Cuba in the 1980s

A man repairs a vintage car on a street in Havana, Cuba. Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

Cuba is at a turning point. President Fidel Castro has been using his power boldly during the past two years to reshape internal affairs along lines not seen since the late 1960s. Instead of delegating authority to powerful subordinates, as-he had done since the early 1970s, he has recentralized it. Instead of liberalizing the economy, he has reversed several market-reliant policies of the past decade. And instead of stressing pragmatic policy goals, he has again been emphasizing the need to follow the "correct" ideological route in building socialism.

Despite these internal changes, Cuban foreign policy has remained on course. What Cuba does, and what happens in Cuba, matters because its government has been "the mouse that roared" in world affairs. Cuba has posted personnel overseas in three dozen countries, ranging from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. In no fewer than a dozen of these, including "world hot spots" such as Nicaragua, Ethiopia and South Yemen, there is also a Cuban military presence. No fewer than 30,000 Cuban troops support the Angolan government.

Cuba’s high profile is due both to the strong support of the Soviet Union and to its own assertive leadership style. Cuba is, simultaneously, the Soviet Union’s most effective ally in the Third World and a prominent member (with Castro a former president) of the Nonaligned Movement. Cuba participates in Latin American politics and is a full-fledged member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, which binds the Soviet Union to its partners. And, of course, Cuba and the United States are neighbors; this proximity also contributes to the island’s significance.

In late 1984, President Castro looked around and did not like what he saw at home. He began a reorganization of internal affairs, dismissing many top government and party leaders from various organizations and factions. The three key changes have been the 1985 dismissals of the interior minister, Ramiro Valdés; the president of the Central Planning Board, Humberto Pérez; and the party secretary for ideology, Antonio Pérez

Loading, please wait...

Related Articles

This site uses cookies to improve your user experience. Click here to learn more.