An Ambivalent Revolution: A Review of Capitalism, God, and a Good Cigar
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Any analysis of postrevolutionary Cuba, the first socialist republic to rise in Latin America, is inherently political. The volatile and lively debates surrounding the island nation's successes and failures spark up with new vigor each time a study is published, like a flame fed gasoline. Lydia Chávez, a professor at the University of California, brought a group of journalism students to Cuba to teach them how to report on foreign affairs in 2001. This visit became the basis for this book. It portrays Cuba as still in the midst of a transition that should have been concluded soon after the end of the revolution in 1959. To merely say Cuba is between capitalism and socialism would not quite capture the complex reality on the ground. Socialism developed unevenly in the decades following the revolution; aspects of capitalism disappeared and reappeared in new forms as the US embargo and fall of the USSR took its toll on the country. Chávez sees this uneven development best embodied in her memory of poor children with eyeglasses begging for dollars. People who are starving still receive other types of healthcare. Cuba is full of seeming contradictions. This book, a collection of impressions of Cuban society written by her students, has much to contribute to the debate but falls short of providing a complete view of Cuban society in the twentieth century.