Communist Party of Cuba

Communist Party of Cuba
For the Communist Party of Cuba founded in 1925, see Popular Socialist Party (Cuba)
Communist Party of Cuba
Partido Comunista de Cuba
First Secretary Raúl Castro
Second Secretary José Ramón Machado
Founded October 3, 1965
Headquarters Havana, Cuba
Newspaper Granma
Youth wing Young Communist League
Membership  (2011) 800,000 14%
Ideology Communism,
Marxism–Leninism, Castroism
International affiliation Foro de São Paulo
Official colors Red and Blue
Politics of Cuba
Political parties

The Communist Party of Cuba (Spanish: Partido Comunista de Cuba, PCC) is the governing political party in Cuba. It is a communist party of the Marxist-Leninist model. The Cuban constitution ascribes the role of the Party to be the "leading force of society and of the state". As of April 2011, the First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba is Raúl Castro, the President of Cuba, younger brother of the previous First Secretary and President of Cuba, Fidel Castro, and the Second Secretary is José Ramón Machado Ventura.[1]



A Communist billboard in Havana

Cuba had a number of communist and anarchist organizations since the early period of the Republic. The original "internationalised" Communist Party of Cuba was formed in the 1920s, which was later renamed the Popular Socialist Party for electoral reasons. In July 1961, two years after the 1959 Revolution, the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (ORI) was formed by the merger of Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement, the Popular Socialist Party led by Blas Roca and the Revolutionary Directory March 13 led by Faure Chomón. On March 26, 1962 the ORI became the United Party of the Cuban Socialist Revolution (PURSC) which, in turn, became the Communist Party of Cuba on October 3, 1965. The Communist party remains the only recognized political party in Cuba. Other parties, though not illegal, are unable to campaign or conduct any activities on the island that could be deemed counter-revolutionary.

For the first fifteen years of its formal existence, the Communist Party was almost completely inactive outside of the Politburo. The 100 person Central Committee rarely met and it was ten years after its founding that the first regular Party Congress was held. In 1969, membership of the party was only 55,000 or 0.7% of the population, making the PCC the smallest ruling Communist party in the world. In the 1970s, the party's apparatus began to develop. By the time of the first Party Congress in 1975 the party had grown to just over two hundred thousand members, the Central Committee was meeting regularly and provided the organizational apparatus giving the party the leading role in society that ruling Communist parties generally hold. By 1980 the party had grown to over 430,000 members and grew further to 520,000 by 1985. Apparatuses of the party had grown to ensure that its leading cadres were appointed to key government positions.

The crisis created by the dissolution of the Soviet Union led to the Fourth Party Congress in 1991 being one of unprecedented openness and debate as the leadership tried to create a wide public consensus to respond to the "Special Period". Three million people engaged in pre-Congress debate and discussions on issues such as political structure and economic policy. The 1991 Congress redefined the party as "the party of the Cuban nation" rather than the "party of the working class". The prohibition on religious believers joining the party was lifted. As well, José Martí was added to Karl Marx and Vladimir Lenin as a heroic revolutionary figure to the Cuban Communists.

Much of the debate resulted from an internal struggle between advocates of a Cuban perestroika, i.e. the use of market mechanisms and the liberalization of strictures on free speech and dissent and others who argued that speedy reforms would undercut the unity of the nation and the party's political dominance and possibly lead to the government's collapse as had happened to Communist states in Eastern Europe. The outcome was political reforms which fell far short of reform demands to permit candidates to campaign for office on competing programs. Economically, however, some modest market reforms were introduced, particularly in agriculture, in an effort to reverse the country's economic decline after the cessation of aid and trade subsidies from the USSR. Increased tensions between the US and Cuba also gave the hardliners the upper hand in the mid-1990s and the government responded to dissident groups.[2]

By the time of the Fifth Party Congress in 1997, political liberalization was no longer on the agenda. The economic resolution debated at the conference called for the expansion of tourism in order to bring in more hard currency but did not call for economic reforms while the political resolution opposed any political liberalization and constituted a defense of the one-party system.


The Communist Party of Cuba held its first Party Congress in 1975 and has had additional congresses in 1980, 1986, 1991 and 1997. It was announced in July 2009 that the Sixth Party Congress, originally scheduled for late 2009, has been postponed[3] due to the economic crisis.[4] It is now scheduled for April 2011, coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the failed Bay of Pigs Invasion.[5] The country's economic and social policies will be the main focus of the event.

The leading bodies of the party were the Politburo and the Secretariat until 1991 when the two bodies were merged into an expanded Politburo with over twenty members. The Secretariat, however, was re-introduced in 2002. There is also a Central Committee which meets between party congresses. At the Fifth Party Congress the size of the Central Committee was reduced to 150 members from the previous membership of 225. Fidel Castro was the party's First Secretary (or leader) since its inception, while Raúl Castro was the Second Secretary. Upon Fidel's 2008 resignation from the Party and Cuban government, Raúl became First Secretary.

Members of the Politburo: Fidel Castro Ruz, Raúl Castro Ruz, Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, Juan Almeida Bosque, José Ramón Balaguer Cabrera, Concepción Campa Huergo, Julio Casas Regueiro, Leopoldo Cintra Frías, Abelardo Colome Ibarra, Misael Enamorado Dáger, Ramón Espinosa Martín, Yadira García Vera, Esteban Lazo Hernández, José Ramón Machado Ventura, Ulises Rosales del Toro, Abel Prieto Jiménez, Pedro Ross Leal, Pedro Sáez Montejo, Miguel Mario Díaz Canel Bermúdez, Ramiro Valdéz Menendez, Jorge Luis Sierra Cruz, Alvaro López Miera, Salvador Valdés Mesa.

The party had a membership of over 780,000 when the Fifth Party Congress was held in 1997. 32.1% of the membership are classified as workers while 13.8% are professionals and technicians, 8.2% teachers and professors and 7.5% are "service workers."

The Communist Party of Cuba has a youth wing, the Young Communist League (Unión de Jóvenes Comunistas, UJC) modelled on the Soviet Komsomol. It also has a children's group, the José Martí Pioneer Organization.

List of national party congresses (below):

  • 1st Congress (December 1975)
  • 2nd Congress (December 1980)
  • 3rd Congress (February 1986)
  • 4th Congress (October 1991)
  • 5th Congress (October 1997)
  • 6th Congress (April 16 – 19, 2011)


Compared with other ruling Communist Parties, such as the Communist Party of Vietnam, the Communist Party of China and the Lao People's Revolutionary Party, the Communist Party of Cuba retains a stricter adherence to the tradition of Marxism-Leninism and the traditional Soviet model[citation needed].

The Cuban party is more deeply committed to the concept of socialism than other ruling parties[citation needed] and has been more reluctant in engaging in market reforms though it has been forced to accept some market measures in its economy due to the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the resultant loss of economic subsidies. The Communist Party of Cuba has favored supporting revolutions abroad and was active in assisting the ELN in Colombia, the FMLN in El Salvador, the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and Maurice Bishop's New Jewel Movement in Grenada.[citation needed] Their most significant international role was in Angola where the Cuban direction of a joint Angolan/Soviet/Cuban force that was involved in the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale.[6][7] This led to the withdrawal of intervening forces and, in the following peace agreement, the independence of Namibia from South African rule.[8]

It has largely been forced to retreat from this policy due to a lack of funds resulting from the halt of material aid from the Soviet Union. However, the party maintains a policy of sending thousands of Cuban doctors, agricultural technicians, and other professionals to other countries throughout the developing world. More recently the party has sought to support left wing leaders such as Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, and Evo Morales in Bolivia.


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