Front Door to Cuba Front Door to Cuban History

On U.S. Cuba Relations

An excerpt from Terrence Cannon’s book:
Thomas Y. Crowell, New York
© 1981 by Terrence Cannon | Page 109

There is no mystery about what happened between the United States and the Cuban Revolution. The morning Batista fled, two forces came into head-on conflict: the needs of the Cuban people versus the economic policies of the United States corporations that owned the factories and fields of Cuba. As economist Edward Boorstein, who served as an adviser to the revolutionary government, wrote, “The victory over Batista meant that the Cuban people had done away with the local overseer; now they confronted the owner of the plantation--American Imperialism.”

The word imperialism will recur often from now on. What do the Cubans mean when they use it?

The natural development of capitalism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries concentrated economic power in a few monopoly corporations and banks. Nowhere is this fusion of industrial and financial power so advanced as in the United States. This is imperialism: the most advanced, monopolized stage of capitalism.

There came a point late in the nineteenth century, when the monopolies began to search outside the boundaries of the United states for profitable ways to invest their wealth and sell their products. That was when the sugar trust and the Rockefeller and Mellon financial discovered Cuba. The effect on the Cuban economy, as described by Boorstein, was disastrous:

The monopolies did not deliberately plot to strangle Cuba. They simply acted naturally. They made sure of the land labor they needed, took control of mineral resources the way monopolies do everywhere, secured easy access into Cuba for their exports. They took control of resources and markets not only for their own use but to deny them to others. And just by being themselves, by taking normal advantage of their size and strength to promote their interests, the monopolies could not help but strangle the Cuban economy.

From January 1, 1959, therefore, the question became, Who is going to determine what happens in Cuba—the people of Cuba or the government and business interests of the United States? If the Revolution was going to carry out the radical reforms it had been promising since 1953, a clash was inevitable.

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