January 12, 2019

60 YEARS ON: REFLECTIONS ON THE REVOLUTION IN CUBA.

Sixty years ago, as thousands of Cubans celebrated the fall of Fulgencio Batista’s regime, an atmosphere of hype and hatred was also overtaking Havana. Not many people foresaw what was to come, but on January 1, 1959, the Republic of Cuba was murdered. Few tears were shed for her at the time—some were too busy desperately packing their bags, while others were preoccupied with burning cars and smashing storefront windows. The institutions not destroyed by the previous dictatorship were savagely dismembered in the following months and years by the Castro regime. Cuba’s National Congress would never again return to session in the National Capitol building (or anywhere else, for that matter). Christmas, bars and cabaret clubs, independent trade unions, religious schools, private clubs, large and small businesses, any and all vestiges of what was Cuba before communism—all of these were destroyed, expropriated, or otherwise expunged from the lives and minds of the Cuban people.

The Cuban Revolution never disguised its contempt for the greatest symbol of the Republican era: Havana itself. The Havana Hilton hotel was renamed, and the city’s glorious buildings, beautiful parks, grand mansions, statues, theatres, and museums were all deemed too bourgeois and ostentatious by the revolutionaries, products as they were of the hated “capitalists and imperialists” they had just driven from power. All this too was now consigned to oblivion or simply neglected as if it had been complicit in some unimaginable evil. “Bourgeois Havana,” hitherto one of the world’s most socially and culturally rich cities, gradually collapsed. One by one, its buildings fell into ruin and disrepair, and in their place, nothing was built after 1959 that would return the city to its former splendor.

The bourgeois Republic’s glamour had masked its cruelty and inequality, but the Revolution ushered in a violent and grotesque cruelty of its own, as ugly as the Soviet brutalist architecture that now filled the Havana suburbs with hundreds of square housing complexes devoid of elegance and grace. Havana began to resemble a permanent war zone, in which a seemingly unending battle would be waged for the next 60 years and counting between the revolutionary tyrants and the ordinary people who populate the city, and who, generation after generation, give it life.

But you wouldn’t know that from the New York Times, which as Abe Greenwald writes at Commentary, is Trolling for Communism:

January 1 marked the 60th anniversary of the Communist revolution that destroyed Cuba, so the New York Times decided to commemorate the occasion with an article celebrating Cuba’s historic anti-Americanism. Well, not just celebrating it but joining in on the fun and suggesting that Cuba build on this record to raise its global stature. The piece, by Che Guevara biographer Jon Lee Anderson reaches its apogee with this paragraph:

At a time when the United States can no longer lay claim to being the democratic bastion it once was, Cuba has an opportunity to compete, albeit on a much smaller scale. In much of the world, and for all its faults, Cuba is respected for its pluck in standing up to the American behemoth over the last half-century. Cuba is also beloved and admired for its international medical assistance program, for its prowess in music and dance, in art and in athletics. But such achievements are not enough to keep the island going.

Ah, yes, Cuba’s “achievements”: salsa, mambo, and Soviet-sponsored destabilization. Amazingly, those alone aren’t enough to ensure Cuba’s future.

As with all socialist states, I’m sure the sex there is pretty awesome, though.

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