nationalizations responded to legal statutory written laws that were enacted with a highly defined juristic method, and were enforced by a compulsory expropriation proce-
dure, which established all that was necessary for compensation and reparation. This nationalization process began with the first Agrarian Reform Law in 1959.
The May 17, 1959 Cuba agrarian Reform Law affected Cuban
and foreign land holders alike. This land reform law established compensation payment with Government-issued Agrarian Reform Bonds that paid an annual interest rate of 4.5 percent and were to be refunded in 20 years. Therefore, it was not discriminatory and recognized the right to compensation. It was even a more generous offer than the bonds issued by General Douglas MacArt
hur’s Land Reform in occupied Japan, which limited annual interest to 2.5 percent and complete refunding to 24 years.
On the other hand, Cuban
nationalizations could not have taken the U.S. Administration by surprise because the 1959 Agrarian Reform Law and other nationalizations measures had been included long before in Cuba’s revolution
ary project. They had actually been announced in Fidel Castro
’s well known allegation – History Will Absolve Me -, when he spoke as his own defense attorney before dictator Fulgencio Batista
Court some time after his indictment for the armed attack against the Moncada barracks in 1953. Nevertheless that legal measure – destined to restore land property to its rightful owners, those who tilled the soil, and eradicate latifundium – brought agitation and threats to reduce Cuba’s sugar
quota and other reprisals, in U.S. government circles.
After the enforcement of the 1959 Agrarian Reform Law, Cuba’s Revolutionary Government enacted different laws to complement its nationalization process, based on the constitutional principle which allowed compulsory expropriation to use nationalized properties for public benefit.
Such was the case of the following laws:
Law No. 851 gave the president of the Republic and the Prim
e Minister power to decree joint resolutions to nationalize American properties in Cuba by compulsory expropriation.
Law No. 890 established the Cuba nationalization of companies dealing with sugar
, spirits, beverages, soap, perfume, milk products, chemicals, maritime transport
ation, railway communications, coffee, drugs, etc., irrespective of the owners’ nationality.
Law No. 891 declared banking a public function and established the right of reparation for property partners and stockholders of the dissolved and extinct banks. Reparation was to be made effective with a latter payment after the National Bank of Cuba closed banking operations on December 31, 1960.
Law No. 1076 nationalized certain kinds of small retail forms of commerce, also irrespective of former owners’ nationality.