Home > Miguel Iturria Savón > That Republic (II)

That Republic (II)

To evoke the anniversary of the Republic, the period between May 20, 1902 and January 31, 1958, it’s necessary to reconstruct the memory, manipulated by those who have been in power since 1959.

We remember that Cuba harvested less sugar in 2009-2010 than it did in 1905, while in 1958, according to Cerijo, we had 161 mills, with 75% (121) in the hands of Cubans, with a production of 5.6 million tons and 230,684,742 gallons of molasses, for domestic consumption and export.

In the first half of the 20th century there were advances in mining, although there were only 287 mines employing 25,000 workers, who mined 50 million pounds of nickel, and 4.5 million of cobalt. Metallurgy was in its infancy, but other factories demanded labor. In electrical energy, for example, Cuba ranked first in Latin America and 25th in the world, generating 11.8 megawatt hours annually per capita.

In this period, the island’s rail transport had one kilometer of track for every 8 square kilometers, with 18,059 km total, a first world level given the size of the country. The nation had 4,500 buses, 45,250 trucks, 140,297 private cars, one for every 27 inhabitants, equivalent to third in the hemisphere, as well as 6,000 km of roads.

The data communications sector also was significantly developed by 1958, with 191,500 telephones; 160 radio stations, 23 TV stations, 600 movie theaters, 58 daily newspapers and 126 weekly magazines, putting it between 1st and 3rd place in the region in these services. In tourism, total hotel capacity was 12,067 in 6,552 rooms, with 700,000 foreign tourists a year.

In areas such as education and public health, now cited to legitimize the Castro regime, the Republican period showed remarkable achievements in building hospitals and schools. In 1958 the island contained 8,900 primary schools, both public and private, 1,864 kindergarten classrooms, 240 upper primary schools, 171 institutes, 14 teachers colleges, 168 trade schools, 22 tech schools, 6 journalism academies and an equal number of fine arts and provincial agricultural schools, plus a forestry school, 12 surveying schools, and 15 institutions of higher education of which 3 were private.

Health care was private but there were emergency centers, clinics and mutual aid societies with affordable prices and costs assumed by the partners. The country had more than 6,500 doctors, 100 hospitals with one bed for every 170 inhabitants, first in Latin America. The infant mortality (37.6%) was the lowest in the region, although then, like now, there were diseases that afflicted the population, mainly in rural areas.

The statistics for the Republican past refute the lies written about that time. It was not a time of glory, but one of tensions, struggles and national restructuring. The society was transitioning under its own dynamics, without penalizing those who contradicted the discourse of the elites, whose gaps admitted the hardest working and most creative, given the existence of alternatives to alleviate the dissatisfaction of workers, students and other sectors, through unions and associations independent of the government.

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