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The Intersection of Science, Art, Music & Humanities

Cuban Culture, History and Music

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Biosyntrx continues with its full-week blog focus on Cuba, our 90-mile-away neighbor, for this Sunday Morning Stop at the Intersection of Science, Art, Music and Humanities.  

From the air, the island of Cuba resembles a crocodile, so it is referred to in Spanish as "el Cocodrillo." Cuban people are known for their love of music and art, interconnected solidarity, gregarious and friendly attitude, and their cultural diversity, built from Spanish, African, French and possibly Asian influences.

The principle of solidarity — banding together with any fellow citizen, even a stranger, to overcome an obstacle — is so ingrained in Cuban society that all the moving pieces, the handshake deals, the multiple rendezvous that need to take place, the sister’s cousin’s friend who’ll eventually meet to make the connection, all just work out, eventually, because honesty and a commitment or a promise is honored. —Anonymous

A very brief history


After Columbus arrived in 1492, Cuba became a Spanish colony ruled by a Spanish governor in Havana. It was briefly occupied by Great Britain in 1762, but returned to Spain in exchange for the land that is now Florida. 

A series of rebellions failed to end Spanish rule until the Spanish-American War ended in 1898. Cuba gained formal independence from US military rule in 1902 and launched into nationhood with very few problems. Prosperity dramatically increased during the early years, and wealthy and creative Americans visited in droves. 


Political corruption and a succession of despotic leaders culminated in the overthrow of US-backed dictator, Fulgencio Batista, by the 26th of July Movement led by Fidel and Raul Castro and Argentinian physician, Che Guevara, during the 1953 to 1959 revolution against monopoly capitalism, neocolonialism and imperialism. 

Ever since monopoly capital took over the world, it has kept the greater part of humanity in poverty, dividing all the profits among the group of the most powerful countries. The standard of living in those countries is based on the extreme poverty of our countries. Che Guevara1965

The Cold War

Tensions between the US and Cuba again peaked during the April 1961 Bay of Pigs-failed military invasion of Cuba, undertaken by our counter-revolutionary, CIA-sponsored, paramilitary group.The October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis developed when the US revealed the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba (apparently in reaction to "Jupiter" provocative intermediate-range nuclear missiles that the US government had placed in Italy and Turkey—adjacent to the Soviet Union*), and following the President Kennedy-driven US naval blockade, the nuclear weapons were withdrawn and the missile bases dismantled, resolving a serious international crisis and possible full-scale nuclear war with a US / Soviet (Kennedy / Khrushchev) diplomatic agreement that assured Cuba's protection from military attack by the US—without direct provocation. 

Cuba has since been governed as a socialist state by the Communist Party under the absolute loyalty-demanding leadership of the Castro brothers. It has been politically and economically isolated by the United States since the revolution but has gradually gained access to foreign commerce and travel as efforts to normalize diplomatic relations have progressed, in spite of US opposition. 

Of course all Cubans are designers. Take for example my car: it's an old Peugeot from France with transplants, an engine from Russia, a German carburetor and a steering system from Italy. To live here, one has to be a designer.  —Anonymous

The collapse of communism in the early 1990s had a profound effect on Cuba. Soviet economic subsidies ended in 1991, which started a major economic crisis, and the people's standard of living declined sharply. Major adjustments, such as more liberalized foreign investment laws and highly regulated opening of private small businesses and agricultural stands were introduced. 

Many Cuban citizens have been, and remain, passionately party loyal, making them complicit and responsible for Cuba's communist-led government, so Fidel Castro's death and President Obama's efforts to normalize may make little or no difference to Cuba's future.

With the support of former giants of the pre-1959 foreign-dominated economy, including many well-known "Banana Republic" US corporations (an outgrowth of the infamously monopolistic United Fruit), it's easy to imagine the creation of a classic Latin American oligarchy in Cuba, ironically founded on a post-nationalist, post-Fidel Communist state. —Next Practice  

During these times, it's important to remember that the rhetoric of governments is not always the sentiment of the people, so go ahead and plan that trip to Cuba while it's possible. We are assured by US citizens who have visited Cuba in the past year or so that the lovely people, cultural diversity, solidarity, music, art, humanity, food and beaches guarantee an interesting and beautiful learning-experience trip. 

Have a great Sunday and a thoughtful July 4 celebration of independence.  

Ellen Troyer with Spencer Thornton, MD, David Amess and the Biosyntrx staff 

While much is written about Fidel Castro being a tyrant, murderer and dictator, what seems to most always be missing is detailed information about the previous leader of Cuba, Fulgencio Batista. 

Batista twice ruled Cuba, first in 1933 through 1944 with a progressive government, and again in 1952 through 1959 by preempting the 1952 election with a Batista-led military coup. 

After placing himself in office, he suspended the progressive 1940 Constitution of Cuba that he originally created, imprisoned and executed his opponents and turned Cuba into a police state. He then made himself extremely wealthy by aligning with the wealthiest business owners and dramatically widening the gap between rich and poor Cubans. 

Gambling, drugs and prostitution in Cuba were controlled by the US mafia during this time in history, and all the Cuban banks were reported to be owned by US banks.

Under Castro, Cuba became a one-party, socialist state under communist party rule. Policies, including central economic planning and expanding health care and education were accompanied by government control of the press and the suppression of internal dissent. 

Castro's followers view him as a champion of socialism and anti-imperialism, and his critics view him as a vicious dictator who oversaw human-rights abuses and destruction of the country's economy.


Cuba did become far more literate and took its literacy campaign to many countries, as well as sent doctors to assist them under Castro's communist rule. Nevertheless: dictator-down economics never seems to serve the people well, no matter the original intentions. 

Canada normalized relations with Cuba in 1970, and Canadians now represent one-third of the worldwide visitors to Cuba every year

The Real Cuban Missile Crisis - Everything you think you know about those 13 days is wrong

Biosyntrx strongly believes that appreciation, exploration and commitment to science, art, music, and humanities adds significantly to the global greater good and are important parts of the intellectual whole.