Cuba: How a Revolutionary People Have Survived in a Post-Soviet World

Monday, May 3, 2021 - 1:00pm
Helen Yaffe

In the aftermath of the fall of the Soviet Union, Cuba faced the start of a crisis that decimated its economy. Helen Yaffe examines the astonishing developments that took place during and beyond this period in We Are Cuba!: How a Revolutionary People Have Survived in a Post-Soviet World. Drawing on archival research and interviews with Cuban leaders, thinkers, and activists, her book tells for the first time the remarkable story of how Cuba survived while the rest of the Soviet bloc crumbled.

Yaffe shows how Cuba has been gradually introducing select market reforms. While the government claims that these are necessary to sustain its socialist system, many others believe they herald a return to capitalism. Examining key domestic initiatives including the creation of one of the world’s leading biotechnological industries, its energy revolution, and medical internationalism alongside recent economic reforms, Yaffe shows why the revolution continues post-Castro. Over the last decade Cuba has undertaken to reinvent its socialism. Having inherited from the Soviet Union a top down state socialism in the 1970s, Cuba has been rethinking the relation between the state and the market, opening up non-state sectors of the economy with private businesses and cooperatives and devolving power to local levels. What has enabled the Cuban Revolution to survive 60 tumultuous years has been the ability of its leadership to consult with the people as it seeks solutions to its problems. The secret to its survival, Yaffe suggests, is its revolutionary people.

A rising authority on Cuba, Helen Yaffe is a Lecturer in Economic and Social History at the University of Glasgow. She is also a Visiting Fellow at the Latin America and Caribbean Centre in the London School of Economics. Over the last 25 years she has spent considerable time living and researching in Cuba. She is often sought by the media for comment and analysis on the ever changing Cuban scene. Yaffe has recently produced a documentary film “Cuba and Covid-19: Public Health, Science, Solidarity.”