History and Cuban Culture

From the Spanish occupation to Fidel Castro and Che Guevara’s Revolution, no other island in the Caribbean has such a rich and romantic history.

Cuba’s mixed Spanish and African heritage is reflected in its architecture, people, its art and literature, dance and music. Europeans arrived on the island throughout the 19th century as Cuba evolved as the world’s leading sugar-cane producer.

The movement for Cuban independence from Spain succeeded after a series of liberation wars, as the Spanish colonial rulers were expelled in 1898, after an American-led struggle. While Cuba was recognized as independent, an American occupation without end was proscribed. Thus the period of American domination of the island was born.

By the time of the 1959 Revolution Cuba was under the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, a Cuban leader closely affiliated with the American government, US corporations operating in Cuba and the mafia. Cuba was a society sharply divided between rich and poor.

After a failed coup in 1953, Fidel Castro and the Argentinean anti-imperialist freedom fighter Che Guevara, along with a rebel army, successfully defeated Batista in 1959. Cuba inched inevitably towards the Soviet fold, signing ever more pacts to receive Soviet economic and military aid, and embraced Communism by default. The Revolution was immensely popular with the poor and downtrodden of Cuba, but sparked a mass exodus from the island among the middle and upper classes.

Meanwhile tourists surge into the island, in the hopes of glimpsing an anachronistic world free of advertising and modern technologies that might soon vanish. The truth is, 60 years after the Revolution, nobody knows what the future Cuba will be like.

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