Cuba is a country made up of the island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several minor archipelagos. Cuba is situated in the northern Caribbean at the meeting point of the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean. East of Mexico, Cuba is south of Florida and the Bahamas, to the west of Haiti, and to the north of Jamaica. Havana is the largest city in Cuba, and is also the capital city. The island of Cuba covers an area of 40,543 square miles and has a population of over 11 million people.
Cuba is a multi-ethnic country of extremely diverse origins, which includes the aboriginal Taíno and Ciboney peoples, as well as influence from Spanish colonialism, African slavery, and the Soviet Union.
Cuba is a member of the United Nations, the G77, the Non-Aligned Movement, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, ALBA and Organization of American States. It is a regional power in Latin America, and is considered a middle power globally. Its economy is largely driven by the exports of sugar, tobacco, coffee, and professionals. The country has high human development and is ranked eighth in North America (67th in the world).
How is government structured?
Cuba’s political system has been communist in nature since 1959, and is based entirely on the "one state – one party" principle. Cuba is a Marxist–Leninist socialist state structured around the political ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin. The Communist Party of Cuba is considered to be the "leading force of society and of the state", and has the capability of setting national policy for the country as a whole.
The Cuban government exercises executive power. Fidel Castro led Cuba until February 2008 – Castro held the titles of Chief of State, Head of Government, Prime Minister, First Secretary, and Commander in Chief of the Cuban armed forces. The Ministry of Interior is responsible for state security and control.
Constitutionally, the First Vice President of the Council of State takes on the duties of the President should he become ill or die. In 2006, Castro delegated his duties as President of the Council of state, first secretary of the Cuban Communist Party, and the post of Commander in Chief of the armed forces to first Vice President Raúl Castro.
Miguel Diaz-Canel succeeded Raúl Castro as president in April 2018, effectively ending six decades of Castro family rule in Cuba. President Diaz-Canel promised to maintain the one-party communist system of Cuban government after being selected to be president by parliament.
Cuba’s elected legislature, the National Assembly of People's Power, has 612 members who are elected every 5 years. The Assembly ratifies decisions made by the executive branch. Ordinarily it meets twice a year, but is permanently tasked with overseeing legislative issues such as the economy, industry, transportation and communications, constructions, foreign affairs and defence, public health, and interior order. The National Assembly is also responsible for the Commissions, Local Assemblies of the People's Power, International Relations, Judicial Affairs and the Administration.
When supporters the Varela Project submitted a citizen proposal of law with 11,000 signatures in 2002 calling for a national referendum, the Government collected 8.1 million signatures requesting a constitutional amendment that ensured socialism became an unchangeable aspect of the Cuban government.
The People’s Democracy?
Cuba is termed a “people's democracy”, rather than a "liberal democracy" like those of Western states, rejecting criticism of its political system.
Those who oppose Cuba have described its political system as undemocratic. The Cuban government has often accused the United States of attempting to influence their political development (which has often been the case). Others have described the Cuban political system as entirely undemocratic in terms of human rights by human rights, while others have gone a step further and called it a dictatorship. Supporters of the Cuban government describe it positively as a grassroots, centralized, or revolutionary democracy.
The Cuban regime has been compared to the North Korean totalitarian state ruled over by Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung.
An interesting feature within Cuba is the inclusion of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR), which is a network of neighborhood organizations stretching across Cuba, of which the majority of Cubans are members. The organizations are responsible for driving campaigns (such as educational or medical campaigns) into national effect, and also take it upon themselves to report "counter-revolutionary" activity. CDR officials supposedly track the activities of each person in their block.