Week Six- Soy Cuba; History 475

Soy Cuba is a beautiful film about life in Cuba in the late sixties. The eloquent voice over, understood to be the ‘voice of Cuba’, implored feelings of sympathy and understanding from the audience. One important aspect brought to light in this film is the relationship between Cuban citizens and capitalist societies. Chasteen discusses the rise of support for Marxists ideas in Latin America at this time. Support for these Marxists ideas concerning class structure and decolonization in Latin America coupled with the rejection of the ideas by capitalist societies provides insight into the discontented attitudes of Cubans in the film.

The opening two chapters of the film show just how American society is viewed by Cubans at this time. All of the American characters are rude and vile with their interactions with Cuban citizens. In the first chapter, an American takes complete advantage of a Cuban woman, Maria. He calls her Betty, an obviously American name which further shows the complete lack of respect or even acknowledgement of Cuban lives or culture by the American characters. Also in this first chapter, the wealthy American buys Maria’s crucifix, and does not allow her to argue, despite the fact that it is clearly her only possession of value. This complete lack of respect or comprehension for what is Cuban is just what Chasteen discusses. “They believed that US multinationals were only a new version of the Spanish and Portuguese empires, siphoning riches…from The Open Veins of Latin America” (page 265).

The second chapter of the film shows the difficulties faced by a Cuban sugar farmer. It opens with he and his children doing back breaking labor to make ends meet, and then shows how the man lost his farm to a United States fruit company who bought the land. In distress he destroys his crop and home and sends his children into town to spend the last of their money. Ironically, the children’s first purchase is a coca-cola, an American product, further showing how much America was involved, economically, in Cuba.

According to the Susan Eckstein article, “1958 Cuba probably had the second largest amount of United States investment in Latin America.” She also discusses how the resources produced in Cuba were not used to support the internal economy. This statistic and Eckstein’s analysis shows just how deeply involved the United States was with Cuba at this time. It may be safe to say that because the United States was so deeply embedded into society that Fidel Castro could use these capitalistic actions of the United States, that many in Cuba were already weary of, to gain a following. His followers and revolutionaries are depicted in the final chapter of Soy Cuba and are portrayed as martyrs for their cause.