1960s A Pro-Soviet Tyranny
1959-1960: Following Fidel Castro’s overthrow of the dictatorial Batista administration, a host of people, including children and women, welcomed the arrival of guerrillas, but they turned the Island — about the size of Tennessee– into a place of repression. On the other side, Raúl Castro had been hand-picked by his brother, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, as the second leader of the Cuban Revolution. In the meantime, in the early years of the new regime, up to 3,200 Cubans had been slaughtered by Fidel Castro and his family. On the economic side, Castro nationalized all U.S. businesses (without compensation). In fact, these events marked the beginning of one the world’s worst undemocratic governments. Toward the end of 1960, Washington imposed an embargo on Cuba.
1960-1980: As a consequence of the totalitarian policies, over one million Cubans had fled to America (chiefly Florida), Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Spain and Italy.
1960-1982: Inspired by the People’s Republic of China, Albania and other Communist tyrannies, Cuba’s undemocratic state had decimated the country’s tourism industry.
1960-2007: In one of Fidel Castro’s many dictatorial reforms, hemade his sister-in-law, Vilma Espín, President of the Federation of Cuban Women –a key organization on Cuba. Espín, Raúl Castro’s wife, was leader of the feminist organization until her abrupt death on June 18, 2007.However in time, she, a former Marxist guerrilla, was known as the “First Lady of the Cuban Revolution”. Over the decades of the Soviet Empire, she had strong links with radical feminist movements from Eastern Europe, Asia, Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.
1960-2010: World-famous dancer and choreographer Alicia Alonso Martínez became one of the key women, alongside Haydée Santamaria Cuadrado, Vilma Espín Guillois, Celia Sánchez Manduley and Mireya Luis Hernández, in the Cuban Revolution. Since then, she used her fame and prestige to clean up the Island’s bad image. By the early 60s, Fidel Castro gave Alonso $200,000 to set up the Cuban National Ballet. From then on, the Ballet Nationalbecame an open door for Cuban influence in the Third World and Europe.
1961: The Island’s history took sudden turn in this year as the provisional rule declared the country a Marxist stateand began a close relationship with the Kremlin -the USSR was one of the first states to recognize Cuba’s tyranny–and their allies, including the German Democratic Republic (GDR), North Korea and Czechoslovakia. From then on, Moscow played a key role in the Cuban Revolution. Nonetheless, after Cuba became a pro-Soviet dictatorship, the political relationship between the States and the Island worsened. On January 3, 1961, the tensions between both governments came to a head as America severed diplomatic ties with the rule of Cuba.
1962: The Republic of Cuba was suspended from the Organization of American States (OAS), which was founded on April 30 1948 in Bogotá (Colombia), over its dictatorial rule.
1962- 1990: Unlike many Marxist states in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia, including Ethiopia (the world’s poorest nation), Guinea, Laos and Cambodia (Asia’s poorest country), the Island’s human development, from employment and energy to education, culture and public health, was subsidized by the Kremlin (which was supplanted by Venezuela since 2000). For example, most of Cuba’s young people –chiefly members of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC)– attend schools, universities and institutions in Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, Poland and the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Moreover, a number of cultural delegations went to Asia, Latin America and Europe. In 1984, the Caribbean team, led by Alicia Alonso, visited five former Soviet republics (Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan). On the other side, around 90% of the military budget was financed from the USSR and other Communist states. These were some of the reasons why Cuba did not have financial problems -different from several Latin societies. During the Cold War, the massive Soviet aid gave Cuba a political influence in the Third World disproportionate to its size and economy.
1964-1990: Castro’s dictatorial rule, headed by its diplomat Isidoro Malmierca (the Cuban ambassador to the United Nations), allowed the USSR to direct its foreign policy. The Kremlin used Fidel Castro to expand its geopolitical influence in the Third World, chiefly in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.
1967: Soviet Union’s Prime Minister Alexei Kosygin went to Cuba.
1970s Fidel Castro & Mengistu Haile Mariam
1970-1975: The totalitarian Communist state had cooperative ties with Peru’s dictator Juan Velasco Alvarado. Over that time, Raúl Castro, the Island’s second most powerful leader, trip to Lima.
1971-1973: After Salvador Allende’s win in the Presidential elections, the Cuban administration had shown a deep interest in cooperation with Chile. Upon the winning the Chilean election, Allende became the world’s only freely elected Marxist Head of State. Later on, in 1971, surprisingly, Fidel Castro embarked on a three-week tour of Chile.
1972-1990: The Republic Socialist of Cuba was home to the largest Soviet community outside Europe and the USSR.
1975-1991: With the help of 50,000 Cuban troops, the African country of Angola, led by José Eduardo dos Santos, moved into the Soviet orbit.
1977: The Cuban dictatorship sent a delegation, led by Sergio del Valle, to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
1978-1989: Under its pro-Soviet policy, Castro’s dictatorial rule sent over 20,000 troops to the Republic Marxist of Ethiopia – an African nation with 90% of the population living under the abject poverty– to support the dictatorship of Mengistu Haile Mariam, who led Ethiopia to one of the worst genocides in history. Over that time, Cuba’s troops carried out repressive measures against the Eritreans and Ethiopians.
1979: With the support of the Soviet bloc (from Bulgaria to East Germany), as well as anti-American states, Havana – the nation’s capital city– hosted the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Summit. Cuba’s satrap Fidel Castro was elected President. This international event was part of the Communist dictatorship’s strategy to win new allies in the Third World, including terrorist states.
1980s The pro-Castro Lobby
1980: To improve dictatorship’s image abroad, damaged by human rights abuses and pro-Soviet military projects in sub-Saharan Africa, the undemocratic rule sent a person -a Russian-trained astronaut– to space. Along with Alberto Juantorena ( 1976 Olympic champion), Alicia Alonso and Alejo Carpentier (author), Cuba’s cosmonaut Arnaldo Tamayo was one of the “special ambassadors” of the Cuban tyranny.
1981: On the world stage, the Castro regime established strong links with rogue governments such as Libya, Iran and the DPR of Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or North Korea). By contrast, Cuba’s ties with many Latin American democracies worsened, including Colombia, Costa Rica, Jamaica and Peru.
1982-2008: Under the influence of the “pro- Castro lobby” in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), nine natural and cultural sites on the Island were declared wonders of the world- the Old Havana and its Fortifications (1982), the Trinidad and the Valley de los Ingenios (1988), San Pedro de la Roca Castle (1997), the Desembarco del Granma National Park (1999), the Viñales Valley (1999), the Archaeological Landscape of the First Coffee Plantations in the South East of Cuba (2000), the Alejandro de Humbolt National Park (2001), the Urban Historic Centre of Cienfuegos (2005) and the Historic Centre of Camaguey (2008). Curiously Cuba holds more world heritage sites than Argentina, Egypt, Indonesia, Kenya and South Africa.
1984: Due to its political and financial dependency with the rule of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (USSR), the totalitarian Communist state refused to send over 200 Cuban champs and officials to the 23rd Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, CA. Therefore, many champs lost the chance to compete in the Games, which included Javier Sotomayor (track & field) and Mireya Luis (volleyball) as well as Olympic gold medal winners Maria Caridad Colón (athletics) and Teófilo Stevenson (boxing).
1985: In its efforts to improve the country’s economy, tourism became one of government’s top priorities. Nonetheless, poor international image –among the world’s oldest tyrannies, together with the Stalinist state of North Korea– have caused great harm to the Island’s tourism industry.
1986-1992: Although many Socialist governments, from Czechoslovakia and Mongolia to the People’s Republic of China recognized to Seoul, the Cuban tyranny continued to reject South Korea’s sovereignty.
1988: After a year of speculations, the Cuban contingent did not participate in the Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea.
1990s Cuba — The World’s Worst Olympic Country
1991: Upon the ending of the Soviet Empire, the Caribbean Island, with few natural resources, had transformed itself from a middle-income country to one of the poorest countries on the American mainland.
1992: Cuba’s exile Eduardo Díaz Betancourt was executed by tyranny, despite worldwide appeals for clemency.
1992: Jorge Esquivel, the most outstanding dancer and choreographer in the Cuban Revolution, sought political asylum in Italy. This defection was a serious setback to the Cuban National Ballet. At the 1982 International Ballet Competition in Havana, Esquivel, one of the world’s six best dancers, made his choreographer debut. In the 70s and 80s, he was partner of Alicia Alonso.
1993: Despite Cuba annually budgeted over $ 100 million for the promotion of Olympic sport, which represents 3% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) -one of the highest in the developing world, sport had a big problem: there were massive defections. During the 17th Central American and Caribbean Games in Puerto Rico, the Island boasted the infamous distinction of being “one of the world’s worst Olympic nations”, alongside Burma and Libya, as a host of Olympian athletes and coaches, including softball players and swimmers, refused to return to their impoverished country.
1993 Against all odds, Alina Fernández Revuelta, Fidel Castro’s daughter, fled to Europe.
1994-2010: The Cuban regime lost four important allies in sub-Saharan Africa: Angola (resource-rich nation), Benin, Equatorial Guinea (oil-rich country) and Namibia (uranium-rich country).
1995: The Island boasted one of the highest suicide rates on the planet.
1995-2010: Unlike the Republic Socialist of Vietnam, the Island, with an economy heavily dependent on tourism, has had one of the worst-performing economies in the developing world. The nation’s economy had long been handicapped by its primitive political system. Since the breakup of the Soviet Empire in the early 1990s, a lot of workers, from nurses to teachers, have been forced by the lack of job opportunities to work in Latin America and Spain. With the exception of Haiti, Cuba’s citizens are the poorest on the Caribbean region. On the other hand, important sporting and economical agreements between Havana and Latin America republics have strengthened ties between the Cuban dictatorship and Latin democracies.
1998: In an attempt to mollify its critics, the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II was allowed to visit the Island for the first time.
1999: At the Pan American Games in Winnipeg (Canada), the country’s Olympic delegation picked up several medals, but unwelcomed publicity came when Cuba’s athlete Javier Sotomayor Sanabria, one of the Island’s most respected icons since 1959, lost his Pan American gold medal in the men’s high jump after testing positive for a drug. Meanwhile, Fidel Castro did not accept the results.
2000s The Hereditary Dictatorship of the Castros
2000: Castro’s regime established close ties with the government of Hugo Chavez, Head of State of Venezuela. Due to his admiration for Fidel Castro, Chavez provided heavy economic aid and became a supplier of oil to Cuba. Meanwhile, Aleksandr Lukashenko, dictator of Belarus, went to Havana.
2003: While Cuba’s tyrant Fidel Castro -perhaps inspired by Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Jean-Bedel Bokassa, Idi Amin Dada and other satraps of the Third World– expressed his desire to become President for life, the State Security Departament’s increased activity against the opposition groups as it arrested 75 prominent human rights activists, who participated in the Project Varela. They were named “Prisoners of Conscience” by Amnesty International. In response to the rule of Cuba’s human rights abuses, European Union (EU) imposed restrictive measures on Cuba.
2005-2010: In tribute to the “Ladies in White”, the European Union bestowed upon them the 2005 Sakharov Prize for Freedom. This award was hailed as a victory for the Island’s pro-democratic groups. The pro-democratic organization “Ladies in White” became a world symbol of the struggle against tyranny and repression. They are one the greatest signs of hope for the new Cuba. In beginning 2008, they were threatened and attacked by paramilitaries forces.
2008: Because of its poor health, amid many speculations, Fidel Castro stepped down as Head of State and leader of the Cuban Revolution. Subsequently he was replaced by his younger brother Raúl Modesto Castro Ruz, becoming the seventh Marxist leader of a Latin American country since 1960, after Fidel Castro (1960-2008), Allende (Chile, 1971-1973), Forbes Burnham (Guyana,1970-1980), Michael Manley (Jamaica, 1972-1980), Maurice Bishop (Grenada, 1979-1983) and Daniel Ortega Saavedra (Nicaragua, 1985-1990). Raul’s succession was long-anticipated. Nonetheless, the new President, Prime Minister between 1976 and 2008,did not make major changes to the Island’s political system.
2009-2010: Under the tutelage of the hereditary dictatorship of the Castro family, there were up to 225 prisoners of conscience. Nonetheless, not much was known about the total number of political prisoners.
2010: Aware that several Cuban athletes want to escape from the Island, the country’s new dictator Raúl Castro, through the Cuban Olympic Committee (COC), declined to send Olympian athletes, coaches and officials to the Central American and Caribbean Games in Mayaguez (Puerto Rico). The Island’s sport during the past 20 years has been hit by a host of defections.
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Alejandro Guevara Onofre