Cuba is a totalitarian state controlled by President Fidel Castro, who is Chief of State, Head of Government, First Secretary of the Communist Party, and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. President Castro controls all aspects of life through the Communist Party and its mass organizations, the government bureaucracy headed by the Council of State, and the state security apparatus. The Communist Party is the only legal political party, and President Castro chooses the group that heads the party. There are no contested elections for the 601-member National Assembly of People's Power (ANPP), which meets twice a year for a few days to make decisions and policies previously decided by the governing Council of State. The Communist Party controls all government positions and judicial offices. The judiciary is completely subordinate to the Government and to the Communist Party.

According to the Soviet-style Cuban constitution of 1976, the National Assembly of People's Power, and its Council of State when the body is not in session, has supreme authority in the Cuban system. The Council of Ministers, through its nine-member executive committee, controls the administration of the economy, which is entirely state-controlled. Fidel Castro is President of the Council of State and Council of Ministers and his brother Raul serves as First Vice President of both bodies as well as Minister of Defense.

The constitution provides for independent courts, it subordinates them to the National Assembly and to the Council of State. The People's Supreme Court is the highest judicial body in Cuba. Due process is routinely denied to Cuban citizens, particularly in cases involving political offenses. The constitution states that all legally recognized civil liberties can be denied to anyone who opposes the "decision of the Cuban people to build socialism." Citizens can be and are jailed for terms of 3 years or more for simply criticizing the communist system or Fidel Castro. The Communist Party is constitutionally recognized as Cuba's only legal political party. The party monopolizes all government positions, including judicial offices.

Created by Donna Dixon

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