The Cuban Revolution at 50 – heroic myth and prosaic failure

13 03 2009

The article The Cuban Revolution at 50 – heroic myth and prosaic failure (The Economist) deals with the revolution that happened a little over 50 years ago (New Year’s Eve 1958) and proved to be very interesting lecture.

A few citations from the article that I found interesting:

“Contrary to official myth, however, the Cuban revolution was not primarily a peasant rebellion. Mr Castro’s guerrilla army relied for its survival and eventual success on a range of allies, including trade unions and other urban groups. Even more important, many of the governments in mainland Latin America commanded greater legitimacy, and their armies were more effective, than Batista’s tinpot dictatorship.

The result was tragedy. Thousands of idealistic young Latin Americans, and many more innocent bystanders, were slaughtered in failed attempts to mimic Mr Castro’s Rebel Army. (Guevara himself was defeated and shot in Bolivia in 1967.) Their efforts contributed greatly to the advent of a new generation of ruthless military dictatorships across the region in the 1970s. Only in Nicaragua would the Sandinista guerrillas be successful, against a dictatorship not unlike Batista’s. But they were voted out in 1990 after a decade, undermined partly by the United States but also by their own arrogant mistakes.”

Guevara’s myth — of the romantic rebel, not the murderous, militaristic Marxist of real life — burns as brightly as ever, recreated in hagiographical books and in a new Hollywood movie hitting American and British screens this month. In all this, Mr Castro has often been unwittingly helped by the United States, and rarely more than when George Bush set up a prison camp on Cuban soil at Guantánamo in defiance of American and international law. But Mr Castro is in the late evening of his life. And what happens after him remains unclear.”


Picture from The Economist


In another article on the same topic – Fifty years of the Castro regime – time for a (long overdue) change (The Economist) – I found the following interesting citations:

“After all, Cuba has precious little to boast about. It is the only country in the Americas that locks citizens up for their beliefs. In a place that before 1959 boasted as many cattle as people, meat is such a scarce luxury that it is a crime to kill and eat a cow. Even the health and education systems, which once put those of many capitalist countries to shame, are now suffering decline.”

“Mr Obama has already promised to reverse the restrictions on remittances and travel by Cuban-Americans imposed by Mr Bush. Once he is in office, the new president should go further and urge Congress to lift the embargo altogether. It is wrongheaded and ineffective. If it went, Cubans would know they had nobody except their rulers to blame for their plight.”


Another article – The End of the End of the Revolution – in the NY Times, gives a more personal view of today’s Cuba.


“When I asked Yoani Sánchez, a dissident blogger (, about this, she told me: “We live turned away from the sea because it does not connect us, it encloses us. There is no movement on it. People are not allowed to buy boats because if they had boats, they would go to Florida. We are left, as one of our poets put it, with the unhappy circumstance of water at every turn.””

Through a labyrinth of rations, regulations, two currencies and four markets (peso, hard currency, agro and black), people make their way. Stress is rare but depression rampant in an inertia-stricken economy. Truth is layered.”


Some other blogs on Cuba are:

Talkingcuba’s Blog – Timoteo provides us with random stories about different situations he finds himself in on the island. Really chill blog to read, since none of the stories are connected to earlier blog entries, so you can just read one post and be stunned. Gives you insight in what the “real Cuba” is all about.

Desde aquí – From here – Reinaldo Escobar’s own description of his blog: Desde Aquí [From Here] is a personal undertaking born from the need to write about those topics that fill my head every day but that cannot find a space in the official Cuban media.

Hilda Molina – En defensa de las familias Cubanas – Hilda Molina is mostly famous for not being allowed to visit her family in Argentina and for being fired (she’s a doctor) for her thoughts and opinions.

Sin Evasión – Without Evasion
– Miriam Celaya’s husband was interrogated at his job (and indirectly threatened to be fired) when she decided to write under her real name and stand up for her thoughts and opinions.


And then we have the blog “that started it all”: – the woman writing this is known all over the world for her courage to stand up to the government and the revolution. This Yoani Sánchez has started a trend as well – more and more blogs about “the real Cuba” are emerging as we speak. These bloggers and “new-thinkers” dare speak their mind and defend their right to express themselves – and they dare question the government. Don’t forget to look at the comments – lively discussions going on!




One response

17 06 2013
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