Soy Cuba

Soy Cuba, or I Am Cuba, is a 1964 film directed by Mikhail Kalatozov about the Cuban Revolution of the late 1950s and 60s.  In essence, the film was a propaganda film by the communist Russians in their new partnership with the now socialist Cuba, led by Fidel Castro, and was meant to stir anti-American feelings.  It is broken up into four stories: The story of a poor Cuban girl that has to resort to prostitution with wealthy Americans to make a living, a poor sugar cane farmer that burns his crops when an American company buys his land, a rebellion lead by Cuban students that turns into a riot before being suppressed, and the story of an average farmer who joins rebels in the mountains to fight for revolution in Cuba.

The story of Maria, the prostitute in the first story of Soy Cuba, was the Russian way of showing the raping of Cuba by the United States.  The three American men depicted are rude and disdainful of the Cuban people, and they feel free to have whatever they want.  The American that sleeps with Maria views her as more of a social scientific experiment than as a person.  He buys her crucifix from her, though it is her only treasured possession, simply because he collects them.  Also in this story, the American man is forced to walk through the slums of Cuba and is horrified by what he sees.  This was done to show the view that Americans did not care for the troubles that the Cuban people faced every day and were unwilling to help their World War 2 allies.

At the start of the Cold War in post-World War 2 years, the United States formed “heavier industries in Latin America that were subsidiaries of US multinational corporations” (Chasteen 258).  These industries were designed to not be competitive with US factories, so that American goods were higher priced and quality.  This lead to growing anti-American sentiments in Latin America, which was becoming more and more socialist and nationalist, which in turn lead to suspicion in the US because of it’s large anti-Communist ideals.  These ideals had sprung from the growing conflict with the USSR over the prevention of Communism in the world (Chasteen Chapter 8).  This is shown in the second story of Soy Cuba, the story of the farmer who is bought out by an American company.

One of the main causes of the Cuban Revolution, depicted in stories two and three, was economic concerns.  Cuba, at the time of the revolution, was the second most invested in country in Latin America by the United States, and growing nationalist sentiments in men like Castro were what accelerated the revolution into open guerrilla warfare (Eckstein 503-504).  The film did little to show the anti-American causes of the revolution, and focused more on a glorified and sentimental human aspect of the fight.  Both of the last two stories focused on men who believed in and fought for the revolution because of the love for their homeland and families, not because of American influences in their nation’s economy.