Title of Course: Black History 301: The History of Cuba

Instructor: Mba Mbulu

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Class #15: The Revolution Matures

Read the Essay below. Be able to answer and expound on the following questions.


(1) What are some of the specific measures enacted prior to 1940 that indicate a move toward a non-capitalist form of government for Cuba?
(2) What did the Cuban constitution of 1940 call for that helped maintain Cuba's drift toward a non-capitalist form of government?
(3) What is the second zafra indicative of?

Class #15 Essay [Audio Version]

When the president was forced to resign and his replacement was forced out by an army uprising led by Fulgencio Batista, Ramón Grau San Martín became president of Cuba. This was late in 1933. Grau would be the first Cuban leader to openly defy the United States, but his government would only last 100 days. In that brief period, however, the Platt Amendment was nullified, the universities were opened to the poor, peasants were awarded the land they were farming, women were allowed to vote, steps to nationalize American owned companies were intitated and a new law was passed that (1) forced U. S. companies to pay their fair share of taxes and (2) tried to keep so much of Cuba's sugar wealth from leaving the island. This time Batista, a military strongman, forced the Grau government out and took control of the island. Batista, an ally of the U. S., was corrupt to the bone.


In 1940 a Cuban constitution was established that protected individual rights, called for full employment, a minimum wage and social security, and outlawed the large sugar plantations known as latifundios. The latifundios symbolized the control foreigners had over Cuba's economy and the inability of everyday Cubans to make a living. One term used to refer to the sugar industry was "zafra." Cuba's economy had become so inaccessible to the common person that, outside of sugar, the only way to earn a decent living was as a civil servant. So many of Cuba's better educated individuals sought civil service positions that the civil service became known as the second zafra.


In 1944, Ramón Grau San Martín was again elected president. As he had done during his 100 day reign, Grau championed the causes of the lower classes. Again Grau was forced from office by Fulgencio Batista, but Grau's policies remained dear to the heart of many Cubans. Sooner or later, something would have to give.

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