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Cuba - Special Period

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When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990, the impact on the Cuban economy was devastating. Cuba lost approximately 80% of its imports, 80% of its exports and its Gross Domestic Product dropped by 34%. Along with food and medicines that were imported, 99% of the oil Cuba imported came from the USSR; Cuba's oil imports dropped to 10% of previous amounts in 1990. Before this, Cuba had been re-exporting any Soviet oil it did not consume to other nations for profit; this was Cuba's second largest export product before 1990. Once Soviet imports fell, Cuba faced a shortage of oil, resulting in a need to reduce domestic consumption by 20% over the course of two years. The effect was felt immediately; dependent on fossil fuels to operate, transportation, industrial and agricultural systems were paralysed. There were extensive losses of productivity in both Cuban agriculture; which was dominated by modern industrial tractors, combines, and harvesters, all of which required oil to run; and in Cuban industrial capacity. The early stages of the Special Period were defined by a general breakdown in transportation and agricultural sectors, fertilizer and pesticide stocks (both of those being manufactured primarily from oil derivatives), and widespread food shortages, although outright starvation and famine were averted. ...read more.


Alternative transportation, most notably the Cuban "camels" - immense 18-wheeler tractor trailers retrofitted as busses to carry many dozens of Cubans each - flourished. Meat and dairy products, having been extremely fossil fuel dependent in their former factory farming methods, soon diminished in the Cuban diet. By necessity Cubans adopted diets higher in fiber, fresh produce, and ultimately more vegan in character than before the period. Cuba hurriedly diversified its agricultural production, utilizing former cane fields to grow fruit and vegetables. The Cuban government also focused more intensely on cooperation with Venezuela. The scarcity of tools, and building materials, and the cost of producing cement increased the pressure on already overcrowded housing. Even before the energy crisis, extended families lived in small apartments (many of which were in very poor condition) to be closer to an urban area. To help alleviate this situation, the government engaged in land-distribution where they supplemented larger government owned farms with privately owned ones. Small homes were built in rural areas and land was provided to encourage families to move and assist in food production for themselves and to sell in local farmers' markets. ...read more.


The documentary states that today, farmers make more money than most other occupations; without food, there is no life. Many crumbling building in the urban area which could not be repaired we demolished, at the time of the crisis these empty areas maid perfect places for urban farming. The ideological changes of the Special Period had effects on Cuban society and culture. The increased responsibilities that Cuban women had within their families as a result of the economic effects also gave them more authority within Cuban society. In recent years, many Cuban women have chosen to enact this power and authority on the dance floor to the music of the pleasure and body-focused reggaeton genre, through highly controversial, explicitly sexual dance moves. Cuban hip hop evolved as a socially conscious movement influenced heavily by the effects of Cuba's conversion to a 'mixed economy' on the younger generation. The arrival of rap in Cuba was very much shaped by this Special period. Eventually rap became nationalized by the government when it was understood as keeping with the goals of the Revolution. Rap artists' lyrics were primarily focused on social issues, which provided critiques of complex issues while maintaining positive energy. ?? ?? ?? ?? Basil Razi ...read more.

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