Academic journal article Cuban Studies

Sin Azúcar No Hay País: La Industria Azucarera Y la Economía Cubana (1919-1939)

Academic journal article Cuban Studies

Sin Azúcar No Hay País: La Industria Azucarera Y la Economía Cubana (1919-1939)

Article excerpt

Antonio Santamaría García. Sin azúcar no hay país: La industria azucarera y la economía cubana (1919-1939). Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas: Universidad de Sevilla and Diputación de Sevilla, 2001. 624 pp.

Antonio Santamaría's Sin azucar no hay pais is an important and extremely valuable book that is an essential addition to the personal libraries of economic and business historians of 20th century Cuba. Santamaría focuses on the development of the Cuban sugar industry during the interwar period and links its developments with those in the larger Cuban economy. In addition to economic and business historians, scholars of Cuban political or social history will profit from this volume.

Scholars such as Oscar Zanetti, Alejandro García, and Alan Dye have produced recent works specifically on the sugar industry in the 20th century. Santamaría draws much inspiration from these authors, and demonstrates throughout this volume command of the topic and intimate familiarity with key primary and secondary sources. Of immense value is the eighty-page statistical appendix. Through Santamaría's creative utilization of statistics, especially those collected from the Memoria Azucarera, Anuario Azucarero de Cuba and Farr's Manual of Sugar Companies, he paints a detailed portrait of the Cuban sugar industry during the tumultuous years 1919-1939.

Santamaría's study is animated by the question of why the crisis of the 1920s and 1930s did not shift the basic economic orientation of the island. He notes that the exporting sugar industry continued to dominate Cuba's economy, while at the same time other Latin American economies became increasingly centered on import-substituting industries.

Santamaría calls attention to the successful, if painful, adaptation of the Cuban sugar industry to the changed conditions of the interwar period, during which falling sugar prices and protectionism abroad threatened its survival. The sugar industry responded to the crisis of the 1920s and 1930s with production restriction, export regulation, the intensification of grinding, and by focusing not just on raw sugar, but also molasses, rum, and refined sugar. …

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