The Cuban Revolution

        I.            Cuba before Fidel Castro

A.       Colonial backwater transformed by sugar after the Haitian Revolution

B.      Independence and U.S. intervention

1.  Cuba experiences early slave revolts in the early 1800s

2.  Ten Year’s War (1868-78) for independence defeated, but leads to abolition in 1880

3.  Independence war breaks out again in 1895, led initially by Jose Marti (1853-1895

4.  U.S. intervenes in 1898, defeats Spain, occupies Cuba till 1902

5.  U.S. only agrees to leave when Cubans include Platt Amendment in Constitution, which gives U.S. right to intervene

6.  Followed by years of instability, renewed U.S. occupation (1906-08) and dictatorship under Antonio Machado (1925-1933)

C.      The Batista years

1.  Revolution of 1933 overthrows Machado, bringing  Fulgencio  Batista to power

2.  Batista rules as a mild reformist, but corruption continues

3. Two Autentico presidents elected in 1944 and 1948. Traditionally a party  of reform and democratization, these years see unprecedented levels of corruption

4.  Batista returns in a coup in 1952

a.       This time rules as a military dictator

b.      Allies with the U.S. Mafia, turns Cuba into a tourism and gambling resort

c.       Gap between rich and poor, already wide, expands - primarily a split between wealthy urban Cuba and impoverished rural Cuba

d.      Increasingly brutal with opponents, particularly as Castro rebellion heats up

D.      The Economics of Sugar

1.  Sugar becomes backbone of economy in 1700s

2.  Boom and bust cycles of sugar prices, and impacts of wars and invasions, squeezes out small famers and small mills.

3.  By 1950, most land and mills held by a few companies, much of it by U.S. interests

4. Much of the rural population reduced to day labor status, but needed only during the harvest season.  1/3 of Cubans lacked year-round employment as a result.

5. Sugar business actually in decline in 1950s, and U.S. investors had begun to pull out.

      II.            Castro’s rise to power

A.      Son of a wealthy Oriente farmer – attends elite schools

B.      Trained as a lawyer, becomes involved with reformist Ortodoxo party in 1940s

C.      Runs for Congress in the 1952 elections – which Batista cancels with his coup

D.      Becomes involved in anti-Batista resistance; leads a disastrous attack on the Moncada Army barracks in 1953, leading to imprisonment and exile

E.       In 1956, returns in disastrous “invasion,” barely escapes alive

F.       Able to win support of peasants in Sierra Maestra (in Oriente) and begins to build a militia

G.     New York Times article in 2/1957 gave him credibility, proved he was alive

H.      Strikes and terrorism met with heavy oppression by Batista, while Army conducted vicious, incompetent war

I.        Castro becomes focus of discontent, while Batista loses support of middle classes

J.        Batista flees on Dec 31, 1958, after forces led by Che Guevara capture Santa Clara

    III.            Castro in Power – The Radical Years

A.      Revolution initially welcomed by most Cubans

B.      But over first 18 months, USA and Cuban middle class thoroughly alienated

1.  Repression of democracy and press

2.  Public trials of Batista soldiers and police - over 400 executed

3.  Suppression of autonomy of University of Havana (alma mater of most Cuban elites and professionals)

4.  Elites and middle class begin exodus

C.      Economic swing leftward

1.  Urban Reform –  reduced rents for most people, put renters on path to ownership

2.  Land Reform – set limits on farms size, redistributed big farms in small plots

D.       Leads to significant wealth redistribution – poorest 40% triple their share of national income by 1962

E.       Collapse of U.S-Cuban relations

1.  Castro believed Cuba had to end reliance on United States to be truly independent

2.  U.S increasingly alarmed by radicalization

3.  Dispute over oil refineries leads to several rounds of seizures of U.S. property and an expanding embargo imposed by U.S.

4.  U.S. officially breaks relations

5.  Bay of Pigs – April 15, 1961

a.       Planned under Eisenhower, authorized by JFK

b.      Cuban exiles, armed and trained by U.S., lead small and disastrous invasion

c.       Castro declares revolution to be Marxist, nationalizes schools and remaining U.S. property

6.  Missile Crisis – October, 1962

a.       Castro allows new Soviet allies to install nuclear missiles in Cuba

b.      JFK imposes blockade, demands removal

c.       Tense standoff - Soviets agree to remove missiles in exchange for two promises:

                                                                                                         i.            U.S. will remove missiles from Turkey

                                                                                                       ii.            US. promises never to invade Cuba

7.  U.S.-Cuban relations remain frozen

a.       Exodus of elites and middle class accelerates

b.      Transforms southern Florida into a defacto Latin American capital

F.       Creating Socialist Man

1.  Literacy campaign brought Cuba to First World literacy status; doubled as propaganda campaign

2.  Most private enterprise gone by 1968

3. Havana de-emphasized - more money spent on provinces

4.  Developed best infant mortality rate and doctor-patient ratio in Third World

5.  Move towards moral incentives vs. economic incentives would largely fail

G.     Economic changes brought unforeseen problems in 1960s

1.  Redistribution of wealth brought on inflation, shortages

2.  As more services are provided free, small farmers focus more on subsistence, less on providing food for markets

3.  Shortages lead to food rationing (which continues on a small scale even today)

4.  Attempts to diversify economy were expensive, largely abandoned

5. Efforts hampered by lack of experts – most professionals flee in the 1960s

H.      Return to Sugar and the 10-million ton harvest

1.  Government pushed all out for a record harvest by 1970 to fund industrialization

2.   Failed because of poor planning, outdated equipment

    IV.            Pulling Back From Radicalism – 1970-1991

A.       Normalization of the Revolution

1. Failure of 10 million ton harvest dimmed some of Castro's prestige

2.  Led to efforts to depersonalize government, create more regular bureaucracy

3.  Trade unions revitalized and brought into government, greater dependence on technocrats

4.  Finally approved a Constitution in 1976

B.      Cuba and the World

1.  Strong support for guerrilla groups scaled back after 1967 death of Che Guevara, but continued to encourage revolts

2.  Sent troops to aid Angolan government in 1970s (pulled out after 1988 treaty)

3.  Sends thousands of doctors, agronomists, and the like to work in poor countries

4.  After collapse of Soviet Union, pulls away from support for radical causes and develops good relations with most of Latin America (particularly the New Left)

      V.            Periodo Especial

A.      Soviets cut off aid Cuba in 1991 –  economy shrinks by over 30%

B.      Loss of $11 million/day and guaranteed East Bloc markets

C.      Loss of subsidized oil was heaviest blow

D.      Cuba turns to foreign investment and tourism

E.       Some small-scale private enterprise tolerated  – but government goes back and forth on rules

F.       Dollars legalized - leads to dual dollar and peso economies

1. Those with dollars can get what they need - much competition for tourism jobs

2. Those dependent on subsidized peso economy have very hard time

G.     Despite push to diversify economy, notably in biotechnology, Cuba’s economy becomes like all other Caribbean economies – dependent on monoculture agriculture, tourism, and family remittances from the United States

    VI.            Raul Castro Years, 2006-present

A.      Illness forced Fidel Castro to transfer daily governing to his brother

B.      Raul Castro has generally opened up the economy more, in particular decentralizing farming

C.      Recently announced plans to lay off 500,000 state workers and provide more opportunities for them to find private enterprise jobs