The Caribbean basin has suffered economic vulnerability and occupation from nations such as Great Britain, France and Spain, right from the seventeenth to nineteenth century. This resulted from imperial rivalry among powerful western empires as weak Caribbean basin nations were merely pawns in their quest for colonial dominance. The emergence of plantation systems during this period also fueled the need for cheaply produced sugar, tobacco and coffee. Although production and trade was flourishing, the people in the region were getting a very little share of the wealth.
The easy transportability of free African labor through slave trade further intensified colonial interest in this area. As a result of this, a large population of African descendants belonging to various groups can be found in the Caribbean basin. This has contributed to a strong African influence in the cultures of these nations. The growth of colonial plantations also resulted in the migration of labor, as people constantly move around looking for better working opportunities.
As people from different cultures were occupying Caribbean basin nation, it became an ideal breeding ground for racial conflict, and thus class consciousness was closely tied into racial differences (Randall and Mount 12). The lack economic of development in these regions can be attributed to complicated political relations and stifled trade agreements. Even today, the majority of people in these nations are economically backward since they function based on monopsony, wherein the entire production of a country is usually bought by a single powerful buyer for cheap prices.
Another common aspect of these countries is that they happen to be monoculture economies, where the whole economy is dependent on a single crop or product. The absence of political parties based on principle and common people’s needs also leads to political instabilities. Another aspect that is common to many Caribbean basin nations is the presence of revolutionary groups and military units striving to overthrow harsh governments and dictators, paving the way for insurgencies.
Early colonial occupation and the United States’ repeat attempts during the nineteenth century to make Cuba a part of the Union certainly influenced the early part of Cuba’s eventful history. The constant colonial influence from powerful countries to control it economic and political policies had made Cuba a haven for revolutionaries. Cuba’s civil war in the 1870s, the revolution of 1895, and another revolution in 1906 ensured the overthrow of governments with vested interests. The following years were a period of growth as it had opened up trade with the United States and the economy was fuelled by high sugar prices (Wilkinson 18).
However, instability continued in the form of military dictatorship from 1925. The revolution of 1959 led by Fidel Castro had yet again overthrown the dictatorship of Batista backed by the USA. The revolution is still going on to this day through the execution of Marxist socio-economic policies that contribute to the welfare of the poor people. Castro was a pioneer of this movement that nationalized millions of dollars worth of American property on Cuban soil. These properties were redistributed and agriculture was collectivized, thereby enraging the upper-classes to move to America.
Cuba received aid from the USSR in the form of energy and trade during the Cold War period. In 1961, the US secretly sent troops to Cuba to end the revolution but failed, historically known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion. In 1962, the governments of Cuba and the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles on Cuban soil to end United States’ influence in the region. This event is referred to as the ‘Cuban missile crisis’ as it posed an imminent threat of nuclear war (Sierra 2). It ended when Khrushchev dismantled the weapons from Cuba when the United States promised not to invade Cuba.
Even today, African culture’s influence is quite apparent in many aspects of modern Cuban life. ‘Santeria’ is the modern Cuban version of an African religion that became popular during the slave trade era. Rumba, a set of dances and rhythms, is yet an African influence on Cuban culture. Cuba has also been endowed with musicians that develop new musical genres by mixing different cultural influences (Coastal Web Online 26). Cuba, in spite of being portrayed by today’s American media as a police state, is quite safe and accommodating to non-dissenting citizens.
However, having a strong military presence has meant that voices of dissent against the revolutionary government are not dealt with lightly, leading to imprisonment. Hence, the general culture in Cuba does not promote free speech or ideas against the government, as counter-revolutionaries are quashed. Although the American Government has followed a policy of economically starving Cuba to overthrow communist dictatorship, Cuba still welcomes tourists mainly to attract American dollars. Private restaurants and local craft stores are only forms of modern capitalism found in the country.
The Revolution in Cuba under Fidel Castro has tremendously improved the standard of education and ensured its widespread availability to all classes of Cubans; compulsory education programs till a certain age has been enforced. Universal health care offered to all Cubans is a commendable program that has been responsible for improving medical facilities and bringing down mortality rates; the island nation has “one doctor per 200 citizens”, which is notably better than America (Health Care in Cuba 3).
The US government has put in place trade restrictions with Cuba to kindle an uprising to overthrow the communist dictatorship and bring in democracy. However, many US military leaders have expressed their opposition to this embargo, as the Cuba is a contented nation under Castro with all its basic necessities met (Doherty 3). Since there is no evidence or probable reason for a revolution in the near future, a lot of support has gone into requesting the US government to reopen trade relations with Cuba. Works Cited Page Sierra, J. A. The Cuban Missile CrisisOctober, 1962. 28 June 2009, < http://www. historyofcuba.
com/history/Crisis/missiles. htm> Coastal Web Online. Brief Cultural History. 28 June 2009, <http://www. cwo. com/~lucumi/history. htm> Doherty, Patrick. US Military Leaders Issue Statement on America’s Cuba Policy. (2009). The Havana Note. 28 June 2009, <http://thehavananote. com/2009/04/us_military_leaders_issue_stat. html> Health Care in Cuba. Thinkquest. 28 June 2009, <http://library. thinkquest. org/18355/health_care_in_cuba. html> Randall, Stephen, and Mount, Graeme. (1998). The Caribbean Basin: An International History. Routledge. Wilkinson, Jerry. History Of Cuba. 28 June 2009, <http://www. keyshistory. org/cuba. html>