- Current Issue
SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
James C. McKinley Jr., “At Cuba Helm, Castro Brother Stays the Course,” The New York Times, February 25, 2008:
HAVANA — Raúl Castro, who has labored in the shadow of his brother Fidel since the days of their revolution, became Cuba’s new president on Sunday, ending his brother’s 49-year rule and washing away hopes on this Communist island that a younger generation might take power.
I am neither historian nor philosopher, prophet nor politician; yet if I read history aright, and understand the philosophy of its teachings, it needs not the perception of a prophet to foresee the political condition of Cuba, perhaps ere the earth shall have made another circuit of the ecliptic. There appears to be a higher law than the savage enactments of selfish men, at work in the hearts of the Cubans, and this energy, aided by official stupidity, is rapidly deepening the grave of Spanish misrule over one of the most beautiful domains of earth. With free institutions and an intelligent people, Cuba, instead of presenting to the world the spectacle of a garden in ruins–its hedge’ broken down, and its shrubs and plants and fruitful vines crushed and ravished by “the wild boar out of the wood,” might exhibit a garden in richest bloom and generous fruitage, the delight of its husbandman and the pride of the Western world.
The first reason that points to the acquisition of Cuba is obviously the intrinsic value and the great resources of the island. If Cuba were a sand-bank, if it were a rock, the case would be very different. But the island is one of the jewels of the earth. It is the “gem of the Antilles.” All testimony concurs as to the fertility of its soil-the loveliness of its climate–its immense capacities if properly developed. Its staples–coffee, raised nowhere in the Union, sugar and tobacco, produced very partially–may be said to be all absolute additions to the wealth of the United States. On the other side, an open commerce with Cuba would furnish a large and prosperous outlet to many branches of American manufacture; and under a system of easy and unrestricted intercourse its delightful climate would afford a welcome escape from the rigorous cold and chilling fogs of the winters of the Northern States. That Cuba would be an immense positive addition to the wealth and resources of the United States can not be doubted; and that, in an industrial point of view, it would be more to the United States than it ever can be to Spain is as little to be questioned. It is not now to be argued that the American policy of stimulating individual enterprise has an effect on the development of national wealth and material resources such as no other country can pretend to.
C. Wright Mills, “‘Listen, Yankee’: The Cuban case against the United States,”, December 1960:
We Cubans, we’re a do-it-yourself outfit. We’re not capitalists and we’re not building a capitalist society in Cuba today. Neither are we building a Stalinist society. We ourselves don’t know quite what to call what we are building, and we don’t care. It is, of course, Socialism of a sort. We’re not a bit afraid of that word–and why ever should you be?
There is one more thing that you must understand about us young intellectuals who’ve led this Cuban revolution: Since we did not belong to the old left intelligentsia who had gone through Communism and been disillusioned with Stalinism and with the purges and the trials and the thirty-five years of all that, we’ve had one enormous advantage as revolutionaries: We’ve not gone through all that terribly destructive process; we have not been wounded by it. We’ve never had any “God That Failed.” We don’t have all that cynicism and futility about what we’re doing and about what we feel must be done.
That’s the big secret of the Cuban revolutionary. We are new men, and we are not afraid to do what must be done in Cuba.
From lessons from textbooks written for Fidel Castro’s literacy campaign, begun in 1961; the books are still in use in many Cuban schools. Today, 97 percent of the Cuban population is literate, and Castro is helping Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez design a literacy program for his country . Translated from the Spanish.
Let’s first read and then write: “The main square looks very pretty. The people’s militia marches by. Thousands of bandannas saluting. Long live Fidel! The militiaman has a rifle. He loves peace. In good hands, a rifle is good. Young and old united, we swear alongside Fidel. Together we will defend Cuba. They’ll never defeat us again!” Copy in your best handwriting: “They’ll never defeat us again!”
More from Harper’s Magazine:
Weekly Review — November 26, 2013, 8:00 am
The countries and companies responsible for climate change, nuclear options in Congress and Iran, and the extinction of Darwin’s frog
Official Business — October 23, 2013, 3:00 pm
Join us Saturday, October 26, at 6:30 p.m.
Fleming awoke in the dark and his room felt loose, sloshing so badly he gripped the bed. From his window there was nothing but a hallway, and if he craned his neck, a blown lightbulb swung into view. The room pitched up and down and for a moment he thought he might be sick. The word “hallway” must have a nautical name. Why didn’t they supply a glossary for this cruise? Probably they had, in the welcome packet he’d failed to read. A glossary. A history of the boat, which would be referred to as a ship. Sunny biographies of the captain and crew, who had always dreamed of this life. Lobotomized histories of the islands they’d visit. Who else had sailed this way. Famous suckwads from the past, slicing through this very water on wooden longships.
A welcome packet, the literary genre most likely to succeed in the new millennium. Why not read about a community you don’t belong to, that doesn’t actually exist, a captain and crew who are, in reality, if that isn’t too much of a downer on your vacation, as indifferent to one another as any set of co-employees at an office or bank? Read doctored personal statements from underpaid crew members — because ocean life pays better than money! — who hate their lives but have been forced to buy into the mythology of working on a boat, separated now from loved ones and friends, growing lonelier by the second, even while they wait on you and follow your every order.
Rank of Detroit among major U.S. cities whose residents give the largest portion of their income to charity:
A South Dakota researcher concluded that only scant blood spatter results when chain saws are used to dismember pigs.
Four people were arrested for using a remote-controlled hexacopter to fly two pounds of tobacco to prisoners inside the yard at Calhoun State Prison in Georgia.
Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!
Our congratulations to Alice Munro, winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature