“Analyse the impact of the Cuban Revolution on both Cuban society and the wider Latin American world” The Cuban Revolution of 1959 has profoundly shaken the economic, social and political foundations of Cuba itself, however its impact on Latin America was not as predominant. The inauguration of Fidel Castro over Fulgencio Batista was the beginning of a communist regime in Cuba, which has now raised the living standards of everyday Cubans to one of the highest in Latin America. As well as this, Latin America has been subject to countless revolutionary activities supported and implemented by Fidel himself. Everyday Cubans during the rule of Dictator Fulgencio Batista were restricted and powerless, subject to strict social classes and poverty. “The high national wealth of the country was being unequally distributed amongst the people. A large Cuban middle class were ‘frustrated with their lack of political power and influence” (Darlington, Turning Points – The Cuban Revolution Depth Study) Fidel Castro, a student leader and lawyer opposed the dictatorship of Batista and organised the July 26 Movement to execute a guerrilla campaign that eventually toppled the Batista government in 1959.
The Cuban Revolution had major effects on the lifestyle of everyday Cubans, in particular benefits in health, education and the local economy. However some questioned the benefits of a communist regime in Cuba, stating that the right hand dictatorship of Batista had simply been replaced by the left hand dictatorship of Castro, and that politically nothing had truly changed. Political liberty did not improve after the revolution, which forced many people to flee Cuba (Egan, I. 2011. An Assessment of the Cuban Revolution. Retrieved 14th July). “However, the equality between social classes established by communist leader Fidel Castro led to Cuba having one of the highest standings of living in Latin America by the end of 1970.” (Darlington, Turning Points, Cuban Revolution Depth Study). The health of everyday Cubans under the rule of Batista was extremely poor, with “infant mortality rates reaching 60 per 1000 live births in 1959.
Only 6000 doctors were registered to practice, and 64% worked in Havana, the richest city of Cuba. Castro ordered these doctors to be distributed throughout the rest of the country, however when over half decided to leave, he established 3 medical training schools” (Simkin, J. Spartacus, Retrieved 12th July 2012). A free health service was also established to reduce the mortality rates of infants and children, and “by 1980 infant mortality had fallen to 15 per 1000, which is still today the highest in the developing world. “ (Simkin, J. Spartacus, Retrieved 12th July 2012) Castro also believed strongly in education. “Before the revolution 23.6% of the Cuban population were illiterate, 61% of children did not attend school and in rural areas over half the population could not read or write. “(Simkin, J. Spartacus, Retrieved 12th July 2012) “The slogan “If you don’t know, learn. If you know, teach.” was the foundation for an education restoration providing free education to all citizens.
The enrolments rates for primary school reached almost 100% due to Fidel’s free universal education service.” (Simkin, J. Spartacus, Retrieved 12th July 2012) As well as health and education reforms, Castro’s government also reduced and eventually ceased the United States’ heavy influence on Cuba’s economy, hence making Cuba an independent country. Batista’s authorisation of America’s heavy involvement in Cuba was resented by all societal classes, and Cubans believed the governments had ‘served the interests of the American sugar market, rather than the people of Cuba’ (Darlington, Turning Points – Cuban Revolution Depth Study). “American owned businesses within Cuba were shut down and much of the land that was privately owned by members of the United States was given to peasants as part of the communist regime.” (Egan, I. 2011. An Assessment of the Cuban Revolution. Retrieved 14th July).
“The American owned telephone company was nationalised, devastating the owners. Castro’s government nationalised $850 million worth of American owned land and businesses.” (No Author, Spartacus, Retrieved 12th July 2012) “In the period of 1959 to 1962, Cuba experienced a heavy economic crisis due to the embargo placed on them by the United States, threatening Cuba’s economy.” (Egan, I. 2011. An Assessment of the Cuban Revolution. Retrieved 14th July). The independence of Cuba from the democracy of the United States was a huge turning point in the history of Cuba itself and the wider Latin world. The Cuban Revolution also affected Latin America but only minimally and temporarily. After the cease of alliances with the United States, Castro developed a strong alliance with the Soviet Union, who agreed to provide military, technological and financial support for the upcoming communist Cuba.
Fidel organised a “revolutionary program and supported revolutionary activities and even invasion in the Caribbean area.” (Alfonso Golzalez, Castro: Economic Effects on Latin America, Page 1) “Castro’s foreign policy provided moral and material support to guerrilla movements throughout Latin America, in countries such as Guatemala, Bolivia, Peru and Venezuela” (Darlington, Turning Points – The Cuban Revolution Depth Study, page 27) and the establishment of other communist governments within Latin America provided support for communist Cuba and Castro. This reflected the concept of internationalism, and the Marx ideology that no revolution can stand on its own. Cuba began to establish a relationship with the Soviet Union and an alliance was formed, with the Soviet Union agreeing to supply technologies and other vital resources for the country that had been stopped by an angry United States government.
“Military and economic aid was provided by Cuba to various African and Latin American countries. Around 20,000 civilian workers, including teachers, engineers, medical personnel, construction workers, technicians, were sent to over 40 countries, and thousands of students from Africa and Latin America were enrolled in Cuban universities and technical colleges.” (Darlington, Turning Points – The Cuban Revolution Depth Study, page 28) Castro also represented a strand of socialism; meaning “an economic system characterised by social or common ownership, control of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy”. (No Author, World Socialism Movement, Retrieved 16th July 2012)
It can be stated that although the Cuban Revolution provided some foundations for the revolutionary activity in Latin America, it was not a fundamental factor in the communist movement itself. The Cuban Revolution was a profound turning point in the history of Cuba and Latin America. Under Castro, the living standards and general wellbeing of everyday Cubans became one of the highest in Latin America, and the communist revolution began spreading throughout Latin America. Fidel continues to support and uphold a communist regime in Cuba even after the fall of its major supporter, the Soviet Union. The revolution was one of the fundamental factors in making Cuba what is it today.
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