Thoughts on Cuba

The following is an article that I wrote for school which helps to explain what Cuba is and where it could be headed in light of the new relationship between Cuba, and the U.S.:

Cuba is the largest and most prosperous island of the West Indies. The capital of Cuba is Havana with an estimated population of 2.2 million people (1). The Republic of Cuba is made up of the main island called Cuba, along with various other islands including the Isla de la Juventud.  Cuba is currently run by a military dictatorship that has existed since the 1959 communist Cuban revolution. Fidel Castro has run the island of Cuba up until recently when in 2006 he was befallen with a non-descript stomach illness. Since then his younger brother Raul Castro has been taking care of the duties and responsibilities of the government though Fidel has remained Communist party chief. Cuba has a long history of wealth being generated for the islands estimated 11 million residents through sugar and tobacco export regimes. These products have made the Cuban island the most prosperous in the West Indies long before the onset of communism. This has not changed since the communist revolution of 1959 and some would even suggest that it has been heightened. Shortly after Fidel took power in the 1950’s America instituted a trade embargo against the island. This embargo on trade and later travel has persisted to this day.

The main island of Cuba is 105,000 sq. km (2). along with various archipelagos including the Colorados, the Sabanas, and others. Cuba has long been the source of conflict due to its fertile soil and rich heritage of agriculture (3). It’s estimated that three-quarters of Cuba’s land is arable. This coupled with the plentitude of harbors abundant on the island make for a quick turnover in profits since the goods are easily transported to foreign markets. This is unique amongst the islands of Hispanola and has been the pinnacle of Cuban power. Cuba has a 2300 mi. shoreline. This shoreline houses an abundance of coral and barrier reefs along with the harbors. The largest harbors are Havana, Matanzas, Cienfuegos, Guantanamo, and Isla de Cuba (4).  Cuba is unique to Florida in that it has three major mountain ranges, The Sierra de los Organos, the Escambray Mountains, and the tallest mountains the Sierra Madres (6500 ft above sea level)(5). Florida by contrast has no mountains and consists mostly of swamp lands or everglades.

Cuba has a wealth of trees and other vegetation with over 300 unique species (6). The ceiba tree is the national tree of the republic of Cuba.  Only two land mammals the cane rat and the solenodon are known to be indigenous to Cuba. The island however does have over 300 bird species, and over 700 species of fish and crustaceans found in the Cuban waters (7). Cuba is about one-fifth forested leaving it relatively unspoiled. There are significant reserves of nickel, a precious metal along with cobalt and other heavy metals, though again the island due to the regime in power is relatively unspoiled. Cuba’s geographical diversity makes way for microclimates; of differing temperatures, wildlife, and vegetation (8). Cuba’s climate is considered semi-tropical with high humidity, and temperatures ranging from 72 degrees (Fahrenheit), to 95 degrees (Fahrenheit) (9). Because of the temperature of the waters surrounding the Caribbean nation causes violent storms of a la Nina complex, as well as hurricanes during the summer months. These are often extremely dangerous causing millions of dollars of damage on the island, and billions of dollars of damage to the surrounding islands annually. Sugar is one of Cuba’s main export products however since the economic crisis after the fall of the Soviet Union sugar exports have declined precipitously.

The makeup of the people in Cuba is mostly white and afro Cuban, though there is a large percentage of the population that is bi-racial, and multi-racial. There is also a small contingent of Asian Cubans who were brought to the country during colonial times (10). By my estimation the women of Cuba are some of the most beautiful women to have ever lived on the face of the earth. Cuba’s inclusion in the Soviet bloc after the 1959 communist revolution means that there are a multitude of languages that are spoken there.  These include but are not limited to Spanish (the main language in Cuba), Creole (a haitan dialect), Russian, French, Hungarian, Polish, Chinese, Angolan, Yoruba, German, and other eastern bloc languages. It should be noted however that the bulk of these languages are spoken only by the Cuban intelligentsia. The Cuban intelligentsia is made up of expatriates from Europe, Africa, Asia, and South America. Cuba since its inception into the soviet communist bloc has precipitously fomented revolutions around the world.  One of the most notable of these is the Cuban Missile Crisis, as well as various interventions in Africa (e.g. Angola), and South America (e.g. Panama). Since the fall of Communism in the former Soviet Union Cuba has suffered from economic setbacks due to the lack of aide no longer coming from its main communist ally. Cuba has been going through recent changes to the economy that would modernize it with laissez faire economic principles led by Fidel’s brother Raul Castro. Cuba has low unemployment however this could change as the new protocol call for many government employees in redundant jobs to be laid off in the new economic initiative. Cuba’s national debt is close to a trillion dollars (800 billion U.S. dollars). The main benefactors of Cuba’s debt are France, Germany, and the U.K.

Cuba’s   unique position in the Caribbean coupled with its fertile land makes it a significant export country and indeed the largest in the Caribbean. The Cuban education system is one of the best in the world and coupled with its literacy rate has made the island a significant presence in the health, and engineering fields. Although Cuba is not on friendly terms with the United States it has a lot of promise in its future and with the rapprochement of relations between the two countries the idea of a U.S. Cuban alliance is not so farfetched.

 

  1. Encarta Encyclopedia 2005, Cuba main article, Accessed 12/2/2010, 2005
  2. Encarta Encyclopedia 2005, Cuba main article, Accessed 12/2/2010, 2005
  3. Encarta Encyclopedia 2005, Cuba main article, Accessed 12/2/2010, 2005
  4. Encarta Encyclopedia 2005, Cuba main article, Accessed 12/2/2010, 2005
  5. Encarta Encyclopedia 2005, Cuba main article, Accessed 12/2/2010, 2005
  6. Encarta Encyclopedia 2005, Cuba main article, Accessed 12/2/2010, 2005
  7. Encarta Encyclopedia 2005, Cuba main article, Accessed 12/2/2010, 2005
  8. Encarta Encyclopedia 2005, Cuba main article, Accessed 12/2/2010, 2005
  9. Encarta Encyclopedia 2005, Cuba main article, Accessed 12/2/2010, 2005
  10. org, Cuba Main Article, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuba, Accessed 12/3/2010, last updated 12/3/2010
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