The Rise, Fall and Salvation of Cuba

The Rise, Fall and Salvation of Cuba

The Rise, Fall and Salvation of Cuba

Since Christopher Columbus discovered Cuba in 1492, the island has gone through many transformations. It first went from an obscure island with few inhabitants to the undisputed king of sugar production bustling with agrarian production and enviable economic growth. However, it then fell in 1959 to become a desolate, backward, impoverished prison island. After almost sixty years of communist rule. Cuba is now incapable of sustaining itself in even the most rudimentary needs of life. How did this happen?

A Brief History of Cuba

Cuba’s history started much like its neighboring colonies with the expansion of European kingdoms and the Christianizing of the New World. When Christopher Columbus landed on Cuba in October of 1492, he found small aboriginal groups inhabiting the island.

By the 1800s, society flourished as Cuba’s diverse Creole business coalesced preparing the way for a veritable sugar revolution on the island. From the early 1800s to the mid 1800s, this sleepy island was transformed into the world’s foremost sugar producer providing almost a third of the sugar for the entire world. Massive plantations eliminated competition from smaller ones making fewer but very large companies.

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Sugar was king! The sugar industry soon took over all agricultural production including the lucrative tobacco and cattle industries. While many other Central and South American colonies were contemplating, or already in the throes of fighting for independence, Cuba prospered and was quite content with the attention it received from Spain.

The Beginnings of Revolution

At the end of the nineteenth century, the ruling Spanish elites and nobles were facing an ever more vocal opposition to their governance. While there were abuses, the opposition was linked to revolutionary movements that rocked Latin America at the time. This unrest was the catalyst that led to a series of revolts and wars. The first was the Ten Years War against Spain (1868-1878) that failed. It was followed by a second war of independence (1895-1898) led by Cuban nationalist José Martí.

The United States entered the conflict in 1898 after the mysterious sinking of the USS Maine in Havana harbor. America won the Spanish-American War that led to the expulsion of Spain from any role in governing Cuba. Most of Cuba’s ruling elites and nobles fled at the time, precisely when they were needed to keep order and provide leadership during those turbulent times. Opportunists and corrupt officials soon filled the vacuum.


The result of this transformation was a series of military and political upheavals that became commonplace. The governing of the country vacillated between despots, dictators, military leaders and students attempting to establish some form of rule for Cuba.

The Imposition of the Hammer and Sickle

The upheaval culminated with the fall of the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista y Zaldívar (1952-1959). He was overthrown by Fidel Castro on January 1, 1959. Castro gained most of his support from ordinary Cubans tired of political corruption, violence and abuses. Sadly, Cuba had just traded one evil for an even worse evil when Castro embraced communism.

Allying himself with Russia, Castro soon played an important role in the spread of communism all over the world but especially in Central and South America and Africa. Money and arms flowed through Cuba to revolutionary hot spots worldwide on a regular basis. As a favored puppet of the KGB, Castro was rewarded with large financial subsidies until Russia’s collapse. Later, the façade of Castro’s socialist paradise was propped by Venezuela until its recent collapse. With the weakening on the October 19, 1960 embargo, the task now falls to Western capitalists who are streaming into Cuba with money to save the communist regime.

Forsaking Duty for Enjoyment

Thus, Cuba went from prosperous colony to a communist prison island. This was a historical process that had much to do with the role of the nation’s leadership and elites.

In the beginning, Cuba had many nobles and elites that arrived to the island and were dedicated to the establishment of a Catholic society that, despite defects and obstacles, could have flourished. In fact, no other Spanish colony received as many grants of noble titles as Cuba. However, those nobles were already infected with a particular moral decline that had its effect in the colony. Indeed, the nobility in Europe was suffering in general from the frenetic desire to enjoy life coupled with the forsaking of duties. Too many of these elites in Cuba had the enjoyment of life as their one and only concern. They were ill equipped to deal with the revolutionary storms that fell upon their shoulders.

With the elites in decadence, those in the bourgeois business class wanted to ascend socially and desired to enjoy the life that they saw the nobles enjoying. The bourgeois class rose up against these elites to overthrow them. They had the desire to command and dominate to further their personal gains.

However, over time they soon played the same role as the nobility by adopting enjoyable lifestyles with disregard for their duties. The bourgeois businessman began as a stable, reasonable and hard-working man that produced a son with a happy-go-lucky character, gradually losing the qualities that made his ancestors great. The grandson of the bourgeois man became a playboy devoid of the notions of stability or importance. Thus all society and social structures decayed.

This process eventually affected the working class since each revolution begets the next. The workers soon desired to enjoy the life of the bourgeois class, by commanding and dominating. They suppressed the business class and then fell into decadence and laziness soon afterward.

The destruction of a hierarchical society prepares the groundwork for communism to gain its cursed foothold and suffocate the remaining movements of the asphyxiated social body. This decadence of the social classes is what happened in Cuba. If the elites and earlier nobility had maintained their sense of duty and garnered the support of serious elite business leaders and the working classes, Castro would never have come to power and been hailed as a “hero of the workers”.

One might ask how to repair the damage of Castro’s communism. The answer is clear, people under communism do not need technology and money; rather, the problem is a moral crisis. This crisis was caused by the neglect of duties and a lust to enjoy life that cascaded down through the social orders. The only way to return to order is a spiritual conversion that will restore a harmonious social order given to men by God that leads them back to Him.


Portions of this article have been adapted from a series of lectures given by Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira titled, “Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Customs, Ambiences and Institutions.”


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