The United States, Cuba, and Castro: An Essay on the Dynamics of Revolution and the Dissolution of Empire

By William Appleman Williams | Go to book overview

2
A Revolution to Build a New Nation and a New Epoch

Even the first newspaper accounts of the triumph of the Castro Revolution stressed the intensity and fervor of the up- heaval against Batista. A deep feeling and spirit of being against more than just Batista, and of being for a new order in Cuba, permeated the entire population as it converged on Havana to celebrate the victory. Draper seriously overstates the case when he says that the Cuban middle class was "ready for deep-going social and political reforms," but in the first flush of the triumph a good many members of that class at least thought they were ready for that kind of change.

Nationalism, anti-imperialism, and the urge to social reform converged in Cuba in 1958 and 1959 in much the same way as they had done in other dependent or colonial societies ever since the end of World War II. The casual American image of Cuba as a combination of Go-Go-Go baseball players, spinning roulette wheels, and racy women set off against a pleasing background of handsome and efficient businessmen, quaint but noble and manly farmers, and a sensual sunset is considerably less than helpful in understanding the Revolution and its evolution. It is essential to realize that Cuba was a society of desperate contrasts and staggering contradictions struggling to break finally free of the limitations of an unbalanced and lurching economy.

Though they devote far less space to the problem than Draper does, Meyer and Szulc provide a generally more useful insight into Cuba's political economy on the eve of Castro's triumph. It is not sociologically precise, but then neither is Draper's, and they at least reveal the mood and feel of the

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