Summary: Cuba’s government today is explicitly socialist, as it has been for 50 years.
According to Cuba’s 1976 Constitution (rev. 1992), Cuba is explicitly socialist: it is “guided by the ideas of José Martí and the political and social ideas of Marx, Engels and Lenin” and has “the final objective of building a communist society” (Preamble). Further, “Cuba is an independent and sovereign socialist state of workers, organized with all and for the good of all as a united and democratic republic, for the enjoyment of political freedom, social justice, individual and collective well-being and human solidarity.” The Constitution states that “education is a function of the state and is free of charge” (Art. 39b) and that the state guarantees the right to free health care, including free dental care (Art. 50). Work is guaranteed (although not the career of one’s choice), and those who cannot work are guaranteed enough to live on (Art. 45).
In a lengthy speech of 7/27/2008 entitled “21st Century Socialism,” Raul Castro recounts the battles and advances of socialism. He talks the talk and walks the walk. There is no indication that he secretly desires major reforms, or that he would cheerfully give up his position as dictator.
According to Marx and Engels, socialism is a transitional stage between the horrors of capitalism and the bliss of communism—between the ownership of the means of production by a few private individuals, and the ownership of such means by the workers. In socialism the government owns the means of production, controlling and planning the economy to best serve the workers. In practice this means that there is no private property, and that every worker is employed by the state and is paid as the state decrees.
Ayn Rand, who grew up in Communist Russia, wrote:
How does the abstract idea of socialism play out in Cuba?
When you consider socialism, do not fool yourself about its nature. Remember that there is no such dichotomy as “human rights” versus “property rights.” No human rights can exist without property rights. Since material goods are produced by the mind and effort of individual men, and are needed to sustain their lives, if the producer does not own the result of his effort, he does not own his life. To deny property rights means to turn men into property owned by the state. Whoever claims the “right” to “redistribute” the wealth produced by others is claiming the “right” to treat human beings as chattel. (“The Monument Builders,” Virtue of Selfishness 91)