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REPUBLIC OF CUBA
1940 CONSTITUTION

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TITLE XV
Concerning the Municipal System

FIRST SECTION
General Provisions

ART. 209. The municipality is the local community politically organized by authorization of the Legislature, within the territorial extent determined by the necessary relationships of neighborhoods on a basis of economic ability to provide for the expenses of its own government, and with juridical personality for all legal purposes.

The law shall determine the territory and the name of each municipality and the place of residence of its government.  

ART. 210. The municipalities may associate with one another for intermunicipal purposes by agreement of their respective councils or commissions. Some municipalities may also be incorporated into others, or divided in order to constitute new municipalities, may alter their boundaries, by popular initiative and with the approval of the Congress, after presentation of the opinions of the respective councils or commissions.

In order to approve the separation of a section of one municipal district to join it to another or other adjacent municipal districts, it shall be necessary that at least ten per cent of the inhabitants of the section of territory to be separated so request, and that in a referendum election sixty per cent of the voters of the said section are shown to be in favor of the separation.

If the results of the referendum should be favorable to the proposed separation, the matter shall be brought before the Congress for final decision.

In stipulating new territorial boundaries and effecting the division of property, the rights of private property appertaining to the ceding municipality or buildings it may have acquired or constructed in the section to be ceded, shall be respected, without prejudice to the right of the receiving municipality to the proportional share belonging to it for what it may have contributed in the acquisition or construction of such buildings.

As regards the constitution of a new municipality, it shall be the function of the tribunal of accounts to report upon the economic ability of the same to maintain its own government.  

ART. 211. The municipal government is an entity with power to satisfy the particular collective needs of the local community, and is, in addition, an auxiliary organ of the central authority exercised by the State throughout the national territory.  

ART. 212. The municipality is autonomous. The municipal government is invested with all the powers necessary for freely disposing of the business of the local community.

The powers with which the municipality is not invested by this Constitution are reserved for the national Government.

The State may supplement municipal efforts when the latter may be insufficient, in case of epidemics, grave disturbance of public order, or other occasions of public interest, in the form that the law may determine.  

ART. 213. It shall be within the special jurisdiction of municipal government:

1st. To administer all local public services; to purchase, construct, and operate enterprises of public service, or to grant said services by concession or contract, with all the guarantees that the law may establish; and to acquire the properties necessary for the purposes indicated by expropriation or by purchase. The municipal governments may also operate enterprises of an economic character.

2nd. To carry out local public improvements and to acquire by purchase, in agreement with the owners or by means of expropriation, the properties directly necessary for the projected work, as well as properties -that may serve to defray the cost of the same.

3rd. To establish and administer schools, museums, and public libraries, fields for physical education, and recreation fields, without prejudice to what the law may provide concerning education; and to adopt and execute, within the boundaries of the municipality, rules of sanitation and local vigilance and other similar provisions not contrary to the law; as well as to encourage the establishment of producers' and consumers' cooperatives, expositions, and botanical and zoological gardens, all with the character of public service.

4th. To appoint municipal employees in accordance with what this Constitution and the laws may establish.

5th. To formulate its own budgets of expense and income and to establish the necessary taxes to cover them, provided that the latter may be compatible with the tax system of the State.

The municipalities may not reduce or abolish revenues of a permanent character without at the same time establishing others to take their place, except in case the reduction or abolition should correspond with an equivalent reduction or abolition of permanent expenditures.

Credits in the budgets for expenses shall be divided into twelve parts, and no attention shall be paid to the expenses of the current month until all preceding ones have been liquidated.

6th. To negotiate loans, voting at the same time the permanent revenues necessary for the payment of their interest and amortization.

No municipality may contract obligations of this kind except with the prior favorable report of the tribunal of accounts.

In the event that new taxes are approved for the payment of obligations referred to in the preceding paragraph, a referendum election shall also be necessary, in which at least one-half plus one of the votes cast by the voters of the municipal district are in the affirmative, except in case the voting is less than thirty per cent of the total number of voters in the said district.

7th. To contract economic obligations of deferred payment for defraying the cost of public works, with the duty of appropriating in the successive annual budgets the credits necessary to satisfy them, and provided that their payment shall not absorb the economic ability of the municipality to carry on other services that it has in its charge. No municipality may contract obligations of this kind without a prior favorable report by the tribunal of accounts, and also the favorable vote of two-thirds of the members who compose the council or the commission.

8th. The enumeration of these powers, as well as any others that the law may create, does not imply a limitation or restriction upon the general powers granted by the Constitution to the municipality, but merely the expression of a part of these general powers, without prejudice to what is provided in Article 212 of this Constitution.

Commerce, communication, and intermunicipal transportation may not be taxed by the municipality. Money speculation, or disloyal competition arising from measures adopted by the municipalities, is prohibited. Municipal taxes upon articles of primary necessity shall be regulated upon the bases that the law may establish.  

ART. 214. The government of each municipality is obliged to satisfy the following minimum local requirements:

1st. The punctual payment of salaries and wages to municipal officials and employees, in accordance with the standard of living of the locality.

2nd. The maintenance of a lodging house and infirmary, a workshop, and a practical agricultural experimental school.

3rd. The maintenance of a public police force, and a fire extinguishing service.

4th. The functioning, at least in the principal town, of a school, a library, a popular cultural center, and a medical dispensary.  

ART. 215. In each municipality, there shall be a planning commission, which shall have the obligation of devising means of extending and embellishing the city, and supervising its execution, taking account of the present and future necessities for public transportation, hygiene, beautification, and the common welfare.

The said commission shall be concerned with everything related to the dwellings of workers and shall propose plans for the manufacture of houses for rural workers, which may be acquired over a long period through moderate rentals for reimbursing the municipality for the capital invested. The municipalities shall proceed to execute the plan that they may approve, appropriating the necessary funds for this purpose in their budgets, with the provision that the sum total of payments for each house be not less than the cost of one house in each fiscal year, or else availing themselves of the means that the Constitution extends for carrying out works of this nature, in case the ordinary incomes of such buildings are insufficient to defray their cost.

There shall also be a district road commission, that shall have the obligation of planning, constructing, and maintaining roads which, according to a plan and system of management previously approved, may favor the development, transportation, and distribution of products.  

ART. 216. The law shall determine the urbanization of villages or settlements contiguous to the mills of sugar plantations or to any other agricultural or industrial development of art analogous nature.

SECOND SECTION
Guarantees of Municipal Autonomy 

ART. 217. The following is established as a guarantee of municipal autonomy:

1st. No local governing official may be suspended or removed by the President of the Republic, by the governor of the Province, or by any other governmental authority.

The tribunals of justice alone may approve the suspension and removal from their offices of persons in local governing positions, by means of summary proceedings in accordance with the law, without prejudice to what is provided concerning revocation of political mandate.

Likewise, no other officials or authorities may intervene in any of the official functions of persons in local governing positions, except in the case of powers granted by the Constitution to the tribunal of accounts.

2nd. The decisions of the council or of the commission, or the acts of the mayor or of any other municipal authority, may not be suspended by the President of the Republic, the governor of the Province, or by any other governmental authority.

The said decisions or actions may be impugned by governmental authorities, only when the latter should consider such decisions or actions illegal' before the tribunals of justice, which alone shall be competent to declare, by summary proceedings that the law may establish, whether or not the municipal body or authorities have made such decisions or actions within the sphere of their competence in accordance with the powers granted them by the Constitution.

3rd. No law may obtain for the State, the Provinces, or any other bodies or institutions, all or any part of the amounts that the municipalities may collect by way of taxes, imposts, and the other means for obtaining the municipal revenues.

4th. No law may declare of national character any municipal impost or tax that may constitute one of the sources of income of the municipality, without, at the same time, guaranteeing the latter incomes equivalent to those nationalized.

5th. No law may obligate the municipalities to exercise collecting functions for taxes of a national or provincial character, unless the bodies interested in the collection appoint the assistants necessary for this procedure.

6th. The municipality shall not be obligated to pay for any service that is not administered] by itself, except in case it is a matter of express agreement with the State, private individuals, or other municipalities.  

ART. 218. The mayor or any other representative authority of the local government may, by himself or upon the decision of the council or of the commission, take the appeal of the abuse of power before the plenum of the Supreme Tribunal against any decision of the national or provincial Government that in their judgment may attack the system of municipal autonomy established by the Constitution, even if the decision may have been enacted by the use of discretionary.  

ART. 219. As a guarantee to the inhabitants of municipal districts in relation to their local governing officials, the following provisions are made:

1st. In case the actions or decisions of the municipal authorities or bodies are prejudicial to any private or social interest, the injured party or any inhabitant of the municipality who may consider the decision or action harmful to public interest, may seek its nullification and compensation for damages before the tribunals of justice by means of summary proceedings established by law. The municipality shall be secondarily responsible and shall have the right, under the terms that the law may provide, to repeat charges, when payment of damages is granted, against the official guilty of having caused the damage.

2nd. A referendum is required for the contracting of loans, the issuance of bonds, or for other operations of municipal credit mobilization that, by their size, may obligate the municipality in question to create new taxes to defray the payment of amortization or payment of the said contracted loans.

3rd. The right of initiative to propose measures to the council or to the commission shall be granted to such a percentage as the law of the municipal electoral body shall fix. If the latter bodies should reject the initiative or should not decide upon it, they must submit it to popular will by referendum in the form that the law may determine.

4th. Revocation of a political mandate may be sought against local governing officials by a fixed percentage of the voters of the municipality, in the form that the law may determine.

5th. A petition or claim submitted to municipal authorities or bodies shall be considered rejected if such petition or claim is not affirmatively decided within the period fixed by law. The latter should provide all necessary regulations for contesting such tacit rejections, and fixing the responsibility of those guilty of the delay.

The law shall fix penalties for unjustified delay in the transmission to the municipal authorities and bodies of any such petitions formulates! by the inhabitants of the municipal districts.  

ART. 220. Criminal responsibility that the mayors, members of the councils or commissions, and other municipal authorities may incur, shall be tried before the tribunals of justice, either officially at the instance of the prosecuting attorney, or by civil action. Such action shall be available to all persons and may be exercised by any group of inhabitants of the municipal district, not less than twenty-five in number, without posting bond, ant! affecting their responsibility for false or slanderous accusation.  

ART. 221. Those voting in favor of municipal decisions, as well as unauthorized absentees who allow the two following sessions to pass without recording their votes, shall be held responsible for such decisions. Such delayed voting shall not in any case affect the validity of decisions definitively adorned.

THIRD SECTION
Municipal Government 

ART. 222. The municipal districts shall be governed] in the manner established by law, which shall recognize the right of the municipalities to be given their own municipal charter in accordance with this Constitution.

The municipal organization shall be democratic and shall correspond in a simple and effective manner with the essentially administrative character of local government.  

ART. 223. The municipalities may adopt their own municipal charters in accordance with the following procedure, which the law shall regulate. The council or commission, on the petition of ten per cent of the voters of the municipality, and with the favorable vote of two-thirds of its own members, shall consult the electoral body of the municipality by means of the proper electoral organs, if it desires to elect a committee of fifteen members to draw up a municipal charter.

The names of the candidates to take part in the committee shall be on the proper tickets, and if a majority of the electorate should vote favorably on the formulated question, the fifteen candidates who have received the most votes, in accordance with the system of proportional representation, shall be elected

to compose the committee. The latter shall brave up the municipal charter and shall submit it for the approval of the voters of the municipality not earlier than thirty days after finishing it and adjourning, and not later than the end of the year in which the committee was elected.

The municipality shall adopt one of these systems of government: that of commission, or that of council and manager, or that of mayor and council.  

ART. 224. In the system of government by commission, the number of commissioners, including among them the mayor as president, shall be five, in municipalities that have up to 20,000 inhabitants; seven in those that have 20,000 to 100,000; and nine in those greater than 100,000 inhabitants.

All commissioners shall be elected directly by the people for a term of four years. Each commissioner shall be the chief of a department of the municipal organization, for which he shall be responsible, and he shall be charged with carrying out and enforcing the measures adopted by the commission in so far as his department is concerned. The law shall fix the requirements that the commissioners shall meet, according to the department that is involved.

The commissioners shall jointly compose the deliberative body of the municipality.  

ART. 225. In the system of council and manager, there shall in addition be a mayor, who shall preside over the council and shall be the representative of the people in all official acts, or those acts of a social character.

The city manager shall be a technician or a person of recognized capacity in municipal matters; he shall act as chief of municipal administration, with power to appoint and remove the officials ant} employees of the municipality, with observance of what is established in this Constitution.

The office shall be filled by the council, for a term of six years, by competitive examination before a tribunal composed of the following members: one professor of municipal government, one professor of administrative law, one public accountants and two representatives of the municipality. The professor of administrative law and that of municipal government shall be appointed by a university faculty of social sciences; the public accountant by the trade school of the Province to which the municipality belongs; and the representatives of the municipality by the council of the municipal district concerned.

The manager, once appointed by the council on the proposal of the authorized tribunal, may not be removed except by sentence by a competent judicial authority, or by popular will; provided that such action is carried out in accordance with the reasons and formalities that the law may establish.

The council shall be composed, in this form of government, of six councilors when the population of the municipality does not exceed 20,000 inhabitants; of fourteen when the population is more than 20,000 but does not exceed 100,000; and of twenty-eight when the population is more than 100,000 inhabitants. They shall all be elected directly by the people for a term of four years.  

ART. 226. In the system of mayor and council, presided over by the mayor, the latter as well as the councilors shall be elected directly by the people for a term of four years. The law shall determine the composition that the council shall have and shall fix the rules according to which the political parties must always select candidates for the said body who are representative of the diverse interests and activities of the locality.  

ART. 227. The mayor, the manager, and the commissioners shall receive a salary from the municipal treasury that may be altered at any time; but such a change shall not be made effective until after a neat election of mayor, council, or of the commission, has been held. An increase in the salary of the mayor shall be subject to the effective increase in municipal collections during the last two years preceding the date on which the increase is made effective. The office of councilor must be compensated when the economic conditions of the municipality permit; and just financial provisions shall be made for the support of the public services.  

ART. 228. In the temporary or permanent absence or disability of the mayor in any of the three aforementioned systems, he shall be replaced by a councilor or commissioner who shall have been elected for this purpose in the first session held by the council or the commission.

In case of absence or disability of the manager, the council shall proceed to fill the vacancy in the same manner as is originally provided for filling this office.  

ART. 229. To be a municipal mayor, manager, commissioner, or councilor, it is necessary to be a Cuban citizen, to have reached twenty-one years of age, and to meet the other requirements that the law may stipulate. As regards the mayor, he shall be required, in addition, not to have belonged to the armed forces of the Republic in active service during the two years immediately prior to the date of his designation as a candidate.

Residence in the municipality shall not be required of a manager.  

ART. 230. The law may create the metropolitan district of Havana, federating the surrounding municipalities with the capital city, to the extent that the law itself may determine.

The federated municipalities shall have direct representation in the municipality of the metropolitan district, retaining their democratic and popular organizations.  

ART. 231. In the municipal budgets there shall be corresponding appropriations made for the upkeep of rural districts in accordance with the following gradual scale:

In rural districts that contribute from $100 to $1,000 35%

In rural districts that contribute from $1,001 to $5,000 30%

In rural districts that contribute from $5,001 to $10,000 25%

In rural districts that contribute $10,001 and above 20%  

ART. 232. Municipal elections shall take place on a different date than general elections.

TITLE XVI   1940 Constitution


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