Week Eleven: “A Decade of Revolution in Cuba”

This week’s reading is centered on the Cuban Revolution, its heroes, enemies, and the struggles that the Revolution brought to the Cuban people. The Cuban Revolution then is a symbol of endurance, a continuous fight against the imperialistic forces of the United States, an economic giant, an image which they used to justify their ‘lucha’ (fight) and to convince their own people that better times where yet to come. One thing is clear: the Revolution created dichotomies of “good versus evil”. There have been many people who have suffered because of the revolution. In fact, thousands of refugees, political dissidents, and middle to upper class individuals left Cuba because the new political model was not one that they could live in. The Cuba exodus to the United States was a mechanism in which some saw as opportunity, while others had a difficult time adjusting or belong. Nevertheless, for Cubans who arrive in Miami it was better to be there than to be imprisoned for being against Fidel Castro.

The heroic figures of the Cuban Revolution are mainly Castro, his brother Raul, El Che Guevara, and Camilo Cienfuegos. They together fought against Fulgencio Batista’s regime, a corrupt government, which was aligned with the United States dominant politics. The Cuban revolutionaries wanted to end the tyranny that this relationship represented for the nation and the region. It is fair to say that, Fidel Castro was a very charismatic man. This became evident later when his charismatic political rhetoric transformed him as the savior of the Cuban people. Fidel Castro needed the backing of Cubans if he wanted this so call Revolution to work and rapped his power in egalitarian terms which people could assimilate and support. I wander if this egalitarian idealism is similar to what the French called “Liberté, égalité, and fraternité” or is totally different because of its distinct political ideology? In the end, the Cuban Revolution brought land reforms, the nationalization of foreign property, and politically alignment with the Soviet Union which at the time was very a strong friend.

The Cuban Revolution at the beginning was embedded in utopian thinking; an ideal of what Cuba could become, without really incorporating the opinion of its people. Political, social, and economic transformative policies where implemented at the beginning of the Revolution where a diversion from sugar exports was seen as fundamentally necessary if economic diversification was to be achieved while promoting the industrialization of the country. A new economic model was introduced by Che Guevara where transactions for food, transportation, and rent were all eliminated. Guevara thought that Cubans would understand the rejection of market transactions while adopting the law of value instead which hopefully would increase overall productivity. This of course, totally opposed other economic models promoted by industrialized nations such as Canada and the United States where free markets prevent governments from direct intervention or where government policy is carefully maneuvered. The Cuban Revolution saw to centrally control (from Habana) everything in order to balance the economy and all the social affairs of the island.

It was very interesting to me to read about the ‘machista culture’ which fetishized Castro’s heterosexual masculinity. This in turn, saw to marginalize other people, such as Cuban gays because for the macho Revolutionaries, they were reminders that decadence, sickness, and weakness were still present in Cuba. The utopian idea of the new Cuban man, a man who needed to be strong to fight the imperial North, did not include or tolerate homosexuals. Gay people were viewed as narcissist’s individuals whose main qualities were self-obsession, physical weakness, and depravity. Therefore, in my opinion, by casting aside people because of their sexual orientation the Revolution failed in being inclusive and tolerant, and perhaps lost people who could contribute to the arts such as poets, writers, musicians, and creative people in general.

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