The discussion on urban land continues to be absent in most of the specialized Cuban literature about planning and economic policies, despite its relevance. In very thorough essays about the present challenges and future development of the Cuban economy, nothing is said about the need for adequate public land policies and the implementation of public value capture mechanisms as part of the economic development of the country. The issue is complex, there is a void of almost half a century of not dealing with land value, but these reasons are not sufficient to justify the continued lack of vision in this direction, all the more when the Cuban cities are in desperate need to reverse the deterioration and stagnation that affects them. The Cuban state determines the general rules under which citizens and organisations may own and use real estate. These are rules about property rights and about the limitations - in compliance with aspects such as state security, environmental and heritage protection, economic development, social equity and human and civil rights – on exercising those rights. In doing this, the Cuban state is no different from other states: most states make such rules and enforce them when necessary. What is particular to Cuba is the content of those rules. In particular, the Cuban state has the monopoly to perform land development and management. There are public institutions to plan and deal with all of these aspects, and there are no recognised real estate markets in the country. Another important aspect is the utmost importance given to planning. But in spite of this, Cuban urban planners have rarely been certain of what will be built and where. The main reason for this may be that, despite the numerous master plans to study and anticipate development trends, most of the decisions ultimately involve top officials who envision the projects and establish the investment priorities according to the public interests or needs and the historical moment, irrespective of the plans. This article intends to give a clear picture of how things are done in the public sector, how the administration works, and under which legal framework. I will look at the physical planning system and its importance in the location and implementation of land use, investment projects and housing programs, and at the legal procedures that include licenses for construction, demolition, habitat and other licenses for heritage conservation and redevelopment. I will analyze the difficulties faced by the Cuban planning and legal system with respect to land and urban development, in the attempt to understand the limits imposed by the government on land and urban development, and I will explore to what extent those limits are to blame for the increasing irregularities and violations at all levels of the formal procedures for land and property. I will also introduce the public and personal rights concerning housing, buying and selling, permutes, donations and other tenure alternatives; and clarify the civil responsibilities, namely types of ownership, properties, property registers and so forth in order to expose the opportunities and accessibility of the system but also its limitations.