That Infernal Little Cuban Republic: The United States and the Cuban Revolution

Synopsis

Cuba has regularly given Washington a headache, Lars Schoultz observes in his comprehensive chronicle of U. S. policy toward the Cuban Revolution. Seeking relief, even the most patient U. S. officials have often been tempted to repeat what an exasperated President Theodore Roosevelt told a friend in 1906: "I am so angry with that infernal little Cuban republic that I would like to wipe its people off the face of the earth."

Certainly that has been true since 1959, when a group of rebels led by Fidel Castro ousted Fulgencio Batista, a dictator known for his friendly ties to the United States, and proceeded to cause more trouble than anyone could have imagined. Using a rich array of documents and firsthand interviews with U. S. and Cuban officials, Schoultz tells the story of the attempts and failures of ten U. S. administrations to end the Cuban Revolution. He covers everything from the legendary 1960s plot to assassinate Castro using a rigged ballpoint pen to the message that recently ran across the electronic billboard of the U. S. interests section in Havana: "Communism doesn't work because people like to own stuff"--a comment attributed to the late rocker Frank Zappa.

Schoultz argues that despite the overwhelming advantage in size and power that the United States enjoys over its neighbor, the Cubans' historical insistence on their right to self-determination has inevitably irritated American administrations, influenced both U. S. domestic politics and foreign policy, and led to a freeze in diplomatic relations of unprecedented longevity. Schoultz's analysis illuminates what has been a highly unproductive foreign policy and points to fresh prospects as a new century of U. S.-Cuban relations begins.