kkratzer 2011-02-26 16-32-48

Soy Cuba depicts certain incidents in the lives of a multitude of Cuban citizens ranging from a rural to urban environment which are under control of US-backed dictator Fulgencio Batista. The film serves as support for the spread of socialism and is aimed at gaining sympathy for the Cuban revolution, whose legendary leaders were seen as founding fathers to a revolution in Latin America that has been suppressed and agitated by capitalists over the past half century. The eventual success of Fidel Castro and his associates initiated an opportunity for socialist radicals to forge empathy in global politics. Yet major powers, particularly the United States, have consistently demeaned the socialist movement in what President Ronald Reagan labeled a “basket case” of a social structure. Yet, Susan Eckstein argues that a balance of financial power, including the elimination of the bourgeoisie, redistributed wealth well enough to benefit the average citizen. By monopolizing trade and promoting an industrialized Cuba, Batista’s conquerors were able to create “the most egalitarian country in Latin America” (p. 530).

Soy Cuba‘s episodic format under filmmaker Mikhail Kalatozov succeeds in its ability to portray a range of Cuban citizens. Though not directly, American involvement in Cuba is consistently criticized. The first episode shows a woman swayed into prostitution by Americans in a casino. The character leads the American back into her shanty, with Kalatozov producing an aura of surreal dislocation. The man strips the woman of her pride in multiple senses, taking with him her presumed virginity and a crucifix- a symbol of the woman’s loss of her God. In this, Kalatozov and his financial indebtedness to his Soviet government is suggesting an American expropriation of Cuban freedoms. As the film continues, a transition to a sugar cane plantation worker depicts the cruelties of capitalism which will, under the legal use of corporate power, strip the man of his fecund land. In retaliation, the man burns everything and leaves the capitalists with a plantation of ash. Finally, a scene of a Cuban woman running from deployed US Navy men results in Enrique, a future martyr for Castro’s revolution, standing up alone to the force of US power- perhaps influencing Cubans of the time to resist Western interference.

Yet the film does not deal directly with US relations, but moreso with a Cuba that is still trying to liberate itself from the struggles implemented by Spanish colonialism. In this, Soy Cuba depicts a nation that is still battling against its aggressors and its internal self. Yet, as the film ends with a heroic scene of Cuban revolutionaries with a new nation to construct, the overall message is one of hope for the Cuban people and the spread socialism across the globe.