Commentary — February 26, 2008, 10:41 am

Archive Highlights: Cuba

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.

cubaplaza

“An Artist,” “Three Weeks in Cuba,” January 1853:

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.

Alfred H. Guernsey, “Editor’s Table,” March 1859:

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:
1

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.

“The Little Engine that Dialectically Must,” February 2004:

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.

Exercise 2:

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!”

Share
Single Page

More from Harper’s Magazine:

Official Business March 17, 2015, 4:01 am

Radio Hustle

Listen to the broadcast version of “American Hustle,” Alexandra Starr’s story, for the April 2015 issue of Harper’s Magazine, about how elite youth basketball exploits African athletes.

Official Business January 8, 2015, 3:57 pm

The Art of Outrage

We defend Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish its cartoons—and our right to critique them.

Memento Mori September 2, 2014, 5:33 pm

Charles Bowden (1945–2014)

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

August 2015

The Trouble with Israel

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

A Camera on Every Cop

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

New Books

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

In the Shadow of the Storm

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
What Recovery?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Between 2007 and 2010, Albany’s poverty rate jumped 12 points, to a record high of 39.9 percent. More than two thirds of Albany’s 76,000 residents are black, and since 2010, their poverty rate has climbed even higher, to nearly 42 percent.”
Photograph by Will Steacy
Article
Rag Time·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

From a May 23 commencement address delivered at Hofstra University. Doctorow died on Tuesday. He was 84.
“We are a deeply divided nation in danger of undergoing a profound change for the worse.”
Photograph by Giuseppe Giglia
Article
The Trouble with Israel·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“We think we are the only people in the world who live with threat, but we have to work with regional leaders who will work with us. Bibi is taking the country into unprecedented international isolation.”
Photograph by Adam Golfer
Post
Greece, Europe, and the United States·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

These are tough times for parents. Not because child rearing has gotten any harder — it’s the same as it ever was — but because we are newly overrich in hand-wringing books and articles on the subject. The decision to have children, according to these panicked dispatches, is only the first in a cascade of choices that will either make or break your kid, save or ruin your life. This forum, however, is not prescriptive but descriptive: not “how you should” but “how we have,” which is probably the best kind of advice a mother or father could give. The poem and …
Photograph by Stefan Boness
Article
How to Be a Parent·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“The poem and the essays that follow tell you things about being a parent that you can’t get from a jeremiad about having it all or a numbered list of sleep-training tips.”
© Erich Lessing/Art Resource, New York City

Number of pages in the bills that created Social Security and the Federal Trade Commission, respectively:

29, 8

A case study was published about a man who has consumed 40,000 pills of ecstasy, a new world record. The man suffers from memory problems, paranoia, hallucinations, and depression, as well as painful muscle rigidity that keeps him from opening his mouth.

A plane carrying skydiving students landed on a busy highway in New Jersey.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Subways Are for Sleeping

By

“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”

Subscribe Today