Cuba Essay, Research Paper
The Cuban revolution was one that transformed Cuba into an independent socialist society. This revolution sent a message around the globe. The message: ? Socialism can be achieved and capitalism, with its culture stripping mechanism?s can be supplemented?. However, the revolution did leave its mark on Cuba. This can be seen in the events that took place during the early stages of the revolution. The effects of the revolution were positive for certain sections of the population and negative for others.
The exodus of the majority of skilled workers brought about a rapid change in the methods employed in educating Cuba?s population. If the revolution was to be successful, Cuba needed to replace the skilled workers that left with other skilled workers in the shortest amount of time possible. In 1961, the revolutionary government developed a nationwide campaign to rid Cuba of illiteracy. The program was given slogans like ? The people should teach the people and If you don?t know learn; if you know teach?. This program consisted of volunteer teachers who would help illiterate Cubans increase their education by teaching them the fundamentals. According to Fitzgerald, ?(The literacy campaign) helped to integrate town and county and to galvanize support for revolutionary goals by bringing urban and rural populations into direct contact. ( p. 41)? Also, according to Fitzgerald, ? Enrollment in adult education rose dramatically from 66,577 students in the 1960-1961 school year to a peak of 842,024 students in the 1964-1965 school year, but plummeted to 309,717 students in 1969-1970. (P. 42)? This program benefited the poorer citizens of Cuba who remained in Cuba. They were now able to receive a decent education, which helped develop vital skills needed for life in a socialist Cuba.
Another program that benefited the Cuban people was the Fidelista program. The Fidelista program was implemented in the late 1960?s. The Fidelista provided enterprises with a semi-autonomous model of operation. The Fidelista program stressed moral rather than material incentives. The emphasis of the program was placed on creating the ?new man?. The ?new man? would exert a certain level of nationalism by sacrificing his own individual needs for those of the common good. According to Fitzgerald, ? the Fidelista program not only pared the administrative apparatus to a minimum but it also rotated administrative personnel to prevent the tendency to settle in and consider oneself ?indispensable?. In addition, administrative cadres were sent out of their office?s to deal with production problems on the spot rather than sitting behind a desk. Also, fewer administrative personnel, fewer rules to be imposed on production units, less information and fewer forms to be sent up and down the administrative apparatus, less red tape altogether- these were the goals of the anti -bureaucratic revolution (p. 54)?. This program benefited the workers in Cuba in two ways. First, by sending the administrative cadres out of their offices and into the working fields, a sense of unity was probably exhibited among the Cuban population. Second, the Fidelista program instilled a strong sense of nationalism into the citizens of Cuba. This sense of nationalism was present during the attempted production of 10 million tons of sugar. Here, many Cubans sacrificed their own self-interest for the greater good of the society. According to Fitzgerald, ? Sometimes whole production units would commit themselves to voluntary labor. Some of their number would go off the sugar field, for example, while being paid their regular wages, and their remaining co-workers would compensate for their absence with more intensive labor or unpaid overtime? (p.57).
One section of the population that was negatively effected in the course of the revolution was the old cadres. Prior to the 1970?s the old cadres received and retained prominent positions in the administration primarily through political affiliation and work experience. However, after the 1970?s changes began to take place in Cuba. No longer would political affiliation warrant a position in the administration. Education as a means of gaining a prominent position began to take precedence over political affiliation. The old cadres of Cuba found themselves with two options. The first, they could take up formal study and stay in their position. The second, they would be replaced by the new educated professionals. The old cadres faced this transition with hostility. According to Fitzgerald, ? Old cadre administrators long continued to hire and promote their old cadre ?buddies? over new professional competitors? (p.62). Eventually the revolutionary leadership stepped in and criticized the old cadres. They used labels such as incompetence, poor workstyles, buddyism, and promotion by seniority to describe the old cadres. They (revolutionary leaders) opted to instill a gradual transition, which would cause ?minimal resistance? from the old cadres.
This transition overlaps into another section of the population that was positively effected by the revolution, the children of the uneducated in Cuba. According to Fitzgerald, ? The fact that the parents of up to 3 quarters of new entrants to the University of Havana in that year had no more than a basic secondary education suggests a dramatic redistribution of educational opportunities in the first decade of the revolution? p. 105. By the 1970?s Cuba had nearly caught up to the drain of skilled workers caused by the exodus. By 1980, there were an estimated 532,980 secondary school graduates in Cuba, over 4.5 times as many as in 1959 (p. 103).
Another section of the population that was positively effected by the transition to new professionals was women. Women began to make up a considerable part of the Cuban work force. According to Fitzgerald, ? By 1980, women made up 31.4 percent of the Cuban labor force. In addition, women comprised 42.7 percent of all Cuban?s who had been graduated as medium-level technicians, at the lower level of the new professional category and 40.1 percent of all those who had received higher education degrees? (p.106).
The Cuban revolution had its winners and its losers. The winners (those positively effected) would appear to be the common man or women. They beared witness to a complete transition into a socialist regime. In the early stages of the revolution, the leader (Fidel Castro) halved rents, increased wages and employment, expanded health and education services and put 70 percent of the land and 90 to 100 percent of industry, commerce, banking and foreign trade in the hands of the state (p. 21). The losers (those negatively effected) of the revolution were the wealthy and middle class Cuban citizens, the majority of which sought refuge in the United States. With the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba now stands at a crossroads. The battle cry has changed from ? Socialism or death to Resist, struggle and win? (Castro?s Cuba II). Hopefully, Castro and/or Cuba will not be forced into a market-based economy and all the materialistic commodities that go along with capitalism. In my opinion, Castro should hold out for as long as possible griping to the former battle cry ?Socialism or death?. Only time will tell what the fate of Castro?s Cuba will be. Trade might once again flourish the economy, tourism might open up new economic opportunities and foreign investments from Italy, France and Spain could possibly dig Cuba out the current economic hole it?s in. Until then however, the battle against capitalism must not lose any of its vigor.