Soy Cuba showed clips of what life was like for Cubans during the Revolution and while doing so, gave the viewer a taste of the various types of Cuban citizens. While watching the film, I was curious of the stance of race in Cuban society.
The question rose in my mind if their culture had the same downward view on blacks. My answer was apparent after reading Alejandro de la Fuente’s article. He said that blacks were able to enjoy all the same aspects of life as the whites did in Cuba. They could vote, hold public office, enroll in educational systems, and have any job if qualified…qualified being the main word because most of the blacks were not due to educational disadvantages. The black Cuban, Betty, was very poor and could not climb any higher in Cuba’s society which could have possibly been because of her race. When footage was shown of the shanty town she lived in, it was obvious that all it’s residents were black. Not only were their living situations suppressed in Cuban society but their voices were too. How could blacks have a voice if they were living in shanty towns which were clearly uneducated, thus not enabling them to be qualified for any income-sufficient job.
Another curiosity that rose to me during the film was the accuracy of the life of sugarcane farmer, Pedro and his two children. Was it true that they could lose their land and everything they worked so hard for in literally the blink of an eye? While I was reading Susan Eckstein’s article on the impact of the revolution on Cuba’s society, she stated that the greatest impact of the Revolution was seen on the low-income groups. They benefitted the most in the improvement of social services and resources. I did not see this in Soy Cuba. The director made it very clear that Pedro and other farmers had very little to begin with and lost everything. I found Susan’s article to be rather contradictory to the movie in this aspect. She seems to put a lighter note saying that Cuba is “not a basket case.”
A point of Susan’s that the film did portray was that the Revolution weakened the island’s ability to hold a place in the export market and thus relied (and continues to rely) heavily on other countries to come to their rescue. In Soy Cuba, Pedro’s land that he farmed on was being sold to a larger foreign industry and his work was no longer needed. This goes hand in hand how Cuban debt and export issues reflects the situation of foreign creditors. Cuba absorbed Western debt and thus was ranked in its regional per-capita national products extremely low in the 1980’s. This was also due to the fact that sugar became its main export and Cuba evolved into a mono product exporting country.
Overall, the country of Cuba is hard to rank it its economic and social growth during and after the Revolution. There has been progress in some areas such as with the lower class yet setbacks becoming a mono producing export country. Soy Cuba and de la Fuente took the stance that the Cuban’s Revolution was difficult on the country as a whole where as Susan’s article seemed to find great benefits in the Revolution. All interesting perspectives.