Published: Saturday, February 23, 2008
Cuba's National Assembly is widely expected to name Raul Castro as head
of state on Sunday following Fidel Castro's announcement on Tuesday that
he is retiring. The following is an outline of Cuba's one-party
* Cuba is a one-party socialist republic, in which political power is
vested solely in the Cuban Communist Party (PCC). The political system
is enshrined in the Cuban Constitution approved by a national referendum
in 1976. Another referendum in 2002 made socialism "irrevocable."
* The PCC was founded in 1965 by merging various parties and
revolutionary groups under Fidel Castro's leadership. All other
political parties were banned.
* Until Tuesday, Fidel Castro held the three top political leadership
posts on the island: head of state (as president of the Council of
State), head of government (as president of Council of Ministers) and
first secretary of the party. He has stepped down as president but
retains the party post.
* The National Assembly is the Cuban legislature with 614 delegates who
are elected every five years. Half of them emerge from municipal and
provincial assemblies called People's Power (Poder Popular). Delegates
are not required to be members of the party but most are.
* At its first session every five years, the National Assembly approves
a slate of 31 members of the Council of State, the highest executive
body headed by the president, a first vice president and five
second-tier vice presidents.
* On Sunday, the National Assembly is expected to confirm Fidel Castro's
brother, Raul Castro, as Cuba's new head of state following the ailing
leader's announcement he is retiring.
* Cuban society is organized into "mass organizations" of workers,
students, women and farmers. The biggest is a network of neighborhood
block committees, known as the Committees for the Defense of the
Revolution, whose stated task is to mobilize political support for the
government and defend the political system against crime and
"counter-revolution." Critics say they facilitate political control over