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Government, Executive

lider maximo, comandante en jefe, revolutionary groups, authoritarian regime, Fidel Castro

Fidel Castro is the lider maximo (highest leader) and comandante en jefe (commander in chief) of the revolutionary government. Castro assumed control of the government in January 1959, gathering public support as he rode across the island in tanks liberated from the Batista army. He refused to lay down arms until all other revolutionary groups accepted his leadership. As the government formed, he did not take public office, but he retained control of the Revolutionary Army.

In February 1959 Castro took over the office of prime minister after Miro Cardona, a moderate revolutionary, resigned. Castro did not work within the regulations of the 1940 constitution, which he had promised to uphold. He forced legislation on the congress and his cabinet of ministers. In its first year of rule, the revolutionary regime passed 1,500 new laws intended to redistribute wealth and to secure foreign investments from noncapitalist countries. These actions brought immediate popularity to Castro and gained support for his increasingly authoritarian regime. Opponents to his style of government were either jailed or went into exile.

After the passage of the 1976 constitution, Castro became president, and the Communist organizational infrastructure was officially established. Castro’s tenure in office is confirmed every four years by a vote of the 589-member National Assembly of People’s Power. His official titles indicate his pervasive power throughout all branches of government: commander in chief, first secretary of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, president of the Council of State, and president of the Council of Ministers. The president is advised by a Council of Ministers composed of the executive officers of all the official government ministries; an Executive Council, made up of the president, first vice president, and five vice presidents; and the Council of State, made up of 30 members of the PCC. The Council of State has legislative powers when the National Assembly is in recess.

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