What will the future bring to Cuba?
This month Cuba celebrates “la Fiesta de la Cubanía”, a national festival that commemorates the pride of being Cuban and the duty of defending the national identity and culture through celebrations and conferences.
So what better time to talk about the new changes affecting this country?
Cuba is turning a new page. The US embargo has ended and Raúl Castro is practising a new era of politics. But do you remember its past?
Cuba was one of the first countries colonised by the Spanish Empire and one of the last to proclaim independence in 12 August 1898. Later during the 20th century, Cuba went from being a Spanish colony to becoming the American playground, or as it has been called many times, “the brothel of the USA”.
The dictator Batista allowed casinos, mafia and prostitution to fill Cuba’s streets. American companies influenced much of Cuba’s economy including sugar production, electricity, oil refineries, hotels and food industries.
That was the background that led to a group of young men known as the “barbudos” (bearded men) among who were Fidel Castro, his brother Raúl and Ernesto “Che” Guevara and a revolution that ended in victory on 1st December of 1958 with the overthrow of the Batista dictatorship.
The Revolutionary Government carried out some of the promises they made, but the elimination of elections and freedom of the media caused many critics and intellectuals who supported the Revolution to break relations with the regime. And the subsequent alliance with the USSR and US trade embargo in the early 1960s, led to Cuba’s disappearance from the international scene.
But Cuba’s social achievements are real and undeniable. Since the nationalisation of education, health and other services in 1961, Cubans have enjoyed free access to education, health care and social protection. However the economic crisis suffered for more than 50 years has made it a very poor country. A country frozen in time, living in the past without new technologies and global development.
Since Fidel’s departure from government on his brother’s hands, Cuba has tried to change itself and become part of the globalised world. But many questions arise at this moment: What will happen now? How will this socialist country fit in a capitalist world? To what extent will America and the West affect the island’s economy again? How much will the life of Cubans change? And will democracy return?
What do you think? What is your prediction?
To contribute to the spirit of “Fiesta de la Cubanía” and in celebrating Cuban identity, please check out these movies about Cuba, its traditions and history:
- Chico y Rita, 2010
- Habana Blues, 2003
- Guantanamera, 1994
- Fresa y chocolate (Strawberry and Chocolate, 1993)
- Memorias del subdesarrollo (Memories of Underdevelopment, 1968)