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Volume 53 / Social Sciences


JUAN DEL AGUILA, Professor of Political Science, Emory University

THERE ARE SEVERAL RECURRENT THEMES in the contemporary literature on the government and politics of Cuba, namely the internal dynamics of the revolutionary regime, the impact and reverberations of the collapse of communism, and the prospects for the regime's survival in the face of serious economic difficulties and evolving international realignments. Most of the literature covers the mid to late 1980s, including important events such as the Campaign for Rectification (1984), the Third Congress of the Cuban Communist Party (1986), and the Ochoa-La Guardia scandals (1989).

To some extent, publications on Cuba continue to reflect ideological divisions among academic experts, journalists, and Cuban scholars, so that speculative and often highly biased works are still being published. More scholarly, in-depth studies are naturally preferable, but the opinion pieces, short essays, specialized and technical reports, and topical writings - such as reports on the human rights situation - comprising much of the literature are also useful. President Castro's major speeches, useful as primary sources and key to understanding regime dynamics, are also annotated below.

The domestic difficulties plaguing Cuba today are superbly analyzed in rigorous studies such as that by Oppenheimer in Castro's final hour (item bi 92014539), which also includes new information on the Ochoa-La Guardia scandal. Timmerman's Cuba: a journey (item bi 91019491) is a testimonial based on first-hand observations and conversations, in which the author probes popular attitudes and finds there has been considerable erosion of the people's support for the Revolution. Ideology has created a thoroughly distorted picture of life for the average citizen and, among intellectuals, Timmerman also finds substantial levels of disaffection.

A very useful analysis is Habel's Ruptures à Cuba: le castrisme en crise which, although written from a friendly perspective, is balanced and thoughtful (item bi 91019513). The author advocates fundamental reforms for Cuba and concludes that without them, there is no hope for national renewal. Likewise, Stubbs' Cuba: a test of time (item bi 91019498) offers a sensible interpretation of 30 years of revolution and change while documenting growing discontent and questioning as to where the regime is headed. Howard Wiarda's summary of the various crises afflicting Cuba leads to the question: Is Cuba next? (item bi 91006025), in which he notes that the regime's resilience is being put to the test through simmering pressures and internal divisions.

Finally, in Cuban socialism: prospects and challenges (item bi 91024289) Martínez argues that external forces will have an impact on future developments in Cuba, but that a strong sense of unity and national identity will prove decisive in the end. In other words, given Cuba's peculiar cultural and historical traditions, the nation will be spared the fate of Eastern Europe.

To conclude, some authors annotated below raise questions about Cuba's future while others document instances of change and experimentation. The overall trend is one of socioeconomic deterioration, growing disaffection, and dissidence, all of which point to a fundamentally different relationship between society and the regime in the 1990s.

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