The Cuban Revolution and its impact on the Caribbean
‘This time the revolution is for real,’ Fidel Castro proclaimed on 1 January 1959. Since then, Cuba has charted a course different from the rest of the Caribbean; the revolution effected the island’s real independence from the United States and restructured Cuban society in favour of the popular classes. Revolutionary Cuba offered an alternative to dependent capitalism, though one sustained by substantial trade, credit and aid from the Soviet Union until 1989. Socialism registered social advancements (such as health and education) which towered impressively over those of most of the Third World, though it never quite realized stable rates of economic growth and steady improvements in overall living standards. While firmly bound by a single party, the political system also drew on the exceptional leadership of Fidel Castro and at least initially an extraordinary fount of popular support. Thus, Cuban socialism never quite acquired the profile of its erstwhile allies in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
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