the effects of the Cold War and its contributions to Cuba
Posted by Melda Research on May 6th, 2019
There have been there genuine revolutions experienced in Latin America namely those that started in Haiti in 1791, Mexico in 1910 and the Cuba in 1959. Several factors predisposed Latin American nations to revolution. The presence of the US seemed to be significant because of the two biggest revolutions taking place in Mexico and Cuba, which were neighboring countries (Clayton & Conniff, 2005). Before the twentieth century, the US had contributed largely in the independence movements, serving as inspiration as well as a supplier of weapons. Besides, the rise of communism as a rival model of state organization was another critical catalyst for revolutionary forces in Latin America, assisting to account for their antagonism toward America. The first true communist state, the USSR got consolidated out of the ruins of imperial Russia in 1917. The US and the USSR perceived each other as constant threats during the whole of the 75 years of their rivalry. Despite that the US and USSR were locked in an ideological and geopolitical struggle for a long period, they never engaged in direct armed conflict with each other (Stanley, 2012). All major nations that pursued significant reforms or revolutionary changes that resembled the communism of the USSR automatically encountered opposition from the US.
Communism in Latin America
Communism spread rapidly in Latin America after the formation of the Third International in 1919. Parties got established in Mexico (1919), Argentina (1918) as well as Brazil (1922). The communist party was organized in Cuba in 1925 and by the end of 10 years virtually all Latin American nations possessed Communist parties (Henderson, et. al., 2000). The uprisings in these different nations were led by Communists who include Brazil’s Luis Carlos Prestes and Colombia’s labor leaders Maria Cano and Ignacio Giraldo. The rise of communism slowed down in 1928 when members received direction at the Communist International’s Sixth Congress, to develop independent labor unions.
The special claims of the communist party make it important in history because of the universality of these claims, its existence in all Latin American countries as well as its international links with the Soviet Union. Communist parties in Latin America were perceived as the direct representatives of an international movement of global revolution providing them an importance beyond their particular electoral appeal or political power (Drake, 2000).The matters that were considered as central by the communist movement got accepted widely as fundamental by other groups on the Left even when they rejected the certain interpretation provided by the communists. The political power as well as its influence of the communist movement got inflated by the attention of the Right crystallized its opposition to reform in its attacks on the communist ideas and showed hostility to the ideas by repression of the Left.
The history of the communist parties of expulsions of dissidents and experienced early defections started due to Stalin – Trotsky disputes and Trotskyism, though never a severe organizational challenge to the parties, stayed as an ideological alternative with a certain level appeal (Bethell, 1998). A serious level of tension existed between the international communism closely guided by Moscow and insisted on whole loyalty as well as a more indigenous or Latin American communism determined in the 1920s with the ideas of the Peruvian socialist, Jose Carlos Mariategui (1895-1930).The most potent political expression in the Cuban revolution was received by the unorthodox and revolutionary Latin American Marxism.
Cuba and the Cold War
The cold war was a period of febrile volatility in the developing nations as East-West struggles mixed with unstable local politics to push for polarization and bloodshed (Moya, 2011). In Latin America as throughout the Third World, the Cold War was an era associated with intense and often bloody upheaval. During the fifteen years before Castro’s triumphant march into Havana, Latin America became the emphasis of different convergent crises, intensifying internal strife, characterized by a seesawing of political arrangements in the 1950s and 1940s. Inter-American diplomatic discord, promoted by Washington’s policies during the early Cold War, the ideological ferment occasioned by decolonization as well as the emergence of the Third World, and the escalating America versus Soviet competition for mastery in the global south. The revolution in Cuba exacerbated anti-Americanism and “Third-Worldism” within Latin America resulting in a precipitous escalation of superpower competition in the area and increased the militancy of both Right and Left.
The United States had widespread interests in Cuba; hence there was no doubt in Washington that the Cuban Revolution would have a significant impact in the US. American citizens began to question the new regime and to wonder where the sympathies of Castro lay. Was Castro communist or a nationalist? Castro’s revolution received tremendous support from diverse groups including communists, prominent businesspeople, leaders as well as the Catholic Church. In the Cold War climate, America became concerned about Castro’s communist support. The US government suspended all the arms shipments to Cuba; however, Washington refused to recall the military advisors it had sent to aid the Cuban air force in attacking rebels in the country. Consequently, the American government alienated both sides; hence weakening Batista’s forces and incited Castro’s anger. These aspects led to uncertainty in the US concerning the way Cuba’s relationship with its neighbors would now develop (Brands, 2010).
Castro’s primary foreign policy goal after 1962 was the liberation of poorer countries from the domination of superpowers. The US government’s tactic of ensuring that Cuba remained weak was applying a trade embargo, which won Castro’s sympathy from several countries already hostile to America. Consequently, there was an increase in Cuba’s prestige and influence on the international stage. All through the 1970s, Castro was increasingly willing to help liberation struggles outside the Americas, especially in post-colonial Africa. As a result, there was another dimension to the Cold War that was brought in, as Castro engaged Cuba in a series of revolutionary campaigns in the developing world between 1974 and 1981. When Castro declared his intention of encouraging international revolution there as a strain in the relations between Cuba and the USSR. Castro only won the Soviet’s trust back when he managed to speak out in support of the USSR’s invasion of Czechoslovakia and its Warsaw Pact allies in 1968. The decline in Cuba’s economy growth also pushed Castro to seek for the Soviet’s support.
The Effects of the Cold War and its Contributions to Cuba
The intensity of Latin America’s Cold War is perceived as a result of a product of its complexity. The cold was a series of overlapping conflicts. The war got fused together long-running clashes over political, social and economic arrangements, the continuing tension between the US power and the Latin American nationalism; the ideological ramifications of decolonization and the emergence of the Third World; and lastly the influence of the bipolar struggle for preeminence in the developing nations.
The theoretical products of the Latin American Marxism as a result of the dominance of Stalinism had a tendency to get post hoc justifications of policy shifts. The politics of alliances led to the formation of common platforms with the Radicals in Chile, Somoza in Nicaragua, Batista in Cuba and so on (Balderston, Gonzalez, &López, 2002).The victory of Cuban revolution had significant inspiration in the creation of guerilla all around Latin America.
The conflicts in the Latin America’s war had a strong impact on Latin American affairs, in which it gave the war its fury and pervasiveness. The upheaval that afflicted Latin America during the postwar era was attributed to the malignity of a single group of actors as well as the multisided and mutually reinforcing nature of the conflicts including Latin America’s Cold War. The influences that fed on as well as fueled one another during the era of Cold War include foreign intervention, ideological extremism on both Right and Left and also internal instability (Hentschke, 2006). When Castro returned to Cuba after the Cuban revolution, he introduced the radical Agrarian Reform Law that limited all monopoly of land owned by a few wealthy individuals. Besides, the dealings of Castro with the USSR in which he enhanced the US fears of communist influence on its doorstep and that these fears seemed confirmed Castro made a conclusion of signing a trade agreement with Communist China. By the time the cold war was ending, Cuba had become the lone holdout in the backyard although it remained isolated economically and diplomatically (Leonard, et. al., 2012).
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Brands, H. (2010). Latin America's cold war. Harvard University Press.
Clayton, L. A., &Conniff, M. L. (2005). A history of modern Latin America. Lawrence Clayton
Drake, P. W. (2000). Latin America: Politics and Society since 1930.
Henderson, J. D., Delpar, H., Brungardt, M. P., & Weldon, R. N. (2000). A reference guide to Latin American history. ME Sharpe.
Hentschke, J. R. (2006). The United States and Latin America: A History of American Diplomacy, 1776–2000 By Joseph Smith. History, 91(304), 609-610.
Leonard, T., Buchenau, J., Longley, K., & Mount, G. (2012). Encyclopedia of US-Latin American Relations. CQ Press.
Moya, J. C. (Ed.). (2011). The Oxford Handbook of Latin American History. Oxford University Press.
Stanley, J. (2012). History for the IB Diploma: The Cold War and the Americas 1945-1981. Cambridge University Press.
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