Question: I’m planning to go out to Habana for a week in February where I plan to stay in a casa particular owned by a distant friend of my parents. However I’m 17 years old, turning 18 in March, and although I’ve traveled frequently on my own, are there any laws I should be aware of being an unaccompanied minor?
Answer: As a 17-year-old coming to Cuba, you will not be considered a minor, as minors in Cuba are all those under the age of 16, which is also the legal age of consent in the country.
While there doesn’t appear to be a legal drinking age in Cuba, the de jure purchase age for both alcohol and cigarettes is 18 years. However, this is rarely enforced and seldom is one asked to present an ID showing age (although there’s always a first time).
You might be interested to know that in the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba, 1992, under Article 132, it states that all Cubans over 16 years of age, men and women alike, have the right to vote except those who (a) are mentally disabled and have been declared so by court, or (b) have committed a crime and because of this have lost the right to vote. As well, Article 133 states that all Cuban citizens, men and women alike, who have full political rights can be elected. And if the election is for deputies to the National Assembly of People’s Power they must be more than 18 years old.
Under Cuban law, men 18 and older must serve in the military 24 months, or 12 months if already enrolled in university. Military service for women is voluntary.
Further, at the June 1997 meeting of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Cuban delegation reported the following:
- Under Cuban law, the age of both civil majority and criminal responsibility is set at 18 years.
- Cuba’s Family Code, dating from 1975, establishes the age of marital consent at 18 for boys and girls, and permits that age to be dropped to 16 for boys and 14 for girls under certain circumstances (e.g., .
You may want to do some google searches to find out more information pertaining to Cuban youth.