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Theorizing the Cuban Revolution Author(s): John Foran Source: Latin American Perspectives, Vol. 36, No. 2, Cuba: Interpreting a Half Century of Revolution and Resistance, Part 2 (Mar., 2009), pp. 16-30 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27648177 . Accessed: 10/06/2014 03:03 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. . Sage Publications, Inc. is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Latin American Perspectives. http://www.jstor.org This content downloaded from 18.104.22.168 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 03:03:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions Theorizing the Cuban Revolution by John F oran An assessment of theoutcomes of theCuban Revolution in termsof theoriesof both the causes and outcomes of revolutions in general reveals that that the revolution has been spectacularly successful in termsof ensuring thewell-being of thevast majority of Cubans, while at the same timefailing to deliver fully democratic institutions and freedoms. The success of the revolution inmaintaining itselfagainst U.S. hostility and thedeepening of neoliberal global capitalism is attributed to the strengthof thepolitical culture that the revolution has forged and carriedforward across thegenerations. The future of the revolution looks bright,especially if theCuban people find a way to secure deeper democratic Keywords: tomatch gains their social and economic ones. Cuban Revolution, Causes, Outcomes, Political culture,Future At the start of the twenty-first century, Cuba remains the on; e indisputably survived the hostility of the society on the planet. Having revolutionary United States at the height of the cold war and the harsh impact of the demise in the 1990s, the country now faces the imminent passing of the Soviet Union of its only head of state in a world characterized by reckless U.S. militarism and savage global capitalism. the future of this longest-lived of all Third World is revolutions Knowing one can imagine various as more or less but futures To impossible, probable. do so requires some understanding of Cuba's past as well as its present, and can come in theories about revolution, as well as sociological imagination, on I In draw I have done this work essay, handy freely (and very immodestly) over the years on how to theorize Third World in an effort to sig revolutions nal what thismight mean for understanding the Cuban Revolution. THE CAUSES OF THE REVOLUTION: A MODEL OF HOW THIRD WORLD REVOLUTIONS 1953-1959 COME ABOUT to a search for patterns in the of my scholarly life has been devoted that of the revolutions have the Third World, from great origins shaped and China in 1911 to Iran and Nicaragua in 1979. Most Mexico tellingly, only Cuba remains a revolutionary society today. own My particular synthesis (see Foran, 2005: 18-24; 1993; 1997b) insists on attention to such perennial (and all too often reified) dichoto balancing mies as structure and agency, political economy and culture, state and social Much is Professor John Foran author of several books at the of Sociology of California, University on revolutions. edited collections Santa and LATIN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES, DOI: 10.1177/0094582X09331938 ? 2009 Latin American Perspectives Issue 165, Vol. 36 No. 2,March 2009 16-30 16 This content downloaded from 22.214.171.124 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 03:03:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions Barbara, and the Foran/THEORIZING THE CUBAN REVOLUTION 17 structure, internal and external factors. I have argued that five interrelated a social revo to produce causal factors must combine in a given conjuncture lution (see Figure 1): 1. Dependent development (Cardoso and Faletto, 1979; Evans, 1979), essen a process of a set within limits insertion into the by growth country's tially creates social and economic economy, which capitalist world grievances sectors of the diverse among population. 2. A repressive, exclusionary, personalist state, led by a dictator or colonial a solid target for social movements from below, often power who provides even the middle and classes. upper alienating 3. The elaboration of effectiveand powerful political cultures of resistance1 among a broad array of actors, drawing upon formal ideologies such as socialism, folk of past struggles (so salient in Cuba), and popular traditions such as memories social justice, or an end to dictatorship. idioms such as nationalism, 4. A revolutionary crisis produced of an economic down by the combination even in be created by revolutionaries the course of the strug turn,which may as Castro's to do by the 1958 managed gle, July 26th Movement disrupting sugar harvest. 5. A world-systemic opening or let-up of external controls, originating in dis war or core economies world of the rivalries between ruption by depression, core powers, mixed messages sent to Third World dictators, or a divided for faced with an insurrection. eign policy when The coming together in a single place of all five factors has led to the forma in gaining power in tion of the broad revolutionary coalitions that succeeded Iran, and Nicaragua. Mexico, China, Cuba, What are some of the lessons we might cull from the revolutionary record in light of this theory of causes? Let me try stating a few in propositional terms Foran, (see 2003): have Revolutions typically been directed against two types of states at dictators spectrum: exclusionary, personalist opposite ends of the democratic or colonial in societies which the left open regimes and?paradoxically?truly had a fair chance in elections, as in Chile in 1970. They have usually been driven by economic by both the short-term and the medium-run development"?a and social caused inequalities of consequences "dependent a handful of the process of aggregate growth by which the to of the suffer majority prospered, leaving population have privileged innumerable hardships. a sense that no revolution They have had significant cultural component in the a vibrant set made sustained without has been and of political cultures of resist ance and opposition that found significant common ground, at least for a time. scene? themoment was favorable on theworld They have occurred when that would that is, when powers revolution have been distracted, oppose them. confused, or ineffective in preventing Finally, they have always involved broad, cross-class alliances of subaltern as well as classes, and elites, to an increasing extent women groups, middle a or as as to racial ethnic and lesser minorities well men, degree majorities. Such broad coalitions will have the best chances for success in terms of attaining state power. This content downloaded from 126.96.36.199 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 03:03:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions LATIN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES 18 Economic downturn Dependent development Exclusionary personalist state or Political cultures of Open polity opposition Revolutionary outbreak/ Multi-class, -race, -genderalliance World systemic opening Figure 1. A Model of Third World Social Revolutions CUBA AMIDST The THE FIVE FACTORS the appearance Revolution of an almost wholly presents a over small band of idealistic young revolutionaries revolution: Cuban "willed" a turning military dictatorship through determination, bravery, and luck. And an aspect in good measure this is true, but it is not thewhole story, even if it is we not lose sight of (see Foran, 2005: 57-65). the revolution was an almost textbook case of dependent devel Underlying as in It not that is Cuba the 1950s ranked "one of opment. always recognized nations in Latin America, and themost devel the four or fivemost developed should 1992: 166). The (Wickham-Crowley, tropical nation in the entire world" was sugar: Cuba had been the world's to of this course, growth, largest key since the early 1900s and provided more than half theworld market producer oped to 80 percent of Cuba's in sugar, amounting exports (Benjamin, Collins, and Scott, 1986: 9). At the same time ithoused a society marked by enormous dis parities ofwealth and power, forbehind the positive statistics lay the dependent aspects of Cuban development. The United States had US$1 billion invested inCuba in 1958 (up fromUS$657 million in 1952), second only to its invest oil industry and representing one-eighth of all U.S. investments in Latin America.2 The internal impact of this dependent develop ment was dramatic. Estimates of income inequality suggest that the poorest 20 ments in the Venezuelan percent got between 2 and 6 percent of income, the richest 20 percent taking 55 percent. In terms of land tenure, the largest 9 percent of landowners had 62 the bottom two-thirds had only 7 percent.3 While percent of the land, while than any other country of Latin had more millionaires Cuba per capita and "more Cadillacs were inHavana than any other city in the in 1954" (Benjamin, Collins, and Scott, 1986: 5), during the "dead sea world son" in the countryside, which could stretch to eight or nine months, "families in caves" ate roots and bark to stay alive, hunted locusts, lived in woods, a In between middle class?one-fifth work of the (Cannon, 1981:41). lay large of servants and civil and merchants, professionals, ing population?consisting a somewhat class that was better-off (and more politi smaller urban working in the rural sector (see Foran, cized) than its more numerous counterpart and Rivera, 1997). Klouzal, this political economy the together through various means was Holding state of Fulgencio Batista, who seized power on March 10,1952, after lagging America sold This content downloaded from 188.8.131.52 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 03:03:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions Foran/THEORIZING THE CUBAN REVOLUTION 19 in the polls during that year's presidential campaign. Propped up by the vast and networks open to him and severe repression of patronage corruption Batista's control had weakened his opponents, exclusionary, personalized civil society, undermining the bases of his rule. military and alienated culture at work in the Cuban Revolution The deep currents of oppositional included a long history of rebellions, a tradition of nationalism, and the loose, radical amalgam ultimately fashioned by Fidel Castro's July 26th Movement. influence and the seeming inability of Cuban politicians to and democracy both nationalism to diverse appealing social strata. Unity of purpose was provided by the message of the July 26th in but down clear its toned of Movement, enough promises elementary social an end to and domination.4 justice imperialist that facilitated The world-systemic the success of the Cuban opening came before the internal economic downturn. Revolution Batista, never par The growth of U.S. itmade withstand was still ticularly popular with theU.S. State Department, supported well into his reign as the only force that could hold Cuba together, thereby safeguarding a interests there. By mid-1957, U.S. that however, perception was growing Batista was losing legitimacy in Cuba and might have to be abandoned. In the to Batista and Castro, U.S. policy floundered: absence of a third alternative as an to see free elections under Batista (increasingly viewed Some wanted a renewal of arms to him, Ambassador Earl Smith U.S. sought impossibility); while others favored a military junta and still others felt he could not be sup and the United States. Smith ported without losing all credibility in Cuba 1958: "At this time itwould cabled home in late March appear tome that we a are in the a Greek act of the third of spectator watching position tragedy."5 1956 had been the The internal economic downturn came suddenly. While best year for the economy since 1952, the progress of the guerrilla war in 1958 new fronts; threw it into an irreversible free fall as the rebels opened by a come Havana economic outside had to virtual standstill December, activity in serious jeopardy. and the coming sugar harvest was Auspiciously enough, on New Year's forces swept triumphantly into Havana the revolutionary Day in the annals of revolutions, the rebels had created the 1959. Almost uniquely to destabilize the government and enlist the population downturn needed in a as Further would for the Cuban Revolution follow, change. surprises struggle has proven uniquely deep and durable in any comparative perspective. THE OUTCOME TO DATE A THEORY OF OUTCOMES In a 1993 study of Iran and Nicaragua, and I concluded that JeffGoodwin . . . outcomes the actual of of social revolutions study comparative to bet, Jeff)believe that remains in its infancy" (1993: 209). I (and, I am willing this remains true today. Once in power, revolutionaries have typically run into a series of related difficulties resulting from the continued significance of the same patterns for revolutionary transformation (see Foran, 2005: 268-269): structures have been difficult to construct following Truly democratic "the against dictators, while democratically to nondemocratic been vulnerable opponents, revolutions elected have internal and external This content downloaded from 184.108.40.206 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 03:03:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions revolutionaries (it 20 LATINAMERICAN PERSPECTIVES can have a range of meanings, from that "democracy" to to and freedoms of dissent elections expression competitive multiparty are all of which valuable in decision making, goals). participation are recalcitrant to that roots historical has deep development Dependent situation of themajority can be sustained reversal, however much thematerial to note is important run. improved in the short and medium The challenge of forging a revolutionary political culture to construct a new that foundered rapidly on the diversity of subcurrents society has generally all the structural obstacles to initial the contributed by victory, compounded revolutions have faced. the renewed counterrevolu have been able to withstand and their regional allies. outside dominant attention of powers tionary that have been so effective inmaking Given the above, the broad coalitions are notoriously of divergent difficult to keep together because revolutions to those visions make visions of how to remake society and unequal capacities Few revolutions seen at women have consistently and ethnic minorities prevail; meanwhile racism and after revolutions. of limited reversal best patriarchy In addition to these linked causal and outcome issues, there seem to be recur in the revolutionary record. For example, the rent trade-offs or contradictions runs up against the leadership's need to take participation ofmassive numbers to deal with all kinds of problems once in power; this in part decisive measures of substantively democratic spaces even as explains the often bloody narrowing of society are gaining new rights and members disenfranchised many previously as in France in movements been have When radically democratic, opportunities. a program had have in trouble the and Chile 1968 articulating early 1970s, they that made them and forces to all the progressive up withstanding acceptable a series of economic trade-offs is the from subversion Similarly, right. illegal in the Third World: associated with many revolutions, particularly impressive and education have after short gains in employment, wages, health, housing, infla economic contradictions (demand-driven periods been eroded by internal and labor human and material limited resources, tion, imbalances) powerful on trade, equipment, counterthrusts (boycotts and embargoes were not daunting economic and contradictions these if loans). As political or covert external violence, whether openly military in nature, enough, massive has often also been applied, further undermining prospects for democracy and international development. These patterned includ realities have produced outcomes, disappointing sense in real concentrated of the authoritarian very few (in power being ing in Vietnam and socialisms and Russia, China, Cuba, hands) relatively poor a to much than last revolutions (the only generation, except for Iran, longer has been where the degree of economic change limited); violent overthrows of slow strangling of change Chile, and Grenada; inMexico Bolivia 1940), (by (by 1960), Michael a and and Sandinista Jamaica, Nicaragua; blocking of the path to Manley's El in in 1989, in the France Salvador in 1980s, China 1968, power altogether and Iraq in 1991, among many other places. a measure coalitions is achieved, of power Once broad, heterogeneous as to constituent elements to their tend begin struggle among fragment, over the shape of the new order (in the case of a protracted themselves in Guatemala, revolutionaries to leading political reversals This content downloaded from 220.127.116.11 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 03:03:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions Foran/THEORIZING THE CUBAN REVOLUTION 21 as inMexico from 1910 to 1920, this process begins revolutionary struggle, even earlier). The limits of and the probability of persisting dependency renewed external pressures and intervention put further pressure on the coa can lead to lition to fragment, which coups as in Iran counterrevolutionary (1953), Guatemala (1954), Chile (1973), and Grenada (1983) or to a strong but state as in postrevolutionary undemocratic Mexico, Cuba, China, and Iran to route is the hardest various degrees. The democratic to follow; Sandinista tried this, despite the odds, and its wonderful revolution lasted Nicaragua less than a dozen years. It isworth noting that of the four poor authoritarian socialisms on the list, all but Cuba have seen their situation reversed; Russia, and only China, and Vietnam are no longer socialist but remain authoritarian, China has raised itself further out of poverty. No revolutionary movement of the twentieth century has come close to on the common dreams of so many of itsmakers: a more inclusive, delivering a more form of humane economic rule, participatory political egalitarian, sys in which individuals and local communities tem, and a cultural atmosphere may not only reach full self-creative expression but thereby contribute unex solutions to the dilemmas faced by society. In this sense Walter of the Benjamin's image angel of history being swept forward by storm the into the future, its face turned to the cata of progress willy-nilly an apt one. Yet the debris of the appears past, strophic past may hold other we to if for future know the how read them. messages pected oft-invoked WHAT CUBA HAS ACHIEVED of Cuba's Interpreting the pluses and minuses revolutionary experience can be controversial, because Cuba is an inherently politicized topic. For example, some see food as a of Fidel (as says, rationing just proof society "Everyone eats . . the same is ."),while others see the need for rationing as proof that Cuba an economic basket case. As a and Scott in write Collins, (1986: xi) Benjamin, book on the food situation in Cuba entitled No Free Lunch, "For some, the on earth and its leader, Fidel Castro, a Cuba paradise For of Cuba has become hell on earth, its leader a others, symbol hope. ruthless dictator." My own view is that Cuba's revolution has been the most same in At world history. the time, it is not without flaws, thoroughgoing some of them very deep. are very The achievements 2000: 447-448) (see Keen and Haynes, impres sive and very real: By 1990, unemployment had been virtually wiped out; rate was the lowest in Latin America. Cuba's Income distribution is also the fairest in Latin America. Rents were limited right after the revolution to 10 are no one's income. no of There almost slum percent virtually beggars, (with 80 percent of Cubans housing owning their own homes), no starvation or chronic care and education are free, with the most doc hunger. Medical revolution has made heroic tors per capita and the best health care system in all of Latin America. Seven to of the in the Latin and education, America, percent budget goes highest is As Keen and Keith conclude (2000: 448), Benjamin literacy high. Haynes most Cubans "Undoubtedly, their explains extraordinary midst of its deepest economic have support crisis." benefited from the revolution, which forty years later in the for it, almost This content downloaded from 18.104.22.168 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 03:03:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions 22 LATIN AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES on in the 1980s, indicators. Writing quality-of-life more that Cubans could consumed food on report colleagues Benjamin the average than the people of any country in Latin America except Argentina. 16.8 per thousand, compared with 126.9 in Haiti, and Infant mortality was in the United States. Life lower than the 18.1 among African-Americans No Free Lunch focuses and from 57 years in 1958 to 73.5 years in 1983. A U.S. report admitted that health care is "superior in the third world Congressional tomention countries"?not that it is and rivals that of numerous developed expectancy had risen is now the most racially free. In the estimation of these researchers, "Cuba ever experienced" we have society (Benjamin, Collins, and Scott, 1986: 189).6 Until quite recently, it had one of the lowest crime rates in the world and safe streets at all hours, with rape reportedly very rare. They con a sense of cluded that Cubans were characterized "pervasive by dignity and contrast in future?a from the shame and the confidence sharp hopelessness harmonious one finds inmuch of the third world" (190). Johnetta Cole, then president of over for a cabinet was passed in the appointment Spellman College, in December 1992 because of her ties to an American Clinton administration who has shown that the revolution group in solidarity with the Cuban Revolution, as well as lives dramatically, the limits to has improved women's discussing this process, which she attributes to the overall scarcity ofmaterial goods in a that are not easily poor country and the continuation of attitudes of machismo are for with done away (Cole, 1993). Men, required by law to help example, a more often in the breach, as in the rest with the housework, practice honored of the world.7 More indicators from economic, recent, comparative social, and political that the Cuban Revolution Latin America has show the degree of well-being into the twenty-first century. The United Nations' and sustained delivered Human Development Index ranks Cuba fifty-firstamong theworld's nations, fifth among Latin America and the Caribbean's 33 nations, behind Argentina (38),Chile (40),Uruguay (46), and Costa Rica (UNDP, 2007), including it in the On many measures, Cuba fares even category of high human development. better than this (Table 1). levels of infant mortality, infants born with low birth weight, per Cuba's children enrolled in secondary school, adult literacy, undernourish of centage on education and health rank first in and ment, degree of public expenditure in parlia its life expectancy and percentage of women Latin America, while ment are a close third behind only Chile and Costa Rica on the firstmeasure and Costa Rica on the second. In fact, Cuba's and Argentina quality-of-life indicators are on a par with those for the United States and in terms of par women in the government far surpass them. ticipation of these facts suggest that there have been tremendous accom On the whole, in 1959, and I would in terms of where Cuba was judge them plishments or in Latin Third of the world. the the America, World, history unprecedented THE DOWNSIDE On the negative side, there is criticism that the political system is con one equates democracy with contested strained, whether fairly multiparty This content downloaded from 22.214.171.124 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 03:03:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions opment %ofin Women 25.0 28.68.2 6.3 13.621.518.5 9.6 29.210.8 18.6 Parliament 14.69.3 9.7 12.7 38.617.1 16.7 36.811.9 23.4 16.7 25.4 36.016.3 GDP on Health4.3 2.7 4.1 4.8 2.9 6.7 5.1 1.9 2.2 3.5 5.0 of Spent 2.3 2.9 4.0 2.8 3.0 3.9 5.2 2.6 1.9 3.6 1.4 2 *14.2 5.5 6.9 *2.5 % onEducation 3.8 5.4 6.4 % GDP of Spent % People 4 3 23 4.4 7 3.5 4 4.8 4.9 1.8 13 5 29 1.0 6 2.8 11 5.2 7 5.3 5.4 3.1 3.8 4.3 2.4 *1.7*1.1*4.0 22 46 23 9 5 27 23 15 12 2.6 2 4.2 n.a 9.8 5.9 10 18 2 2 *4.4 10 Undernourished %ofAdults n.a. n.a. 91.676.7 94.9 91.0 Literate 97.2 86.788.695.792.8 87.0 80.6 69.1 n.a. 80.079.9 91.993.587.996.898.493.099.8 n.a.89.9 on TABLE 1 Latin Data America % Enrolled in School Secondary 79717378 n.a.55 8 6 7 % with Weight Birth Low Infants 53 52 53 79 34 *51 21 78 65 43 64 70 n.a. *51 69 63 87 89 68 *71 8 6 9 7 11167 8 12 14108 109 118 23 12 21 151552318 1711262223173284311722301920231417186 6 26 Mortality Rate Births Live 1,000 Infant per Source: Life UNDP (2007) except in Years Expectancy USA 77.9 Dominican 71.5 Republic All 72.8 Latin America n.a. available not = 69.7 78.5 Guatemala 69.4 73.2 74.8 Salvador El 71.3 72.3 71.9 Uruguay 75.9 Venezuela Argentina 72.275.6 71.3 Rica 74.7 68.2 64.771.7 75.1 69.2 77.7 59.5 Jamaica Grenada 78.3 Chile 75.9 Belize Paraguay Bolivia Trinidad Honduras 70.7 Ecuador Haiti Cuba Country Nicaragua Costa Colombia MexicoPanama Brazil Peru This content downloaded from 126.96.36.199 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 03:03:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions items starred that com 24 LATINAMERICAN PERSPECTIVES as freedom of or with human the press, or rights such speech, were assem held for Until elections the 1992, directly municipal religion. only turn in which the the then chose which chose blies, assemblies, provincial of of the National the reforms of that members Power; Assembly People's of the revolution, year made direct election the case at all levels. Supporters elections are not a elections both inside and outside Cuba, argue that multiparty measure involves people's in grass of deep democracy, which participation a certain measure roots decision making. this Cubans do criterion, By enjoy of democracy. The influence of the Communist party, the Young Communist Cuban the Cuban of the Confederation Federation of Workers, League, in the political process mark of Cuban and the Federation Students Women, both the extent and the limits of popular participation. in the hands For 48 years, at the top of the system, power was concentrated held the titles ofHead of Fidel Castro, who simultaneously of the Government, First Secretary of the Communist of State, Party, and President of the Council and ithas now passed only as far as his brother Ra?l. To thismay be added the fear of and harsh sanctions against dissenters, the lack of any government's a press that is controlled and rather uncritical, the limited opposition parties, an aversion to the too-open practice of degree of tolerance for gay people, and if it is tolerated Criticism channels; problems goes through approved religion. it does not. arise when area of the revolution. Foreign relations have proven another controversial on theUnited States its historic dependence Critics argue that Cuba exchanged on the Soviet Union after 1960. The fact that 80 percent for a new dependency of its trade was with the Soviet Union and therewas a yearly subsidy of US$3-5 billion thatwas used to keep Cuba going, they charge, required Cuba to keep in in for real independence the good graces of the Soviets, proving a burden in its But African involvements and Ethiopia foreign policy, especially Angola. was in the way we usually mean when we the Soviet Union exploiting Cuba Itwas not making a profit inCuba. One could argue that speak of dependency? a subsidy that entails paying a better price for a is a "fair" country's products a Third World No Free for the of The of Lunch authors country. goods price contrast the Soviet subsidy with the massive aid the United States gives to El Salvador, the Philippines, in providing and Pakistan, which have little in theway of accom basic needs to show for it.Again, Puerto Rico, which plishments gets four times the aid of Cuba in per capita terms, is badly off economically in must and it be Scott, 1986: 191-193). And many ways (Benjamin, Collins, enormous out with that Cuba has shown Third World solidarity pointed nations by sending its doctors, teachers, and technicians abroad for little or no compensation. economic the degree of Cuba's reliance on the Soviet Union Nevertheless, was when communism there after 1990. In what would exposed collapsed become known as the Special Period, Cuba's gross national product plum meted by as much as 40 percent between 1989 and 1992. In 1989 Cuba was able to import US$8.1 billion in goods but in 1992 only US$2.4 billion and in 1993 to a US$20 billion debt to Russia from the Soviet US$1.7 billion. In addition era, by 2005 Cuba's hard-currency debt was over US$13 billion (USAID, 2005; tons in of State, 2003). Oil imports dropped from 13 million U.S. Department in 1992. All of thismeant 1989 to 6 million less use of fertilizer and tractors in This content downloaded from 188.8.131.52 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 03:03:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions Foran/THEORIZING THE CUBAN REVOLUTION 25 of up agriculture and regular electricity shortages causing planned blackouts from the diet; the to eight hours a day. Beef and pork all but disappeared had fewer chicken ration fell to 12 ounces per person per month. Hospitals the first signs of schools fewer books and supplies. There were medicines, since 1959 (although the government official unemployment paid up to 60 percent of the salaries of state employees without work), and underemploy as well. ment deepened its footing on a new basis late the 1990s, the economy had regained By sectors were cre feat. Strong new economic without Soviet aid, a remarkable as were resources and oil toward directed ated foreign tourism, biotechnology, a in China and Latin America, trend trade partners emerged exploration. New reinforced of late by the "pink tide" of left-of-center governments throughout to revive the economy have included legalizing dol the continent. Measures in the United to their States to send money Cubans lars (and encouraging a certain amount of relatives on the island) and allowing private enterprise ease life for (bicycle repair shops, beauty salons, etc.). These steps may help now will that solve the it is doubtful but some, they problems posed by the case in to lead increased and any they inequality onslaught of globalization, lack this. In the twenty between those with access to dollars and those who going to by helping out family members, extra jobs, and in some cases engaging in crime and (eliminated after the revolution came to power). prostitution the U.S. embargo drags on. The second Bush administration's Meanwhile, terms for lifting the embargo, interestingly, were the adoption not just of democ in place because the racy but also of a free-market economy. Is the embargo first century, people make the black market, working United yard" would ends meet to be its "back and Central America States still considers the Caribbean an save I "to these countries from themselves"? and feels obligation a fear on the part of U.S. administrations has been that there suggest and Reagan ones) that the Cuban model historically (especially the Kennedy in the world, which might explain U.S. would be found attractive elsewhere actions tomake the country as poor as possible. The contradiction that succes relations with sive U.S. administrations forged extensive trade and diplomatic at the height of the cold war and normalized rela are reasons not in that the the 1994 suggests for the embargo tions with Vietnam the stated ones. Time will tell if the administration of Barack Obama possesses of the embargo. Should this happen, thewillingness vision and will to abandon on to terms the United and the toward States the Cuban open government which this is agreed will tell us much about Cuba's path to the future. the Soviet Union and China it is of the revolution have long argued whether or the aggressive tactics the of imperialist state and of the historical evolution States that best United present explain an But is there inevitable trade-off between expanding the Cuban Revolution. the revolution against its human rights at home and successfully defending answer to this the the theory abroad? Whatever enemies question, powerful that the continuing traced at the start of this section suggests of outcomes Defenders the drawbacks and detractors of Cuban socialism in the context of global effects of dependency (now expressed to the refusal of the Cuban open itself politically leadership or academic worlds. of the the polarized polemics diplomatic outcomes traced in the comparative record of revolutionary This content downloaded from 184.108.40.206 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 03:03:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions and capitalism) than farther go Locating Cuba earlier, we can LATINAMERICAN PERSPECTIVES 26 and the say that ithas fallen prey to the closing of some democratic windows a but the world has broken from of hostile pressures economy capitalist a in social revolutions limitations of all previous strong and enduring forging the thrusts of the culture, withstanding counterrevolutionary revolutionary a and and broad diverse coalition world's hegemonic power, keeping together of society and to the real gains to the poorest members that has brought island's women the cup itsAfro-Cuban population. to full than to empty in 2009. and is closer POSSIBLE FUTURES in a survey of revolutions of the late twentieth century a number of observations about Cuba's future in In the mid-1990s, (Foran, 11), I made 1997a: perspective: comparative If Iran and (to a lesser extent) Egypt look reasonably secure, Cuba sents an criteria, By any comparative more even site of revolution. unlikely in 1996 repre . . . Castro remains rather securely in place despite the presence of [several of the factors that cause revolutions]. The explanation would on the resilience of the political culture of the Cuban legitimating Cuba surely and the of gains regime one of the most successful for the vehicle represents seem to rest very heavily revolution as a substantial . . . the revolution. cases in the history of revo lutions of revolutionaries working within theirpre-existing ideological horizons, but also going beyond and outside them, in theprocess elaborating new, re-visioned cultures of opposition to try to keep a revolutionary coalition together through a skillful process of consolidation. . . . The question today, and the one on which the future of theCuban revolution seem to hinge, is how much remains of this effervescent support for would Castro and Cuban socialism inside the country? Somehow, Castro retains a level of public support, though how much is difficult to say. As one grocer put it: "To put up with things is a national custom." And as Castro himself said at the depth of the economic downturn in 1993: "It is an epic struggle inwhich we find our selves. We have had to give up many of the things inwhich we were involved, but what we will never give up is hope."8 Cuba to date, and for the foreseeable future, of political culture for sustaining revolutions revolution) in a globalizing world. thus showcases the advantages (and thereby preventing counter this 1997 article ranked Cuba, along with Iran, table that accompanied a in the category of countries least likely to experience and China, countries Zaire in included the (now Congo regime (high-likelihood change soon witness the fall of the Partido and Mexico (which would again) This assessment of Cuba's relative stability Revolucionario Institucional). in 1996. The revolution has weathered seems as accurate today as itwas the A Peru, crash of the Special Period, the militarized foreign policy of the second Bush on its shores, and now the passing the arrival of globalization administration, of the reins of power from the hands of Fidel Castro. Will it be so a dozen years from now, say, in 2020? Since social forecasting does not have 20/20 vision, it is hard to see the future clearly. As Zhou En-lai "It's too early to say." The sce said of the outcome of the French Revolution, its like this: Cuba maintains nario I would most like to see runs something on a on education and and health embarks visionary plan to high spending This content downloaded from 220.127.116.11 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 03:03:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions Foran/THEORIZING THE CUBAN REVOLUTION 27 invest green its economy, with less reliance on petrochemical inputs, massive ment in public transportation and solar and other renewable energy sources, turns its economy even further in the direction of providing essential services to other Third World medicines countries, including inexpensive generated to expand tourism of all kinds? sector, and continues by its biotechnology and economic ties political, and traditional. Politically, diplomatic reestablished with the United States during Barack Obama's first term, and technology, people, and ideas have flowed both ways with positive Ra?l Castro passed from the scene, a younger generation of effects. When no at all levels of leaders guaranteed government, participation popular ecological, have been in the Communist party and allied organizations. longer tied tomembership A variety of parties emerged with the new legislation on political parties, and elected coalition of left and ecological is governed by a popularly Cuba par have which freedoms. ties, religious, cultural, literary, and media expanded a sense of remain characterized Cubans "pervasive by dignity and confidence one finds in contrast in the future?a the and from shame sharp hopelessness much of the third world" (Benjamin, Collins, and Scott, 1986: 190). CONCLUSIONS Iwant to close with an anecdote from the one at the height (or trough) of the Special Period. of scholars' gentle critique of my presentation never I have this kind of because experienced trip Imade Iwill never to Cuba, in 1993, the Cuban forget the causes of the revolution, critique in the United States. to speak in Spanish, unlike most of the U.S. soci effort my They appreciated I came with. They were eager to engage our ideas ologists in the delegation on and to learn from us. They also urged me to read more Cuban scholarship shared books and references with the situation in the 1950s and generously me. I came away from the encounter refreshed by the culture of the Cuban as embodied in these wonderful human beings. If I have been Revolution as as I and if well have insisted that theory can critical here, complimentary us see some things about the nature and future of the revolution, with help immodest reference to the history of my own evolving understanding of the in some way the conversation started revolution, I hope that I have continued on that day. ?Que viva la revoluci?n cubana! NOTES 1.1 first coined (1993), Studies in Reed further thesis. It is fully employed in Fragile Resistance this term inmy 1981 Master's and Social in "Discourses Forces: The Role of Culture and Cultural theorized in Understanding and Foran (2002). Revolutions" In formulating (1997c), and most it, I have drawn extensively on greatly discussed the work and of A. illustrated Sivanandan (1980), JamesScott (1990), Farideh Farhi (1990), StuartHall (1978a; 1978b; 1986),Ann Swidler (1986), Raymond Williams (1960), CliffordGeertz (1973), E. P. Thompson (1966 ), and Antonio Gramsci 2. On U.S. (1971), among interests in Cuba, others. many see Collins, Benjamin, and Scott (1986: Gonzalez (1974: 18, 31); P?rez-Stable (1993: 15), andWolf (1969: 256). 10-11); This content downloaded from 18.104.22.168 on Tue, 10 Jun 2014 03:03:09 AM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions FRUS (1987: 870), LATINAMERICAN PERSPECTIVES 28 on 3. Data States are drawn inequality Archives National (hereafter from Benjamin, and Foreign to State Department and 10,1956); (February to State Department See (July 13,1956). Boonstra, Havana, Despatch P?rez-Stable 28, Price, Havana, (1993: 20). views 4. On Castro's Scott (1986: 2-6, 12); United Service 560, Despatch Service 837.00/7-1356, Foreign Collins, 837.00/2-1056, USNA), also Thomas (1971: 746) and see Foran, Klouzal, and Rivera the July 26th Movement's positions, de Service Despatch 737.00/8-458, 5, Park Wollam, Foreign Santiago del Veinte y Seis de Julio/' to State Department Econ?mico Cuba, (August 4, 1958), 11; "Ideario to State Department Service Despatch 982, Gilmore, Havana, 837.00/3-959, USNA, Foreign see Liss For comprehensive and Wickham-Crowley treatments, (1992:176-178). (March 9,1959); 54-57, (1997: and 97); USNA, (1994) and Quirk (1993). to Secretary of State 613, from Smith, Havana, (March Telegram see USNA, Service Despatch of elections, 320, 737.00/9-2658, Foreign support to State Department for arms renewal, 737.00/7 Havana, 26, 1958); Braddock, (September to Secretary of State 79, Smith, Havana, 1658, Telegram (July 16, 1958), and 737.00/10-2158, to Secretary intimations for guarded of State (October 386, Smith, Havana, 21,1958); Telegram William G. Political of support for a military Havana, 737.00/8-758, Bowdler, Officer, coup, T. L. Da Cunha, to Cuba with Sr. Vasco Brazilian ambassador of Conversation Memorandum 5. USNA, 30, 1958). 737.00/3-3058, For 7, 1958); and (August Office Memorandum (Confidential) 737.00/7-2458, 6. Of this must course, for State Department doubts about continued support, toMr. Snow Stewart (Secret) (July 24, 1958). and has been by many and scholars of the revolution from C. A. be nuanced race. at home while women that men worked 7. "[A] 1988 survey showed only 4.52 hours per week 2000: 448). The contradictions of the revolution from a 22.28 hours" (Keen and Haynes, are Randall feminist perspective (1993). well-explored by Margaret are from the New York Times, 8. The quotes January 11 and 12,1993. worked REFERENCES Scott and Michael Joseph Collins, Lunch: Food and Revolution Benjamin, Medea, 1986 No Free in Cuba Today. New York: Food First and Grove Press. Terrence Cannon, Cuba. New York: Thomas 1981 Revolutionary and Enzo Faletto Fernando Cardoso, Henrique and Development 1979 Dependency Johnetta B. Y. Crowell. in Latin America. Berkeley: University of California Press. Cole, 1993 "Women in Cuba: (ed.), Revolutions: Evans, Peter the revolution Theoretical, within Comparative, The Alliance 1979 Dependent Development: Press. 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