Home > Miguel Iturria Savón > That Republic (I)

That Republic (I)

May 20 marked 108 years since the beginning of the Cuban Republic, inaugurated in the old Palace of the Captains General, not the Museum of Havana, as a result of the historical process that led to independence from colonial rule of Spain (1511 to 1898) and the military occupation of the United States (1899-1902). A nation that created by the triumph of the Liberation Army, took control of the country and issued a set of laws regarding education, governance and other areas of island life, which has changed drastically since 1959.

As the regulator of the nation, the republican system inherited the aftermath of the war, economic backwardness, the social and racial differences and problems such as corruption, warlordism and the absence of democratic traditions, which influenced the country’s zigzag marked by the dictatorships of Gerardo Machado (1925-1933) and Fulgencio Batista (1952-1958), although progress was made which placed Cuba among the leading nations of the continent.

Half a century after the dismantling of the Republic it’s worth delving into the statistics of the past; they shed some light on the problems of this island, plagued by decades of improvisation, top-down politics, ideological indoctrination, external dependence, social indolence and corruption.

The summary of data compiled by Dr. Manuel Cereijo shows the evolution of land use, crop division, the occupation of farms (159,958, with an area of 676,390 acres), industry (33,384 factories) and commerce ( 65,872), the labor force (1,214,770 workers) and the size of the economy in 1958, when the reserves of gold and convertible securities amounted to 373 million, the third in Latin America, while per capita income (520) and the Country’s budget (400,000,000) led the region.

The figures are impressive when compared with the population of the time (6 million) and subsequent involution of production, when the population is almost double and two million live in exile. The decline in crops, cattle and milk and the drop in the average annual wage endorse and confirm the need to re-liberate the productive forces and encourage private initiative.

The Cuba of 1958 had 6 million head of cattle and earned 1,200,000 from the export of meat, produced 980 million liters of milk and had 7 milk canneries and 55 butter and cheese plants. Rice production amounted to 181,200 metric tons, covering 55% of the domestic market, followed closely by maize, chickpeas, meats and fruits, while planting and processing of coffee (136 million pounds) and tobacco ( Raw 91.5 million pounds) exceeded current, production. Along with the consumption of chicken, eggs and fish, daily calories averaged 2,800 per person, second in the region. The farm worker was the second highest paid in Latin America and seventh in the world.

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