Sex and marriage within Cuba has always been a rather simple, and uneventful process – despite the literal event. Until Castro’s rule, marriage was only for the fearless, and everyone else just ‘had a good time’ and worked for themselves. From 1959, the number of marriages has doubled – due to the incentives and encouragement put in place by the government. There is no limit put upon children raised within one house and there is no government control over use of contraception. This can be noted as freedom, yet when evaluating statistics, it portrays itself as carelessness. Nearly 60% of babies are born out of wedlock, due to the lack of contraception used and the high rate of teenage pregnancies. Abortion has been a free option for each woman since 1965, but most give birth to the child in order to gain financial aid or to stay accountable to religious beliefs. Abortion has been the main form of contraception for the women. Simple divorce, as stated, has also become more apparent since Castro’s role as leader. Nearly one in two marriages ends with a divorce; this is due to overcrowding in homes (the lack of contraception usage), less religious influence that would usually prohibit divorce and the changing roles of women within Cuba, and their increasing abilities to take their career further than ever before. In conjunction with all the options of divorce, marriage and contraception, Castro has built a ‘no guilt’ attitude among his people – who now do what they believe will benefit themselves.
Undoubtedly, Castro’s main focus was the rut in which Cuba was headed towards as an economy, and how he would direct the country away from this conclusion. Castro stated that Cuba had the resources to be a strong, if not the strongest, economy within the Caribbean – therefore, spent his years looking for ways to build and strengthen the economy, using what Cuba had and could eventuate towards. Until 1959, Cuba was a hostage of the U.S. government. The U.S. controlled imports and export, and created an economy based solely upon the sugar crop – stripping the Cubans of their vital food crops. However, Castro pulled away form this influence, and soon after took up ties with the USSR, America’s rival. A deal made that ensured sugar cane was still grown and cropped for the use of the USSR, and that the USSR still imported it. This stabilised the economic income and provided a basis upon which Castro could fund other projects taking place. This deal was worth $5 billion per year to Cuba, which was then put towards development, food and other education. Even though this stabilised economic input, it seemed to push alternative crops further away and allowed sugar cane to remain the predominant crop – as with U.S. deal.
Cuba’s economic ties with the socialist world reinforce its dependence upon other countries to provide export markets. Arguably, this provides a viable reason for why Castro resorted to the Soviet Union when they had been seemingly neglected, or used, by the U.S. Castro realised that, for his economy to be successful and to guarantee the use of the existing sugar plantations, he needed to befriend another super-power. So as the U.S. pulled away, Castro shuffled Cuba closer to the Soviet Union – creating an example to the people of the government and the steady economy Castro aimed to build. Farms were modelled upon the Soviet Union, and three-quarters of land was confiscated and held by the State. 40% of food was imported into Cuba, as a result of the dominant sugar crop using crop-farming land. However, in 1990, the USSR withdrew support and Cuba experienced a shocking drop in Gross Domestic Product. Cuba’s imports fell from $8 billion to $2.2 billion, food was scarce and export market had diminished. Cuba was accused of putting ‘to many eggs in one basket’. Since, Cuba has created stronger ties with South American countries, Mexico becoming Cuba’s leading foreign investor. The economy suffered, and the people suffered – all as a result of Castro’s reliance upon an external.
The U.S. embargo of 1961 was a blockade staged by America in order to show the Cubans the extent of their reliance and the percentage of supply provided by the super- power. Economic sanctions such as these are aimed at forcing the cordoned country into yielding to the power the other country has over it. This, however drastic, ended up a valid reason for Castro to ally closer to Kruschev, and the Soviet Union. It exposed Cubans to strict rationing, food taxes, essential medicine shortages and a major drop in the consumerism now experienced within the poorer classes as a result of the revolution. Since 1961, tourism, foreign investment and nationalisation have each become tactics implemented by the Cuban government in order to find true independence.
1997 was the year of privatisation initiated by the government. 25% of farmland is now owned by the state, compared to the original 80% of land. Farmers in certain areas have been assigned a crop to produce in order to satisfy exports, but most farms are free choice and affect the economy by no means other than by the amount they are producing to satisfy the demand. The increase in educated students has also affected the economy in that the number of agricultural workers has dropped dramatically, resulting in stationary farmland. This nationalisation tactic has increased choice and freedom, but also seen the movement of farmers into more white-collar work areas.
Tourism into Cuba has become the country’s largest export and contributor to the economy, as the world has become more mobile, and travelling more accessible. Foreign investors have ‘poured’ money into tourism more than any other sector of the economy. Castro has not needed to encourage the people to be welcoming, as it is in the nature of the country to welcome foreign interest - a trait exploited by many. It is currently expanding by 20% per year and earns over $1.5 billion a year. Castro’s regime predict numbers to reach a record 10 million by the year 2010, which is an optimistic guess as the Bahamas (neighbouring islands) already experience these figures. The economy will have found something other than sugar export to rely upon, and it is an independent trade that cannot be influenced by other powers. The industry already exceeds that of sugar farming, but is inefficient. Castro’s government aims to focus on this new and rising market in order to show the world the versatility of Cuba.
Cuba’s international status is on the rise as tourism grows, and as true independence seeps from the country’s economic and social figures. Belonging first as a protectorate state to the U.S. and then as the USSR’s vital threat house, Cuba has been from one extreme to the other – supporting the extreme capitalists, and the extreme socialists all within a century. Today, Cuba stands independent – free from intervention and influence by other countries. The current foreign investors of Mexico, Canada, Spain and Italy each play a role of support for Cuba, but are simply the markets in which Cuba is a part of – like any other country. The new foreign investors and their numbers have created an innovative and fresh atmosphere amongst the people. Originally, a 50% stake was the limit to a foreign investor in embarking upon a ‘joint venture’, but since, full ownership has now been ruled legal.
The foreign investors Mexico, Canada, Spain and Italy are mainly focused in the areas of tourism, mining and oil – each resources in which Cuba is rich in supply and willing to put on the market at now major cost to the people.
The embargo between Cuba and U.S. is still in tact, to a lesser extent, today. Debatably blamed the sole reason for the major fall in economic activity within Cuba over the past half century, Cuba has recovered increasingly well, and due to Castro’s determination have succeeded in placing themselves on the international scale faster than ever expected, especially by the U.S.
Cuba has found a place in which it can function at its optimal point without the need for help from third parties, in conjunction with using the natural resources put at their disposal. Socially, freedom has become an emerging theme among the government’s policies and the ease at which a citizen can access help demonstrates the government’s efficiency in providing for its people – a major goal of Castro’s government reached. The economic revolution, which has taken place through times of doubt and hardship, has been a significant learning for the young government. The economy has been built around sugar production for so long, that finding the alternative in tourism and mining has been a relief for the people, but also encouraged them do what they enjoy as an occupation. Castro’s overall morale found within the people places them on a pedestal far above the havoc found in their relations with the U.S. and the USSR. Under Castro, Cuba has grown economically, and can now take its place on the world stage with a new direction, and not feel manipulated by another state. With foreign investment into Cuba becoming easy to access, many countries are finding Cuba to be welcoming trade partner, with impressive history of dealing with the two most extreme governments in the world. Castro’s impact upon Cuba has been one of overall positive influence, but has only been achieved through inevitable downfalls in idealist approaches to certain situations.