1940 Constitution of Cuba

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The 1940 Constitution of Cuba, was implemented in 1940, during the presidency of Federico Laredo Brú. It was primarily influenced by the collectivist ideas that inspired the Cuban Revolution of 1933. Widely considered one of the most "progressive" constitutions in existence at the time, it provided for land reform, public education, minimum wage and other leftist ideas. It consisted of 286 articles in 19 sections and took six months to write.

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. Specifically,(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 representative in the house to every 35,000 citizens or greater fraction of 17,500, and nine senators per province.

The Constitution of 1940 ratified the power and separation 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 (the “Constitutional Court”) under the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction. The Constitutional Court was empowered to hear labor and constitutional law matters, and determine remedies for violations thereof.

Under the Constitution of 1940, (a) provincial government was terminated; the provincial councils, however, endured, but were now composed of the mayors of various municipalities incorporated into each province; (b) the governor’s power to suspend mayors ceased, while the municipalities gained the right to tax locally; (c) public expenses and budgeting at all levels became subject to a ministerial officer under the auspices of a newly created Court of Public Administration; and (d) a Court of Public Works was instituted.

The constitutional amendment clause was very strictly enforced in the Constitution of 1940. Title XIX, article 285 (a)-(b) of the Constitution of 1940, required a constitutional convention to modify the language of the Constitution. Congress, however, was authorized to make minor reforms to the document; provided, however, that the following requirements were adhered to: (a) quorum (joint session); (b) two thirds vote of the total number of legislators; and (c)“doble consideración” or consideration of the proposed amendments at two consecutive legislative sessions.

Additionally, the Constitution of 1940 could also be reformed via a referendum clause. 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 sought guidance from Second Spanish Republic's “Constitution of 1931” and Germany’s “Weimar Constitution.” The Constitution of 1940 was only in effect for 12 years.

Following a coup d'état by Fulgencio Batista in 1952, parts of this constitution were suspended. Prior to the triumph of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro and the other revolutionaries, through the Manifiesto of the Sierra,[1] claimed that their chief goal was to reinstate the Constitution of 1940. However, the revolutionaries reneged on their promise and abrogated the Constitution of 1940 once in power. It was replaced only in 1976 by the current Constitution of Cuba, which formally defined the country as a single-party state under the Communist Party of Cuba, as well as replacing semi-presidentialism with full presidentialism, abolishing the office of Prime Minister of Cuba.

Signatories[2][edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ 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

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