History 475 2011-02-27 23-54-00

Soy Cuba

Katie Beeler

The Film Soy Cuba held and interesting account of revolution in Cuba. The four short stories that make up the film involve 4 people who are all slaves to their own land in one sense or another. Maria’s only income and escape from the slums comes from an American who only uses her and takes her only valued possession (of course for a price). A sugar cane owner and his children are forced to give up their home and sole income source to a big company without a penny in return. A young college revolutionary gives his life for peaceful protest. And finally a family is bombarded and torn apart while being confused with revolutionaries.

The four stories all communicate the large social divides in Cuba. Each of the four stories involve the lower class being mistreated by either big business , big money, big government, or big “threats” (the American threat in the first scene with Maria). The economy of Cuba left the people of Cuba dependent on export and their land as the main resource for income. The main export for Cuba (sugar) meant making money relied on sugar, which in turn had to be grown in large quantities on your own land, and if you did not have your own land your were “using” someone else’s and basically enslaving yourself to your land and whoever owned it. This is clearly represented by the sugar cane farmer in the film who essentially looses what little he had at the drop of a hat.

Cuba’s problem with land ownership, wealth distribution, and export would all be soon turned around by the Revolution and Castro’s new control. “The Impact of the Cuban Revolution: A Comparative Perspective” by Susan Eckstein explains how the revolution would impact the country. Eckstein laid out that Sugar cane cutters were to be the prime beneficiaries of the wealth redistribution that would take place as a result of the revolution although she states that 60% of the labor force would reap the benefits of Castro’s first 3 years of rule. The sugar cane cutters were to receive a raise in minimum wage and more job security.

The country as a whole would be lifted from the burdens of being tied to land owners and social inequality. Wages were raised to laborers, government workers were provided with opportunities to travel abroad a receive a car for transportation. Cuba was to also provide close to a universal healthcare system, education, and literacy movements. All of these new changes of course would come with a price. John Chasteen explains in his book “Born in Blood & Fire” that while the revolution had helped rural cubans and created a stronger economy, the revolution would not bring individual liberties to the Cuban people. Speaking out against the government was a deadly task as illustrated by the student in the film. Even the revolution with all it brought could not bring complete freedom to Cuba.

The national identity of the Cuban people is represented well in the film. They are all prisoners to their country in one way or another. That is their identity as a whole. Wealthy or poor, they can not escape what ties them all together. The film did an excellent job of portraying this, as well as the outside factors represented like trade with with America and their influence on Cuba either with tourists or big business.