From 1970-1986 Havana clearly was (what I call) a Cold War City.
Havana, the capital city of Cuba, held strategic and geopolitical value for the Soviets, and an inflow of resources stemming from that patron-client relationship permeated the city as a whole.
Havana’s economy was totally penetrated by the Soviet Union. However, while the Soviet impact on the city’s economy was significant, it doesn’t tell the whole story.
The major difference between the period of American influence and the period of Soviet patronage doesn’t involve a discussion of the character or consequences of the various interpretations of economic dependency.
The most vital difference between the two periods of time is reflected in the institutional change that began in the 1970s. This change was not limited to economics.
The implementation of new institutions facilitated Havana’s social, cultural, and political integration with the Soviet bloc.
The establishment of administrative and political organizations acceptable to the Soviet hierarchy was an important outgrowth of the Cuban-Soviet relationship because
Soviet bureaucracies prefer to deal with other bureaucracies and not with individuals, however heroic their revolutionary past.
While some Americans sympathetic to the revolution have difficulty with this assessment, Cubans loyal to the revolutionary project describe the period from 1971-1985 as “a period of assimilation and partial adoption of the Soviet socialist model.”
The Soviet Socialist Model
More precisely, Elena Diaz Gonzalez notes:
The year 1971 saw the assimilation of the Soviet socialist model with its accompanying quotas of dogmatism and bureaucratic authority.
In the economic area, a system was adopted on the basis of centralized comprehensive planning for the medium and long term, in accordance with Cuban incorporation into CMEA (1972) and based in an extensive growth of the economy. . . the scheme of sugar production and supply of raw materials such as nickel and citrics. . . was maintained in accordance with the Soviet perception of peripheral countries, and perhaps their complexities within the international division of labor. . .
The social character of this period was typified by the tendency to have a less integral approach in addressing specific problems in the quality of life. . .
In the realm of ideas, dogmatism and schematism prevailed.
Institutional change in the Cold War City occurred in three areas:
- it occurred in the national administration
- it occurred in the armed forces
- it occurred at the municipal level.
Since Havana (Cuba) was transformed by changes occurring in all three spheres, we’ll talk more about each in future posts.
Water Color Painting by Kadir Lopez. Leave a comment for more information: I’ll be in touch!