by María L. Trigos-Gilbert
Though Dr. Fidel Castro has tried since day one to diversify all important activities and powers to areas outside of Havana, his main city is still La Habana, as it is well known in the Latin world. Nevertheless, he has gained plenty of success in the worked soils of the island since the island’s soils are rich in minerals and suitable for any kind of crop. Dr. F. Castro has worked upon less dependence in the famous Cuban sugar cane production as well as in the tobacco production. However, Cuba’s main entrance of money remains in the sugar cane production and tobacco.
What Happened to Cuba After USSR Collapsed?
As foreign politicians and geopolitical experts suspected, Cuba suffered a tremendous economic depression in the early years of the 1990s due to the Soviet Union disintegration. Cuba had been like a baby who was fed by the world power ambition that the Soviet Union had sustained for many years against the USA. So Cuba meant to be the perfect target to hurt the USA’s pride, to show the USA its limitations in what a country’s national and international policies were concerned.
Yet Cuba has made huge adjustments in order to survive without the Soviet Union’s aid. Cuba has never understood better that they should not depend on the sole production of sugar cane or tobacco as they have realized it in the last decade of this XX century. Dr. Fidel Castro and his cabinet have tried different paths, but with the same communist perspective. They have opened their doors to foreign students who may be interested in studying the Spanish language, or in understanding to a greater extend the Cuban culture. They have become a lot more interested in a further development and explosion of some of their minerals like nickel, cobalt, iron ore, chrome, and copper (a very significant mineral in the island). Before the Soviet Union’s disintegration, Cuba had been working in biotechnology researches and projects, but Cuba’s biotechnology cravings have increased a lot more since the Soviet Union is out of the picture, like a matter of honor.
Cuba & Venezuela: Relationship & Economic Matters
Cuba, like the entire world, needs oil. At first the Soviet Union supplied Cuba’s oil, giving it to them for modest prices, or with low interest rates. This deal ended as the Soviet Union ended. Nowadays, Venezuela is the one that has considered to supply Cuba’s oil necessity with low interest rates. Both presidents, Dr. F. Castro and Colonel H. Chávez, have discussed Venezuela’s oil input to the island. They talked about it before and during the IX Cumbre Iberoamericana de jefes de estado y gobierno which translated means IX Iberian-American Summit (Eminence) of Presidents of the State and Government. This took place in Havana, Cuba on November 16, 1999. Of course, there are streams attached. Cuba must permit Venezuela’s oil exploitation in Cienfuegos, located on the southeast of Havana. Venezuela and Cuba are not into politics similarities or differences. Their only objective is to have respectful relationships between both countries, as well as economic matters.
USA’s Policies Toward Cuba
Many people have the misconception that the USA and Cuba have been having bad relations since 1959 when Dr. F. Castro became the Cuban communist president. In reality, the USA and Cuba have been having problems prior to 1959. This bad relations started since Cuba wanted its independence from the mother country of Spain. Of course, the USA had a lot of inversions in this island after Cuba got its independence. This is besides the regulations that the USA forced on Cuba in exchange for the given help.
Case Example: Helms-Burton Act
The “Helms-Burton Act” is also known as the “Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act” and the “Libertad.” The U.S. Act, signed into law in March of 1996, outlines plans to fortify international sanctions against the Castro government, assist Cubans after Castro is deposed and to protect property rights of USA citizens in Cuba. This was implanted by the actual president of the USA, Mr. William Jefferson Clinton. Furthermore, this enforces the USA Embargo against Cuba greatly. Though nowadays many North Americans, like the former president Jimmy Carter and the actor Jack Nickolson find the Embargo to be pretty obsolete. One reason the embargo is obsolete lies in the fact that the Soviet Union is out of the picture. There is also a desire within Cuba for some human and economic integration.
Dr. F. Castro’s Position & His Followers
Nevertheless, Dr. F. Castro’s presidency has not made easier the political and economical process of restoration between both nations. Dr. F. Castro sustains that it is the USA that does not want to make up with him and his country, just because the Cuban people would not humiliate themselves for Cokes and jeans. His brother Raúl Castro—Cuba’s vice-president, defense minister, and designated successor—supports 100 % Dr. F. Castro’s position toward the USA. This is to say that the panorama will not change when Castro dies. For instance, Camilo Guevara, El Che Guevara’s son, embraces the Castro brothers’ goals and strategies for Cuba.
Camilo Guevara is Cuba’s fishing minister. He is at least half age of Raúl Castro’s age, 68 years old. C. Guevara is an energetic and enthusiastic young man who refuses to kneel to USA’s demands. He and Dr. F. Castro have tried very hard for the Cuban people to understand that eating fish does not mean poverty. Both of them get along, but for family and national reasons C. Guevara will not substitute Dr. Fidel Castro when he dies. His father—E. Guevara, “El Che”—could not replace Dr. F. Castro in case of death. Once again those were family and national reasons, but not political disagreements. The story repeats once again. Yes, C. Guevara is intelligent, healthy, but Raúl Castro is still alive, besides the fact that Dr. F. Castro has sons and daughters who would be glad to take his place.
Geographic Facts of Cuba
The matter that Cuba is so close to the USA, makes Cuba’s situation a lot more stressful. The sky and the ocean are sensitive to USA’s flight and navigation as well as it does to Cuba’s maneuvers. We hear many times that many Cubans swim from Cuba to Florida, reminding us that Cuba is closer to the USA than we indeed acknowledge. If we give it, the globe, just a glance, we realize that the proximity is tremendous. This is what makes the situation so difficult to be handled. Many incidents and well thought attacks from both parts have been planned more than once. Since 1959 to the present time, there has not been a USA president that has not had to deal with this sensitive issue.
I truly do not know what to think or say, except that Cuba has shown a lot of improvement in health and life expectancy of the Cuban people. This is besides the giant advancement in education. Amazingly enough 98% of the Cuban people are literate. Do they have problems in Cuba like financial problems or social problems? I guess that there is not a single country that does not have one of the two or both. Therefore, I do believe that the USA should not impose its democracy on other nations. I do also believe that Dr. F. Castro should be a lot more understanding toward the USA, and toward some other democratic nations. Of course, this is a utopia, an idealism. This takes place in people’s minds, but do not get materialized for mere dreams of a better world, a peaceful world.
It would be a lot easier if people take into consideration their similarities, rather than their differences. In the end, we are more similar than different. We are born, and then we die, perhaps later finding out that our geography and culture were not as important as we thought. Whatever happens in Cuba, in the USA, or in any other nation, affects the entire world. Whether we like it or not.
Location: Caribbean, 90 miles south of Florida, USA. & forms part of the Greater Antilles plus strategic island.
Influences: African and Spaniard significant, & to a lesser extend North American and indigenous.
Type of government: Communist.
Nation’s president: Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz (1959-).
Political parties: Cuban Communist Party.
Date of independence: May 20, 1902.
Nation’s area: 114.471 km.
Nation’s capital: Havana 2.077.000 habitants.
Nation’s total habitants: 10.938.000 (0.7%).
National language: Spanish.
Nation’s literacy: 98%.
Official religion: Catholicism.
Death rate: 7% per 1,000.
Life expectancy: Good (75 years).
Nation’s principal products: Tobacco and sugar cane.
Other nation’s products: Food crops: rice, beans, citrus fruit, cattle, dairy herds, and fishing industry.
National sport: Baseball, though practice many others!
National hero: Present-day Cuban cult hero representing the country’s socialist vision, Ernesto Guevara, “El Che.”