Cuba as of July 2021 has seen massive protests over Corona restrictions all over the Island. What has caused the seemingly peaceful Caribbean island to suddenly enter a state of turmoil? This episode goes into the history of Cuba and what has caused something as simple as Corona to push its people to the breaking point.
Covering topics from Che Guevara, and Fidel Castro's communist revolution in Cuba, to the Bay of pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis. This episode explores the events leading up to the revolution occurring today in Cuba.
Revolution in Cuba
Cuba is a country that has been steeped in revolution. Leading to a communist overthrow of the government in the 1960s,
The US started an embargo on cuba which is still in place to this day…
Cuba has been widely praised for its medical system, which is considered one of the best in the developing world, with extra emphasis on it, considering it faces a shortage of medical supplies due to the American Embargo.
When the first wave of Covid hit Europe and the Americas, A group of Italian tourists brought it to Cuba, Cuba managed to contain the outbreak and was almost completely unaffected however back in Italy the virus was not contained and the medical system in Italy collapsed. Cuba was one of the countries to send health professionals there to assist the Italians.
However Starting in June 2021 the First real wave of Corona hit the isolated Caribbean Island… Cuba due to its amazing healthcare system has one of the oldest populations in the Americas older people are at a higher risk of death from covid, and the government was forced to increase covid restrictions. Unrest and anger was already felt in this country that relies so heavily on Tourism, once the covid restrictions were implemented people began taking to the streets demanding governmental reform and an end to the covid lockdown….
Since July 11 2021, Cuba has been in open revolt. An attempted revolution by the unarmed populace of Cuba. The protests began as a result of Cubas strict Authoritarianism, a shortage of food and medicine and the government’s response to Covid-19.
America which is located just 90 miles away from Cuba, the largest Island of the Caribbean has had an almost complete embargo against Cuba since 1962, It is the most enduring trade embargo in modern history. The two countries although adversaries have and will forever be completely locked in each others destinies.
In America, Leftists news outlets blame the US embargo on Cuba for the issues faced in the country while moderate and conservatives outlets blame the communistic totalitarian nature of the Cuban government for these circumstances.
Last year the cuban economy shrank by 11% due to Corona Virus, Tourism which the Cuban economy has become almost completely dependent upon has been destroyed. Another wave starting just last month has caused this
Similar to many communist nations that find themselves on the wrong end of American restrictions, Cubans have to wait hours to get basic goods in markets and electronic blackouts are common
Economists have a joke about Cuba
There is a young Cuban man who is trying to win the favor of a beautiful Cuban lady, in an attempt to impress her he brags about being a doorman at the Ritz Carleton in Havana. This works but the relationship falls apart when the young lady realizes he’s just a Brain Surgeon.
In Cuba a doctor can make between 25-100 dollars a month where someone working in an industry with tips can make that in a day.
Revolution is not a new concept to Cubans, it has been a pastime to them as much as baseball has been to americans.
The first European settlement on the Island now known as Cuba was founded in 1511 by a Spanish Conquistador, Diego Velazquez de cuellar.
The Indigenous Taino people were essentially enslaved and forced to work for the newly arrived Europeans under the encomienda system, basically it was the same as European Feudalism.
Within a century the indigenous people of cuba were wiped out, mainly from European disease and colonial rule.
In the 16th century the remaining indingenous population of Cuba were all but wiped out by disease.
200 years later the 7 years war would erupt in Europe some historians consider this the first world war as it occurred on all major continents, it eventually spilled into the Americas, Where it is known as the French and Indian war
The war was a war of global dominance between the French and The British.
The Spanish who held colonial dominion over cuba, were allied with the French and ended up going to war against the British
The British invaded cuba and conquered Havana the capital. They took control of the western portion of the Island. The British immediately opened up trade with their north American and Caribbean colonies causing a massive transformation of Cuban culture.
The British imported thousands of slaves from west Africa to work the Sugar plantations.
These slaves changed the ethnic makeup of the Island greatly.
Sugar is the main product produced by Cuba, it has been essential to the Cuban economy.
Less than a year after its capture the British signed a peace treaty with the French and Spanish, ceding back Cuba in exchange for Florida,
The Americans were heavily taxed by the their overlord Great Britain from the French and Indian war and due to these taxes they started their own revolution.
The American revolution would end with Florida joining the USA as one of its 13 original colonies. The Canadians being Canadian opted to not fight and stayed loyal to Britain.
Cuba’s demographics changed yet again when in the early 19th century the Haitan revolution took place, the outlawing of slavery there led to another massive inflow of African slaves to arrive in Cuba.
The USA had always had an eye on cube, its strategic positioning and resource rich nature led to a debate within American society wheather to annex it and add it as another American state or colony. Due to the massive African makeup of the island they didn’t want to make it a state, so they opted on a middle ground position…
The Spanish empire was way past its heyday, and as more and more Spanish colonies declared independence Cuba remained loyal. Until A Spanish Planter named Carlos Manuel de Cespedes, freed his slaves in order to fight for independence in Cuba . the rebellion became known as the ten years war.
Following this in the latter years of the 19th century, Wars of independence began and ended to varying degrees of success until
Another insurrection happened which led to the Spanish creating reconcentrados camps or Fortified towns. These would become the prototype to 20th century concentration camps and between 200,000 and 400,000 Cuban civilians died in them.
The US around this time began investing in Cuban companies,
The U.S. battleship USS Maine was sent to protect American interests, but soon after arrival, it exploded in Havana harbor and sank quickly, killing nearly three-quarters of the crew. The cause and responsibility for the sinking of the ship remained unclear after a board of inquiry. Popular opinion in the U.S., fueled by an active press, concluded that the Spanish were to blame and demanded action.
Spain and the United States declared war on each other in late April 1898.
Spain was humiliated in the Spanish American war and Cuba became a protectorate of The united states.
The US was granted administrational power over Cuban finances, foreign relations and intervene in internal affairs.
The US began a new form of imperialism called Dollar diplomacy, Under dollar diplomacy the US would secure countries it saw as in its sphere of influence through economic domination rather than military.
Dollar Diplomacy was a form of American foreign policy to minimize the use or threat of military force and instead further its aims in Latin America and East Asia through the use of its economic power by guaranteeing loans made to foreign countries
Dollar Diplomacy was marketed as bringing stability to unstable regions while making both the unstable country stable and rich as well as the US.
it was a failure however and only led to Extreme capitalism to run rampant throughout the fledging countries of Latin America
Leading to a series of banana republics to form, In political science the term Banana republic describes a politically unstable country which is dependant upon the exportation of a limited resource such as Bananas, or Sugar.
What would happen with a banana republic is that the government of a country generally representing an oligarchic or aristocratic class would see its wealth grow while the hardworking citizens of the country remained forever poor. These countries would be answerable to American corporations who had the money to invest in them.
These Bannana republics led to massive instability in the Latin American world, and led to socialistic ideologies become widespread
Following disputed elections in 1906, the first president, Tomás Estrada Palma, faced an armed revolt by independence war veterans who defeated the meager government forces. The U.S. intervened by occupying Cuba and named Charles Edward Magoon as Governor for three years. Cuban historians have characterized Magoon's governorship as having introduced political and social corruption.
Another US intervention occurred in 1917
The US’ real goal behind these Cuban interventions was to protect American corporate interests such as Sugar Cain factories
Cuba became a hotspot for American Tourism, leading to widespread decadence, gambling and prostitution.
The wall street crash led to a series of revolts by a group of students known as the Generation of 1930
President Roosevelt of the US wanted to end the age of imperialism for America so decides to not intervene in this wave of revolutions, in 1933 a revolution occurred
Without US interference eventually a full fledged democracy developed, however it wasn’t a stable democracy
An army sergeant named Fulgencio Batista couped the government and took power of Cuba, he led it through a series of puppet presidents until running for himself in the 1940s
Credit should be given to Batista, a sergeant is a rather low rank for someone to pull something off like this, his Charisma must have been legendary.
Batista was a competent ruler, he adopted a constitution that enacted a social safety net for the citizens of cuba. After his term ended in 1944 he stepped aside to allow a protégé of his to assume the position, who lost to a former presidential candidate.
After this eelection he retired in florida where he formed some connections with the US government and mafia, until 1952 when he returned to cuba and ran for president again.
The previous presidents allowed corruption to destroy the country of Cuba, when Batista returned he realized he didn’t have the political legitimacy to win the election and instead of facing defeat he staged a military coup with the support of his friends in America.
Batistas second term as president of Cuba was far different from his first, he suspended the 1940s constitution that he himself enacted, he revoked most political liberties including the right to strike.
Batista limited freedom of the press and began persecutions of communists and socialists
This time Batista openly embraced American corporatism, for example American corporations owned
90% of Cuban Mines
80% of Public Utilities
70% of arable land.
50% of railways
40% of Sugar production
25% of Bank Deposits.
The rich got richer and the poor got poorer, with a shrinking middle class.
The US mob got itself heavily invested in Cuba at this time, as Cuba was becoming a Banana republic Cubans grew more discontent.
Leftists and socialist ideas were a growing trend in central and South America at this time in large part due to American corporatism.
One of the leftists that found himself on the run from Batistsa was a young Cuban Lawyer/politican named Fidel Castro
Changing his life from politician to revolutionary. Fidel fled to the countryside following Batistas coup and assembled about 12,000 followers.
Castro ran his organization with military precision, Drinking alcohol was forbidden and sex wasn’t allowed.
By 1953 Castro had the support base he needed to stage a coup however he needed weapons to do this.
He sieged a base at Moncada which went terribly. Castros forces were beaten back and they fled. In the following days the authorities arrested many of the revolutionaries including Fidel Castro.
Castro was put on trial, where he gave one of the 20th centuries most famous speeches, History will Absolve me
-Insert Speech Excerpt-
Fidel would be sentenced to 15 years in prison however, on may 6th 1954 President Batista bowing to public pressure released the revolutionary.
Fidel continued to speak negatively of Batista and eventually fled to Mexico where he met a fellow revolutionary, Che Guevara
Ernesto "Che" Guevara was an Argentine Marxist revolutionairy. Che has become Symbolic with revolution, his photo Alberto Korda’s iconic photo of Che Guevara, Guerillero Heroico | 1960 is considered one of the most famous of all times
He spent his early years travelling around south and central America on a motorbike which exposed him to massive poverty all throughout the continent. Eventually he ended up in Guatemala, there he became convinced that the USA was the enemy of freedom and that Capitalism was keeping the world enslaved
Years later he met Fidel Castro in Mexico
Raul Castro, Fidel’s younger brother was also a major general who showed himself to be very competent ---EXPAND ON RAUL
Fidel and Che left Mexico on a boat headed to start a revolution in Cuba with another Anti-Batista group.
The boat could only hold about a maximum of 25 people and Castro packed 82 on it. This led the boat to be late by about 2 days. By the time Che and Castro arrived the other rebellion had already been destroyed and Batista was waiting for Castros group. They were heavily bombarded and only about a dozen men survived, including Castro and Che.
While the revolutionaries regrouped in the forest a New York times wrtier released an article on them. Castro’s support was growing massively around the heavily oppressed country Cuba.
In April Fidel called for nationwide strikes against Batista, Batista responded by shooting down any strikers. Castro gained massive support after Batista’s brutal response.
Castro sent Che on a westward march to Havanah. The situation had changed rapidly for Castro who was now the one with power. Batista’s government forces put up virtually no fight on Che’s march and on December 31st 1958 Batista resigned and fled the country.
Fidel was now in power.
Castro using his spartan militarism managed to keep his illiterate peasant soldiers from looting. He knew that he needed educated men to govern and so chose to appoint a former professor of his as prime minister and another man to be president. Castro kept control of the army.
Che being a philosophical thinking doctor was the brains of the operation. Over time he attempted to turn the agrarian peasant society into an industrial one and it led to the poor of Cuba feeling he had abandoned them.
He kept the USA placated by denouncing communism but had secret plans for Cuba.
-INSERT CASTRO NOT COMMUNISM SPEECH
Castro went to the USA to get recognition from American President Eisenhower, when he arrived he was ignored by the US president. Leading to the first strain in relations with the newly revolutionized nation.
7 months later he abolished the puppet government, he did this in a rather tactile way. He accused the President of corruption and resigned his position. The people rose up and demanded the president must go asking Fidel to come back.
The president fled the country and Castro installed himself with complete dictatorial rule.
His totalitarian rule led to many being executed and freedom of the media completely rescinded.
Castro began nationalizing Cuban industries many owned by the US, without compensation angering the US. It also led to a massive exodus of rich Cubans
Eisenhower who was in the last days of his administration began an operation to train Cuban exiles to overthrow Castro.
Kennedy who had just assumed the presidency took over the coup attempt. Leading to the disastrous bay of Pigs
The plan was that exiled pro-American Cubans would start a revolution in Cuba with US support. However Kennedy wanted to play both sides of the field. He didn’t want to anger the USSR and escalate things as had happened in the previous decade in Korea. And so he chose to not support the Cuban revolutionaireis with US air support.
Once the exiles landed in Cuba they were destroyed by Castros forces and it caused massive humiliation to the Kennedy administration as well as completely drive the formerly “neutral” castro into the Soviet Camp.
In response to the bay of pigs Castro went on National television and announced he was a Marxist-Leninist and would be until the day he died
The US responded with an even larger Embargo that led to Cuban food shortages.
The Soviets responded by offering the Castro revolutionaries a place in their camp. Bringing soviet missles onto the Isalnd, Which was located less than 100 miles from the USA. This jumped Miles for the Soviet missile technology, which was unable to appropriately hit the USA with their technology in the early 1960s
This led to the closest the world has come to WW3 or an Apocalypse.
The 13 days known as the Cuban Missile Crisis
During the Cuban Missile Crisis Kennedy remained cautious but was much bolder in his defiance of The Soviets. The Soviets backed down and removed their missiles from Cuba. During the Crisis US president Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev were far more cautious compared to Fidel who was open to starting a nuclear war with the Capitalist US.
The US continued its Embargo of Cuba which continued to destroy the Cuban economy.
In 1965 the US decided to accept massive amounts of Cuban refugees leading to a massive Brain drain in the communist Utopia
Castro attempted to restore the Cuban economy by instating a 5 year plan like operation which would almost double the amount of Sugar cane harvested.
This goal would be impossible and he poured all of the countries economic resources into the sugar cane industry. The whole country was put to work in the fields to reach this quest, leading to all other industries virtually stopping. Even Castro was said to have cut cain for 4 hours everyday
### EXTRA INFO HERE FOR EXTENDED VERSION on 1970s-90s cuba
The Cubans and Proxy Wars – Instituitng revolutiosn all oer the world
Fidel “if Surviving assassination attempts were an Olympic event I would win a gold medal”
Fidel throughout his life always changed places every 2 days CHECK BIOGRAPHICS FIDEL
Dealing with a stagnant economy solely dependent upon the USSR. When The USSR collapsed in the early 90s, Cuba was a fish out of water. Between 1989 and 1992 the GDP of Cuba dropped by over 35%. To make matters worse Corn syrup suppressed cane Sugar as the worlds main Sugar product and Cuba’s main export’s price collapsed.
Cuba as opposed to North Korea who doubled down and completely isolated with the outside world after losing the USSR their sole benefactor, did the opposite. They opened the country, began allowing in Tourism, and even made the US dollar legal currency. This would ironically save and destroy Cuba
The now liberalized economy was open to manipulation from the outside,
With the cold war ended The USA was past its vindictive stages, and the Clinton administration considered opening up trade with the isolated country.
However Clinton got blocked on this by the massive educated, Cuban expatriate community that fled the country in the 60s and 70s. they wanted an end to the Castro regime which they felt still oppressed their relatives.
Clinton backed down to public pressure and the embargo continued,
Fidel feeling his age handed power to his brother Raul Castro, who fought alongside Fidel and Che in 2008.
Raul understood that things needed to change and he began talks with the US
The Obama administration answered, and restrictions between the two began to thaw
Until Trumps election, Trump reenacted many Embargo conditions.
Covid 19 did to Cuba what it did to the United States, pushed a nearly broken system to its breaking point. Cuba has gone through revolution all throughout its history since the Europeans first arrived in 1942 and its possible, they will face a new one soon.
1.4 million people have fled the Island to America since its Communist Revolution draining it of many of its elites, rich people and intellectuals.
The reason for the Cuban protests can be partially blamed on the US Embargo, however it is not that simple, its just as easy to blame the unfree totalitarian nature of the Cuban government for these problems
The US government enacted an Embargo which still causes problems for the Cuban government, but it is the large expatriate or refugee Cuban community in the united states that for the most part wants to keep it until the Communist regime is out of power.
As much as Che and Fidel would hate to hear this, we live in a capitalist world. It isn’t the US’ fault that their socialist planned economic model failed.
Also it isn’t right to blame the US for keeping the Embargo, During the Cuban missile crisis Fidel was far more bold in his defiance of the US. Both Kruschev and Kennedy were wary and we surived because of this, had fidel been in the position of Kruschev, things might not have gone down the way it did
The future of Cuba is unknown, due to the complete lack of internet on the Island, even before the protests it was common for Cubans to go to specific areas on the Island to get access to the internet, we cant be sure of the true size of the Cuban protests because the Government is blocking access to the internet and controlling what leaves the country
One of the problems with Totalitarian systems is that when the Charismatic leader dies, things fall apart,
Another problem is political legitimacy, A common occurrence all throughout the Totalitarian world is when a strong charismatic man comes to power Like Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez in Venezuela They are integral to the stability of the country, once they die their successor lacks legitimacy
Fidel used his Charisma by stepping down numerous times during his rule of Cuba and the masses flocked to him and begged him to come back.
Miguel Diaz-Canel the President of Cuba is not a war hero who defiantly stood up to cubas Colonial or Capitalist Overlords, he isn’t even as Fidels Successor Raul Castro was, a war hero
In an Ironic twist, the ideologies of Che Guevara, and Fidel Castro were all about granting freedom to the individual, seeing the US and Capitalism as the great enslaver of peoples. Today the Cuban communist government is the thing in power and its enslaving the people of Cuba.