The film, Soy Cuba, portrays Fidel Castro and Che Guevera’s revolution as the solution to a corrupt government and unjust society. It’s especially evident in the poor sugarcane cutter who says life is worse than death and is scared for his children. However, after taking a step back, it is evident the film is propaganda. It is not an objective look at the revolution. When the revolution is further studied—away from the propaganda—it becomes clear that Fidel Castro did not create a perfect system.
The film did correctly portray a society overcome with social inequality. It does this best through the story of the sugarcane cutter. After all, Castro was the son of a sugar cutter (Chasteen), and so he was familiar with the injustice sugar cutters faced under Cuba’s dictator, Fulgencio Batista. Like the film showed, sugar cutting was a back-breaking activity, and sugar cutters were very poor. But after the revolution, the government took away large estates and created state farms, where many sugar-cutters had year-round employment. The sugar workers enjoyed social benefits and job security. Furthermore, technology made the sugar cutting labor not so back breaking (Eckstein). The revolution certainly helped sugar cutters suffering from social injustice.
Another area in which the film portrays the ideal nature of the revolution is through universal healthcare. Healthcare is presented as a necessary right and not just a privilege the rich receive. That’s something not many people could argue with. It’s evident in the scene where the farmer is recruited to join the revolution army. The recruiter asks the farmer if he thinks his children deserve to get adequate care. The draw to free healthcare was targeted at the majority of Cuba’s population (Eckstein). The revolution seems to benefit most people in Cuba.
But even though it did good things for a lot of people, there are problems with the revolution which the film did not portray. These disadvantages might outweigh the positives of the revolution. A few disadvantages include the decrease in quality healthcare, government restrictions, and lack of racial equality agenda.
While the revolution provided healthcare for everyone, the quality of healthcare decreased. There were less doctors and more nurses, dental, and medical assistants. That means less knowledgeable people were treating medical problems. Furthermore, health was always according to the government’s standards. It was political. Of course, those in healthcare were employed by the government, but the government controlled health standards. For example, it valued calories over protein as a measure of health. Also, Cuba’s infant mortality rates rose after the revolution began (Eckstein). Evidently, the government had a lot of control.
The government’s control had disastrous effects on individual liberties. People were not allowed to say anything bad about the government, and they couldn’t travel outside of Cuba (Chasteen). Besides eliminating freedom of speech, these policies creates an uninformed public. It makes Cuba stuck inside its own little world.
In addition, this led to the lack of a conversation about race problems. Castro and his revolutionaries denied there was a problem. Their social justice agenda helped blacks by eliminating anti-discriminatory practices like being banned from certain beaches and restaurants. Yet in the national conversation about race, they ignored it as an issue of concern. They did what dictators did years before: avoid talking about race to achieve national unity (Fuente). This is evident in the film because blacks are not given a strong voice. The protagonists are hispanic and not black.
So Soy Cuba portrays the good parts of Castro’s revolution. It does not acknowledge the problems with the revolution. The film should not be regarded as a historical interpretation but a piece of propaganda.