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El Lider

3rd November 2014
From Moderate to Radical
 Cuba had to be turned into a one-party government
 What would essentially constitute a one party
Robert E Quirk points out that, “ Fidel Castro’s fertile
imagination conceived many plans to bring instant
prosperity to the Cuban people, and he threw himself
into each new scheme with unbridled enthusiasm.
Whatever the project, Cuba would be the best in the
world, make the best in the world, do the best in the
The agrarian reforms
 The cornerstone of the revolution– la reforma agraria
 Land was organised into collective farms
 Diversity in what was grown
 National Institute of Agrarian Reform
 Land – played an enormous role in Cuban life. The slogan “
Agrarian Reform Works” was repeatedly endlessly on
television on radio.
The nation’s phone operators were even
required to answer calls by repeating it.
Among many Fidelistas, Some
 Some Cubans objected violently to the radical reforms
 Appalled with the extreme policies, some 1 million people –
roughly 10 percent of the population fled Cuba to settle in Miami.
Embarrassingly, two were Castro’s own sisters.
 Went on to silence all his critics
1. Newspapers
2. 20,000 to 50,000 were imprisoned
3. Radio and television who dared to be critical were critical

What other institution do you think Castro would have taken care
Neighbourhood Watchdogs
 Everyone in the new Cuba was expected
to harmonize with Castro’s programs
 Set up the nationwide network of
Committees for the Defense of the
Revolution (CDR)
 Neighbourhood groups that pledged to
report any suspicious or anti revolutionary
What’s the irony here?
Economic policies and their
 Role of Che Guevara
 President of the National Bank of Cuba and later the Minister
of Industries
 Favoured a centrally planned economy based on moral
incentives and self sacrifice
 Aimed at creating a new consciousness
 A society ruled by the principles of the revolution
 People became landowners overnight
 After 1963, the state owned 70 percent of the land, the rest
being small farms
 Lack of specialized personnel and technicians
 Moral incentives were not effective
 Farmers forced to sell their products at low prices
 Sugar production was at an all time low
 The govt continued to buy machinery from Eastern European
nations and the USSR
 Increasing in debt – back to intensive production of sugar
The Revolutionary Offensive
 In March 1968, Castro launched the ‘Revolutionary
Offensive’ to move Cuba further towards a communist state.

 Shut down and cancelled thousands of businesses
 What do you think was the rationale behind the movement?
 Caused massive disruption
 Led to food shortages – even ordinary items like shoelaces,
light bulbs and writing paper
 Another gaping hole was the migration of skilled
The Year of the Ten Million
 In order to solve the problems of 1968, Castro decided to
take up a new challenge - break its previous sugar
production record and reach a 10 million output in 1970
 It was meant to be ‘liberation campaign’
 Castro declared that even one pound less than his goal would
 Castro extended the harvest season from its normal period of
December through February into July 1970
 He cancelled all holidays, including Christmas and other non
essential activities
Year of the Ten Million
Every worker should act as he would in the face of an enemy
attack, should feel like a soldier in a trench with a rifle in his

By the spring of 1970, it was quite clear that the plan was
failing – Bad weather, faulty equipment, fire and blight

The harvest fell short of 2 million. Nevertheless, it was a new

record set
A decade of revolution had produced a new Cuba. Private
enterprise was gone, public transport were erratic if they
existed at all, Havana and other cities were increasingly dirty
and shabby. Consumer goods and even basic goods were
impossible to find

Yet the country was dotted with new hospitals, schools and
roads. Slums disappeared as functional new housing sprouted
around towns and villages. People might not be able to
express themselves freely, but they had access themselves
freely, but they had access to free education and medical
care. Unemployment had virtually disappeared. For every
malcontent, there were hundreds still enthusiastic for the
revolution, despite the disappointments if the age of
The Rectification Campaign
 In 1986, Castro blamed the more liberal measures.
 Consequently advocated return to the values of solidarity and
 Aim was to ‘rectify errors and negative tendencies’
 Under the campaign, farmers’ markets were banned; bonuses
and extra pay were abolished and self – employment were
 Labour discipline was enforced and the workers los tmany
Results of the Rectification
 Extremely poor
 Productivity fell
 Absenteeism at work increased
 Parallel or black markets reappeared to
offer goods that were difficult to obtain
 Transport and electricity rates also
The Special Period (1991)
 A big blow was dealt out to Cuba in 1991
 Soviet technicians left Cuba as hundreds of projects were
 Subsidized goods, oil, access to international loans and
everything the USSR had provided to Cuba was finished
 Castro announced that Cuba had entered a ‘special period in
 What could have been the impact of the disintegration of the
USSR on Cuban economy?
The Special Period
 Less oil – less working hours
 Long black outs
 Restricted public transport
 Impossible to find even essential items like tobacco, soap and oil
 In this challenging environment, “dollar stores” were introduced
– special stores that accepted only hard currency – i.e. American
currency which were more valuable than Cuban peso

Gradually, tourism replaced sugar as the primary source of income

The Special Period
 More goods were available to tourists in the dollar stores
than could be found in the ration shops used by Cubans.
 People were desperately looking for ways to acquire dollars
 Clive Foss notes, “ The obvious source was tourists. Doctors
abandoned their surgeries to drive taxis, engineers became
waiters. And thousands of women turned to prostitution.”