Cuba: Random Facts and Trivia

Some random facts and trivia for the country of the world Cuba including the sugar economy, biography of Castro, history of sanctions.

NOTES

Sugar was and is the backbone of Cuba's economy. Sugar and sugar products such as rum still earn over 80% of the country's foreign exchange, and Cuba is usually the world's biggest producer and exporter of sugar.

Son of a well-to-do sugar planter and a servant (whom his father later married after the death of his 1st wife), Fidel Castro was born in 1926. Educated as a child by the Jesuits and the Christian Brothers, he received his advanced education at the Colegio Belen in Havana. At the university, he 1st began to develop a political outlook. He was associated with a number of political groups, and also went to the Dominican Republic and Colombia to protest. In 1948 he married Mirtha D'iaz Balart, of a conservative family. His own leanings toward the left led him to work with the Ortodoxo party, which opposed Batista. He was a member of the assembly, but after the Batista coup of 1952 he turned from the traditional political structure to armed opposition. In 1956 he led a small band of exiled students and professionals from Mexico to the Sierra Maestra mountains in Cuba. From then until 1959 he was continuously engaged in guerrilla warfare with the Government. He is a man of great personal charm and energy, and a charismatic leader who has the support of nearly all Cubans. People may complain of the bureaucracy or the red tape, but Castro himself receives no blame. A big man, over 6' tall, he has a commanding physical presence, and is renowned for his speechmaking ability, sometimes speaking for 8 hours nonstop.

In 1964, with the U.S. in the lead, the OAS (Organization of American States) voted political and commercial sanctions against Cuba. No hemispheric countries were to conduct any trade or other relations with Cuba. For many years the U.S. had supplied 90% of Cuba's imports; after the blockade, Cuba turned to the Soviet Union and Eastern European countries to buy goods. When the nation of Bangladesh was formed in 1971-1972 and starvation and malnutrition were widespread, the U.S. Government refused to send aid until Bangladesh agreed not to trade with Cuba.

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