Today, Castro's Cuba stands on unsure legs. With the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, Cuba's pipeline of trade, credit, and aid has dried up. The revolution raised a generation of healthier, better educated, more urban Cubans, who now demand the right to express their creativity and political diversity, rights the Communist party refuses to grant. And while the Cuban people have acted with great valor and self-sacrifice in exceptional times, their commitment to revolution has ebbed in the day-to-day life of state socialism. How long will they continue to consent--out of conviction, fear, or passivity--to be governed in the ways of the past?
In The Cuban Revolution, Marifeli Pérez-Stable provides a bold reexamination of the achievements and failures of the Cuban revolution and a perceptive, behind-the-scenes look at the problems facing Cuba today. Pérez-Stable examines the background of the revolution, ranging from the inauguration of the republic in 1902 to Castro's triumphant entry into Santiago de Cuba in 1959, highlighting the factors--such as a one-crop (sugar) economy and U.S. interference in Cuban affairs--that made Cuba susceptible to revolution. She then offers an unflinching look at Castro's thirty year rule and the U.S. response to it. She argues that U.S. government interference in Cuban affairs actually fueled nationalism, providing Castro with the extraordinary popular support needed to bolster his reign. We learn, for instance, how U.S.-owned companies resisted the wage demands and union organizations of Castro's regime, that the first air raids against cane fields and the initial acts of sabotage in urban Cuba were conducted with tacit U.S. support, and that the explosion of La Coubre, loaded with weapons that Cuba had acquired in France, was attributed to the CIA.
Pérez-Stable is equally critical of the Cuban government. She argues that the revolution actually ended in 1970, when the regime turned to the models of the Soviet Union, accepted a new dependence, and began what would become, for many years, a profitable relationship with the Soviet Union. She further charges that Cuban leaders failed to achieve a more balanced economy to sustain the nation, failed to create democratic institutions, and found themselves ill-prepared to deal with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. As a result, domestic and international conditions eroded the legitimacy of the long-time one-party system and the viability of Cuban socialism.
With its hard-hitting criticisms of Cuba's revolutionary elite and of U.S. policy, The Cuban Revolution offers a provocative look at the turbulent past--and the precarious present--of a nation on the brink of change.show more