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Cuban Law – Global Legal Collection Highlights

The following is a guest post by Gustavo Guerra, a foreign law specialist at the Law Library of Congress. This post is part of our Global Legal Collection Highlights series in which we provide information on some of the foreign law materials available to researchers at the Library of Congress. Gustavo has previously written posts on the Cuban legal system, the Mexican law collection, and a Law Library report regarding legislation on the use of water in agriculture.

Capitol, Havana, Cuba (Photo by Carol Highsmith, Jan. 10, 2010). The Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.06060.

Capitol, Havana, Cuba (Photo by Carol Highsmith, Jan. 10, 2010). The Havana Capitol was built from April 1, 1926-1929 and cost 17 million pesos. After the Revolution in 1959, the Capitol became the headquarters of the Academy of Sciences of Cuba and then the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment. The Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.06060.

Cuba’s legal system is based on principles derived from European Continental law (also known as civil law), which have been adjusted to Cuba’s socialist system. As with most other civil law countries, Cuba has enacted a number of codes that comprise a broad set of rules on specific areas of law. For example, the Family Code governs domestic relations, including parentage and marriage. The Civil Code regulates a wide variety of topics, including contracts, property rights, wills and decedents’ estates. The Criminal Code lists criminal offenses and applicable penalties.

The Law Library’s collection includes the Cuban Official Gazette (Gaceta Oficial), which publishes statutes passed by Cuba’s National Assembly. However, our holdings of this item are not complete.

Spanish is the official language of Cuba and many of our holdings for this country are available only in the vernacular. The following titles are some of the legal materials available in our collection that have been published in Cuba in recent years:

In addition to our Cuban law holdings in Spanish, our collection also includes titles published outside of Cuba, in English, on certain aspects of the Cuban legal system. The following is a sample of those materials:

  • Expropriated Properties in a Post-Castro Cuba: Two Views (2003). This work consists of two studies. The first is Property Rights in the Post-Castro Cuban Constitution, by Oscar M. Garibaldi (a partner at Covington and Burling) and John D. Kirby (an assistant U.S. attorney in California). They provide a proposal as to how property rights should be protected by the Cuban Constitution. The second study is entitled Alternative Recommendations for Dealing with Confiscated Property in Post-Castro Cuba, by Matías Travieso, a partner at Shaw Pittman LLP.
  • A Constitution for Cuba’s Political Transition: The Utility of Retaining (and Amending) the 1992 Constitution,  (2003). This book was authored by Jorge Domínguez, a professor of International Affairs at Harvard University.
  • Establishing the Rule of Law in Cuba (2003). This book, by a research associate at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies at the University of Miami, provides an analysis of the status of the rule of law in Cuba.

Within the broader collections of the Library of Congress there are various other titles that may discuss laws and legal developments in Cuba in the context of the social, political, and economic environment. These include, for example:

  • Raúl Castro and the New Cuba: A Close-up View of Change (2011). This book was written by an American lawyer and a Cuban scholar who teaches Latin American politics in the United States. The book reviews political, economic, social and legal changes taking place in Cuba under President Raúl Castro through narrative accounts provided by current Cuban citizens and expert analysis.
  • Constitutional Modernism: Architecture and Civil Society in Cuba, 1933-1959 (2012). This work was written by a professor of history at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who argues that architects (and architectural techniques) helped shaped Cuban constitutional law between 1933 and 1959.

You can further explore our collections by visiting the Library of Congress online catalog. You can also submit requests for reference assistance with your foreign law research to the Law Library staff through our “Ask a Librarian” service.

El Capitolio, Havana, Cuba (Photo by Carol Highsmith, Jan. 15, 2010). This beautiful room, once used when congress was in session, now sits empty and unused. The Havana Capitol was built from April 1, 1926-1929; the building cost 17 million pesos and is bigger than the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.06009.

El Capitolio, Havana, Cuba (Photo by Carol Highsmith, Jan. 15, 2010). This beautiful room, once used when congress was in session, now sits empty and unused. The Havana Capitol was built from April 1, 1926-1929; the building cost 17 million pesos and is bigger than the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. The Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/highsm.06009.

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