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Cuban Revolution 60th Anniversary Politics, Trust and Reform

Cuba celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Revolution in January 2019. The Cuban Revolution was popular in the US until it became clear Cuba would stand up to US imperialist domination in Latin America. Cuba and the US engaged in historic talks to restore relations beginning in 2014. Raul Castro and Barack Obama held a historic meeting in Habana during Semana Santa in 2016. Pope Francis brokered the talks – the first Latino Pope from the Americas, influenced by Liberation Theology. The Rolling Stones performed a free concert for 500,000 people at the Ciudad Deportiva in Habana that week.

Cuba remains stable, having overcome the US blockade for over half a century, the fall of the Soviet Union, the failed CIA Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, the Cuban missile crisis, continuing diplomatic isolation and sanctions imposed globally by the US, renewed hostility by this administration, and more. Cuba has managed political transitions from Fidel to Raul Castro to Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez without bloodshed, writes Jon Lee Anderson. The candidate for president in the US elected by a majority of the popular vote lost in 2000, and again in 2016. While the US pushed the world to the brink of nuclear annihilation in 1961 in reaction to the Soviet presence in Cuba, the FBI has opened an investigation into whether the current present worked on behalf of Russia against US interests.

“It’s hard to remember today how the whole world was caught up in the excitement [of the Cuban Revolution.] Here was a scrappy bunch of idealistic young people who had managed to beat a professional army of 40,000 soldiers. Many Americans, even in the C.I.A., had been rooting for Castro. Castro spent a week traveling across Cuba in a ‘caravan of victory.’ He was interviewed by Ed Sullivan, who called him and his ‘barbudos’ — the bearded ones — ‘in the real American tradition of George Washington.’ Life magazine put Castro on the cover, calling the ‘bearded rebel scholar’ a ‘dynamic boss’ and ‘the liberator,'” writes Tony Perrottet.

Samuel Garcia “tackles the puzzle of why U.S.-Cuba relations were restored in 2014. In [his] beautifully written and theoretically-informed [honors thesis], Sam argues that the conventional wisdom that restoration was driven either by changes in U.S. domestic preferences or precipitated by Cuban reforms neglects the important role of trust-building through ‘costly signals’ and facilitated by the Pope’s diplomatic interventions. . . . Sam utilizes a combination of public opinion data, primary source materials, and interviews,” according to the Firestone Award. Sam, Class of ’18, received the Stanford award for his International Relations honors thesis on Diplomatic Breakthrough: Politics, Reform, and Trust in the Restoration of US-Cuba Relations. Sam witnessed the historic fevents of Semana Santa in Habana.

Photos Semana Santa Cuba 2016. Thesis CC BY NC Samuel Garcia Stanford University.

The City Project’s Robert García is Sam’s proud father.