1940 Constitution of Cuba

The 1940 Constitution of Cuba was implemented during the presidency of Federico Laredo Brú and took effect on 10 October 1940. It was primarily influenced by the collectivist ideas that inspired the Cuban Revolution of 1933. Widely considered one of the most progressive constitutions at the time, it provided for land reform, public education, a minimum wage and other social programs. It had 286 articles in 19 sections.


Despite the fact that some political parties had refused to participate in some elections in anticipation of fraud by the government in power, all parties presented candidates for the election of a Constitutional Assembly in November 1939. Beneath the variety of parties, the two national leaders who had dominated Cuban politics since the ouster of Gerardo Machado in 1933: former President Ramón Grau and Fulgencio Batista, a military leader who had dominated several recent presidents. Each maneuvered to form coalitions, but public interest was only sufficient to produce a turnout of 57% of the eligible voters. The 76 delegates from nine political parties first elected Grau chairman, but he was removed when the Conservative Party delegates, who had campaigned in opposition to Batista, switched sides and supported Batista's candidate for chairman, Carlos Márquez Sterling.[1] The assembly debated publicly for six months and adopted the constitution at the Capitol in Havana. It was signed on 1 July 1940, in Guáimaro, Camagüey, as a tribute to the anti-colonial revolutionaries who signed a draft of a proposed Cuban constitution there in 1869.[2] A later U.S. Ambassador to Cuba, Philip Bonsal assessed the outcome:[1]

The final product was generally considered enlightened and progressive. It reflected a serious consideration of Cuba's experience and of Cuba's problems. It embodied the hopes and aspirations of many. Some of its clauses may have been, as alleged particularly by conservatives, unworkable. It contained a number of provisions requiring implementing legislation from the Congress. That legislation, in matters affecting the propertied classes and their American allies, was either not forthcoming or was delayed to the very end of the twelve years during which the constitution was in force....

For example, the Constitution established as national policy restrictions on the size of land holdings and an end to common ownership of sugar plantations and sugar mills, but these principles were never translated into legislation.[3]


The Constitution of 1940 (a) substantiated voting as a right, obligation and function of the people; (b) endorsed the previously established form of government, specifically republican, democratic and representative; (c) confirmed individual rights and privileges including private property rights; and (d) introduced the notion of collective rights.

Under the Constitution of 1940, the separation between the three branches of government remained, but with obvious distinctions: (a) the role of the prime minister was introduced; (b) the executive branch converted to semi-parliamentary form, where half of its ministers could also be congressmen; and (c) Congress’ form was changed to one member in the house for every 35,000 citizens or greater fraction of 17,500, and nine senators per province.

The Constitution of 1940 ratified the authority and independence of the judiciary. Specifically, the judicial branch remained autonomous and empowered to nominate judges and magistrates. Like the Constitution of 1901, and the U.S. Constitution, Supreme Court justices were appointed by the president and confirmed by the senate. In addition, the Constitution of 1940 instituted a Court of Constitutional and Social Guarantees, known as the Constitutional Court, under the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The Constitutional Court was empowered to hear labor and constitutional law disputes and to set remedies for violations.

Under the Constitution of 1940, provincial government was terminated. The provincial councils endured, but were now composed of the mayors of various municipalities incorporated into each province. The governor’s power to suspend mayors ceased, while the municipalities gained the right to impose local taxes. Public expenses and budgeting at all levels became subject to a ministerial officer under the auspices of a new Court of Public Administration. A Court of Public Works was instituted.

The constitutional amendment clause was strictly enforced in the Constitution of 1940. A constitutional convention was required to modify the language of the Constitution. Congress was authorized to make minor reforms to the document, provided that the following requirements were adhered to: (a) quorum (joint session); (b) two thirds vote of the total number of legislators; and (c) proposed amendments needed to be approved at two consecutive legislative sessions. The Constitution of 1940 could also be modified via referendum.

The most notable difference between the Constitution of 1901 and the Constitution of 1940 was the addition of constitutional protection for issues relating to family, culture, property and labor. Without constitutional antecedents and expertise in the area of protection of social rights, the drafters of the Constitution of 1940 used as models the Second Spanish Republic's Constitution of 1931 and Germany's Weimar Constitution.


The Constitution of 1940 was in effect for 12 years until, in 1952, following a coup d'état by Fulgencio Batista, parts of it were suspended.

In 1953, Fidel Castro's manifesto "History Will Absolve Me" declared the restoration of the 1940 Constitution one of the principal aims of his revolutionary movement.[4] In 1957, he and two of his fellow revolutionaries in the "Manifesto of Sierra Maestra" announced their intention to restore the 1940 Constitution should they succeed in defeating the Batista dictatorship.[5] They delayed doing so until, in 1976, a referendum approved the adoption of a new constitution, the 1976 Constitution of Cuba, which defined the country as a one-party state under the Communist Party of Cuba and replaced the office of Prime Minister of Cuba with an executive president.


The signers were:[6]

  • Antonio Bravo Acosta
  • Salvador García Agüero
  • César Vilar Aguilar
  • Alieda Hernández de la Barca
  • Eusebio Mujal Barniol
  • Nicolás Duarte Cajides
  • Blas Roca Calderio
  • Francisco Alomí y Álvarez de la Campa
  • Manuel A. Orizondo Caraballé
  • Mario Robau Cartaya
  • Salvador Acosta Casares
  • José A. Fernández de Castro
  • Antonio Bravo Correoso
  • Mario E. Díhigo
  • José Manuel Casanova Diviño
  • Emilio A. Laurent Dubet
  • Manuel Dorta Duque
  • Ramón Granda Fernández
  • Miguel A. Suárez Fernández
  • Antonio Martínez Fraga
  • Romárico Cordero Garcés
  • José Manuel Cortina García, President of the Comisión Coordinadora de la Convención Constituyente
  • Ramón Corona García
  • Rafael Álvarez González
  • Manuel Benítez González
  • Ramiro Capablanca Graupera
  • Juan Cabrera Hernández
  • Rafael Guas Inclán
  • Juan B. Pons Jané
  • Gustavo Moreno Lastres
  • María Esther Villoch Leyva
  • Miguel Covula Llaguno
  • Francisco José Prieto Llera
  • Mariano Esteva Lora
  • Francisco Ichiazo Macias
  • Orestes Ferrara Marino
  • Ramón Grau San Martín
  • José R. Andréu Martínez
  • Fernando del Busto Martínez
  • Simeón Ferro Martínez
  • Esperanza Sánchez Mastrapa
  • Manuel Mesa Medina
  • Delio Núñez Mesa
  • Alberto Boada Miquel, Secretary the Constitutional Convention
  • Francisco Dellundé Mustelier
  • Pelayo Cuervo Navarro
  • Amaranto López Negrón
  • Emilio Ochoa Ochoa
  • Santiago Rey Perna
  • Emilio Núñez Portuondo, Secretary the Constitutional Convention
  • Joaquín Meso Quesada
  • Alberto Silva Quiñones
  • Felipe Jay Raoulx
  • Fernando del Villar de los Ríos
  • Felipe Correoso y del Risco
  • Eduardo Rene Chibás Rivas
  • Jorge Mañach Robato
  • Manuel Parrado Rodés
  • César Casas Rodríguez
  • Arturo Don Rodríguez
  • Félix García Rodríguez
  • Primitivo Rodríguez Rodríguez
  • Joaquín Martínez Sáenz
  • Adriano Galano Sánchez
  • Jorge A. Mendigutía Silveira
  • Carlos Prío Socarrás
  • Carlos Márquez Sterling, President of the Constitutional Convention
  • Manuel Fueyo Suárez
  • Alfredo Hornedo Suárez
  • Miguel Calvo Tarafa
  • Quintín Jorge Vernot
  • Juan Marinello Vidaurreta

See also


  1. ^ a b Bonsal, Philip W. (1971). Cuba, Castro, and the United States. University of Pittsburgh Press. pp. 276–8. ISBN 0-8229-3225-3.
  2. ^ "Cuban Memories: the Cuban Constitution of 1940, then and today". Cuban Heritage Collection. University of Miami Libraries. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
  3. ^ Bonsal, Philip W. Cuba, Castro, and the United States. pp. 43, 70.
  4. ^ History Will Absolve Me (The complete speech), accessed 12 January 2016
  5. ^ "Manifiesto de la Sierra Maestra" (in Spanish). Retrieved 12 January 2016. Declarar bajo formal promesa que el gobierno provisional celebrará elecciones generales para todos los cargos del Estado, las provincias y los municipios en el término de un año bajo la normas de la Constitución del 40 y el Código electoral del 43 y entregará el poder inmediatamente al candidato que resulte electo.
  6. ^ Sterling, Carlos Márquez and Sterling, Manuel Márquez. 'Historia de La Isla De Cuba" Regents Publishing Company, Inc. New York, NY, 1975 ISBN 0-88345-251-0

External links

1901 Constitution of Cuba

The 1901 Constitution of Cuba took effect in Cuba on 20 May 1902, and governments operated under it until it was replaced by the 1940 Constitution of Cuba. It was adopted by delegates to a Constitutional Convention in February 1901, but the United States, then exercising military authority over Cuba following the end of Cuba's war for independence from Spain, withheld its approval until the Convention amended the Constitution in June to incorporate language from a U.S. statute, the Platt Amendment, that placed limitations on Cuban sovereignty and provided a legal basis for future U.S. military interventions in Cuba.

Capital punishment in Cuba

Capital punishment is a legal penalty in Cuba, however it is seldom used. The last executions were in 2003. National legislation provides for death penalty for murder, threatening to commit murder, aggravated rape, terrorism, hijacking, piracy, drug trafficking and manufacturing, espionage, and treason. The typical method is execution by firing squad.

Carlos Márquez Sterling

Dr. Carlos Márquez Sterling y Guiral (September 8, 1898 – May 3, 1991) was a Cuban lawyer, writer, politician and diplomat.

Emilio Núñez Portuondo

Emilio Núñez Portuondo (September 13, 1898 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania U.S. – August 19, 1978 in Panama) was a Cuban politician, lawyer, and diplomat. He was the 13th Prime Minister of Cuba in 1958. He received the National Order of the Legion of Honour of France.

Dr. Núñez attended La Salle School in Cuba and graduated as doctor of civil and public law in 1919 from the University of Havana. He served as a Representative and Senator from the Las Villas Province and also as the Cuban Minister Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary to Panama, Peru, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. He was Secretary of the Constitutional Convention of 1940. Dr. Ramón Grau San Martín was the President of the Constitutional Convention which drafted the 1940 Constitution of Cuba.

Dr. Núñez Portuondo served as the Cuban Permanent Representative with the rank of Ambassador to the United Nations in 1952–1958; and was also Minister of Labor in 1954. He served as President of the U.N. Security Council in September 1957. He was Prime Minister of Cuba March 6- March 12, 1958.

Dr. Núñez Portuondo is best remembered as the President of the UN Security Council during the USSR invasion of Hungary. Dr. Núñez Portuondo helped Cardinal Mindzenty of Hungary in assisting refugees into Cuba and the United States.

Fulgencio Batista

Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar (; Spanish: [fulˈxensjo βaˈtista i salˈdiβaɾ]; born Rubén Zaldívar; January 16, 1901 – August 6, 1973) was the elected President of Cuba from 1940 to 1944, and the U.S.-backed authoritarian ruler from 1952 to 1959, before being overthrown during the Cuban Revolution. Batista initially rose to power as part of the 1933 Revolt of the Sergeants, which overthrew the provisional government of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes y Quesada. He then appointed himself chief of the armed forces, with the rank of colonel, and effectively controlled the five-member "pentarchy" that functioned as the collective head of state. He maintained this control through a string of puppet presidents until 1940, when he was himself elected President of Cuba on a populist platform. He then instated the 1940 Constitution of Cuba and served until 1944. After finishing his term he lived in Florida, returning to Cuba to run for president in 1952. Facing certain electoral defeat, he led a military coup against President Carlos Prío Socarrás that preempted the election.Back in power, and receiving financial, military, and logistical support from the United States government, Batista suspended the 1940 Constitution and revoked most political liberties, including the right to strike. He then aligned with the wealthiest landowners who owned the largest sugar plantations, and presided over a stagnating economy that widened the gap between rich and poor Cubans. Eventually it reached the point where most of the sugar industry was in U.S. hands, and foreigners owned 70% of the arable land. As such, Batista's repressive government then began to systematically profit from the exploitation of Cuba's commercial interests, by negotiating lucrative relationships with both the American Mafia, who controlled the drug, gambling, and prostitution businesses in Havana, and with large U.S.-based multinational companies who were awarded lucrative contracts. To quell the growing discontent amongst the populace—which was subsequently displayed through frequent student riots and demonstrations—Batista established tighter censorship of the media, while also utilizing his Bureau for the Repression of Communist Activities secret police to carry out wide-scale violence, torture and public executions; ultimately killing anywhere from hundreds to 20,000 people.Catalyzing the resistance to such tactics, for two years (December 1956 – December 1958) Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement and other nationalist rebelling elements led an urban and rural-based guerrilla uprising against Batista's government, which culminated in his eventual defeat by rebels under the command of Che Guevara at the Battle of Santa Clara on New Year's Day 1959. Batista immediately fled the island with an amassed personal fortune to the Dominican Republic, where strongman and previous military ally Rafael Trujillo held power. Batista eventually found political asylum in Oliveira Salazar's Portugal, where he first lived on the island of Madeira and then in Estoril, outside Lisbon. He was involved in business activities in Spain and was staying there in Guadalmina near Marbella at the time of his death from a heart attack on August 6, 1973.

José Manuel Cortina

José Manuel Cortina y García (Spanish pronunciation: [xoˈse manˈwel koɾˈtina i ɣaɾˈsi.a]; 3 February 1880 in San Diego de Nuñez, Pinar del Río, Cuba – 9 March 1970 in Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida USA) was a Cuban politician, lawyer and journalist.

List of last survivors of historical events

The following is a list of last survivors of historical and cultural events, excluding wars, which are covered in separate lists that can be found in the See also section.



Orestes Ferrara

Orestes Ferrara y Marino (18 July 1876, Naples, Italy - 16 February 1972, Rome), known in Italy as Oreste Ferrara, was an Italian Cuban, who fought for Cuba's independence. He was also an attorney, a journalist, a writer and an entrepreneur who founded one of the best newspapers of La Habana.

Partido Auténtico

The Cuban Revolutionary Party – Authentic (Spanish: Partido Revolucionario Cubano – Auténtico, PRC-A), commonly named Authentic Party (Spanish: Partido Auténtico, PA), was a political party in Cuba most active between 1933 and 1952. Although the Partido Auténtico had significant influence, it eventually became unpopular and, despite significant reforms, Fulgencio Batista returned to power.

Ramón Grau

Dr. Ramón Grau San Martín (September 13, 1881, La Palma, Pinar del Río Province, Spanish Cuba – July 28, 1969, Havana, Cuba) was a Cuban physician and President of Cuba (1933–1934, 1944–1948). He was the last president other than an interim president, Carlos Manuel Piedra, to be born during Spanish rule. He is sometimes called Raymond Grau San Martin in English.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.