First published on January 1, 2019, minor edits
Today, Cubans are commemorating the 62nd anniversary of their independence. On this day in 1959, the Cuban Revolution was successfully conducted by Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement[i] and became an enduring symbol of resistance to neo-colonialism, capitalism, and hegemony. As a result, Cuba’s corrupt and brutal dictator, Fulgencio Batista (1901-1973), who had the full backing of the US government, left the island and escaped to the Dominican Republic, along with some of his loyal supporters. The victory of the Cuban Revolution meant that January 1, 1959 marked the first time in 467 years that Cubans were not subject to serfdom and exploitation by a foreign power.
Spain was the first country to exercise dominion over Cuba, beginning in 1510. However, Spain’s defeat at the hands of the Americans in the Spanish-American War of 1898 did not bring about the emancipation that Cubans were expecting, as the island was subsequently transformed into a US neo-colony.
In the period between the conclusion of the Spanish-American War in 1898 and the victory of the Cuban Revolution in 1959, the US exercised imperial power over Cuba, exploiting its natural and human resources, and dictating its domestic and foreign policies. When Batista, who was supported by Washington since 1933, came to power via coup d’état on March 10, 1952, he and his corrupt associates immediately collaborated with Washington and the American mafia to facilitate the continued exploitation Cuba’s resources.
In particular, he permitted the American mafia to take control of all the casinos on the island in exchange for millions of dollars being deposited into his Swiss bank account (Díaz-Briquets and Pérez-López 2006, 77). Meanwhile, throughout the entire period when Americans exercised imperial power over Cuba, Washington used its authority to advance the interests of American corporations, which ended up controlling all of the economic sectors on the island, in addition to gaining ownership of the best agriculture land, mines and natural resources. In fact, ‘[b]y the 1950s, the U.S. controlled 80 percent of Cuban utilities, 90 percent of Cuban mines, close to 100 percent of the country’s oil refineries, 90 percent of its cattle ranches, and 40 percent of the sugar industry’[ii]. The domination of Cuba at the hands of the Americans was best explained by Fidel Castro (October 10,