The Cuban Communist Party at the Cusp of Change

Reforming Communism: Cuba in a Comparative Perspective, Scott Morgenstern and Jorge Pérez López, eds. Forthcoming

24 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2016 Last revised: 17 Jan 2016

See all articles by Larry Catá Backer

Larry Catá Backer

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law

Date Written: January 6, 2016


The Cuban Communist Party (PCC) stands at the center of economic, political and social change in Cuba. An extraordinarily conservative institution in its doctrinal development, the PCC has had to begin to move beyond the certainties of what appeared to be climax ideology after 2011. That process will accelerate as Cuba seeks to embed itself into global economic, social and political systems. This chapter briefly considers the issues facing the PCC as it seeks to emerge as an autonomous institutional force, free of the control of its creators and the personal power of those revolutionary leaders who conflation of party and personality deeply affected the character and development of the PCC through its first half century. Section II examines the history of the PCC in the context of its current challenges. Section III then considers the application of ideology to political construction of the Party-State apparatus. The heart of the chapter, Section IV, then considers the current state of PCC approaches to the challenges that face the Party-State apparatus if it is to retain its legitimacy and viability in the current stage of development into which Cuba will be thrust in the next decade. It focuses on some of the potential changes that may figure in the years to come. The context are the potentially profound changes to Cuba’s institutional structures and approaches to economic regulation t be considered in the 7th PCC Congress. The chapter suggests that the movement toward reform since the 6th PCC Congress suggests that Cuban elites may be willing to undertake the same approach to reform and opening up as their Eastern European and Soviet predecessors — a reluctance to move away from central planning as the core of economic policy and a willingness to engage in political reform that do not disturb the effective control of the PCC, but which also carry a substantial risk of revolutionary potential.

Keywords: Communist Party, central planning, economic reform, political reform, rule of law, Cuba

JEL Classification: K39, K49, P26, P39, P51

Suggested Citation

Backer, Larry Catá, The Cuban Communist Party at the Cusp of Change (January 6, 2016). Reforming Communism: Cuba in a Comparative Perspective, Scott Morgenstern and Jorge Pérez López, eds. Forthcoming. Available at SSRN:

Larry Catá Backer (Contact Author)

Pennsylvania State University, Penn State Law ( email )

Lewis Katz Building
University Park, PA 16802
United States

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