Dedicated to the 100 million victims of communism worldwide.
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National Exhibit
National Exhibit
Cuban Communism

Cuban communism is also remembered for its aggressive advocacy and support of international anti-imperialist revolution. The turbulent rise of liberation movements in Africa and Asia and the emergence of the Third World found ready supporters in Havana. Fidel sent tens of thousands of Cuban troops to fight in Angola, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Yemen in the 1970s and 1980s. Fidel’s support for Nicaragua’s Sandinista Liberation Front and guerrilla movements elsewhere in Central America convulsed the region and contributed to the deaths of tens of thousands.

While the fall of the Berlin Wall and the break-up of the Soviet Union sounded the death knell of communism in Eastern Central Europe, Castro swam steadfastly against the historical tide. To save Cuban Communism, Fidel embarked on the “special period.” A new 1992 constitution allowed some flexibility on freedom of worship and property holding, but recognized only one party, kept the media in the hands of the state, and assigned Cuban citizens the responsibility to work for the creation of a “socialist society.”

Cuba’s economic policies evolved in a desperate attempt to stave off collapse, earn foreign exchange, attract foreign investment, and discover new value-added exports. A tourist sector under the close supervision of the Cuban military attracted Canadians and Europeans to Cuba’s beaches.

With the influx of tourism, however, came changes hardly in keeping with the ideals of Cuban communism – economic “apartheid,” prostitution, sexual tourism, and corruption. Cuba’s sugar economy largely vanished. Lacking foreign exchange for agricultural machinery and fertilizer, Cuban agriculture turned to oxen to till their farms.
Once the U.S. dollar was allowed legally to circulate, Cuba resorted to a dual currency system. Dollar-earners lived well, while a majority of Cubans survived on ration cards. Black markets and petty corruption flourished as resentments grew. Cuba’s leaders have temporized on allowing independent profit centers like home restaurants, independent taxis, and small private farms to exist.

After 10 years of modest reforms, Cuba’s communism could not restore the levels of economic well-being enjoyed in the late 1980s. The average wage of a Cuban is less than $US 25 per month. Over 80% of Cuba’s food is imported. Access to social and health services has suffered. Zigzags in economic policy and fear of expanding private interests coupled with deep distrust of individual enterprise have weakened the impact of modest economic reforms.

Relations with the U.S. scarcely improved during the 1990s and 2000s. Incidents such as the deliberate sinking of a Cuban ferry in 1994, drowning 32; the 1996 shoot-down of two unarmed aircraft belonging to the Brothers-to-the Rescue; and the 2003 crackdown on human rights activists reminded U.S. citizens in that Cuba has always been under of an unelected leader callously indifferent to the human costs and consequences of his rule.

In February 1994, Fidel welcomed a young Venezuelan colonel who was the architect of a failed coup in Caracas. Fidel had the vision to take the Venezuelan officer under his wing. Elected president of Venezuela in 1998, Hugo Chávez has embraced Fidel as a father figure, giving Cuba billions in cheap Venezuelan oil and an economic lifeline.

In 2009, amid economic uncertainty many in Cuba and Latin America’s left feel that history is again on the march and favor a return to Fidel Castro’s revolutionary ideas to fight globalization, advance equality, social justice, and end “savage capitalism.” Key elements of Cuba’s brand of communism – nationalism, anti-Americanism, state control of the economy, and limits on individual freedoms and rights – constitute the underpinnings of Chávez’s “Bolivarian Revolution” and plans for “Socialism of the 21st Century.”

In July 2006, following surgery, a gravely weakened Fidel surrendered temporary authority over the government to brother, Raúl, then the 75-year old Minister of Defense. On February 24, 2008, Raúl became president of the Council of State, while Fidel retained the post of Secretary General of the Cuban Communist Party. A 77-year old communist hardliner, José Ramón Ventura Machado, was next in line of political succession. Raúl introduced modest economic chances and permitted some private incentives to bolster sagging agricultural production.

Click for sources of the victims of communism

Location:  Caribbean
Capital:  Havana
Communist Rule:  January 1959-Current
Victims of Communism:
73 000