Articles, Blog

(AV17421) The Cuban Revolution and Agriculture 1/2

hello everyone good evening I like I
want to take their seats you already have that’s good um I like to welcome
you here tonight my name is salado’s Martin and I am the event coordinator
for Association a Latin America knows and we are all here tonight to discuss
the book or history still being written and tonight we have with us our featured
speaker who is Mary Alice Waters we will have a panel discussion each of our
panelists will give a few will talk a few minutes about an aspect of the book
they found interesting and then our featured speaker will talk blast
afterwards we will have a question or comment section so if you do have any
questions or comments please hold them off until the end tonight I am
co-chairing with Christopher Hudson from manners so well this meeting started
when we invited Mary Alice Waters to talk here to come and speak here with us
and then when she accepted we started working with other groups collaborating
with them building up this meeting and getting sponsors so that you all could
be here so I’m very thankful to everyone who helps us sponsor let’s remember that
we are here to listen to a point of view the sponsors don’t necessarily agree or
disagree with what we are presenting here today let’s start we’re going to
start the meeting with Christopher is gonna say a few words well good evening as the seller said my
name is Christopher Hudson I am president of the Menace organization
here at Iowa State Manders being minorities and agriculture natural
resources and related sciences I know some love for my guests to show how
matters got involved with this I was talking to Frank Forrester at the club
fest and he now began talking to me and another manís member about Mary Alice
Waters book and they say really interesting so we have we brought a
speaker in and we figured that this would be one of the best speakers to
bring in the semester as it was a very movie subject so I guess just getting
straight into it first up would be oh also I want to
thank David actor the assistant dean of the College of Agriculture he was a
major help fund wise so I just wanted to recognize help before we get on with
this okay first up would be one Louisville Pavano graduate student he’s
the auditor of the associates one day Latino Americanos also just one good afternoon now everybody well firstly I would like to thank Mary
Alice Mary Alice and the people from pie finder the University and student
associations for to give us the opportunity to read and talk about this
interesting book so they asked me to give some comments about the book
overlap but I can say that I like the book is very interesting the book is
easy to read and it has a lot of supporting information in the back of
the book where in the appendix or in the glossary well do have a lot of data that
you can check in the way that you are reading the book I would like to focus
in in two parts of the book in the part 2 that is called the strategy the
revolution in the part 3 that is called special period and Beyond in the case of
the part 2 the three generals made a vivid description of the participation
of Cuba in the fight for Angola’s independence independence
besides Cuba’s volunteers stay in that country for 15 years in respond to a
request from the government of Angola to defend Angola from the threat of siren
South Africa and rebel groups before before Tory the moving I didn’t know the
important role that this internationalist mission of Cuba in
Angola and other countries of Africa had over this continent further seems to be
that these missions were an important factor to the end of the apartheid in
South Africa so that that point has my attention I didn’t know that the
importance of Cuba to go through to this continent and held the people to develop
their own independence at the moment that I finished that part
a crazy carnation came to my mind so I was I was saying Cuba help in Angola
through Chinese Cuban people so the connection was okay we have Cuba that in
America we have Angola Africa without Chinese Cuban people meaning with a Asia
involved so these three parts of the world Asia Latin America and Africa all
that we call the third war so I say why instead of this talk we refer to the
help of Cuba to Angola I throw these Chinese Cuban generals why don’t we
think in Latin America help in Africa through Asia or vice-versa
so does that well my crazy told why don’t put all the third world together
and help each other so in the case of the part three that as I say is related
to the special period the special period is the crisis that Cuba struggle after
the end of the Soviet Union so after the end of the Soviet Union all day all that
was import from I from the Soviet Union to Cuba to Cuba all the sugar that were
flown from Cuba to civilian was was stopped questioned and so they were
struggling a huge a huge crisis of food all an economic crisis in general in
this part what really caught my my attention is that the question that the
generals are answering I related with this issue that who that Cuba is facing
today is not something that was in the past most of the literature that I have
read about Cuba was about Cuba revolution about Che Guevara about Fidel
Castro all these kind of stores but in this in this book I
formed something that is happening in Cuba today as I say they are struggling
with the dealing with the energy food and economic crisis I also as you like
to emphasize in this part they a strategy that Cubans follow to battle to
battle the food crisis they develop and improve the urban agriculture something
like they call organo ponics well I certainly I don’t know too much about
our agriculture maybe people from the agronomy department can go more in deep
in this side in this in this issue of this organ opening issue but what I
think is this is a very clever idea of finish this crisis this food crisis
meaning that throw all these organic phonics that they developed in in Cuba
they were able to supply all the food that well they were importing from the
rest of the world so I do not see the reason why it cannot be applied in
another countries actually in the book the general one of the generals in the
book his name is Moises Co one mentioned that this strategy is being applied
right now in Venezuela but one of the things that come my attention was that
he also mentioned that this kind of agricultural system only can work in
revolutionary countries as I say I’m no expert in this in this topic so I was
wondering why why does in revolutionary countries I don’t have the the answer
other topic that was interesting for me was the one related with
internationalist internationalist mission of joy actually most of the book
is related with volunteers volunteers that go from from Cuba as I as I said
before to Africa to Central America to South America and to another countries
to for crisis of her parts or all these
kinds of these kind of things and it eats am I focused in this topic because
it answer one of the question that I always I always have had about about
Cuba and the question is if the Castro is a dictator and he doesn’t have the
support of the wealthy people of Cuba and the war
how come has been been able to be in Cuba as leader for 50 years that’s well
my question so reading through this book iPhone may be the answer with the
generals mentioned they say actually they say that they mention that in the
section that is called the Battle of the ideas they say one they take jungle
Cubans to other countries they realize the economic system in that countries
like let’s say for example if they go to Venezuela they realize that the people
is very poor in their country and there are another very rich people a few rich
people so they they realize of these difference differences in content in
another countries so I was wondering if maybe that’s the reason why Fidel Castro
has been in Cuba for some long time because the people say ok maybe I in bad
conditions when maybe my conditioner not at bus are as bad as this country in
Africa and Central America South America finally well I would like to thank you
for listened to me and I would like to us
Mary Alice a question that is not related with the book but I I have any
to address question and the question is now that Fidel Castro has resign as
president of Cuba in Morales opinion what’s going on 41 thank you thank you very very much one of these
next we would like to invite professor max Shelley
professor max Shelley is a professor of political science and statistics here at
Iowa State University so Miss Helen thank you very much well this year
celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Battle of Crete Oh Kevin Ali which
occurred in Angola and it involved major engagements military set-piece battles
between South African military forces this is at a time in South Africa it was
still ruled by the apartheid regime on the one side of the conflict the other
side you had a mixture of Angolan and Cuban troops as is Island pointed out I
happen to be both in the political science department and the Department of
Statistics so the politics of this and the sort of blow this battle got my
attention I haven’t come from a military family and so that interest naturally
there as well and there were some interesting numbers that came into play
here that I thought were particularly enlightening well just a little bit of
brief brief background on this the country of angola was scheduled to
become officially independent from portugal which was its colonial master
up until late 1975 november 1175 was the official date of independence and a bit
before that there was foreign intervention actually from two sides and
goal was essentially being invaded both from north and south there were troops
coming in from Zaire now Congo and in particular they were interested in
seizing oil fields in cabinda which is in the far north west corner of the
country so there’s certainly economic interest there as well as just interest
in trying to make sure that this new it didn’t come into power there more
someone more importantly we’re also military incursions from the south
through Namibia South African troops were entering Angola as well in fact
there are a couple of different invasions by Armed Forces of South
African from the South African apartheid government well what got my attention
particular about this this context is that in the course of about 16 years
from November 1975 violence crisis first began through May of 1991 something like
three hundred and seventy-five thousand Cubans volunteered to help beat off the
South African assault as well as the assault teams are a year now Cuba is a
country about 11 million people Sophy hundred seventy five thousand is a
huge commitment we’re talking something if you multiply by a factor of 20 or 25
you kind of get to the corner of equivalent man-purse entire contribution
United States would make in similar circumstances so we’d be talking
something probably along the lines of the number of Americans who served in
Vietnam during the span of a long war there but just think of this is a very
intensive movement from a very small port country now that’s impressive
enough by itself but they want just at least as important is just the size of
the intensity of the commitment well in as this work progressed about a dozen
years on into the South African and Zaire any incursions by late 1987 a
decisive battle began to swirl around in the southern of the southeastern part of
Angola significant South African military forces were making a major
incursion through Namibia and they occupied large parts of the southern
tier of Angola and they managed to surround Cuban and Angolan troops and a
town of Quito kind of valley it’s in far southeast Angola and the Cubans and
Angolans who were supporting the government that was
than in power beat off those assaults and reinforcements eventually were
brought in to kind of break the siege and there was a flanking movement by
Angolan and Cuban troops kind of going around the South Africans flank and
pulling an end around and eventually encircled the South African forces and
forced them to retreat so the South African military forces retreated and at
remember this time there was South Africa’s still ruled by the apartheid
regime they decided that they’d had enough by the end of the 1980s and
figured it was time to sue for peace and so basically the South African apartheid
regime gave up to fight Cubans one of angolans one and Angola was able to
achieve independence as a consequence by December 1988 there is an official
agreement signed at the United Nations by Cuba Angola and South Africa and
osteo still –’tis officially but it was really had been decided on the
battlefield and South Africa really had to throw in the towel so they agreed to
remove their troops from South Africa from Angola and to grant independence to
Namibia it’s actually two things happen at once the military assault have been
defeated from South Africa and so Angola was effectively free from South African
intervention in the future and as a bonus and Namibia became the independent
country as well so very nice two-for-one deal now the Cuban troops stayed a
little longer after those successes but they left by May of 1991 and when they
returned to Cuba they were met of course by Fidel Castro and very large number of
very happy Cubans because it was very happy because of the success but I want
to draw attention to her some comments that were made by Nelson Mandela
right at the time of these troops coming back victoriously in 1991 the speech
that I’m going to put just a little bit from was given in July of 1991 you remember this about the time that
Mandela had been released from prison and was on the verge of like a Murphy
officially was president at that point was on the verge of becoming president
of South Africa after had been freed of the apartheid rule Mandela visited
Havana at the tiniest coups were coming back and made a number of very important
comments that I think to me at least put this in context of the success of Cuba
and the role that Cuba played in liberating well Angola and Namibia but
even more than that in putting South Africa so there’s a little bit of foot
Mandela had to say your presence that means if you haven’t troops and the
reinforcements of your forces in the Battle of Peter Carnevale was of truly
historic significance the crushing defeat of the racist army at Peter Cunha
Valley was a victory for the whole of Africa the overwhelming defeat of the
racist army provided the possibility for Angola to enjoy peace and consolidate
its own sovereignty the defeat of the racist army allowed the struggling
people of Namibia to finally win their independence the decisive defeat of the
apartheid aggressors broke the myth of the invincibility of the white
oppressors the defeat of the apartheid army was an inspiration to the
struggling people inside South Africa without the defeat of Peter Cannavale
day our organizations would not have been unbanned so that in other words
that means he was released from prison and progressive South Africa and
political forces were able to gain power the defeat of the racist army of Peter
Carnevale has made it possible for me to be here today that’s Mandela being in
Havana helping to review the troops as they return victoriously peter.kenny
Valley was a milestone of the history of the struggle for southern African
liberation and it has been a turning point in the struggle to free the
continent and our country from the scourge of apartheid well so what this
drives home to me is just the transcontinental impact of a very small
country gentled got 11 million people making a huge person power contribution
to this war is always a major contribution of that
small budget and other resources and so the message that takeaway message here I
think is that small impoverished countries so they can beat imperialist
aggressors it takes some monumental effort but it can’t happen it did happen
in this case and as a direct consequence of the Cuban
involvement a very large chunk of African Africa was free from racist rule
many O’s holdovers from the colonial days of the 19th and early 20th
centuries what I’ve been discussing by the way is in part 2 of the book our
history is sold being written and I would definitely commend it for you to
read thank you very much now please help me in welcoming Arin Blake he’s a
sophomore student and a member of the ISU socialist Club thank you as she said my name is Aaron
Blake and I am co-chairman of the socialist group here is you I just want
to say a few words about youth tonight and myself working two jobs and going to
school full-time I know what it’s like to after you struggle to get through
school and with the the with the loans and interest rates like they are today
it’s very difficult for students to get a good education or rather to pay for
that good education education is vital to the struggle for freedom and
independence in every aspect of our lives without education where would we
be we’d be nowhere I think we have an excellent institution here at Iowa State
but I also think that money has no place in education if you could go to any
college you wanted to regardless of money restrictions and you could do
anything that you wanted to do study any part of study you’d like to what would
be the limits on that there is no limits money is the main limits on your course
of study we go through four years of institution and we are promised a high
paying job I don’t know how many of you are students out there the raise your
hand if you believe you’re getting a job right out of college probably a third of
you realistically will be getting those jobs the job market right now let’s face
it it’s not doing so well and we’re outsourcing jobs faster than we’re
bringing jobs new jobs into the markets not to mention the the inflation that
we’re experiencing with our dollar and rising gas prices and the growing
ethanol problem ethanol is a good thing for our states at least farmers anyway
because it drives up the cost of corn of course but when you drive up the cost of
corn you also drive up the cost of food period Lee because basically every
single kind of food stems from the crops that we grow here in Iowa that’s why the
economic crisis affects us the hardest right here in the heartland of the
United States adding to this problem is the well we’ve been lucky here in Iowa
we have had a raise in the minimum wage but nationally the national minimum wage
has not risen very much in the last thirty years whereas if you look in the
raise of the CEOs have experienced of the head of the companies they have
gotten a very large increase in their payment to say the least skilled jobs
are disappearing in this country and what are we doing about it the inherent
part of capitalism that makes us possible is they automatically send jobs
to be paid the lowest that they possibly can
this is crippling our nation we find that the youth is kind of
disenfranchised with politics these days I’m happy to see a lot of young faces
out there today that it doesn t good to see that some people are interested in
politics they feel that they don’t make a difference what what this book here
proves is that youth does make a difference when you look at the how old
some of the people were here the three generals when they started their their
revolutionary activities they were our age or younger so not only can you do something but
it’s proven that people can do something even if they’re young today we get kind
of busy with all the the trends and the the material goods that we say like a
new a new phone or a new iPod and all these things are really distracting us
from the central issue which is actually politics if you are interested in
politics you’re not interested in your own life having phones and all that
technology stuff is good but politics is vital to your life I mean vitals every
aspect of your life some people feel that they have nothing
to fight for well here’s something to fight for fight
for yourself fight for your own rights fight for your own freedoms and that
pretty much concludes all that I have alright now we’ll have Keith King he’s
the Graduate vice president of the medicine organization so we’ll have him
come and speak thank you Chris
good evening as said my name is Keith King I’m a graduate student at the in
the Department of agronomy here at Iowa State as funny Aaron started out with
youth because uh my area is going to be part one the Cuban Revolution the three
revolutionaries and and dealing with youth a lot of things that you
experienced as a youth this would have shoe and mold you for what what your
passion is and your life passion is so I’m going to give a biographical sketch
of each one of the generals and what shaped them and how they came to be a
part of the movement and like we said that the three people were talking about
this evening is Armando Choi Rodriguez Gustavo Chi Beltran and Moises see along
we’ll start with Armando Choi he was born in 1934 in the ferment of Las
Villas problems from there at the age of fourteen he moved to Santa Clara with
his family at age 14 he was also one of the founding members of the July 26
movement in 1955 and he joined the anti Bautista back movement or anti Tisa
organization joven patria which was young homeland and for people who aren’t
in the know with Batista he was the leader of Cuba free Fidel Castro and for
me the significance of that was I didn’t know that p’tee still was actually
backed by the United States so for me sometimes when we hear history you only
get one side you really don’t know what happened or what would shape why people
did what they did and a lot of times even though I think it’s done so that
people paint Fidel Castro to be a bad person but part of that may be the fact
that he stood up what he thought was right for his country and it just so
happened the person that he was opposing was backed by the United States but uh
moving on the three things that stood out to me that shaped him our mondo Troy
he showed compassion at a young age all three of these men’s fathers in some
form fashionable emergence and a story that
stood out for me was a gentleman came into their store while he was 14 and the
gentleman was crying and he said he didn’t have anything to eat for the day
and he asked would they give him a pound of cornmeal to give them to eat for the
day and at the time you could have got a pound of corn no for like seven cents
and he agreed to give the man this pound of corn metal for credit and upon doing
that his father was upset with him but at the time you know he recognized that
there was a need for a fellow man to be fed that could obviously could not
afford to feed his family also he experienced racial
discrimination at a young age him and a Chinese friend were ejected at a
whites-only party and this was a dance party in the neighborhood of Cuba and at
that point he recognized a ninja and justice at the time that prevailed in
Cuba before the Revolution and that would part of the things that shaped him
and molded him to join the revolution he joined the revolutionary struggle as a
student in Santa Clara of March 10 to 1952 and this was the same day of the
coup of D etat of Batista then early on he says that he kind of be
a fit at least this was in July 26 1953 and at the time he thought Fidel was the
the right person to fight this fight so we’ll go on to Gustavo Chi Beltran he
was also a general he was born in 1938 and Santiago de Cuba and he lived in Los
almost neighborhood he joined the revolutionary movement at age 16 excuse
me other things that stood out he was probably one of the more active members
in the movement moving up ranks rather quickly early in his life like I said
his father also was a merchant his mother was a poor black human one Cuban
woman and uh she had a parental right stake
away from her because at the time his father’s rich friends and I agreed with
him being with a Board of Club black Cuban woman so her parental rights was
stripped from her and at the same time they actually went back and changed his
birth certificate that way she could not have any parental rights as a child he
was laughed at by Cuban kids because he didn’t speak Spanish but over time he
learned to speak Spanish eventually forgetting Chinese of the the thing that
shaped him to get involved in the movement his father as well as his as
well as his wrenched Chinese parents they live comfortably so as a result he
didn’t experience a lot of hardships that he saw fellow Cuban sing during
that time and what what made his father and his Cuban friends prominent they
were able to buy and sell bakeries pretty much on a lemon as they chose and
as a result of him seeing this he sensed the social and political atmosphere
around him and at various neighborhoods he lived in so he joined the July 26
movement at the beginning of 1957 and this would at the time he joined he was
underneath the eventual rebel army captain and then we have Moises see
along he was born in 1938 and Matanzas province and he moved with his family to
Havana Cuba in 1947 he joined the fight against Batista as a high school student
and he participated demonstrations and other protest actions and he became of
the member of the July 26th movement after its founding in 1955 and he led
the first youth Brigade brigade of Havana at age 17 in 1957 he joined the
rebel army Sierra Maestra serving in campaign post Lewton led by Fidel Castro
like I said his father of Kami Cuba and 95 with his first wife his father also
owned a grocery store and at the time his father had four children upon
remarry and his father had 11 more children for him and his family the key
thing his sister married a rich man and the the rich gentleman took advantage of
him and his siblings having them work in his restaurant for pennies on the dollar
and he would fix the books where it looked like they were getting paid at
the time 60 since our we’re the oldest may have only gotten 45 cents and the
young ones would wouldn’t get paid anything and only thing that he would do
is maybe on Sundays give them enough money to go to the movies he also joined
a july 6 movement after attack on a look Mikado and the other things that that
stood out well it was more of a funny story the part of the movement and as he
was moving up in ranks he was in hide out for a few weeks because the Batista
Army was looking for him so he finally had a guy write him a letter to go up to
see how mustard where Fidel Castro was and he got the letter meadow puffy tail
but on the way up that he ran into a few other gentlemen that were heading the
same way well they got their met with Fidel and Fito read read the letter and
told them put them in the barracks and don’t feed them anything with but rice
and he had heard about Fidel he thought he was gonna be accepted with open arms
well what come to find out Fidel came back the next day and apologized to him
and the guy who wrote the letter for him had evaded direct order of not to send
anybody up to them without having weapons guns and clothes so but after
the fact and after he apologized he served underneath Fidel as well as
three other generals are the other two generals of Che Guevera and Rob
Castro which he served under him for of seven years and that concludes my
section of just giving a biographical sketch of what shaped them to become
three revolutionary thank you very much now we are going to
hear from Mary Alice Waters here’s just a few facts about her um Mary Alice is
president of Pathfinder press she has edited more than a dozen books
of interviews writings and speeches of leaders of the Cuban Revolution in the
past month Mary Alice has spoken to hundreds of
students and others in Miami the University of Rogers in New Jersey the
university of northern Texas and most recently at Seattle University in
Washington both it’s a real it’s a real pleasure to
be here tonight they have the opportunity to have this kind of meeting
and discussion built around this book on what around the Cuban Revolution and I
want to say right at the beginning two things one is that the three authors of
this book who you’ve just been introduced to by Keith asked me to bring
their readings to this meeting as well I had the opportunity to talk to be with
them and talk with them in Havana a few weeks ago and to tell them about the
meetings coming up that I I suggest referred to and they’re they’re very
great interest in these meetings and the the in interest in the interest in this
book and why and the kind of response and especially when I told them that one
of the focuses of this meeting here in Iowa at the University estate tonight
would be the question of agriculture in Cuba and environmental policies of the
Cuban Revolution they were even more pleased to learn about that the second
thing I want to say is that I hope that many of you will have many questions
including on what we’re talking about tonight and some of the things we may
not all get to such as the question that Ron Lewis proposed earlier and that
we’ll be able to come back to questions during the discussion period that that
that many of you may have because I want to concentrate on two things a little
bit about where this book came from and how it came about
but why it’s important for us here in the United States why the example of the
Cuban Revolution is important for us here in the United States many people
have asked me they sirs expressed some curiosity as to
a book about three Chinese Cubans who are generals of the Revolutionary Armed
Forces where did this come from and how did you how did you get into this and
really what does it what does it have to do with agriculture all questions which
have imposed and the answer is a short version this is not the first book that
Pathfinder has published about the Cuban Revolution or that I’ve been involved in
working on and editing either and several the others have had have been
similar in one respect that is several of them have been interviews with men
and women like Armando choy Gustavo Chuy and Marcy Sue Wong men and
women who today are shouldering very central responsibilities as leaders of
the Cuban Revolution whether in its in the field of government culture trade
unions women’s organizations the Armed Forces or whatever but all of them were
part of that generation that were young people almost 50 years ago in when the
dictatorship of Hortensio Batista came to power in Cuba
through a military coup that others have already referred to backed by the United
States government and what was up to that time one of the most brutal
dictatorships ever in the history of Latin America was established and the
men and women like our three generals that we’re talking about tonight as most
of them must teenagers in Cuba were confronted with what was the biggest
decision of their lives how to respond to those conditions and that reality
whether to go down on your knees in the face of that kind of repression
and social injustice or to start to fight and they chose the path of
fighting they refused to accept the indignities and the brutalities of life
under a military dictatorship in Cuba and they joint they joined the
revolutionary underground in the cities to begin with when they act activity
revolutionary activities and the cities became too dangerous they were as Keith
described they were being sought by the police they joined the revolutionary
army that was fighting in the Sierra Maestra mountains and the Escambray
mountains of Cuba and in a period of roughly six years of revolutionary
struggle the people of Cuba in their growing growing thousands and thousands
succeeded in overthrowing the dictatorship of Batista I should say
that it’s important to understand that this was not we’re talking about Cuba
here tonight but it’s always important to put Cuba in the world this wasn’t an
isolated event in the world I think that the Cuban Revolution was in many ways
the most advanced point of the great wave of national liberation struggles
that swept Asia Africa and Latin America the Caribbean in beginning in the years
of World War Two and in the end and in the following the and when that
revolution triumphed in 1959 the men and women like joy and Tory and CEO Wang
didn’t think they were making a socialist revolution they started out
they were simply trying to establish a society with a greater degree of social
justice than existed in Cuba before then to narrow the gap between what they saw
as the obscenely rich and the desperately poor of Cuba and the first
very first act of that revolution and it’s and the the
act that that defined the Cuban Revolution more than anything else was
the the land reform that they carried out in May of 1959 in which they didn’t
simply take the idle land of those who great from the great plantations it was
not being worked but they they took they established a land ownership limit of a
thousand acres to begin with and turned over to the thousands and tens of
thousands of working farmers and for their families who are working the rest
of the land the title to their land and made that land inalienable provided the
credit at rates that the fact that farmers could afford and could afford to
pay and to pay back and made it impossible for farmers to be evicted
from the land to which they held title no bank no other richer farmer could
ever take their land from them and that was the beginning of the great social
revolution in Cuba and it was the beginning of the sort of the
confrontation with the US government and the U of fant ruling families of the
United States because in the decades between 1900 and 1960 in Cuba it was the
u.s. ruling class and the u.s. wealthy families that owned the overwhelming
that came to own the overwhelming majority of the productive property of
Cuba more than 50 percent of the land of Cuba was owned by US corporations and
families and if you take the most the most valuable and the most productive
the richest land it was far higher the the railroads the oil refineries the
electrical company the telephone company the majority of the
sugar refineries in Cuba were all owned by US capital and as the land reform is
carried out that affected their interests it was the point at which the
United States government began what has become the 50-year long economic first
military and economic and then economic war and political war against the people
of Cuba and to this day that remains the source of the hostility that remains the
source of the opposition to the Cuban Revolution and its people it’s the
answer I believe to the question one of the questions that was posed already
this evening well is it is what we hear about and
read about and thought about the cuban revolution in this country accurate is
it the truth and i would say and i think that this book tells you a great deal
about the reality and the truth and how full health untruthful that version of
the cuban revolution din cuba is it was this the land reform that was coupled
with a massive literacy campaign in the opening years of the revolution that
literally within less than a year’s period of time by the mobilization of
more than a hundred thousand all overwhelmingly young people high school
students college do this in there but overwhelmingly in their teens to go to
the countryside to live with the peasant families to go into the working-class
Barrios and living with working-class families to wipe out the effectively
illiteracy in cuba which was overall nationally was more than a third in the
rural areas was well over fifty percent for women in the rural areas was close
to a hundred percent and it was simply eliminated in a matter in a matter of
months by the revolutionary mobilization of the resources and the human both
financial and more important than anything the human resources that made
that possible and that transformed a whole generation
of young people who are massive part of this effort to see what it was
possible for human beings working together to accomplish to transform the
society in which they lived when the restrictions of the imposed by by
private property and by capital or not the thing that stopped them from doing
it the many other measures along these lines of which they let the tackling the
questions of racial discrimination in Cuba the at the exclusion of women in
large measure from the workforce at that period of time and so forth were were
vital vital elements of a real social revolution and was as the US war against
the people of Cuba intensified they simply refused to back down
that’s all they simply said no we’re not going back to the past we’re not going
back to a country in which all economic and social decisions are dominated by US
imperialism we have chosen the path of our revolution so and it was the men and
women like joy and chewy and Co who didn’t set out to change the course of
history they simply simply said well this is what we’re fighting for and as
they did that the first socialist revolution in the our hemisphere was
born and you see it you see what simply ordinary human beings are capable of
accomplishing they didn’t they never dreamed they were going to be generals
of a Revolutionary Armed Forces someday or and or anything else they didn’t they
never but as they as they fought along this course they they became they became
the kind of leaders that they they developed into well the the the
interviews and other other books of interviews that we have done were to
tell that to get this story this real truth about the Cuban Revolution and the
depth of the popular support for that revolution to make it available to make
it so that is something that we could understand those of us who did not live
at in the most immediate sense and it was in working on some of those books
that I’ve heard that I first met Gustavo chewing and began to learn
something about the history of Chinese immigration in Cuba which I I knew I
knew very little about either and we got talking about it and you know I said
well why don’t we let’s get this let’s get this make this available this this
chapter of our history as well and he survived would be fine but he said that
you know there’s actually three of us who are generals of the revolutionary
armed forces who are of Chinese ancestry why don’t you interview all three of us
at the same time that will be better it’ll be richer it will be more it’ll
it’ll tell you a great deal more and of course he was absolutely correct one of
the things that makes this book so interesting is the fact that you get the
stories of three different human beings as Keith was was describing they’re very
different very different human beings different personalities from different
parts of the country and different social backgrounds and it’s the inter
intertwining of their stories that that brings the writ the depth and richness
to the to our history is still being written as in the process of doing this
see long also in part of the interviews went back to recapitulate some of the
history of the Chinese immigration in Cuba which is is a there’s no you know
we won’t it’s it’s a whole subject in and of itself but the important thing to
understand which most people most of us don’t know I’m not certainly I didn’t
know before was the extent of the of the Chinese immigration to Cuba Chinese
workers indentured workers contract workers were brought to Cuba as part of
it to work the sugar plantations in the 1800’s when they as the supply of slaves
from Africa was being progressively being cut down on and they they so they
brought in massive numbers hundred more than a close to 200,000 Chinese
laborers to work those plantations but it’s important to know that during this
period of time the the absolute number of Chinese who came to the United States
during those same years and the number that went to China to Cuba in those
years were almost the same there were it was about a hundred and fifty thousand
between 1850 and 1875 but at that period of history the population of the United
States was 38 million and the population of Cuba was 1.4 million so the the
weight of the Cuban of the the Chinese immigration in Cuba and his place in the
history of Cuba is is is measure is is is registered by that fact and the plate
though the importance of the Chinese civic of the Chinese to the of the

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