- Paperback: 288 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 2 edition (December 3, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195127498
- ISBN-13: 978-0195127492
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.8 x 6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,891,176 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Cuban Revolution: Origins, Course, and Legacy 2nd Edition
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"An excellent and intellectually honest appraisal of how and why the socialist dream collapsed in Cuba, laying responsibility where it belongs: at the feet of the Cuban government."--Juan M. del Aguila, Emory University
Praise for the previous edition:
"This is by far the best work I have read on contemporary Cuba. It is a competent study that strives for -- and achieves -- remarkable impartiality. The Cuban Revolution conveys the probing intelligence and profound thoughtfulness that produces permanence. It is a work no just for a single season but for a very long time." --Franklin W. Knight, The John Hopkins University
"What we have in The Cuban Revolution is the most complete, sustained intellectual effort to do with the Cuban revolution what dozens of authors have done for the Mexican -- to indicate the native roots of the rebellion and, most importantly, to demonstrate how these roots were of primordial significance in determining the evolution of the revolution over the course of nearly haft a century. This is no small achievement, and it establishes Perez-Stable as a major voice in the study of Latin American politics and society." --Lars Schoultz, University of North Carolina
About the Author
Marifeli Perez-Stable is at SUNY College at Old Westbury.
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Employing stellar use of these statistics, the author makes a convincing argument that the factors and relationships between Cuban national policy, the tensions between workers and manufacturers, and between the Cuban business class and foreign investors, made the resulting implosion of business and Cuban life after the 1959 Revolution inevitable.
It is, in some regards, a literary tragedy, for much of the failure of the Cuban economy of the late 20th century can be placed both on the government policy and a stubborn business class resistant to social and economic change. All the parties knew the country had to diversify its economy and work away from its dependence on sugar, but in the end were paralyzed by distrust and old grudges against each other.
This book is about as objective as you will read on the subject. Perez-Stable presents a detailed history of the crippling dependence Cuba has long suffered on both the United States and the sugar industry. She shows the growth of the Communist Party in Cuba in the 1930s and its impact on the labor unions created in Cuba. It was not much of an impact. Both labor unions and the budding Communist movement was easily crushed by the military dictators who, in league with the business class, long dominated Cuba politically and economically. The unions were easily coopted before they were crushed.
By the time of Fidel Castro’s first abortive takeover of a small military garrison with a handful of young members of his July 26th Movement in 1953, the Communists had very little influence in Cuba, and Castro only incorporated them into his rule, and adopted some of their most repressive methods, after the United States threatened the very survival of his government and he turned to the Soviet Union for economic and military protection.
Many sympathetic to Castro and Cuba because of the crushing economic embargo by the United States, that had left the country almost destitute after the fall of the Soviet Union and its desertion of Cuba at the conclusion of the Cold War, have long pointed out that at least Cuba’s health system, particularly its low infant mortality, was improved under Castro. The author shows that Cuba had developed a fairly sophisticated health system for a Latin American Country long before Castro, although the disparity between the health care received in Havana and rural areas was immense.
This book could have easily been titled, “Sugar,” for Cuba’s dependence on the sugar industry has totally dominated Cuban life since the 19th century. Battles between small and large sugar growers and sugar producers and sugar workers became the defining issues of labor versus management, of land owners versus bankers, of wages and worker’s rights, of Cuba’s subservient relationship with the major buyer of its sugar, the United States.
When the Soviet Union assumed the role of Cuba’s major buyer of sugar after the Revolution, Cuba’s economic life was artificially elevated by higher than market prices paid by the Russians, essentially a subsidy. This did no favor to the need to diversify into other businesses, such as growing rice, which showed enormous promise in the late 1950s but was shelved in the face of the usual monetary security blanket, sugar. Castro’s puritanical revulsion against the casinos and prostitutes that had made Havana a haven for US tourists in the 1950s, and implied US control, made tourism a nonstarter as an important alternative economic solution. Cuba had a budding oil industry, one that was never developed after the nationalization of its US owners, an aspect Perez-Stable does not explore. That a young oilman from West Texas, George Bush, was a player there with his Zapata Oil Company, is another aspect of interest in this story, not considered in this book.
In fact, a glaring omission by Perez-Stable is the failure to mention that the US owned oil refineries were nationalized by Castro in 1960 after they refused to refine oil from the Soviet Union. This led directly to the planning of an invasion of Cuba by the Eisenhower Administration, a plan eventually carried out by the ensuing Kennedy Administration, the disastrous Bay of Pigs fiasco.
The invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, by CIA sponsored Cuban exiles, probably was the real death of any real attempt to diversify and “save” the Cuban economy.
Enraged by an invasion paid for by a country which long had treated Cuba like an inferior servant, the nation rallied around the leadership of the young and flamboyant Fidel Castro. To them, he was George Washington, the savior of their country. In a contest between the dignity of standing up to the US or living the good life of a diversified economy, economics lost out.
This is not to suggest, however, that Perez-Stable blames the United States and its embargo for Cuba’s economic misery. Some of us do, but not Perez-Stable. She herself fled Castro’s Cuba with her family and has no illusions about Castro’s brutality or mismanagement of the Cuban economy during the period in which Russian military and economic support afforded some breathing room to make the move to a diversified economy.
Indeed the latter pages of this book are devoted to Castro’s mismanagement of the economy, as the charismatic bearded one careened wildly from one policy to another, never sticking to one course long, clearly over his head in the world of what he considered the dirty business of money.
Perez- Stable makes clear that by the 1990s the Cuban people had grown exhausted and weary from the sacrifices in defense of their country against the big bad US bully, and just wanted a better standard of living. She writes of Cuba’s leaders at the turn of the 21st century, “If they persisted in their intransigence, the outcome was likely to be the abandonment of the legacy of the Cuban Revolution.”
Of Castro’s economic policy for Cuba, she concludes, “Socialism had not developed the economy to sustain it.”
[Hansen Alexander’s new book is ONE BRAVE MAN; How Roger Clemens Risked Everything to Prove He Did Not Take Anabolic Steroids.]