.. ucation, jobs, health care, and equality for Cubans large lower class, many of whom are of African descent. They appreciated it then, and some still support Castro now. With the sudden end of Soviet subsidies (estimated at $5 billion a year), Cuban living conditions went from bad to worse. From 1990 to 1993, Cubas GDP declined by forty percent.
Many Cubans went hungry. Castro, reading the desperate mood of the masses, discovered his approaching obsolescence and gave indications that he might reform. The Cuban people, yearning for reform, began to hope for a new day.17 It is evident that the political disposition of the country, as in most countries, has been influenced by its economic status which, for Cuba, dates back to the sixteenth century. Cubas plight as a third world nation is directly akin to its historical inability to break away from its dependence on a single export economy. This fact, confounded by that of other, larger nations serving only their own national interests by encouraging this type of economy, has held Cuba in chains of indigence for decades. Cuba does, however, despite its low domestic living standards, have extensive overseas commitments. The question has been raised then, as to why Cuba, with such a limited domestic resource base, would expand its overseas civilian and military commitments.18 A particularly viable explanation could be viewed as the following: The Cuban government asserts that it aids other Third World countries because it is committed to internationalist solidarity. While official views may conceal underlying motives, if the island primarily supports overseas activities for moral and ideological reasons, Cuban should receive no regular quid pro for its assistance, and it should limit its aid to ideologically sympathetic countries.
If Cuba gains materially from its involvement, the benefits should be minor and they should have been unanticipated at the time the aid was extended. The island should risk receiving no economic pay-offs.. The Castro regime has a long history of assisting revolutionary and national liberation movements, and the governments to which they have given rise, possibly because its own social transformation depended on the assistance of other socialist countries. yet its identity with progressive, anti-imperialist states has not been contingent on the adoption of a Marxist-Leninist model or membership in the socialist camp.19 Why would Castro go to all the trouble then, when his own people were starving in the streets? Perhaps it was simply due to the fact that Third World countries viewed Cuba as helpful and influential and that overseas activities have enhanced the islands stature in the less developed world. Seemingly, this theory would lend support to the hackneyed images of “strength in numbers” or the “big fish in a little pond” cliches.
This is, of course, theory however, and not fact. Despite these and many other questions which could be asked of Castros governing style, there are, in fact, many positive transformations that the socialist leader has brought about for his country. Though unlike most other socialist countries, Cuba has been noted for its far-reaching social and economic equality that has resulted from the Cuban Revolution. Additionally, Cuba, by no means a wealthy nation, has achieved a certain amount of significant success in the areas of education, health care and its economy in comparison to the Cuba of years past. However, even a very favorable interpretation of these structures would have to point out their limitations (and one should not ignore the significance of their formal similarity to Soviet structures). Organized opposition is not allowed…the Cuban government would not tolerate efforts to establish an independent union movement, and there is no question of compromise on the political hegemony of the Cuban Communist Party.20 Presently, tensions between Cuba and the United States, however, are still high as the U.S. continues to maintain its policy of diplomatic and economic isolation.
It has been noted that: …years after the breakup of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, Cuba continues to command the attention of U.S. policymakers. Although Russia and the former eastern bloc countries have undergone widespread democratic and free-market economic reform, Cuba remains one of the only communist dictatorships in the world. Removing Castro from power and implementing reform in Cuba are top U.S. foreign policy priorities, but lawmakers disagree on the best course of action. While some argue that the U.S. trade embargo has proved ineffective and inhumane, others respond that the United States should continue to apply pressure on Castro until he is toppled from power.
As the lawmakers debate, the misery in Cuba is worsening, and some countries are now beginning to blame U.S. policy. Time will tell whether the United States continues its present course or revises a policy that is increasingly unpopular with even its most loyal allies.21 Every now and again Castro allows a thaw in relations, but when the United States gets overly friendly he arranges a provocation, such as the drowning of two small planes piloted by Cuban exiles in 1996, which led to the passage by the United States congress of the Helms-Burton Act a month later.22 Presently, Cuba is in the process of developing an advanced telecommunications system with the help of communist ally China. Cuba was visited recently by Chinese delegate Wu Jichuan and Fidel Castro claims that relations between Cuba and China have never been better. Additionally, Cuba is seeking to end the 40-year United States trade embargo against the island. Should this occur, it would greatly enhance the countrys currently sagging economy. There is increasing pressure from United States business and agricultural communities to begin brisk trade with Cuba and take advantage of a new and potentially highly profitable market.23 If Cuba is successful at expanding its monocultural economy the country should experience remarkably auspicious results in the event of a lifting of the U.S.
embargo. More importantly, Castro would no longer have an excuse for the deficiencies in the Cuban economy. Additionally, housing for Cubans, which is guaranteed in the constitution, or the recent lack thereof, has reached epidemic proportions in Havana, the islands capital. Reportedly, the government admits the country does not have nearly enough building materials or manpower to give everyone the home they have been promised.24 For a socialist society dedicated to taking care of its people, the country seems to have fallen short in this arena, as well. Another recent political Cuban event overshadowing most other important Cuban political events, if only due to the extensive media coverage than the actual quality of newsworthy content, is the “tragicomedy” of the custody battle of near Cuban defector, Elian Gonzalez. In what should have been nothing more than an international custody battle over the six year old Cuban child, an all out political battle between the United States and Cuba ensued.
In my opinion, the incident had been seemingly spawned mainly from harbored resentment by Cuban-Americans over the failed Bay of Pigs event, in addition to their hatred of the authoritarian leader. Again, they fought and lost to Castro. This time, however, Fidel Castro was legitimate in his reproach and used the situation to portray the United States in an extremely unfavorable light. He succeeded, as the rest of the world looked on wondering what all the hype was about. What is extraordinary about Fidel Castro, however, is that he is still here at all. More than 40 years after coming to power, he survives.
He survives in the face of the unremitting hostility of a superpower only 90 miles away. He survives in spite of the fact that his main patron, the Soviet Union, has disappeared, his ideology, Marxist-Leninism, is discredited, and his economy is less than perfect. Despite the fact that an inordinate number of common citizens prefer to chance death at sea rather than remain in his nation, Fidel survives.25 Bibliography Juan M. del Aguila, Cuba: Dilemmas of a Revolution (Colorado: Westview Press, Inc., 1984), p. 9. 2 Juan M.
del Aguila, Cuba: Dilemmas of a Revolution (Colorado: Westview Press, Inc., 1984), p. 12. 3 Juan M. del Aguila, Cuba: Dilemmas of a Revolution (Colorado: Westview Press, Inc., 1984), p. 13.
4 Terrance Cannon, Revolutionary Cuba (Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited, 1981), p. 30. 5 Terrance Cannon, Revolutionary Cuba (Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited, 1981), p. 37. 6 Terrance Cannon, Revolutionary Cuba (Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited, 1981), p.
38. 7 Terrance Cannon, Revolutionary Cuba (Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited, 1981), p. 44. 8 Terrance Cannon, Revolutionary Cuba (Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited, 1981), p. 46.
9 Terrance Cannon, Revolutionary Cuba (Toronto: Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited, 1981), p. 46. 10 Geoff Simons, Cuba: From Conquistador to Castro (New York: St. Martins Press, 1996), p. 254.
11 Geoff Simons, Cuba: From Conquistador to Castro (New York: St. Martins Press, 1996), p. 257. 12 Juan M. del Aguila, Cuba: Dilemmas of a Revolution (Colorado: Westview Press, Inc., 1984), p.
38. 13 Juan M. del Aguila, Cuba: Dilemmas of a Revolution (Colorado: Westview Press, Inc., 1984), p. 40. 14 Sandor Halebsky and John M.
Kirk, Cuba: Twenty-Five Years of Revolution, 1959 to 1984 (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1985), p. 358. 15 Mark J. White, Missles in Cuba: Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro and the 1962 Crisis (Chicago: Mark J. White, 1977), p. 12.
16 Michael G. Roskin and Nicholas O. Berry, The New World of International Relations (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1999), p. 190. 17 Michael G.
Roskin and Nicholas O. Berry, The New World of International Relations (New Jersey: Prentice Hall, Inc., 1999), p. 190. 18 Sandor Halebsky and John M. Kirk, Cuba: Twenty-Five Years of Revolution, 1959 to 1984 (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1985), p.
375. 19 Sandor Halebsky and John M. Kirk, Cuba: Twenty-Five Years of Revolution, 1959 to 1984 (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1985), p. 375. 20 Sandor Halebsky and John M.
Kirk, Cuba: Twenty-Five Years of Revolution, 1959 to 1984 (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1985), p. 421. 21 World Wide Web, U.S. Policy Towards Cuba, (www.closeup.org/cuba, 1997). 22 World Wide Web, Boston Globe – CubaNet News, Inc., (www.cubanetnews.com, 2000). 23 World Wide Web, China Helps Cuba Get Current on Communications Technology, (www.cubanetnews.com, 2000). 24 World Wide Web, Despite Guarantess, Homelessnes Creeps Into Cuba, (www.cubanetnews.com, 2000).
25 World Wide Web, Government and Politics of Cuba, (www.cubapolidata.com, 2000).