The movie, Soy Cuba, was first released in 1964 and known for its unique camera movements. It, like Que Viva Mexico, is told in a set of stories. Whether these stories connect is irrelevant, but this method allows a filmmaker to present his or her message across place and time more easily. Soy Cuba shows viewers the impact that the United States had on Cuba prior to the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Since the film was initially released five years after the revolution, it most likely was intended to be a voice for pro-socialism in entertainment. Loosely, each story is another telling of Americans taking what is most cherished by the Cubans in different facets of Cuban life, while Cubans are left with nothing but growing hatred
Prior to revolution, the United States consumed 3/4th of the export revenue of Cuba (Chasteen 268). In addition to importing Cuban products, the United States also invested in many sugar mills, farms, and communication companies (Chasteen 268). This influx of money and power created an elite, richer class of Cubans. In fact, the United States supported the dictatorship of Batista (Chasteen 267). In Soy Cuba, the United States’ presence is blatant in the first story, through the Americans in the club; the second story, portrayed by the landowner’s deal with the United Fruit Company; and the third story, through the U.S. sailors. An increasing social desire for equality and redistribution of wealth begins to shape in Cuba around the time of this film.
Causing this inequality of wealth is the structure of Cuba’s economy. Susan Eckstein’s article describes the trends in the Cuban economy as expanding and contracting with export opportunities (503). Soy Cuba’s second story highlights Cuba’s monoproduct export dependence. This dependence on a single export coupled with the United States’ need for inexpensive sugar cane resulted in corporations, such as the United Fruit Company of the film, purchasing land from farmers. Realizing his already poor future has been nullified, the farmer burns the new property of the United Fruit Company, thus enacting a no-win scenario, a very Cold War feeling.
The third and fourth stories show two sides of the Cuban revolution. Growing popularity of Marxist, and Leninist, ideology in Cuba was most prominent among “outspoken students” in Cuban universities (Chasteen 264). These ideals apply themselves to the economy and wealth of Cuba as well as the social disparity common to Latin American countries. Instead of segregating themselves by color or race, Cubans were looking beyond this and discovering large disparities between the powerful and the poor. Revolutionaries, and most likely all Cubans, recognized the ties between wealthy Cubans and the US-backed imperialism and sought to stop it.