Latin America in the Era of the Cuban Revolution

Latin America in the Era of the Cuban Revolution

Latin America in the Era of the Cuban Revolution

Latin America in the Era of the Cuban Revolution

Synopsis

After Fidel Castro's guerrilla war against dictator Fulgencio Batista triumphed on January 1, 1959, the Cuban Revolution came to be seen as a major watershed in Latin American history. The three decades following Castro's victory gradually marginalized Cuba from the Latin American mainstream. But, as long-time Cuba observer Thomas C. Wright shows, the Cuban Revolution owed its vast influence in Latin America to the fact that--most evidently in its early years--it embodied the aspirations and captured the imaginations of Latin America's masses as no other political movement had ever done.

Excerpt

"January 1, 1959, when Fidel Castro triumphed, began a new era in Latin America." So wrote New York Times senior editor Herbert Matthews, a close observer of Fidel Castro's guerrilla war against dictator Fulgencio Batista, in 1961. Echoing Matthews' words, dozens of academic and journalistic studies written in the 1960s proclaimed the Cuban Revolution a major watershed in Latin America's history.

The four decades since Castro's victory have marginalized Cuba from the Latin American mainstream. As a result, it may appear from today's perspective as if the Cuban Revolution had been an exotic, aberrant growth on the Latin American body politic. In fact, quite the opposite is true. The Cuban Revolution owed its vast influence in Latin America to the fact that -- most evidently in its early years -- it embodied the aspirations and captured the imagination of Latin America's masses as no other political movement had ever done.

Beginning with the Mexican Revolution of 1910, Latin America witnessed the rise of reformist and revolutionary forces dedicated to bettering the material and spiritual condition of the dark peoples, the poor, the illiterate, the exploited -- those who lived their lives on the margin of modern society. Mexico's revolutionary 1917 constitution not only set goals for Mexico but its commitment to political democracy, social justice, and national liberation from foreign economic dominance -- in sum, to freedom and human dignity -- also set the agenda for twentiethcentury Latin American politics. Following the Mexican Revolution, mass movements such as Peru's American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana, APRA) and Venezuela's Democratic Action (Acción Democrática, AD) struggled for the . . .

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