

Granma

Granma is the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba (Partido Comunista de Cuba) (PCC).  Its website is available in English, as well as several other languages.  

 

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