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

5
The Cuban Constitution of 1940

Having considered the underlying outlook of Castro and the original July 26th Movement, we must next examine another of the basic factors involved in the evolution of the Revolution--the Cuban Constitution of 1940. One of the most tantalizing features of all the American writing on the Revolution is the way all the authors shy away from any straight- forward review of the document. They talk of it and around it but never about it.

But one remark by Draper, even though he never follows through on it, raises enough of this curtain of silence for the reader to ask some very pointed and fundamental questions about his entire interpretation of the Revolution. " Castro promised," he charges, "to restore Cuban democracy and make it work, not a 'direct' or 'people's' democracy but the one associated with the 1940 Constitution, which was so radical that much of it, especially the provision for agrarian reform, was never implemented."

Now that phrase, "which was so radical," fairly thunders into the mind of the reader. The question comes so fast that it seems to be a natural reflex. What could be that radical about a constitution written and adopted in a country dominated by conservative elements dependent upon the support of Batista and the United States?

The only way to find out is to review the history of the Constitution and then examine the document itself. It may be useful at the outset, in view of the way Draper and other commentator's bypass this crucial part of the story, to note that a full and excellent English translation is available in Robert H. Fitzgibbon 's collection of The Constitutions of the Americas. One gains considerable insight into the Revolution by reading

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