I Am Cuba

    In this weeks film, Soy Cuba, we are presented with a view of pre-revolution Cuba through the eyes of various Cuban citizens and situations. The film begins by depicting the evils of Spanish colonization, which in turn create the rest of the action in the film.
    The interpretation of American’s in the film mirrored the animosity felt by Cuba’s people toward visiting Americans and the US Government.  According to Eckstien, The US was heavily invested in Pre-Revolutionary Cuba (the second largest investment in Latin America[p.503]).  In the film, a wealth of American Business men and Sailors can be seen, mostly in the loud, stereotypical traveling American fashion of haughtiness and arrogance.  The Films narrator “Cuba” gives insight to Americans opinion of Cuba vs. the peoples view, as she is the “Cuba of Casinos” but also “of the people”.  This suggests that to American’s Cuba was naught more then  nightclubs and Casino’s. its people irrelevant.  This is better depicted within the scene involving Maria and the scene involving visiting American sailors.  Maria, in the first story, is reduced to a prostitute as an American pays her for sex and her cross, which appears to be one of her only possessions (showing how impoverished the youth of Cuba was before revolution, as she lives in a shack).  The conflict between the young girl and the Sailors asserts the idea that Americans take and get what they want (similar to the American with Maria and her Crucifix).  Luckily, the main focus of the Student scene Enrique is there to squelch their vigorous advances (perhaps suggesting American supposed superiority over the Cuban people by showing they can take whatever they wish if they so wish?, in this case rejecting the young girl in favor of a plethora of Cuban women already demeaned into such a position).  Though overall, American representation within the film is relatively tame and potentially distorted due to the Soviet related communist overtones throughout the film’s creation and plot.  
    One thing the film portrayed somewhat inaccurately is the inclusion of race relations in the film.  Under Castro, the people believe that everything will become better once the old regime is displaced.  For the lower income peoples of Cuba this is true (Eckstien shows that lower income Cubans benefited from revolution the most, more than other classes/races/etc), but race relations are never really mentioned within the film, but according to Alejandro de la Fuente’s article, “Cubans have been trying to find unity and common ground for at least a century and have frequently perceived race as an obstacle to reaching this goal”(43).  The unity shown in the film between the various races, especially on the march to Havana and in the encampment during Mariano’s decision to join the revolution were a representation of the race less nation Cuban’s hoped to have (though in pre-revolution years, unlike the film, did not have).  Though struggles in the post revolution era depicted the uneasiness of such a nation (despite Cuba being,”even during the times of slavery, the relationship between whites and blacks had allegedly been softer and more harmonious in Cuba than in any other country” (46).  The reduction of racial discrimination is what caused a surge in the revolutions popularity and Castro’s as well, and in part he helped racial relations in Cuba.
    The film’s representation of the impoverished of Cuba gives insight into the struggles the poor of Cuba were forced to endure under Pre-revolutionary rule.  Eckstien however suggests that “Consequently, only a relatively small portion of the island’s agrarian labor force was employed in subsistence farming” (503) thus negating the importance, in part, of these scenes in the movie (i..e between  the poor farmer and United Fruit, or the scene between Mariano and the revolutionary before his trip to the rebel encampment (“Is this land you sow yours? Etc.).  However the film uses this to dramatize the separation between landowners and the working poor and to better build a sense of revolution before the March on Havana scene.  Though dramatized, the movie does present the struggles of Pre-revolutionary Cuba fairly accurately, showing the poor farmers, the exploited women and the youth of the nation rising against an unfair and unpopular regime.