LAST 100

A New Man can be Found in Havana

The Cuban revolution, whether it has ended or is still ongoing, is one which remains a mystery to those who were outside of the bubble. How is it that an entire government was brought down by the actions of only a few men? Again, how can one of the most prominent and open societies in Latin America be turned into one of the most closed and repressed by the actions of only a few men?

At some points, it almost seems like the goal of the process is not to change Cuba for the better, but to keep the United States as the enemy. Cubans saw their leader as a hero when he went to the US, confronted them, and then came back for more. Perhaps a main motivation of the continuation of the revolution was to slip between the monopoly of trade and power that the US was beginning to impose on Cuba, slowly but surely. Democracy is notoriously a characteristic of North America – could it then be said that one of the factors which contributed to the communist society idealised by Castro and Guevara was a desperation to distance themselves in any way from the enemy? Maybe not – Che first was moved to communist ideologies as a young man travelling throughout Latin America and noticing the injustices (Yet again, the chaotic loop – is it not plausible that the sorrier state of Latin America can be attributed to the success of the States?).

There are some continuous contradictions which characterised the revolution which I find hard to understand. At some points Dawson writes saying that women were empowered under the regime with the FMC, detailing scholarships, materials and training. Then he writes that millions were driven out by lack of opportunities, causing a reduction of women in the working field. Yet, again, later he writes that ‘Cuban women found it easier to pursue a career, to get a divorce, and to make their own reproductive decisions than women anywhere else in Latin America. All could visit a doctor if they were sick, and virtually none faced the kind of desperate hunger that had affected millions before 1959, and still affected millions in other parts of the region.’. I think this is an important example. Even as a historically analytical process, it is still often ambiguous, and we are not really sure of fact, statement and thought. We need ‘a man on the inside’ to feed us to know.

Yoani Sánchez’s three blog posts give us a small window into Cuba and the real lives of people there – not the cigars and old cars that we love to romanticise about. Her dialogue represents a form of stubborn resistance to disguise the sweet words and cyber walls of the regime. Che writes about the ‘new man’ in his letter to Carlos Quijano, yet Sánchez shows us that we are still the same humans, whether on the island or not.

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