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Copyright (c) 1981 Tulane University
Tulane Law Review

COMMENT: Cuba's 1976 Socialist Constitution and the Fidelista Interpretation of Cuban Constitutional History

June, 1981

Tulane Law Review

55 Tul. L. Rev. 1223


William T. D'Zurilla



On February 7, 1959, the Cuban revolutionary government installed by Fidel Castro promulgated a Fundamental Law 1 which "recognized the existence and legitimacy of private property in its broadest sense as a social function . . . ." 2 Castro's revolution soon turned in the direction of Marxist-Leninist socialism, 3 however, and much of the 1959 Fundamental Law became, in the words of the Cuban Minister of Justice, an obsolete "museum piece." 4 Nevertheless, the 1959 Fundamental Law, with numerous amendments, 5 served as Cuba's constitution for more than seventeen years. Although Cuba was proclaimed a socialist state in 1961, it was not until February 24, 1976 that the nation's first socialist constitution 6 was enacted.

The fidelistas (followers of Fidel Castro) claim that the 1976 constitution has its historical roots in the earliest days of the nineteenth century Cuban independence movement, when Cuba was still a Spanish colony. The mambisas, independence fighters against the Spanish, drafted constitutions establishing provisional governments in the areas "liberated" by the mambisa army. The fidelistas glorify the Constitutional work of the early independence fighters and regard the mambisa constitutions, which culminated with the 1897 Constitution of La Yaya, 7 as the true, legitimate ancestors of the 1976 socialist constitution. According to the socialists, in 1898 the United States realized that Cuba was about to succeed in its revolution against Spain, instigated the Spanish-American War as an excuse to annex Cuba, and usurped the victory of the mambisa army. The ...
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