What were the ideological influences on Revolution in Latin America?
Latin America experienced several changes throughout the years in various countries. Cuba, for example, experienced a revolution brought on by influences from Marxism and Soviet-style communism. Seen as a turning point in revolutionary history and Latin American ideology, 1959 became the year of Cuba. The Cuban Revolution and the ideals that came with it, spurred countries like Chile and Uruguay to test the waters of political change. It is important to understand and explore how Marxist and communist ideologies became intrinsically connected to the Cuban Revolution and how these ideals changed Latin America as a whole.
The Cuban Revolution became one of the few instances in Latin America where change in ideology generated a new identity for a country and a people. As Alan Knight points out, the Cuban Revolution brought with it seeds of change towards socialism and later communism that echoed what would be a shifting Latin American identity. â€œThe Cuban Revolutionâ€¦broke from its capitalist moorings and charted a radical course towards socialism.â€[footnoteRef:1] It is hard to overstate the significance as well as impact of the Cuban Revolution. After Fidel Castroâ€™s rebel army collapsed Fulgencio Batistaâ€™s dictatorship in January 1959, Cuba became an entirely socialized economy fully subsidized by the Soviet Union. â€œThe Cuba revolutionaries carried the most sweeping land reforms in Latin American history, radically redistributing wealth, providing all Cubans with basic health care, education, and social services, and became an important inspiration and ally in the export of Marxist revolutionâ€¦â€[footnoteRef:2] The support of the Soviet Union and the influence of Fidel Castro are major reasons for the embracing of Marxism and communist ideology. [1: Alan Knight, “Democratic and Revolutionary Traditions in Latin America,” Bulletin of Latin American Research 20, no. 2 (2001): 17, doi:10.1111/1470-9856.00009.] [2: Marshall C. Eakin, The History of Latin America: Collision of Cultures (Macmillan, 2007), 308.]
Sader explains the need for revolution came from the need to transcend the limits of both U.S. imperial domination and capitalism.[footnoteRef:3] When the dust settled and Cuba emerged renewed, other countries began to act out as well. The era of military coups brought countries like Bolivia and Brazil (1964), Uruguay and Chile (1973) to the forefront of a tumultuous era full of change and instability. It was Castroâ€™s decision to embrace Marxism and thus implement successful changes to his country that created the whirlwind that was Latin America in the 1960â€™s and 1970s. [3: Emir Sader, “Emir Sader: The Weakest Link? Neoliberalism in Latin America. New Left Review 52, July-August 2008,” New Left Review 114, last modified July 2008, https://newleftreview.org/II/52/emir-sader-the-weakest-link-neoliberalism-in-latin-america.]
Some of the changes Cuba saw after the revolution, inspired by Marxism and communism (aside from redistribution of wealth and changes in healthcare and education) was successful implementation of agrarian reform and the seizing of all foreign-owned property in Cuba.[footnoteRef:4] In doing this and forming close ties with the Soviet Union, Castro cut ties with the United States and began what became a new era for the country. Even with the ill-fated and failed Bay of Pigs invasion, Cuba remained with the same ideals even now. [4: History.com Editors, “Castro Declares Himself a Marxist-Leninist,” HISTORY, last modified December 13, 2018, https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/castro-declares-himself-a-marxist-leninist.]
In conclusion, the Cuban Revolution had roots in Marxism and communism for two reasons. The first was support from the Soviet Union and the second, the cutting of diplomatic ties with the U.S. In doing so, Cuba gained its own identity and freedom from the problems other countries had with the United States.
Eakin, Marshall C. The History of Latin America: Collision of Cultures. Macmillan, 2007.
Editors, History.com. “Castro Declares Himself a Marxist-Leninist.” HISTORY. Last modified December 13, 2018. https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/castro-declares-himself-a-marxist-leninist.
Knight, Alan. “Democratic and Revolutionary Traditions in Latin America.” Bulletin of Latin American Research 20, no. 2 (2001), 147-186. doi:10.1111/1470-9856.00009.
McAdams, A. J. Vanguard of the Revolution: The Global Idea of the Communist Party. Princeton University Press, 2017.
Sader, Emir. “Emir Sader: The Weakest Link? Neoliberalism in Latin America. New Left Review 52, July-August 2008.” New Left Review 114. Last modified July 2008. https://newleftreview.org/II/52/emir-sader-the-weakest-link-neoliberalism-in-latin-america.
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