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THE ECONOMIC WEEKLY SPECIAL NUMBER JULY 1961

The Cuban Revolution


Some Whys and Wherefores
Andrew Guilder Frank
Did the Cuban Revolution grow out of the dictatorial repression of Batista ? Yes, certainly, but the
repression of Batista generated no more cause for revolt than that of Trujillo in the Dominican Republic
ot Jimenez in Venezuela,
Is it a movement to liberate Cuba from American domination of its economy ? Undoubt edl y, but
other Carribean countries, like Guatemala and Honduras, are no less famed for American influence in their
economic life.
Does the Cuban Revolution represent a battle against poverty, hunger disease and illiteracy ? Cer-
tainly', but poverty in Haiti is much more severe than in Cuba. Indeed per capita income in Cuba- is higher
than almost anywhere else in Latin America.
The absence of indigenous Indians perhaps facilitates the success of the Revolution, but Costa Rica
similarly has no Indians, nor does Uruguay.
The author does not attempt to describe or explain the Cuban Revolution exhaustively. He merely
wants to expose for inspection the background and the sources of the developments that Cuba and the world
now witness.
He leaves it to the understanding and research of others to explore the many questions only raised
here.
CUBANS pr ocl ai m themselves the
f i r st free count ry i n La t i n
Amer i ca. What do they me a n?
Wh y di d the r evol ut i on whi ch i s
devel opi ng in Cuba take place pre-
cisely there and not elsewhere?
Wh y does the Cuban Revol ut i on
take the f or m i t does rat her t han
the f or m, for instance, of our of
the Lat i n Amer i can revol ut i ons
whi ch preceded it ?
Several causes of the Cuban Re-
vol ut i on i mmedi at el y suggest them-
solves, but none of them si ngl y or
in combi nat i on appear to offer a
satisfactory expl anat i on of the
t i me and place of the Revol ut i on.
Di d the Revol ut i on grow out of the
di ct at or i al repression of Batista ?
Yes. cert ai nl y i t di d. But the re-
pressi on of Batista generated no
more cause, for revolt t han that of
Tr u j i l l o i n the Domi ni can Republ i c
or that of Jimenez in Venezuela ;
yet the Domi ni can Republ i c has
witnessed no r evol ut i on at al l , and
Venezeula one whi ch has taken a
f or m qui t e di fferent f r om the
Cuban Revol ut i on.
Is the Cuban Revol ut i on a move-
ment t o l i berat e Cuba f r om Ame r i -
can domi nat i on of i t s economy i n
the fi el ds of sugar, publ i c ut i l i t i es,
and l arge part s of commerce? Un-
doubt edl y. But ot her Carri bean
count ri es, l i ke Guat emal a and Hon-
duras, are no less famed for Ame-
r i can i nfl uence i n t hei r economic
l i f e , Honduras has witnessed no
r evol ut i on and Guatemala one
whi ch took a different f or m.
Does the Cuban Revol ut i on re-
present a battle against povert y,
against hunger, disease and i l l i t er a-
cy ? Cer t ai nl y. But pover t y in
Ha i t i is much more severe than
in Cuba. Indeed, per capi t a income
in Cul m is higher t han almost any-
where else i n Lat i n Ameri ca. Ma r
be it is this very relative weal t h
whi ch has gi ven Cuba the abi l i t y
and the strength to make so far-
reachi ng a r evol ut i on. But such
resources are avai l abl e in concen-
trated f or m also i n the Mont evi deo
of Ur uguay or the Ri o de Janeiro
and Sao Paula regions of Br azi l .
The absence of indigenous
Indi ans probabl y facilitates the
success of the Cuban Revol ut i on.
But Cost a Rica si mi l ar l y has no
Indi ans, nor does Ur uguay.
Maybe it is less the absence of
Indi ana than the presence of a
mi ddl e class and of a pool of
pot ent i al i nt el l ect ual leadership
whi ch has faci l i t at ed the Cuban
Revol ut i on. But Br azi l , Ar gent i na,
and Chi l e have si mi l ar sources of
pot ent i al l eadershi p; and there is
evidence that i n Mexi co, whi ch
witnessed its own r evol ut i on fi ft y
years ago, it is precisely the mi d-
dle class whi ch is the source of the
i ncreasi ng conservatism whi c h
mi l i t at e against the extension of
economi c development i nt o t he
Mexi can count rysi de. Thus, wi t h o u t
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i nvoki ng the charisma of Fi del , an
exhaustive causative expl anat i on of
the Cuban Revol ut i on may not be
possible. At any rate. I cannot
provi de one.
Historical Source
However a Iess ambi t i ous expl a-
nat i on shoul d not be beyond our
reach, Every resol ut i on is a reac-
t i on to the past, and that past is
cert ai nl y open to our i nspect i on.
Indeed, today' s r evol ut i on is a pr o-
duct as well of past reactions, t hat
is. of earlier revolutionary at-
tempts. By l ooki ng at the earl i er at-
tempts t o deal wi t h si mi l ar
probl ems, par t i cul ar l y by pr i or re-
vol ut i ons i n Lat i n Amer i ca, we
should be able to suggest how some
al t ernat i ve f or ms of the Cuban Re-
vol ut i on may have come to be
excl uded. Fur t her mor e, no revol u-
t i on can change ever yt hi ng. Para-
doxi cal l y, a r evol ut i on must r el y on
wel l -ent renched social forms, such
as pat ernal i sm in Cuba, to effect a
radi cal change i n ot her forms of
social rel at i ons. Thus, a st udy of
social and cul t ur al forms whi ch di d
and di d not exist i n the Cuba of
ol d shoul d yi el d some i ndi cat i ons
of the r evol ut i onar y possi bi l i t i es
f or the Cuba of t omor r ow. The
present paper, then, is an at t empt
to expl or e these three sources of
expl anat i on of the Cuban Revolu-
t i on : the hi st ori cal source of t he
r evol ut i on, al t ernat i ve solutions- to
La t i n Ame r i c a n pr obl e ms whi c h
SPECIAL NUMBER JULY 1961
THE ECONOMIC WEEKLY
have been f ound want i ng, and the
soci o-cul tural f or ms whi ch deter-
mi ne not onl y the r evol ut i onar y
necessities, but also the revol ut i on-
ar y possi bi l i t i es. I n pur sui ng these
expl or at i ons, we shoul d not how-
ever expect to fi nd i mpor t ant ans-
wers as instead we find i mpor t ant
new questi ons.
The hi st ory of Lat i n Amer i ca
mi ght be summed up by sayi ng
t hat the Spani sh came to expl oi t
and t hei r successors remai ned to
expl oi t . The mai n social features
of l arge parts of Lat i n Amer i ca
wer e wel l known : the consolida-
t i on of agr i cul t ur al l ands under
l at i f undi sl a ownershi p, the rol e of
the chur ch i n keepi ng peopl e qui et
and of the ar my i f they were not,
the rol e of the r i si ng mi ddl e classes
based i n commerce and the profes-
sions whi ch account f or the very
one-sided economi c devel opment
that does occur, t he al l i ance of
Amer i can capi t al wi t h al l these
groups, the r i ght - wi ng di ct at orshi ps
t hat are the capstone whi ch ties the
social f abr i c together by f orce and
t error. Pr obabl y more than total
mass povert y and i gnorance, i t has
been the excl usi on of the vast ma-
j or i t y of Lat i n Amer i cans f r om the
soci al , pol i t i cal , and economi c bene-
fi ts enj oyed by some peopl e i n
these societies whi ch has resul ted i n
the many sporadi c soci al upheaval s
r angi ng f r om changes i n the pal ace
guar d to f ul l scale soci al re-
vol ut i ons.
Structure of Latin American
Society
The Cuban Revol ut i on has its
roots i n thi s general st r uct ur e of
Lat i n Amer i can soci ety, i n t hi s
same Lat i n Amer i can soci al move-
ment to whi ch that social st ruct ure
has gi ven risie (i ndeed, i n the
t went i et h cent ury wor l d revol ut i on
as a whol e) but it has i ts own hi s-
t or y as wel l , i n the pecul i ar Cuban
condi t i ons arid the l ong hi st or y of
r evol ut i onar y and l i ber at i on move-
merits whi ch have t i me and agai n
at t empt ed but fai l ed to al t er sub-
st ant i al l y the st ruct ure of Cuban
soci ety. Near l y a cent ury ago, i n
18' 8, Cuba revol ts agai nst Spai n.
The r evol ut i on i s i nt el l ect ual l y i n-
spi r ed and l ed, t hough i t has some
measure of popul ar suppor t . The
revol ut i on f ai l s and Spai n ret ai ns
i t s pol i t i cal supremacy. I n the
years whi ch f ol l ow, Amer i can capi -
t al begi ns seri ousl y t o be i nvested
i n Cuban sugar. I ndeed, , a U S
consul ar r epor t of 1878 notes t hat
" commer ci al l y Cuba has become a
dependency of the Uni t ed States
al t hough pol i t i cal l y i t remai ns a
dependency of Spai n. " By 1895
Cuba i s ready to wage a f ul l scale
r evol ut i onar y war of i ndependence
agai nst Spai n. Thr ee years l ater, i n
1808, the Uni t ed States enters the
war agai nst Spai n on the si de of
Cuba. Vi ewed i n the context of a
hundr ed years of U S and Confe-
derate designs on Cuba, combi ned
wi t h mor e recent l y acqui r ed di rect
economi c interests, t he Pl at t
Amendment of 1902 whi ch reser-
ves the r i ght to the Uni t ed States
to i ntervene at its pl easure in the
domesti c af f ai rs of the supposedl y
soverei gn Cuba need come as no
surpri se, Cuba, exhausted by i ts
war of l i ber at i on agai nst Spai n, i s
faced wi t h the choi ce of out r i ght
annexat i on by the Uni t ed States as
befel l Pi er t o Ri co and the Phi l i -
ppi nes or pr esumpt i ve soverei gnt y
wi t h Amer i can i nt er vent i on. I t
chooses the l atter and i s vi si t ed
by Amer i can mi l i t ar y i nt er vent i on
t hree ti mes unt i l the repeal of the
Pi at t Amendment i n 1933 and by
ot her f or ms of i nt ervent i on unt i l
thi s day.
I n the meant i me the i nt r oduct i on
of rai l roads and el ect ri ci t y i nt o
Cuba r adi cal l y increases the di s-
tance over whi ch sugar cane coul d
bo t ransport ed and the size of the
mi l l s i n whi ch i t coul d be process-
ed. As a resul t, the ear l i er smal l
hol di ngs of l and and l i t t l e mi l l s i n-
creasi ngl y become consol i dated i n-
to large-scale l at i f undi sl a hol di ngs
of l and and of l arge sugar centrales
whi ch r ei gn over the l andscape
l i ke f eudal castles. As el sewhere i n
Lat i n Amer i ca t o thi s day, thi s fer-
ti l e gr ound f or r i ght - wi ng di ct at or-
shi ps easily produces and support s
the di ct at or shi p of Machado dur i ng
the ni neteen twenti es. When t hi s
di ct at orshi p i s over t hr own i n 1931,
the r ef or m movement whi ch seeks
to remove some of the soci al , pol i -
t i cal , and economi c sources of such
di ct at orshi ps f ai l s, and, let i t be
not ed, f ai l s wi t h the ai d and i nt er-
vent i on of the U S Depar t ment of
Stat? and Embassy i n t he person of
Sumner Wel l es who support s t he
conservati ves, and onl y a moderate
r ef or m prevai l s.
When the effects of the depres-
si on and the decl i ne of Cuba' s
sugar f or t unes were combi ned wi t h
t he subst ant i al cont i nuance of t he
ol d regi me and af t er t he t empor ar y
r ui n of t he second war has agai n
di sappeared, the t i me i s r i pe f or a
renewed di ct at or shi p of the Ma-
chado t ype. Af t er years of var yi ng
amount s of i nf l uence, Bati sta takes
power i n the coup of Mar ch 10,
1952. I n the years of hi s power ,
he ki l l s and of t en t ort ures t went y
thousand peopl e. As a nutshel l i n-
dex of the f ort unes of Cuba dur i ng
these years past, one mi ght observe
that f ol l owi ng the 1895 war of l i ber-
at i on the l i t eracy rat e grew mar-
kedl y; dur i ng the years of Ma-
chado' s di ct at orshi p the l i t eracy rate
agai n decl i ned; i t rose sl owl y dur-
i ng the years af t er Maehado' s exi t
and bef ore Bati sta' s ent r y; and
l i t eracy decl i ned agai n dur i ng the
six years of Bati sta' s government .
Not Made in a Day
The cur r ent r evol ut i on i n Cuba
was not made i n a day. It was
bor n out of three hundr ed years of
hi st or y and at least a hundr ed years
of pr i or r evol ut i onar y act i vi t y. But
even as the r evol ut i on was bor n i n
the decade of the 1950s i t di d not,
l i ke At hena, emerge f ul l gr own out
of Fi del Castro' s head. I ndeed, the
f or ms whi ch the r evol ut i on was t o
take and st i l l wi l l t ake i n the f ut ur e
grew out of i ts own ei ght-year hi s-
t ory i n Cuba and the r evol ut i onar y
experi ence elsewhere i n Lat i n Am-
eri ca. To underst and even i n the
most superf i ci al sense the nat ure
and causes of the r adi cal i sm whi ch
characteri zes the Cuban Revol ut i on
t oday, i t i s necessary to exami ne
the Revol ut i on i n the l i ght of t hi s
recent hi st or y whi ch has made i t
what i t i s. But as we do so, i t wi l l
agai n he possi bl e to do no more
t han rai se questi ons as to how and
why cert ai n ci rcumstances l ed t o
the deci si ons t hat were t aken. In a
sense what the f ol l owi ng expl ora-
t i on can do i s r oughl y t o map the
r oad of the r evol ut i on i ndi cat i ng
some of the road f or ks at whi ch
choices had to be made to gui de i t
one way or anot her. Much closer
acquai nt ance wi t h ci rcumst ances of
the ti mes woul d be neceteary to as-
si gn seri ous expl anat i ons to these
choices.
El ecti ons were schedul ed f or the
spr i ng of 1952. When i t became
cl ear that the i mpendi ng vote woul d
not br i ng hi m i nt o office, Bat i st a as-
sumed power by a mi l i t ar y coup on
Mar ch 10, 1952. Soon t hereaf t er,
Fi del Castro, t hen a l awyer , fi l ed a
br i ef i n t he court s changi ng Bat i st a
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THE ECONOMIC WEEKLY
SPECIAL NUMBER JULY 1961
wi t h several count a of vi ol at i on of
the Cuban Const i t ut i on of 1940.
Thi s br i ef represents Fi del Castro' s
first publ i c challenge. But as an
attack on the i l l egal i t y of the
Batista di ct at orshi p rat her t han as
an at t empt to i ni t i at e a far-reachi ng
social r evol ut i on, t hi s first challenge
of the statua-quo was a far cry f r om
the revol ut i on whi c h Fi del ' s name
has become associated. Thi s revol u-
t i on was to assume its present f or m
onl y as a result of many events
st i l l to come in the six years
f ol l owi ng.
Weapons for Legal Arguments
The f i r st furt her development i n
the di rect i on of r adi cal i sm was to
substitute weapons where legal
arguments had f ai l ed. On Jul y 26,
1953, Fi del led 125 men in an at-
tack on For t Moncada in the hope
of capt ur i ng the weapons and sup-
pl i es whi ch mi ght be used in an
attack on the ar my, the real source
of Batista' s power. The attack was
unsuccessful. Most of the attackers
were ki l l ed, not so much in battle as
after becomi ng prisoners. Thr ough
a series of fort unat e accidents.
Fi del ' s l i f e was spared and he was
brought to t r i al . Act i ng as his own
at t orney for defense, Fi del spoke
four hours in defense of his attack
against an unconst i t ut i onal govern-
ment. Hi s defense ended wi t h the
words, "Condemn me. I don' t care.
Hi s t or y wi l l absolve me.' ' Under
t hat t i t l e his defense plea has be-
come famous as an i mpor t ant docu-
ment of the Revol ut i on. Most of
Fi del ' s discussion was devoted to
the circumstances i mmedi at el y sur-
r oundi ng the i l l -fat ed attack of
Jul y 26. But a par t of his defense
was devoted to the r ef or m pro-
gr amme f or whi ch he had fought
and the measures he woul d have
i ni t i at ed had his rebel l i on been
successful.
Fi del l i st ed f i ve r evol ut i onar y
laws whi c h woul d have been i mme-
di at el y pr ocl ai med. They dealt wi t h
the re-i nst i t ut i on of the Const i t ut i on
of 1940 and the assumption of
legislative, executive and j udi ci al
powers by the revol ut i onary move-
ment, the gr ant i ng of propert y i n
l and t o those who wor k, two profi t -
shar i ng measures, and confiscation
of i l l - got t en gai n. He went on i n five
pages out of ei ght y to out l i ne the
six maj or probl ems wi t h whi ch a
Cuban Revol ut i on woul d have to
deal : l and r ef or m, i ndust ri al i za-
t i on, housi ng, unempl oyment , edu-
cat i on, and health, "al ong wi t h the
rest orat i on of publ i c l i bert i es and
pol i t i cal democracy. " He offered
solutions to onl y t wo of these
l and : expr opr i at i on, redi st ri bu-
t i on and agr i cul t ur al co-operatives;
and housi ng : cut t i ng rents in hal f
and financing new housi ng. I em-
phasize this revol ut i onary docu-
ment because it is today wi del y
claimed i n Cuba that "Hi s t or y Wi l l
Absolve Me " represents the blue-
pr i nt of the revol ut i on we are now
wi t nessi ng. I suggest that t hi s
wi despread Cuban view is mistaken.
It does not appear that the f or m
the Cuban Revol ut i on takes today
was conceived in 1953. Exami na-
t i on of the document wi t h this ques-
t i on in mi nd the emphasis on
recourse to l egal i t y, the rel at i ve
moderat i on of the five i mmedi at e
laws, the f ai l ur e to indicate, much
less to spell out. any programme of
attack on the six maj or p r o b l e ms -
wi l l , I believe, demonstrate that
" Hi s t or y Wi l l Absolve Me " may
have contained some, goals and
di rect i onal signposts, but that it cer-
t ai nl y was not a bl uepr i nt , plat-
f or m, or pr ogr amme, wri t t en in
1953, of the revol ut i on which was
to take place after 1959. To say so
does not. and is not meant; to con-
demn either Fidel' s 195 3 position
or his I 960 act i on. It is only to
say that to find the roots of today' s
revol ut i on we must look a good
deal furt her.
Landing in Oriente
The next step in the development
of the r evol ut i onar y movement,
whi ch by then had taken the 26t h
of Jul y as its name, was st i l l fur-
ther to radi cal i ze the means of
revol ut i on. Fi del had, of course,
been condemned by the court, but
had regained his freedom shortly
thereafter as a result of a general
amnesty whi ch Batista declared to
reduce the gr owi ng pressure against
his regi me. Fi del used his free-
dom to pl an a well-conceived co-
ordi nat ed mi l i t ar y attack on the
Batista government . On December
2, 1956, he landed wi t h ei ght y-t wo
men on a beach in Oriente Pro-
vi nce. The l andi ng was to have
coincided wi t h an upr i si ng i n San-
t i ago. Or i ent es largest ci t y. Bad
weather delayed the ship' s ar r i val
f r om Mexi co, the upr i si ng alerted
the government, and the l andi ng
force was al l but wi ped out . Twel ve
men escaped death and reached
the pr ot ect i on of the Si erra Maes-
tre Mount ai ns. It i s pr obabl e that,
1103
had t hi s 1956 r ebel l i on succeeded,
Cuba woul d not be experi enci ng
the radi cal and pr of ound social
revol ut i on whi ch the wor l d i s wi t -
nessing today. For even then the
r evol ut i onar y movement had not
developed and mat ured i nt o the
r adi cal i sm and pr of undi t y whi ch i t
was to have more than two years
later. St i l l other events had to
t ranspi re, experiences had to arise,
before the revol ut i on could assume
its present f or m.
Fi del had selected his l andi ng
place in Oriente not onl y because
of the tactical advantage that the
mountains could afford. There are
mountains as well elsewhere in
Cuba. However, Ori ent e has l ong
been at once the poorest and the
most mi l i t ant l y rebellious provi nce
in Cuba. Possibly due. in part , to
the much greater prevalence of
small pr i vat e hol di ngs in the coffee
and tobacco count ry of Oriente, its
peasants and its intellectuals at the
pr ovi nci al Uni versi t y of Oriente
had been more active supporters of
the revol ut i onary movement of the
hundred years preceding. Fi del
counted on t hei r support.
Ear l y in 1957 Fi del and his ele-
ven companions sought to i ni t i at e
gueri l l a war f ar e against Batista' s
ar my from t hei r mount ai n hideouts.
Batista had sometimes fifteen t hou-
sand, sometimes t went y thousand
men under arms: Fi del had twelve.
What were the sources of the sup-
port Fidel needed to fi ght such
odds? The Communi st Part y, wi t h
a membershi p of possibly ten
thousand, mostly in Havana, offer-
ed no support whatever. Not sur-
pr i si ngl y, it regarded Fi del as a
romant i c. latter-day version of a
Lor d Byr on or Robi n Hood. Nor
di d the peasants of the Si erra, on
whose account Fi del had landed
there, support hi m or his move-
ment. If they were interested at
al l . they regarded Fi del wi t h sus-
pi ci on and his movement as another
i nt el l ect ual and middle-class re-
f or m, not unl i ke that of 1933,
whi ch woul d promi se no i mprove-
ment in the lives of the large pea-
sant maj or i t y. Who, then, di d lend
support to Fi del ? Students mostly
i n Santiago, rather than Havana,
and members of the middle-class i n
Havana. Not unl i ke the peasants,
they t hought that Fidel' s movement
was one of middle-class r ef or m. The
middle-class suppl i ed the money
for weapons, and the students
SPECIAL NUMBER JULY 1961 THE ECONOMIC WEEKLY
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THE ECONOMIC WEEKLY SPECIAL NUMBER JULY 1961
of Santiago suppl i ed t he com-
mi t ment and courage t o smuggl e
t hem i nt o the mount ai ns.
Movement Rallies Support
Dur i ng 1957 and 1958 Fi del ' s
gr oup waged guer i l l a war f ar e i n
the mount ai ns and sent an expedi-
t i on across the plains of Camaugey.
Wi t h the mat ur at i on and attendant
repression of the Batista dictator-
shi p and i t s combattal by Fi del ' s
gr oup, the Movement of the 26t h of
Jul y i ncreasi ngl y r al l i ed support t o
its side. Seeing some peasants and
Fi del ' s men fighting side by side,
other peasants came to gai n confi-
dence in Fi del and his cause.
Havana Negroes had lent some sup-
port to Batista, apparent l y because
the combi nat i on of his Mul l at o
bl ood wi t h his rise t o power bad
appeal ed to t hem, as a symbol of
t hei r own ascendance and recogni-
t i on i n the society. In the mean-
t i me, i n Ori ent e (t he onl y other pro-
vi nce i n whi ch Negroes l i ve i n large
number s) , Negroes came to sense
t hat Fidel' s movement represented
so t hor ough a movement t owar d
social equal i t y that it augured
emanci pat i on f or them as wel l . The
gr owi ng popul ar support for Fidel' s
movement , combi ned wi t h the com-
plete f ai l ur e of the Mar ch 1959
general st ri ke whi ch represented
the capstone of t hei r earl i er tactics
against Batista, resulted in the sup-
por t of and subsequent collabora-
t i on wi t h the 26t h of Jul y move-
ment of the Communi st Part y of
Cuba i n Ap r i l 1959.
Addi t i onal sources of support ,
campai gns against ur ban mi l i t a r y
garri sons wi t h gun i n one hand and
mi cr ophone i n the ot her ; demora-
l i zi ng Batista' s ar my by di sar mi ng
pri soners and t hen setting them
free, that is, t r eat i ng t hem as fellow
vi ct i ms of Batista rat her t han as
his defenders, i ncreasi ngl y f aci l i t a-
ted Castro' s mi l i t a r y campai gn.
Lat e i n 1958, three hundr ed men
under arms wi t hst ood and even-
t ual l y destroyed the arms of twen-
ty thousand men whi ch sent a sin-
gl e expedi t i onar y force of twelve
thousand men to crush the rebel l i on
once and f or al l .
Peasants Influence Movement
But for the l ong r un of Cuba
and of La t i n Amer i ca, possi bl y
more i mpor t ant t han Castro' s i n-
fluence on the peasants and others
was t he influence of the peasants
on Castro and hi s movement . Not-
wi t hst andi ng Fi del ' s emphasis on
l and r ef or m in 1953 and his selec-
t i on of r ur al Ori ent e as t he place
f r om whi c h to wage his war, the
t wo years he and his men spent
f i ght i ng and l i vi ng among the
peasants in the mount ai ns undoub-
tedly resulted in an empathy and a
dept h of underst andi ng of the pea
sants and t hei r problems whi ch they
woul d have lacked had the 1956
at t empt , to say not hi ng of the 1953
attempt, been i mmedi at el y success-
f ul . The events and experiences of
the years 1957 and 1958 thus be-
came cr uci al l y i mpor t ant i n shap-
i ng the f or m that the. revol ut i on
eventually was to take, and, to ant i -
cipate an argument below, for the
lesson that Lat i n Ameri cans have
undoubt edl y learned about the di f-
ference between a resol ut i on fought
in ihe ci t y and a revol ut i on fought
i n the count r y.
No Reliance on Professional
Army
On New Year' s eve of 1958
Batista flees the count ry, and on
January 1, 1959 Fi del Castro and
his forces take cont rol of the go-
vernment . The rebel l i on against the
di ct at orshi p of Batisla whi ch grew
out of 1952. 1953 and 1956 had
ended in 1958. But the Revol ut i on,
whose antecedants were 1492. 1808,
1895 and 1933 had only just begun
on that same day. In a sense, the
six year rebel l i on was onl y the la-
bour whi c h made possible the bi r t h
of a revolution conceived in 1492.
How woul d the new-born revol ut i on
develop, what f or m woul d it take ?
I t s per i od of pregnancy and indeed
its peri od of l abour woul d deter-
mi ne the f or m it woul d take, but
so woul d the envi ronment i nt o
whi ch i t was born and i nt o whi ch
it must gr ow. The first act of the
revol ut i onary movement was to
establish a government headed by a
president, a pr i me mi ni st er, and
i mpor t ant ambassadors.
What f or m mi ght the Cuban
Revol ut i on take ? In a sense, any
of a large vari et y of forms. Why
does it take precisely the f or m that
i t does ? It i s pr obabl y i mpossi bl e
to say. But the foregoi ng sections
have poi nt ed to the nat ure of
Cuban society (i t must be left to
the reader to f ami l i ar i ze hi msel f
wi t h the themes and details of
Cuban and La t i n Amer i can soci et y),
and they have sketched the develop-
ment of response to these condi-
tions. We have seen t hat some
reforms have been rel i ed upon i n
1105
the past and have been found want -
i ng. Cubans have seen i t too, and
i t shoul d not be sur pr i si ng i f t hey
woul d geek not to make the same
mistakes agai n. A r ough and ready
classification of some other alter-
native forms the revol ut i on mi ght
take can be gleaned f r om the ex-
perience of other Lat i n Amer i can
countries in their attempts to face
i n part si mi l ar problems. An out-
sider cannot, of course, cl ai m that
this experience elsewhere Mas steer-
ed the Cuban Revol ut i on precisely
i nt o the course it has taken. But
it is certain that the leaders of the
Cuban Revol ut i on, and in a less
sophisticated way large masses of
the Cuban people, have f ami l i ar i zed
themselves wi t h this La t i n Ame r i -
can revol ut i onary experience and
that they have sought to avoi d its
mistakes. We may thus bri efl y
review this Lat i n Amer i can expe-
rience and suggest some lessons
whi ch, from the Cuban poi nt of
view, this experience has to offer.
It is common knowledge that in
recent decades the largest par t of
r api d pol i t i cal change i n Lat i n
Ameri ca has taken the f or m of
i nt ra-army changes in the palace
guar d. It is as obvious as it is
f ami l i ar that such rebellions are
s t i l l bor n and i n no way further the
r evol ut i onar y r ef or m movement
whi ch Cuba has harboured all these
years. Moreover, gi ven the rol e
that the Lat i n Amer i can ar my t ypi -
cal l y plays in safeguardi ng the con-
servatism of the .society, keepi ng
the professional army intact means
that a maj or road block to social
change has failed to be removed.
Exiling the ol d leadership, as is so
customary i n Lat i n Amer i ca, si mi -
l ar l y mai nt ai ns or provi des a nu-
cleus for the resurgence of the ol d
regime. An al t ernat i ve, i mpor t ant
i f the rebel l i on has been l ong and
violent, is t hat the ol d leadership is
mobbed by the angr y people, i n
French Revol ut i on style. But this
alternative is also costly to the peo-
ple themselves. Thus reliance on
r evol ut i onar y courts. even t hough
they may look l i ke kangaroo
courts and convi ct i on and execu-
t i on hol d i mpor t ant benefits over
the other t wo l i kel y alternatives. So
does r ehabi l i t at i on of lower echelon
leadership where i t i s possible. In
this context, Cuban reliance for t he
rebel l i on on mi l i t a r y forces out-
side of the professional ar my, and
its subsequent destruction and el i -
mi nat i on of the di ct at or i al leaders
SPECIAL NUMBER JULY 1961
THE ECONOMIC WEEKLY
1106
THE ECONOMIC WEEKLY
SPECIAL NUMBER JULY 1961
seems a pl ausi bl e course f or the
pur sui t of t he reforms al r eady i n-
tended by generations of Cuban
revol ut i onari es.
Shift from City to Country
To the extent t hat Lat i n Ame r i -
can rebel l i ons have i nvol ved large-
scale f i ght i ng, this f i ght i ng has,
wi t h the notable except i on of the
Mexi can and Bol i vi an cases, occur-
red pr i nc i pa l l y i n t he maj or ci t y or
ci t i ea Thi s mi l i t ar y act i on i n the
cities has been at the same t i me
sympt om and cause of the ur ban
rebellions whi ch have so wi del y
characterized the r ur al societies of
Lat i n Amer i ca. These ur ban rebel-
lions have i n t ur n resulted pr i ma r i -
l y i n ur ban reforms. Where they
have led t o changes i n the r ur al
society as wel l , these changes have
been l argel y br ought to, i f not for-
ced on, the count rysi de. Even the
most cursory acquaintance wi t h
ur ban- r ur al confl i ct , deni ed t hough
it may be by generations of Soviet
and West ern wri t ers, wi l l forbode
unhappy consequences for t hi s pr o-
cess. The more intensive and ex-
tensive changes i n the r ur al and
r ur al - ur ban social rel at i ons whi ch
have been associated wi t h the par t i -
ci pat i on of Zapata' s peasants i n the
Mexi can revol ut i on of 1910 and the
t wo years of gueri l l a warfare by
Castro' s forces i n the mount ai ns of
Cuba foreshadow a shi ft in the l o-
cus and nat ure of rebel l i on and
r evol ut i on f r om ci t y t o count r y i n
the La t i n Amer i can upheavals
whi ch arc soon to come.
Argentina and Venezuela
An al t ernat i ve f or m for the Cu-
ban Revol ut i on, more radi cal t han
the cl earl y inadequate changes of
the palace guar d considered and
rejected above, may be represented
by recent reforms i n Ar gent i na and
Venezuela. Peron' s government i n
Ar gent i na adopted the course of a
wel fare state. I n faci ng Argent i na' s
economi c probl ems, Peron sought to
rely on the re-di st ri but i on of the
i ncome pi e i mpl i c i t i n the welfare
state, wi t h har dl y any concern f or
i ncreasi ng the size of that pie. Ur -
ban workers were favoured, and i n
the meant i me agr i cul t ur al produc-
t i v i t y decl i ned. To cont i nue t o
enforce t he di s t r i but i on hi s govern-
ment desired, Peron became increas-
si ngl y di ct at or i al and hi s govern-
ment i ncreasi ngl y repressive. I n the
mean t i me f ar t her nor t h, Jimenez
dealt wi t h Venezuela' s economi c
probl ems by resort i ng neither to re-
di st r i but i on, nor t o investment i n
gr owt h, wi t h the exception of the
pet r ol eum i ndust r y whi ch filled the
coffers of his treasury, but whose
benefits har dl y t r i ckl ed i nt o the
count rysi de beyond Caracas' l uxu-
r y housi ng and l uxur y hi ghways.
I n bot h countries, but par t i cul ar l y
i n Venezuela, socio-political i n-
equal i t y was felt us repression by
the r ur al maj ori t i es. Both dictators
were over t hr own after the mi d-
1950's. Bot h dictatorships were re-
placed by substantially middle-class
based hol ders of power whi ch have,
par t i cul ar l y i n the Uni t ed States,
been wi del y hailed as "Democr at i c
Ref or m Government s. " "Free elec-
tions" and par l i ament ar y coal i t i ons
have accompanied the Fr ondi zi go-
vernment i n Ar gent i na and the
Bentacourt government i n Venezuela.
Note that the first step of the Cu-
ban Revol ut i on also resulted in
filling the hi gh government offices
wi t h si mi l ar hi ghl y respectable
middle-class personnel. In several
years of office, neither the Fr ondi zi
nor the Bentacourt government have
brought any notable r ef or m to the
count rysi de, neither socially, pol i t i -
cal l y, nor economi cal l y; not l and
r ef or m, not education, not invest-
ment, nor, in the case of Venezuela,
channel l i ng the large income f r om
its pet rol eum i ndust ry i nt o di versi -
fied economic development.
Fr om where the Cubans sit,
havi ng fai l ed to i nt roduce any re-
f or m i n the st ruct ure, par t i cul ar l y
i n the r ur al structure of these
societies, the pressures whi ch Lat i n
Amer i can .social st ruct ure exerts on
governments to become i ncreasi ngl y
r i ght - wi ng di ct at orshi ps ( or t o put
it the other way around, the condi -
tions whi ch per mi t these di ct at or-
ships to flower have reasserted
themselves), and bot h countries al -
ready find themselves again threa-
tened wi t h i mmi nent ret urn t o
Peron-Jimenez type di ct at orshi ps
j ust as Batista i nevi t abl y grew out
of the undi st urbed roots of the
Machado regi me i n Cuba. Fr om the
Cuban poi nt of view and f r om that
of t hi s wr i t er , the fact that as these
pages are bei ng wr i t t en, Bentacourt
i s pat r ol l i ng the ci t y wi t h tanks
and shoot i ng students i n the streets
is not an accident. Such are the
f r ui t s of r el yi ng on the out war d
t r appi ngs of democracy wi t hout
any at t empt t o r ef or m, never mi nd
democratize, t he society. It shoul d
come as l i t t l e surpri se to discover
that the Fr ondi zi Bent acourt f or m of
revol ut i on or t ype of r ef or m i s
what the Uni t ed States and, i ndeed,
the mi ddl e and upper class ele-
ments i n Cuba and La t i n Amer i ca
woul d l i ke to have seen as the f or m
of the Cuban Revol ut i on. But i t
should come as no less of a surpri se
that the leaders of the Movement
of the 26t h of Jul y should have
i nt erpret ed Ar gent i ne and Vene-
zuelan experience as a sign that
more radi cal and more wide-spread
social change must be wr ought in
Cuba if the sacrifices of the rebel-
l i on and the past are not to have
been made in vai n.
Guatemala and Bolivia
A model of the f or m more r adi -
cal than that discussed above may
be found in the revolutions of
(Guatemala i n 1944 and Bol i vi a i n
1952. Both revolutions were in part
r ur al i n character, i n socio-political
and economic change in the coun-
t rysi de. Yet, as is well known, both
revol ut i ons fai l ed. The Bol i vi an
one never even real l y got off the
gr ound. The governments of Are-
valo and later Arbenz i n Guatemala
di d i nt roduce social change to the
countryside. but they di d so gra-
dual l y and on a catch-as-catch-can
basis. The revol ut i on di d call for
some popul ar par t i ci pat i on, t hough
not i n the f or m of mi l i t a r y defense
by the armed popul ace; and when
the count er-revol ut i on attacked in
1954. the r ef or m governments and
wi t h them ten years of work were
an easy pushover. (As a sidelight,
some Cubans have observed that
the presence at the time of the re-
vol ut i ons of the Ameri can ambassa-
dor Bonsial i n Bol i vi a and i n
Guatemala and then agai n in Cuba
may not have been altogether coin-
ci dent al . )
Fi nal l y, i f none of the foregoi ng
models for a La t i n Amer i can revo-
l ut i on appear to promi se the results
whi ch r evol ut i onar y Cubans desire
and requi re, the exampl e of Mexi co,
wi t h the oldest, longest, and most
far-reachi ng r evol ut i on whi ch Lat i n
Amer i ca has- witnessed, st i l l remains
avai l abl e f or exami nat i on. . The
Mexi can Revol ut i on of 1910 came
on the heels of the Diaz dictator-
shi p of the precedi ng cent ury
whi ch has uni versal l y been charac-
terized as an alliance between p r i -
vate l and owners, the Chur ch, and
Amer i can investment interests i n
Mexi co. The rebel l i on was fought
1107
SPECIAL NUMBER JULY 1961
THE ECONOMIC WEEKLY
l ong and ha r d by vari ous factions,
some of whi c h represented the pea-
sants; it resulted in a revol ut i on
whi ch made sweepi ng l and r ef or ms;
event ual l y, t hough not unt i l decades
l at er, conduct ed a wi despread and
successful l i t er acy campai gn; i n-
creased educat i on; expr opr i at ed al l
pr i vat e and f or ei gn hol di ngs of
subterranean mi ner al and petro-
l eum resources i n 1936; began the
i ndust r i al i zat i on of the count r y; and,
has raised the i nvest ment rate to a
respectable 10 per cent per annum.
Yet , per capi t a i ncome i n Mexi co
remai ned one-haIf of what i t i s i n
Cuba, the peasantry seems to have
been al l but bypassed by economic
development, and every government
since t hat of Cardenas i n the mi d-
t hi rt i es have moved i ncreasi ngl y to
the r i ght unt i l the middle-class i n-
dust ri al and commer ci al govern-
ment of Lopez Mateos is today
regarded as excessively conserva-
t i ve, even by Time magazine.
Forced into More Radical Forms
Wi t hout goi ng i nt o the details of
the r ef or m measures undert aken by
the revol ut i ons revi ewed above and
the r evol ut i on now unf ol di ng i n
Cuba, it appears clear to this wr i t er
t hat , i f the Cuban Revol ut i on i s no
also to be either st i l l bor n or to die
i n i nf ancy, Cuba i s forced i nt o st i l l
more r adi cal f or ms of r evol ut i on
t han any of those yet seen in La t h
Amer i ca. The haste wi t h whi ch re-
vol ut i onar y reforms are bei ng under
t aken; the expr opr i at i on of l at i
fundi st a ownershi p of sugar am
grazi ng l ands; the di st r i but i on of
l and and agr i cul t ur al credi t t o smal l
hol ders; f or mat i on of agr i cul t ur al
co-operatives f or di versi fi cat i on of
crops and empl oyment of the. eight
t o t wel ve mont h unempl oyed r ur al
pr ol et ar i at whi ch characterize
Cuba' s popul at i on as it does no
those of many of the countries exa
mi ned above; the i mmedi at e dr i ve
for i ndust r i al i zat i on, small and
large, l i ght and heavy, the establish-
ment of I NRA ( Nat i onal Institute
of Agr a r i a n Ref or m) as a sort of
super T V A ; 64 per cent increase of
pr i ml ar y school enrol ment and the
t hree-fol d increase of first-grade
enr ol ment i n the very fi rst year of
the r evol ut i on; t he di st r i but i on of
fi re-arms t o the near l y one mi l l i on
mi l i t i a ( nat i onal guar d) members;
the asceticism of those active in
t he r evol ut i on f r om the smallest
r ur a l communi t y to the office of the
pr i me mi ni s t er ; al l these di st i n-
guished the Cuban Revol ut i on as
one more radi cal , mor e serious,
more active, t han any pr i or Lat i n
Amer i can r evol ut i on whi ch Cuba
mi ght use as its mode).
Thus, t he very experience of so
r i al r ef or m movements elsewhere i n
Lat i n Amer i ca and i n Cuba' s own
hi st ory itself, whi ch has led Cuba
to adopt revol ut i onary forms more
radi cal t han those for whi ch models
are avai l abl e also leaves Cuba in
the posi t i on of havi ng to make and
find her way i n r evol ut i onar y t er r i -
t or y unchart ered by earl i er exper-
ience i n Lat i n Amer i ca. The r adi -
calisrn of the Cuban Revol ut i on, i n-
duced par t l y by necessity and par t l y
by desi gn, has already set Cuba on
a pat h for whi ch hi st ory can no
l onger serve as a guide. It is i m-
pl i ci t in the preceding discussion
that the Cuban Revol ut i on finds it-
self at this poi nt wi t hout a pre-for-
mulated procedure whi ch mi ght
gui de the r evol ut i on al ong its way
Moreover beyond the design for re-
bel l i on against the ol d di ct at or shi p
and the general intent for l and re-
f or m and other reforms announced
i n " Hi s t or y Wi l l Absolve Me ' , the
r evol ut i on lacked these guides as
wel l dur i ng the recent years that it
has al ready traversed.
Finds its Own Way
Not. unl i ke other social move
ments. and pr obabl y more than
many, the Cuban Revol ut i on mus
and does find its way subst ant i al l y
in the dark as it goes al ong its
way. Under the circumstances, i
shoul d not be sur pr i si ng i f many
Cubans seek, and some yearn, for a
model t hat mi ght serve them as a
gui de. Qui t e obviously the West,
and par t i cul ar l y the Uni t ed Slates,
can offer it no such model. Even
where some Amer i can experience
mi ght serve as a gui de, the Uni t ed
States has sought to close the chan-
nels of t r ansmi t t al of such exper-
ience by wi t hdr awi ng technical and
mat eri al ai d and trade, whi l e part i -
cul ar Amer i can measures whi ch
mi ght of themselves be inoffensive
have come to be associated wi t h the
offensiveness of Amer i can i mper-
i al i sm in Lat i n Amer i ca as a whol e.
In the meant i me, the Uni t ed States,
far f r om maki ng an effort to isolate
the acceptable f r om the offensive,
insists on cont i nui ng to sell the
Amer i can way as a package deal.
Looki ng between East and West,
i t i s possible t o fi nd a " Th i r d
1109
For ce" or a t hi r d or f our t h way.
But ; t o the extent t o whi c h t hey
exist, these models and sources of
possible al i gnment are l argel y i n the
f i el d of i nt er nat i onal pol i t i cs. I ndi a ,
Bur ma, the Uni t ed Ar a b Republ i c,
the new Af r i can states may offer
alternatives i n the Uni t ed Nat i ons,
but they have no economi c pr o-
gramme that Cuba mi ght make its
own. To this observer, among coun-
tries whi ch are not al i gned on ei t her
side of the cold war, onl y Yugo-
sl avi a appears as a source of any
pot ent i al guide to a count ry l i ke
Cuba. The presence of a substan-
t i al number of Yugosl avi an techni-
cians in Cuba suggests that Cuba
may yet come to look in t hat direc-
t i on.
West Offers No Guide
There remai n, then, only t wo other
places for Cuba to look f or gui d-
ance to its f ut ur e; one is t oward
Russia-China, and the ot her is at
home. The model of the Socialist
camp, of course, holds pr of ound
at t ract i on for any count ry or people
who, l i ke Cuba, have onl y just be-
come det ermi ned to shape t hei r own
fut ure. Even i f the West were not
so i nt i mat el y associated wi t h I m-
peri al i sm, be it of the Br i t i sh-
French or the Ameri can vari et y, the
Western and par t i cul ar l y Ameri can
pr ogr ammer woul d suffer seriously
f r om their heavy emphasis on eco-
nomi c problems alone, But f r om
the Cuban, and in genera] the Lat i n
Amercian-African-Southeast-A s i a n
point of view, the probl ems they
fare are in the first instance and
pr obabl y most i mpor t ant l y prob-
lems of social and pol i t i cal change.
But it is to precisely these prob-
lems that the West offers no gui de
and Western support ed elements
in the "emergent" societies offer no
programme.
It is commonpl ace among West ern
economists to miss the boat even on
economic probl ems. Though they
r i ght l y poi nt out that onl y increa-
ses and not changes in the di st r i bu-
t i on of the economic pie can ul t i -
mately serve to meet the probl ems
of economic development, they are
f r om this led to conclude and ad-
vise that the wor l d- wi de attempts at
r e- di st r i but i on are mi spl aced. But
f r om the poi nt of view of Cuba, or
any other semi-Feudal count ry, i t i s
clear that r e- di st r i but i on of weal t h
and t her ewi t h power are necessary
t o render possibly the increase i n
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THE ECONOMIC WEEKLY
out put whi ch West ern economises
prescribe. I t i s thus not sur pr i si ng
i f Cubans look t owar d Russia and
Chi na as the onl y sources of model s
for f ur t her i ng soci al , pol i t i cal and
economic change.
Most Important Solutions
Home Grown
Though the Cubans may l ook i n
par t t owar d Russia and Chi na, t hey
wor k at home and the largest and
most i mpor t ant solutions t o t hei r
r evol ut i onar y probl ems are met wi t h
solutions home- gr own on the spot .
Even a casual observer can r eadi l y
note how Cuba i s r el yi ng on var i ed
solutions t o the probl ems of gui di ng
t hei r r evol ut i on t hr ough unchart ered
t er r i t or y, and how these solutions i n
t ur n gi ve rise t o var i ed new pro-
blems. That i s t hei r revol ut i onary pro-
gramme, and its procedure is large-
l y devised where and when occasion
demands. Vi ewed f r om the perspec-
t i ve of a place of st abi l i t y, the Cu-
ban Revol ut i on appears as a tangle
of confusi on, of peopl e r unni ng off
i n al l di fferent di rect i ons, of many
proj ect s started and few concl uded
of changes i n di r ect i on. But viewed
f r om the st andpoi nt of the revol u-
t i onar y, these are the very marks of
vi t a l i t y; they are the marks not of
weakness, but of st rengt h. Yet , not
ever yt hi ng can be changed. In his
analysis of the Anat omy of Revolu-
t i on, Crane Br i nt on suggested t hat
no r evol ut i on can change ever yt hi ng,
t hat the new must be bui l t upon the
ol d.
But f or a r evol ut i on, the ol d is
not onl y a legacy and a base, it is
also an i ns t r ument Par adoxi cal l y,
it is the very radicalness of change
t o be i nt r oduced i n Cuba whi ch
necessitates reliance on the ol d wel l -
entrenched and thus r el i abl e social
arid cul t ur al forms as vehicles f or
the i nt r oduct i on of that change. An
at t empt at wholesale subst i t ut i on of
a new society and cul t ure f or the
ol d woul d surely result i n no society,
new or ol d. Thus, st i l l another
source of underst andi ng of the Cu-
ban Revol ut i on lies i n an exami na-
t i on of the old and exi st i ng socio-
cul t ur al f or ms whi ch serve as vehi -
c l e f or the Revol ut i on, and whi ch
thereby help to define the possi bi l i -
ties and l i mi t at i ons of social change
t hr ough t he Cuban Revol ut i on.
Family and Kinship
Now, as before, i n Cuba as i n
most ot her part s of the wor l d,
f ami l y and ki nshi p relations serve
as the most i mpor t ant bond and
channel of communi cat i on between
people. Many t hi ngs are necessary to
wor k a far-reachi ng change in a so-
ci et y, but one of t hem surely is to
communi cat e the new, the changes in
social rel at i onshi p t hat have al ready
occurred, the new opport uni t i es and
responsi bi l i t i es, t he s pi r i t of the
r evol ut i on to the people. An y
vi si t t o Cuba' s count rysi de, t o its
villages and t owns, and i f one looks
more closely, t o its cities, wi l l show
t hat t el evi si on and ot her mass me-
di a, commerci al and wor k relations
not wi t hst andi ng, the extended f ami l y
serves as the Revol ut i on' s most i m-
por t ant medi um of communi cat i on.
It is the f ami l y whi ch reaches f r om
the count rysi de t o the t own, f r om
one r egi on t o another, f r om the
provinces to the capi t al , in short
f r om one poi nt of contact wi t h re-
vol ut i onar y experience t o another.
An d the experience wi t h the revol u-
t i on whi ch i s meani ngf ul and i m-
por t ant , whi ch permi t s a sense of
par t i ci pat i on and produces a feel i ng
of empat hy, that experience is the
one whi ch is communi cat ed between
one member of a f ami l y and another.
The Patron Relationship
It is the experience of the son in
a new school, the cousin in a new co-
operat i ve f ar m, the uncle i n Hava-
na, much more t han Fi del ' s TV
speeches, newspapers, mass ral l i es,
or even cracker-barrel discussions
whi ch l end meani ng t o the revol u-
t i on. At the same t i me i t i s exist-
i ng f a mi l y relations whi ch continue
in many instances to serve as the
vehicles for the di s t r i but i on of the
new oppor t uni t i es and responsi bi l i -
ties ar i si ng out of the r evol ut i on i n
l and ownershi p, educat i on, and out
of the new tasks created in the revo-
l ut i on i n general . Thus an acquai n-
tance wi t h the Cuban f a mi l y can
afford much underst andi ng of the
points at whi ch change is or must
be i nt r oduced, how it can be com-
muni cat ed and accepted or rejected,
i n short, of t he possibilities f or re-
vol ut i on and the l i mi t at i ons on
change whi ch Cuba' s most i mpor -
t ant i nst i t ut i on bodes f or the Revo-
l ut i on.
Pr obabl y the most i mpor t ant
social rel at i onshi p i n La t i n Ame r i -
can and Cuban society, bot h i nsi de
the f ami l y and out i s the aut hor i t y of
the father, pat ernal i sm or the "pat -
r o n " rel at i onshi p. I n the absence of
t hi s time-tested f o r m of soci al i n-
1110
tercourse, i t woul d be i mpossi bl e
for Cuba to organize the construc-
t i on of the new schools, roads, fac-
tories, and most i mpor t ant , t o i n-
troduce any new f or ms of ent erpri se
l i ke agr i cul t ur al cooperatives. Des-
pi t e, may be because of, the less
"i ndi genous" nat ure of Cuba com-
par ed wi t h other Carri bean society,
pat ernal i sm has in Cuba pl ayed an
even more pervasive role t han else-
where. However, a colleague of
mi ne suggests that Cuban pat ernal
rel at i ons have been less regu-
l ari zed and reci procal than those of
feudal i sm or heavi l y I ndi an popu-
lated societies l i ke Bol i vi a. Thus,
Cubans have often had to approach
t hei r pat r on wi t h requests rat her
than r el yi ng onl y on his ful fi l ment
of already specified r eci pr ocal obl i -
gations.
Administrators Run Cooperative
Farms
Consider agr i cul t ur e. As one
strolls t hr ough cities and towns al -
most anywhere i n the wor l d, Amer i -
ca, Russia, Europe, Af r i ca, other
Carri bean countries, one encounters
out door markets i n whi ch ' nearby
farmers sell vegetables and often
meat of t hei r own pr oduct i on. Not
so in Cuba. And the reason is
si mpl e: much less than other r ur al
countries does Cuba have smal l
holders who are In a posi t i on to
raise and market such produce on
t hei r own. Such small holders as
there are t end to be isolated in the
mount ai ns, where they raise coffee
and tobacco as cash crops and pro-
duce f or subsistence. Most other
Cuban peasants, if one may even
cal l t hem t hat . have l ong been
landless agr i cul t ur al labourers, a
ver i t abl e r ur al prol et ari at . They
wor ked ( onl y par t of the year) on
large and medi um size l andhol di ngs,
and the rel at i onshi p between t hem
and employers and supervi sory per-
sonnel was subst ant i al l y paterna-
l i st i c. But i n large part many pea-
sants were not therefore aut omat i -
cally t ot al l y cared f or . The t erm
"guaj er o", now generalized to refer
to al l peasants, developed as the
name of peasants who bui l t t hei r
shacks al ong the roadside, for lack
of any other l and on whi ch t o l i ve.
When Castro moved to establish
cooperat i ve farms, f or sugar and
ot her produce as wel l , the wor l d
expected a repet i t i on of the collec-
t i vi zat i on problems whi ch had pl a-
gued Russia, Eastern Eur ope and
THE ECONOMIC WEEKLY
SPECIAL NUMBER JULY 1961
Chi na, They need have had
nei t her fear nor del i ght . I NRA ( Na-
t i onal I nst i t ut e of Agr i a r i a n Re-
f or m) appoi nt ed admi ni st r at or s f or
each cooperat i ve f a r m, and i n i m-
por t ant ways Cuba proceeded wi t h
business as usual. The communi t y
elders who poi nt ed t o the pi ct ur e of
ex-sugar mi l l admi ni st r at or hangi ng
i n t hei r company- pr ovi ded cl ub
house and who noted wi t h salisfac
l i on that, t hough the pi ct ur e i s lar-
ger than t hat of Fi del Castro on the
other wa l l , they have no reason to
remove i t , were sayi ng j ust t hat . I n
many ways, the Revol ut i on has, at
least for the present, passed much
of the i ni t i at i ve i n the pat ernal i st i c
r el at i onshi p t o the pat r on. In sugar
lands al ready i n pr oduct i on, the
co-op members elect a "coor di nat or "
f r om among t hei r members, but the
aut hor i t y i s vested i n the I NR A-
appoi nt ed, non-member, "admi ni s-
t r at or " for the fi rst l i ve years or
unt i l the membershi p has learned
itself t o assume responsi bi l i t y. In
the new agr i cul t ur al co-ops, whi c h
are largely br eaki ng new lands and
onl y j ust begi nni ng const ruct i on,
membershi p has general l y not been
established yet.
Continued Paternalism
The est abl i shment of the f ar m is
under the aut hor i t y of the admi ni s
t r at or , who i n t ur n i s under the
di r ect i on of the chi ef of his agr i -
cul t ur al zone; and the wor k is done
by agr i cul t ur al labourers hi r ed by
the day. Indeed, some of these
farms, the largest, wi l l never be
t r ansf or med i nt o cooperatives but
wi l l be mai nt ai ned as "Gr anj as del
Puel bo" wi t h empl oyed workers re-
mi ni scent of Soviet state farms. For
the t i me bei ng, none of these f ar ms
are real l y cooperatives in the sense
t hai responsi bi l i t y, and t her ewi t h
benefits and costs resi dual l y rest
wi t h the part i ci pant s. Even casual
conversat i on wi t h either the pea-
sants or the supervi sory personnel
easily demonstrates that t hei r ex-
perience in the past has been of
pat ernal i sm and that they cont i nue
t o r el y on i t f or the present. The
government has not t r i ed to substi-
tute cooperatives for small pr i vat e
l andhol di ngs where it does exist,
and it is no accident t hat Cuba is
pr obabl y the onl y count ry i n the
wor l d i n whi ch serious l and r ef or m
has not resul t ed i n an i ni t i al decline
i n agr i cul t ur al out put .
The cont i nued pat ernal i sm exhi
bi t s i t s el f i n the rel at i on between
i ndi vi dual peasants and the new
agr i cul t ur al extension and credi t
agencies, the new "stores of the
peopl e" whi ch suppl ement and re-
place the pri vat e and company
stores i n r ur al areas. Pat ernal i sm
and conversely lack of i ndi vi dual
responsi bi l i t y remai n evident i n stu-
dent-teacher rel at i onshi ps i n the
many new schools. But at the same
t i me the yout h and non-professional-
ism of many of the new teachers
and the i ndi vi dual i ni t i at i ve whi ch
underlies the very school attendance
on the par t of many teenagers and
young adults, undoubt edl y attenuate
the pat ernal i sm in the student-tea-
cher rel at i onshi p. The 20-hour t r i p
by three friends of mi ne, 18, 19,
and 20 years of age. f r om isolated
Sagua de Tanamo to previ ousl y
strange and distant Havana to see
the Mi ni st er of Educat i on and ask
hi m to bui l d a technical hi gh school
in t hei r t own was undoubt edl y
visualized by bot h parties in the
cont ext of pat er nal i sm, but the
same event woul d not have occurred
before the Revol ut i on.
There is. thus, a difference in the
qual i t y of the pat er nal i sm then and
now. Though the aut hor i t y and
mut ual responsi bi l i t y and respect
l argel y remai n the basis of organiz-
i ng the tasks of the Kevol ut i on as
t hey di d the tasks of ol d, bot h
"f at her " and "son" appear to sense
a difference in the source of that
aut hor i t y and respect. Thi s change
in source or base may be traceable
i n part t o the very deep and wi de-
spread sense of par t i ci pat i on i n the
Revol ut i on and the new Cuba, and
it mi ght be due in par t to the un-
usual yout h of al l at the t op of much
of the local l eadershi p in the Revo-
l ut i on. The new Cuban paterna-
l i sm has a qual i t y of frat ernal i sm.
And this already represents and
forebodes a pr of ound social revol u-
t i on.
Obligations Particular and Personal
Thus, a closer exami nat i on of
pat ernal i sm i n Cuban society can
increase our underst andi ng of how
the new can come to be i nt r oduced
and accepted, how real cooperatives
wi t h the i ndi vi dual and collective
responsi bi l i t y they i mp l y can come
i nt o bei ng, wi t h wor ker par t i ci pa-
t i on i n management, maybe on the
Yugosl avi an style, can and wi l l be
i nt r oduced, what f r ui t s the educa-
t i onal r ef or m wi l l bear.
Anot her qual i t y of Lat i n and
Cuban social rel at i ons, not unrel a-
t ed t o pat er nal i sm, i s t hei r pa r t i -
cul ar i sm and personal i sm. I n Catho-
l i c societies mor e t han i n Protestant
ones, obl i gat i ons are par t i cul ar and
t o persons rat her t han uni versal and
to pr i nci pl es. Glance at any news-
paper phot ogr aph of the r evol ut i on-
ary leadership, l i st en to any state-
ment by "defectors who were close
to Cast r o' , and the intense personal
qual i t y of the r ecr ui t ment i nt o posi -
t i ons of leadership and aut hor i t y
and of the cont i nui ng rel at i ons
among those so recrui t ed is i mme-
di at el y evident. The same personal-
ism is the source as wel l of many
of the social contacts between t op
leaders and other r evol ut i onar y
actives and among the l at t er t hem-
selves. In the absence of such
st rong personal ties and t hei r i m-
portance, how woul d people in en-
t i r el y new and often cont i nual l y
changi ng r evol ut i onar y roles and
incumbencies relate to each other,
how coul d the r evol ut i onar y leader-
ship coordi nat e its act i vi t i es at al l ?
An d yet, at least i n pract i ce i f
not in design, the l eadershi p of the
Cuban Revol ut i on scrupul ousl y
practices the dictates of t wo ul t ra-
uni versal i st i c val ues: honesty and
asceticism; no charges of f r aud or
financial self-aggrandizement have
come to my ears even f r om t he
l i ps of those most unf r i endl y to the
government, and the spartan exist-
ence and hard wor k of those active
in the Revol ut i on is common know-
ledge. What the source and appeal
of this behaviour i n Lat i n Amer i ca
is, I do not know. Possibly, and
par adoxi cal l y, it is to be t raced in
part to the much stronger influence
that Nor t h Amer i can cul t ure has
exerted in Cuba t han anywhere else
i n La t i n Amer i ca. Cer t ai nl y the
early days of the Mexi can revol u-
t i on were not famed for honesty or
asceticism.
Nort herners have l ong regarded
Lat i ns as aut hor i t ar i an and yet as
i ndi vi dual i st i c, free-wheeling and
rebellious as we l l . No r evol ut i on
can change nat i onal character, i f
that is what the above represents,
over ni ght ; and i f the r evol ut i on i s
t o i nt r oduce and change, i t must
r el y on exi st i ng cul t ur al forms as
vehicles of t hat change. An d so
one may encounter cooperat i ve f ar m
admi ni st r at or s who wi l l tell you
that he wi l l pl ant where and how
the agronomi st (t here he sits, fresh
out of school ) tells hi m to. because
onl y he has the necessary knowl edge,
1111
SPECIAL NUMBER JULY 1961
THE ECONOMIC WEEKLY
whi l e another admi ni st r at or , or i n-
deed the same one, wi l l poi nt wi t h
pr i de t o the new br i ckwor ks or new
f ur ni t ur e fact ory he has established
ent i rel y on his own i ni t i at i ve and
wi t hout the advice or consent of
anybody; and i f someone doesn't
l i ke i t . they can go to hel l . So much
of the ol d serves to shape, and also
t o br i ng f or t h, the new.
Pragmatic and Personalised
The pr agmat i sm of the Cuban
Revol ut i on in its devel opment and
the var i et y of its current forms sug-
gests t hat , as I argued earlier, the
Revol ut i on has no i deol ogy. But as
the past gives way to the f ut ur e, as
the focus of attention and as the
vari et y of at t empt ed r evol ut i onar y
f or ms seems i ncreasi ngl y to dissi
pate the revol ut i onary force, pres
sures wi l l surely f or m to create and
adopt an ideology for the Cuban
Revol ut i on. Maybe that t i me is al -
ready here. To serve its purpose,
that i deol ogy must be wi del y com-
muni cat ed, and to be communi cat ed
i t must be r eadi l y symbol i zed. Wha
then are the exi st i ng forms of sym-
bol i ci sm and i magery whi ch can
serve to carry the i deol ogy and there-
wi t h the Revol ut i on? One answer,
but onl y one, is personalism agai n.
Si gni f i cant La t i n images, as wel l as
social relations, tend to be hi ghl y
personal. Thus, pr obabl y more t han
the social movements of nort hern
countries whi ch tend to be more
i deal i st i cal l y symbol i zed, the Cuban
Revol ut i on may become i ncreasi ngl y
associated wi t h the leadership and
personal i t y of Fi del . " We are al l
Fidelistas, " Cubans say. If the Re-
vol ut i on is so personalized, how
woul d Fidel' s death affect the Revo-
Iut i on' s course?
The foregoi ng discussion has not
been an at t empt to describe or ex-
pl ai n t he Cuban Revol ut i on exhaus-
t i vel y. Its intent has been onl y to
expose f or i nspect i on three sources
of background and expl anat i on for
the developments that Cuba and the
wor l d now witness: The Cuban
ancien regi me and the development
of the r evol ut i onar y movement wi t h-
i n i t , the experience elsewhere i n
La t i n Amer i ca wi t h attempts t o
handle si mi l ar probl ems, and some
soci o-cul t ural factors i n Cuban l i f e
whi ch i nevi t abl y must influence the
course of t he Revol ut i on. It must
be l eft to the underst andi ng and re-
search of others t o expl ore the many
questions onl y raised here.
Tu b e Fa c t o r y
T H E Commonweal t h Devel opment
Finance Company wi l l pr ovi de
a l oan of 175,000 for the manu-
fact ure of non-ferrous tubes, pipes,
rods, and sections i n I ndi a.
The loan wi l l pr ovi de the for-
eign-exchange requi rement s for a
fact ory bei ng erected in Bombay by
Kamani Tubes Pri vat e Lt d, i n col-
l aborat i on wi t h Yor kshi r e I mper i al
Metals Lt d. an associate of I mper i al
Chemi cal Indust ri es, whi ch has
arranged the procurement of pl ant
i n the Uni t ed Ki ngdom, and wi l l
assist in the earl y per i od of run-
ni ng, under a 10- year technical
col l aborat i on agreement.
The Yor kshi r e I mper i al Met al s'
part in the scheme is l argel y one
of suppl yi ng know-how. They also
hope to pr ovi de assistance, f r om
t i me to t i me by means of short
visits t o I ndi a by technicians f r om
Leeds.
1112