Cuba 1961

By | December 16, 2021

The data on the population of Cuba result from the following table:

Other cities (with more than 20,000 residents are the following: Caibarién (26,241); Cárdenas (52,251); Ciego de Ávila (99,254); Cienfuegos (98,658); Guantánamo (125,731); Güines (42,822); Holguín (226,644)); Manzanillo (95.924); Sagua la Grande (38.571); San Antonio de los Baños (33.447); Sancti-Spíritus (115.448). The “Gran Habana”, including the urban and integral centers of Marianao (235.493 residents), Guanabacoa (112,140), Regla (26,650), Santiago de las Vegas (32,713), reaches 1,192,451 residents.

According to the 1953 census, about 70% of the population is classified as white; of the remainder, 12.4% blacks, 17.3% mulattoes. The same census gives as “economically active population” 1,972,266 individuals (34%), of which 818,706 employed in agriculture, 327,208 in manufacturing industries, 232,323 in commerce, 9618 in mining activities; the rest are used in public services, etc.

The two main crops are always cane and tobacco. For the first Cuba it maintains a world record (5,672,000 t of sugar in 1957); for tobacco it ranks 4th in America, after the United States, Brazil and Canada (523,000 q in 1957); both crops are in great development. Coffee is also recovering (450,000 q in 1957) and fruit growing (pineapples, grapefruits) and horticulture (tomatoes) are becoming increasingly popular.

Among the textile fibers, in addition to the agave, two fibers are cultivated, the indigenous mayagua and the Indian kenaf, which replace jute in the packaging of coffee bags.

Mining production is also recovering for iron, increasingly required by the US steel industry, and also for copper; chromite today suffers from competition from the Philippines.

Industries are also on the rise: for the tobacco factory, Havana retains the first place in the world. Today the industries of cement, artificial textiles, lubricating oils, chemicals and fertilizers, etc. are of great importance.

Exports exceed imports, as can be seen from the 1957 data (1953 in brackets; Cuban pesos equal to dollars): imports 641,500,000 (490,000,000); exports 808,000,000 (640,000,000). Two thirds of exports are absorbed by the USA, which are suppliers for a slightly lower percentage. About 80% of exports (in value) are sugar. Recent political events have also considerably disturbed traffic with the United States. At a distance, Germany and Great Britain follow in terms of commercial relations.

The port of Havana has been significantly expanded and improved in equipment; it absorbs about 75% of the tonnage of ships entering Cuban ports. A large airport was also built near the city; civil aviation is managed by the company “Cubana de aviación”.

Finances. – The Cuban peso has remained pegged at par with the US dollar for the entire period from 1941 to the present (i peso = 1 US $). Since September 1959, the exchange rate has been increased with rates ranging from 30 to 100% for the import of certain food and luxury items that are not locally produced.

History. – Under the presidency of Carlos Prío Socarras (1948-1952) the country seemed to have solved its internal problems and to have regulated its relations with the USA, which have substantial economic interests on the island and with which a military assistance pact was stipulated (March 7, 1952). In this period Cuba had disagreements with Peru, which broke off diplomatic relations (August 19, 1949), to have the Cuban legation in Lima granted political asylum to the head of the aprista party declared illegal, and with the Dominican Republic, which resorted to OAS fearing Cuban aggression (April 9, 1950). But the former dictator Fulgencio Batista, without waiting for the elections of 1952, with a coup d’etat seized power (March 10, 1952) and established strict control over the army, on the police and trade unions while strengthening ties with the United States. A month later the USSR broke off diplomatic relations with Cuba who had hindered the arrival of Soviet diplomatic couriers; in November the Cuban Communist Party was outlawed. However, difficult times were beginning for the country: an uninterrupted series of insurrectional attempts, attacks, riots, especially promoted by students and workers and aimed at overthrowing the dictatorship. On July 26, 1953, a rebellion of young people in Santiago de Cuba was suffocated in blood and its boss, Fidel Castro Ruiz, a 26-year-old lawyer from a wealthy family, was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Fulgencio Batista, in order to give a semblance of legality to his regime, got himself elected – he was the single candidate – President of the Republic (10 November 1954) for another four years. On that occasion he decreed a political amnesty which also benefited Fidel Castro, who placed himself at the head of the “26 July Movement”. At the end of 1956 the young rebel organized a guerrilla war in the mountains of the province of Oriente and gradually won the support of the rural masses, the clergy and the opposition parties forced into clandestine action. The struggle lasted for two years against Batista, who had the army on his side and who called the presidential elections on November 3, 1958. The candidate of the government coalition, Andrés Rivero Agüero, a trusted man of Batista, who reserved for himself the command of the armed forces. But a few days after the elections Fidel Castro unleashed the offensive and in just over two months forced the dictator to flee (1 January 1959) and take refuge in the nearby Dominican Republic. To induce the government to leave the country hastily were the defections of the military who gradually sided with the rebels. Fidel Castro’s victory was greeted with exaltation by the Cuban popular masses, by the Latin American press and by the communist press from all over the world. The new revolutionary government was placed in the hands of Judge Manuel Urrutía, while Fidel Castro assumed command of the armed forces and subsequently the post of prime minister. A new constitution was soon adopted which centered power in the hands of the president; the minimum age for eligibility as Head of State was lowered from 35 to 30 (Fidel Castro was 32); political parties were allowed to reconstitute themselves and free elections were announced. However, the numerous measures enacted to strengthen economic development and to combat unemployment lacked an organic plan. A bloody purge began unprecedented in Cuban history. For Cuba history, please check

The leader of the revolution found himself struggling with difficulties of an economic, social and political nature and tried to erase the distrust that certain of his attitudes (he was often accused of collusion with the communists) had aroused on the American continent, traveling to various countries: Venezuela, United States, Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil. By allowing the formation on Cuban territory of liberation committees made up of political exiles, Fidel Castro created a rather tense situation in the Caribbean area and some states such as Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic mobilized their troops to face any invasions. But the act that had the greatest repercussions was the agrarian reform (May 17, 1959), applied in such a drastic way as to raise reservations in the very ranks of Fidel Castro’s movement. The expropriations of landowners and foreign companies, especially the United States, aroused various reactions and bitter criticism of Fidel Castro’s systems, including a note of protest from the USA (June 11), rejected however by the Cuban government, and the resignation of five ministers (June 12th). Continuing accusations against the USA for asylum granted to political refugees made relations between the two countries more difficult. People’s China showed its keen sympathy for the Cuban revolution with a declaration by Chou En-lai (April 30) which called for a greater development of economic and cultural relations between the two nations; and the “New China Democratic Alliance”, an organization of Chinese Communists in Havana, is carrying out notable activity and publishes a Chinese-language newspaper. On July 17, Fidel Castro, due to disagreements with President Urrutía, resigned, but on the same day the president himself resigned and was replaced by Osvaldo Dorticos Torrado. Ten days later Fidel Castro resumed his duties as prime minister. The RAU has entered into a commercial agreement with Cuba (28 August) with the reciprocal most favored nation clause. Relations with the USA they became increasingly tense and a new protest note from Washington was rejected (January 11, 1960). Even with Spain – accused of harboring sympathies for the counter-revolutionaries – relations became muddled and the Madrid ambassador to Havana was invited to leave the country within 24 hours (21 January 1960). In February, the Soviet Minister of Commerce AI Mikoyan visited Cuba and entered into a treaty for the purchase of 5 million tons of sugar in 5 years and for the granting of a credit of 100 million dollars repayable in 12 years.

During the 1960s, relations between Havana and Washington worsened considerably and led Cuba to seek support outside the continent, despite the sympathies enjoyed in many countries of the western hemisphere. The USA announced the cessation of economic aid to Cuba on 1 December 1960 and suspended the purchase of Cuban sugar. Fidel Castro, in retaliation, ordered the expropriation of all US property on the island. Castro’s attitude towards the nations of the Sino-Soviet bloc contributed to making the situation more tense. On 8 May 1960 Cuba re-established relations with the USSR and on 2 September Castro announced that he would recognize the People’s Republic of China and that he would break diplomatic relations with nationalist China. Meanwhile, important trade treaties were signed with Czechoslovakia, East Germany, North Korea and People’s China, while the USSR’s diplomatic and propaganda support became massive: on July 9, 1960, N. Khrushchev faced the threat of sending missiles on the USA, if these had intervened militarily in Cuba, arousing the reaction of D. Eisenhower who on the same day replied that the USA would never allow the establishment of communist regimes in the Western Hemisphere. An attempt by Cuba to appeal to the UN Security Council to impeach the USA failed as that Council referred the matter to the OAS, which in San José of Costa Rica on 28 August condemned the Chinese interference. Soviet in Latin America,

There is no doubt that economic nationalism and social reformism are powerful levers to attract the enthusiastic support of the masses; but these combinations, not new in Latin America, leave a little perplexing: social revolution, nationalization, economic dirigism based on nationalist sensitivity made more acute by underdevelopment, neutralism, have already been experimented at other times, and more gradually, in the same Latin America with unsatisfactory results.

Cuba 1961