¡The country of Ron and Tobacco and Revolution!
Cuba, a Spanish speaking country located only 90 miles south of Florida is the largest island in the Archipelago and one of the Caribbean region’s most powerful nations. While Spain had to fight several difficult and expensive campaigns against independence movements, it retained the rule of Cuba until 1898 when the United States and Cuban forces defeated it during the Spanish-American War. Cuba rapidly became formally autonomous, but the neighboring United States stayed overpowering. Learn more about the only Soviet Bastion in Latin America!.
Since the revolution, the Cuban culture has undergone a major change and the government has become a major player. This position has grown to involve a network of trade and amateur cultural organizations throughout the world, after the establishment of the Ministry of Culture in 1976. Before 1959, artistic bodies were usually limited to Havana and were almost exclusively funded privately (and, to a lesser degree, regional capitals). Cuba had about 100 libraries and a half-douse museum before 1959; today there are around 2 000 libraries and around 250 museums in Cuba.
The Ministry of Culture is responsible for a curriculum in instruction, resulting in the University of the Higher School of Art, of music, performing arts, theatre, theater, and contemporary dance. Casas de Cultura delivers a program in all arts sections in more than 200 local community centers.
Sport is a major strength of the country, being the second country in the American continent with more Olympic medals just below the United States. Obviously, it tops among the Spanish speaking countries in Latin America. Also, Cuba has world records in many sports and it is a Latin American country with a variety of performed sports.
At the same time, Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world with more than the 98% of the population capable of reading and writing. Cuban doctors are renowned worldwide due to the importance that the profession has for the country and the revenues it generates annually.
The Cuban gastronomy is enriched with a lot of African flavors, thanks to its multiethnic heritage. One of the most typical Cuban meals is Moros vs. Cristianos a dish composed of rice and beans. Also, there are other delicious dishes like the Ropa Vieja, Tostones, Tesajo or Caldosa. All of them equally matching with a Cuban Rum, the most representative drink of the country and its famous Cigars.
Did you know that Tobacco is a Native American, Cuban product? Tobacco was already used and smoked by the pre-Colombian inhabitants of the Caribbean Island especially from Cuba. Even today the Cuban Habanos are the most recognized tobacco product in the world for its quality and tradition.
During its colonial times, the Island was constantly a target of pirates and thieves that attacked and robbed the Island, that is why most of the city till today remain surrounded by huge walls and fortifications. Cuba was of the last Spanish colonies in Latin America.
Cuba’s government is a one-party Marxist-Leninist rule, headed by a Castro family, the leader for several decades, since its Revolution in 1959. In this sense, it was the only Soviet Bastion in Latin America during the Cold War. It is the 63rd largest economy in the world, with its estimated overall GDP being 68.7 billion US dollars. Its nominal GDP of $6,106 per capita is the world’s 88th largest.
Cuba once relied strongly on the Soviet Union for its currency to survive. Cuba had an exceptional time before the Soviet Empire dissolved and its economy deteriorated rapidly. In order to recover, they legalized the US dollar and self-employment started to be permitted.
The State regulates and hires the bulk of Cuba’s labor force. Cod, drugs, coffee, and citrus fruits are their major exports. They import crude oil, milk, chemicals, and machinery as mainly as possible.
The Cuban economy is a fully managed, state-owned system. The Cuban Government controls and manages the bulk of factories and the State hires much of the employees. The ruling Communist Party of Cuba encouraged the training of workers’ co-operatives and self-employment following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. However, the 2019 Cuba Constitution also gave higher private property and free-market freedoms. Furthermore, foreign-market participation in different sectors of the Cuban economy has expanded before 2019.
As in 2000, 76% in the public sector and 23% in the private (mainly self-employed) sector was employed-compared to the 1981 ratio from 91% to 8%. Investment is small and needs policy approval. The government gives people the minimum rates and ratios of commodities. Cuba was 68th in 2016 out of 182 with a 0,775 human development ranking, way above the GDP per capita (95th). The government debt of the nation contributed to 35.3% of GDP in 2012, inflation (CDP) 5.5%, and GDP development 3%.
The small cost of accommodation and travel. governmental education, health care, and food grants are awarded to Cubans. Following the Cuban revolution of 1953–1959, accompanied by an international blockade by the United States (1960-), the nation gained a more equal distribution of wealth. In the context of the Cold War, the Cuban economy was highly dependent on the Soviet Union support estimated at a total of $65 billion from 1960 until 1990, which was on average $2.17 billion a year (over three times the overall sum of U.S. economic assistance to Latin America).
The only manufacturing commodity in Cuba, which was also made through a preindustrial operation, was tobacco items such as Cigars and cigarettes. The Cuban economy became ineffective and over-specialized in the Soviet bloc countries in certain heavily subsidized goods. In 1990-1993 the Cuban GDP fell by 33 percent after the dissolution of the Soviet Empire, partially in reaction to a lack of Soviet subsidies and a fall in prices for sugar in the early 1990s.
This joined-up again in the early 2000s thanks to the mixture of partial trade liberalization and strong subsidies from Cuba’s supportive regime, which provided the country with low-cost energy and other subsidies worth up to 12% worth Cuban GDP a year.
Before the arrival of the adventurer Christopher Columbus in 1492, the island of Cuba was home to numerous American cultures especially the Tainos. Spain invaded Cuba upon its arrival on a Spanish mission, naming Spanish administrators in Havana.
Throughout the civil wars of Spain, it became the location for several expeditions to the Americas and other islands. In 1762, in return for Florida, Havana was briefly occupied by the United Kingdom. In the 19th century, the Spanish rule could not be broken despite a variety of rebellions. However, the Spanish-American War led to the Spanish withdrawal from the island in 1898, and Cuba gained formal independence in 1902 following the three and a half years of U.S. military occupation.
The Cuban Republic underwent rapid economic changes, as well as government repression, and a series of despotic governments in the years following their liberation, which resulted in the overthrow of dictator Fulgencio Batista, headed by Fidel Castro during the Cuban Revolution in 1952-59.
With Russian support, Cuba participated in international conflicts: Algeria between 1963 and 1964, Syria between 1973 and 1975, Angola between 1975 and 1991, and Ethiopia between 1978 and 1989. Cuba has effectively protected Ethiopia from the occupation of Somalia and against the independence of Eritrea. The interference by Cuba in Angola led to the fall in South Africa of the Apartheid system. In the civil war, South African troops were routed by Cuban armies, battling against anti-racism and anti-apartheid under the double banners.
Since the revolution, the United States has tried to subdue Cuba through political and economic sanctions. It has led to political crises in the region, most notably the famous Cuban Missile Crisis.
Cuba shares a warm relation with India, due to its commitment to the Non-Alignment Movement. The bilateral trade between Cuba and India in the 1980s amounted to approximately US$ 300 million. But after the Soviet Union breakup in 1991 and economic liberalization in India in the nineties, there was a significant decline in bilateral trade between countries. In 2014-15, there were $38.89 million in bilateral trade. India’s exports to Cuba amounted to 37.32 million dollars and imports to 1,57 million dollars. Pharmaceuticals, agricultural materials, plastics, and rubber goods, machinery, and hydraulic equipment are the main commodities shipped from India into Cuba. Tobacco products include cigars, rawhides, and skins, as well as leather, which is the principal commodities Cuba exports to India.
In 1995, India donated 5 KW of solar power to Cuba and received spare parts for the nation for a total of 15 lakh (equivalent to 24 lakh or $34,000 in 2019). However, in 2008, India discharged the Cuban Government a loan and interest of $62 million. In the aftermath of Gustav, Ike, and Paloma Hurricanes in August – September 2008, India extended aid of $2 million. India launched a 3-year educational program for Cuban citizens at the India Cuba Awareness Center, which was concluded in July 2010. The center, which is run by NIIT, has trained more than 1900 Cubans in various fields.
India contributed 1 million dollars in November 2013 to create a pitch for excellent turf hockey in Cuba.
Cuba’s people are eligible for scholarships under the Indian Cultural Relations and Technical and Economic Cooperation Program. Between 1989 and 2016, in different fields in India, 671 Cubans were offered the opportunities.
In 1992, when Cuba was in distress, India supplied Cuba with 10,000 tons of wheat and 10,000 tons of rice. Fidel Castro called the donation the “Bread of India,” as it was enough to give every Cuban citizen one piece of bread.
Yoga belongs to the health curriculum of the Cuban Government. Rabindranath Tagore’s anniversary is celebrated annually in Cuba. A bust was introduced on 7 May 2007 in Havana, donated by the ICCR. This library is named after Tagore in Casa de Asia in Havana. In Havana there are Busts of Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa too.
At the Havana International Book Fair in February 2015, India was the “guest of Honor Republic,” making it the first Asian republic to earn the award.
The growing demand for the Spanish language in India is also due to the strong bilateral relationship between India and the Spanish speaking countries like Cuba. So, learn the Spanish language and explore this beautiful Spanish speaking country from Latin America. Try the online Spanish classes with SpanishBOLO.
Interview with the Ambassador:
Did you know:
- Cuban cigars are known as the finest cigars in the world
- Cuba has a double currency system: Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) and Cuban Peso (CBU).
- The Cuban hummingbird is the smallest bird in the world, measuring just 5 cm from peak to tail. Locals call them zunzún.
- It is practically impossible to eat beef in Cuba. The government has a strange history with cows.
- Cuba is one of the safest countries in Latin America, with almost no violent crime and one of the most popular destinations for solo female travelers in the world.