Introduction

CUBA, the largest island in the Caribbean Sea and only ninety miles from the United States, has had a significant impact on world history, politics,and culture. Events such as the Spanish American War of 1898, the Cuban revolution of 1959, the Cuban missile crisis in October 1962, and the recent custody battle between the Cuban father and grandmothers and relatives in Miami over Elián González, the boy whose mother drowned while trying to leave Cuba, have received international attention. In the area of culture, Cuba has produced some of the most renowned writers, artists, musicians, and athletes of the twentieth century.

Cuba’s government considers culture to be a weapon of the revolution, which serves to support the political establishment. If bourgeois culture helps to sustain the capitalist system, then a politicized culture was created to promote Cuba’s revolution. However, this has not been an easy task, and it has been achieved with varying results. Certainly at the outset of the revolution, general enthusiasm favored Fidel Castro’s political goals. Facilities that had been reserved for the privileged few were made available to all. The number of writers and artists increased, as did the publishing houses, which began to print record numbers of books. Books were made affordable, and education and culture began to flourish. As the revolution began to define itself as communist, government supporters promoted a more dogmatic type of culture. Some writers and artists were forced to curtail their freedom of expression, and others looked for ways to vent their creative activities. Understandably, these events were tied to the economic and political backdrop unfolding on the island. Many of the original goals of the revolution, for which the

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