In 1960, this gorgeous paradise island found itself on the fault line of a titanic ideological struggle of seismic proportions. On either side, stood the so-called victors of a horrific war, armed with decades-old suspicions and a new fangled weapon capable of microwaving all the inhabitants of the earth in a few short hours. Far worse, each side harbored a goal of total capitulation, each viewing the other in such polar terms that the hope of compromise seemed laughable. Of course, this stand-off was no laughing mater.

While this global atonal and poly-arythmic movement played out, further lines were drawn across Europe and Asia. This same struggle was in full swing on a micro-scale in Cuba. By early 1959, here in plain view we watched the struggle between Batista’s brand of Capitalism, and Fidel’s brand of Marxism. The events that followed spelled disaster for US-Cuban relations. Fidel may have ended Batista’s corrupt administration, but in the process ushered in an age of unbearable sacrifice and struggle to be bourn primarily by the Cuban people.

Over time, Cuba’s economy collapsed. The island’s currency went from being on par internationally with the US Dollar, to being relatively worthless. And although the Island’s literacy rate rose to close to 100% under Fidel’s education movement, and other socialized sectors such as Health Care gave the poorest of Cubans some level of access , in the end it appears to the objective eye that the revolution only served to trade-in one form of discontent for another. Nothing in this world, it appears, is “black and white”.

It is interesting though, that while Fidel’s system insured that all Cuban’s would read (words and musical notation), it also attempted to restrict what Cubans read (and heard). In the face of these restrictions, however, Cubans grew hungry for information. An embargo on information is hard to enforce.  As all Cubans had access to education, the Island developed a great populace of highly-educated people from all classes of it’s supposedly classless society.

This phenomenon was never more obvious than in the Art’s, where idiology, by the way , is hard to define. Some works were allowed in, while others were forbidden. All of these fruits, forbidden or otherwise, helped to inspire great Cuban poets, writers, actors, artists, and one of the greatest musicians of our time.



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