A Cross Analysis: The Effects of the United States’ Intervention in Guatemala – Contrasted with the Autarky of the Cuban Government after 1961

by Michael Angulo and Salome Tash | Summersemester 2017 | Freie Universität Berlin/University of California, Santa Barbara



The exploitative practices of the colonial era are not a thing of the past but rather have been constantly modified to allow for their continuation. These practices include resource extraction, labor exploitation and the elimination of local culture, all enforced by brutal violence. After the age of colonialism, when colonies around the globe gained their independence, the antecedent colonizers found other avenues, in the forms of neocolonialism and neoliberalism, by which they could continue the systematic oppression of formerly colonized lands. Neoliberalism is the institutionalization of the colonial techniques of exploitation. This is the thesis that my colleagues Michael Angulo, Grant Chamness, Sean Gordon and I argued in our last discourse on postcolonial theory. However, in this paper, Michael and I will build upon the aforementioned thesis to assert that countries that have been targeted by neoliberal policies are worse off than those that have not.

We will focus specifically on the United States and its role in promoting neoliberal ideology throughout the world in order to secure its position as the global hegemon. For the sake of this paper, neoliberal policies include the United States’ fervent support of institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that further advance the Washington Consensus ideals of complete free market capitalism as well as the USA’s numerous covert CIA operations tasked to overthrow regimes that threaten capitalism throughout Latin America. To support our theory that those nations that have been at the center of U.S. interventions are worse off than those that have not, we will perform two case studies in which we analyze the nations of Guatemala and Cuba while also looking at Latin America more generally. Both nations have similar colonial histories in which the Spanish employed brutal techniques of exploitation and oppression. The countries’ trajectories post colonization have been fairly different, which is why in the subsequent sections of this paper we will describe the postcolonial histories of Guatemala and Cuba in more detail. A cross analysis of these two nations is beneficial due to the fact that Guatemala has been at the center of U.S. interference while Cuba has remained mostly isolated from the United States after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961. This allows us to have a control group (Cuba) and an experimental group (Guatemala) to measure the effects the United States had on these nations. It is our objective to support the notion that while the United States was not a colonizer in the traditional sense of the word, it has become the global hegemon by continuing the systematic exploitation and manipulation of former colonies through neoliberalism and that these manipulations have caused stunted economic growth, political upheaval and violence throughout Latin America. More specifically, in both Guatemala and Cuba we will analyze three indicators; education, healthcare, and inequality to get a sense of the overall quality of life in each country and to conclude whether or not the United States’ interventions or lack there of, have had a negative effect on these countries’ trajectories.

Guatemala Case Study

Guatemala endured more than 300 years of direct colonization starting in 1525 under the Spanish Empire and lasting until 1841 when they finally gained total independence. The country was first a territory under the Captaincy General of Guatemala, a division of the Spanish kingdom that included most of the area that is known as Central America today. As time went on Guatemala became part of the First Mexican Empire, a short-lived monarchy that lasted only two years, and eventually The Federal Republic of Central America, a republican democracy that ultimately dissolved due to conflicts and ideological differences. The pattern of authoritarian rule did not end after Guatemala’s independence in 1841.  Rather, decades of local authoritarian rule began with Rafael Carrera who seized power and became a callous dictator until his death in 1865. Carrera was a conservative nationalist who restored the strength of the Roman Catholic Church while emphasizing the importance of a strong economy, which led to Guatemala becoming a leading exporter of coffee by the end of his rule.

A reformation began in 1871 that lasted almost uninterrupted until the mid 20th century. This reformation brought about a period of industrialization and construction as well as transforming the Guatemalan economy. Justo Rufino Barrios was the self-pronounced leader of the revolution as he instituted the separation of church and state, established public elementary schools, and saw to the construction of railroads and telegraph lines. This reformation can be seen as the beginning of the liberal ideology that dominated Guatemalan politics until the 1940’s. This liberal ideology is one that favors economic prowess and mass employment but disregards the importance of individual liberties. In 1944 Juan José Arévalo won the election after the last dictator Jorge Ubico resigned.  Arévalo instituted sweeping social reforms such as social security and a labor code that allowed the communists within Guatemala to gain more power. This leftist movement continued to garner more influence in Guatemalan politics, culminating in the election of the communist-backed Jacobo Árbenz as President in 1950. Árbenz made it his goal to redistribute unused lands back to peasants, the beneficiaries largely being indigenous populations. The 900 Decree, Árbenz’s agrarian reform bill, was the basis for the U.S.-backed coup d’état in 1954 as it expropriated half of the United Fruit Company’s (UFCO) land holdings back to the Guatemalan people.

The United Fruit Company was a massive conglomerate that not only owned vast amounts of land, almost all of the railroad tracks, telegraph, and telephone lines in the country but was also “[the country’s] largest employer (40,000 jobs) and exercised enormous economic control because they controlled the port Puerto Barrios therefore controlling the nation’s international commerce” (Chapter 5 Schlesinger and Kinzer). Despite the repercussions such as unemployment and economic decline that could arise with the departure of the United Fruit Company from Guatemala, Árbenz was determined to implement and enforce the agrarian reform that he had promised during his campaign. With so much land at stake, lobbyists for the United Fruit Company began to pressure members of Congress in the United States to do something about the expropriation of their land. This was simultaneously occurring during the escalation of the Cold War as the United States and Russia engaged in a standoff over what the world’s dominant economic and political ideology should be. As we are all aware, capitalism triumphed with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and it has maintained its position as the reigning ideology that the West promotes throughout the world.

A theme often seen in both colonial and postcolonial discourse is a manipulation of the truth. For example, colonizers have often used religion as a means to justify their actions in the colonies, while the true motivation of colonization was to exploit resources and labor for the benefit of the mother country. To relate this to the case in Guatemala, it is important to ask the question; Why is the United States really so concerned with the spread of communism? The U.S. used its opposition to the communist “threat” to justify invasions of sovereign nations, the overthrow of established regimes, the promotion of neoliberal policies in developing countries, and was even on the brink of nuclear war in order to prevent communism from taking over. It can be extrapolated from the various interventions by the United States not only in Guatemala but also in Vietnam, Cuba, and Brazil that the U.S. invaded countries under the pretense of fighting communism while actually trying to advance the agenda of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism by definition is a form of economic liberalism that favors free trade, no government regulation on business, and little to no social spending but it can also be seen as a form of manipulation as the United States empowers organizations such as the IMF to enforce these neoliberal policies on struggling nations already saddled with enormous debt. The U.S. has also gone to extreme lengths to install governments friendly to the neoliberal ideology as well as the economic interests of the United States.

The CIA-backed “Operation Success” of 1954 not only included arming revolutionaries to overthrow the Árbenz government but also employed psychological warfare to manipulate the opinions of the Guatemalan people. This operation was described publicly to the American people as an effort to prevent the Soviet Union from expanding its influence over Central America.  However, privately it was a ploy to end the agrarian reforms put forth by Árbenz. This can be seen in the fact that “The UFCO secretly was providing the CIA its Guatemalan railroad system to smuggle in arms, its Atlantic port to land equipment, its telegraph, telephone and radio to relay messages, its Guatemalan properties to give cover to the rebels, and its public relations men to distribute photos and bulletins about the advance of Castillo Armas’ forces” (Chapter 11 Schlesinger and Kinzer). This blatant disregard for Guatemalan sovereignty is not an anomaly but rather a pattern seen in United States foreign policy towards Latin America and other developing parts of the world, as the CIA since 1947 “has played a role in hundreds of assassinations, military coups, and rebellions around the globe, from Argentina to Zaire” (Acuña). The United States intervened in these nations to protect its own economic interests, which can clearly be seen in the case of Guatemala, just as traditional colonizers invaded, conquered, and pillaged lands to secure enormous profits.

Aimé Césaire claimed that Nazism was not an aberration but rather a symptom of the global acceptance of the systematic abuses perpetrated during colonialism. Similarly, neoliberalism is not new or unique; rather, it is the institutionalization of the exploitative practices founded in colonialism. While it can be argued that the West promotes neoliberalism because it is the economic system that most encourages and stimulates innovation, it is also considered by many to be the cause of much of the world’s economic inequality. Because capitalism is driven by profit rather than utilitarianism, “capitalist society, at its present stage, is incapable of establishing a concept of the rights of all men, just as it has proved incapable of establishing a system of individual ethics” (Césaire 37).  The United States’ intervention in Guatemala is a clear example of the frailty of capitalism as it depends on inequality in order to function. The economic system that has over the years become synonymous with freedom and opportunity is in all actuality dependent upon the exploitation of the already downtrodden as big businesses use cheap labor in developing nations in order to maximize profits. When capitalism was threatened by Árbenz’s government, the United States intervened, further perpetuating the imbalances between the two nations. It put an end to the agrarian reforms that would have eased some of the economic hardships faced by the Guatemalan people and continued to allow the money made from the fruit grown in Guatemala to be put in the United Fruit Company’s bank account. The intervention not only disrupted Guatemalan politics as their democratically elected leader was ousted, it led to the civil war fought between the military dictatorship put in place by the United States and the rural poor populations fed up with their unequal treatment. The civil war resulted in the deaths of more than 200,000 indigenous peoples and the imprisonment and torture of many more. To further assess the impact of the United States’ intervention in Guatemala I will analyze the quality and accessibility of education and healthcare, as well as the level of inequality in the country. We will compare the data on education, healthcare, and inequality in both Guatemala and Cuba and with this, support the theory that Cuba is better off today in terms of these three indicators than Guatemala because of its relative isolation from the United States. After the United States’ failed attempt to disrupt Cuban politics in 1961 with the Bay of Pigs invasion, the country has remained cut off from the global superpower’s influence, a unique situation in the region of Latin America.

While the United States cannot be held fully responsible for the problems that Guatemala faces today such as low levels of education, poor healthcare coverage, and high levels of inequality, the CIA-backed coup d’état in 1954 did create a chaotic state in which violent oppression wreaked havoc on the country.  Therefore the United States does bear some blame for the ills of the country today. After Jacobo Árbenz was overthrown, a series of U.S.-trained military dictatorships ruled the country, resulting in a decades-long civil war in which the regimes committed genocidal atrocities against the indigenous Maya populations and displaced millions of people. This violent upheaval did not create a favorable environment in which the Guatemalan government could provide public services for all of its citizens, one of the most important being a good education.

According to a World Bank report written by John Edwards from the Department of Economics at Tulane University in 2002, “Guatemalan literacy is not just below average in Latin America−it is far below average… and primary school coverage is still low by both regional and world standards” (Edwards 4 and 7).  The report states that there are many factors that have contributed to the problems seen in Guatemala’s education system such as lower amounts of government spending in education compared to other nations in Latin America. The report touches upon the intervention by the United States as well as the ensuing civil war but qualifies it by saying that most nations in this region have also suffered from prolonged civil war so it is not correct to say that the conflict in Guatemala is the sole reason for the setbacks in education and other quality-of- life indicators. Rather than comparing education in Guatemala to the education systems in countries within the same region that have also been subjected to interference and manipulation by foreign forces, it may be more enlightening to compare it to countries in the developed world that have been free of intrusion in order to show what could have been. It is also important to note that the President of the World Bank since its creation has been an American, which could result in biased reports. I do not try to claim that the United States is solely responsible but rather that its intervention has lead to stunted economic growth which is closely correlated with quality of and access to education as only 18 percent of Guatemalans are enrolled in higher education.

Along with education, healthcare is one of the most important indicators gauging quality of life in a given country. It speaks to the health of the country’s citizens not only physically but mentally because when people know that they have access to quality healthcare they tend to have a greater peace of mind. Unfortunately, “Guatemalans struggle with some of the worst health issues in Central America and, in some cases, the world. The country has the fourth highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the world, high maternal and child mortality, and a large prevalence of diabetes and heart diseases” (Petrovick). The government has not invested enough into the well-being of its citizens as it only spent $97 per person on healthcare in 2008 and has been outsourcing services to private companies making the costs too much of a burden for most families in Guatemala (Petrovick). The country is largely rural, making it a challenge for the sick or injured to receive the medical attention they need in a timely manner. According to Aljazeera America, the country’s “ public health system has gone from bad to worse under a health ministry in crisis” (Kimmett). Again I will not attribute all of Guatemala’s healthcare problems to the United States’ interference; however, the coup prevented the country from creating a stable system of governance. The various groups continued to fight over who would assume power instead of focusing on establishing a functioning social safety net. Because of the instability precipitated by the United States, the people of Guatemala continue to suffer from curable diseases. The Guatemalan government has failed to allocate adequate funding in both areas of education and healthcare, which is typical of a country that adheres to neoliberal policies. If the United States had not installed a government that was friendly to the neoliberal ideology, Guatemala may have been able to put more money towards social services and in turn made the country a more equal place.

Inequalities exist in almost every society on Earth, whether they are economic, social, or political. Inequality is usually the highest in developing countries because they have experienced less economic growth and they see higher rates of corruption and nepotism. While the United States is both a highly modern and developed country it too has a relatively high GINI coefficient comparable to those in the developing world. The GINI coefficient is one of the most common ways in which we gauge inequality in our world today as it measures how much the distribution of income in a given country deviates from perfect equality, with a GINI score of 1 being perfect inequality and a GINI score of 0 being perfect equality. Guatemala’s GINI coefficient was .52 in 2011 which means that overall Guatemala is an unequal society and it has one of the highest GINI index scores in all of Latin America. Guatemalans face inequality not only in monetary terms but also in receiving social benefits like access to a free quality education and affordable healthcare. The distribution of wealth is extremely disproportionate within the Guatemalan population as “the indigenous population is much poorer and has much lower levels of human development than the nonindigenous group. With an incidence of poverty of 58.6 percent, an indigenous individual is more than twice as likely of being poor than a nonindigenous one” (Cabrera, Lustig, Morán 263). The inequality seen in Guatemala is in large part due to the country’s ineffective and regressive tax system in which in which the burden of tax falls most heavily upon the poor. On top of this the Guatemalan government spends only 7.4 percent of the entire GDP on social services, another neoliberal practice promoted by the United States. Inequality has become a common outcome in nations that have adopted neoliberalism, as this system ensures that the rich continue to make profits while the majority of the population suffers.

The United States continues to use intervention as a form of influence and manipulation over sovereign nations. These covert CIA operations were tasked with overthrowing regimes unfriendly to capitalism and neoliberalism and were used as a tool to protect the United States’ own economic interests and to maintain its position as the world hegemon. The Guatemalan coup of 1954 is one of the most blatant examples of the United States’ abuse of power and its impact on the trajectory of Guatemala has been disastrous. As Guatemala’s democratically elected leader was undermined by a foreign adversary the country has been unable to return to a state of stability as it is still far behind most of the world in education, health, and equality. As we will see in the following case study, Cuba had a different path than Guatemala’s due to the United States’ failure to disrupt Cuba’s political structure in 1961.

Cuba Case Study

We chose the island of Cuba for our next case study. I will analyze the lasting effects that Spanish and later US imperialists had upon the present economic, political, and social state of Cuba by imposing an export-focused plantation-based economic system that strangled the development of other sections in the economy of Cuba – other sections (manufacturing and financial services), that when found in other nations’ economies, developed economic prosperity amongst local actors involved in these economic sectors. The Spanish created and enforced this plantation-style system within Cuba while also having imposed a race-based social order that served to divide Cubans – the Spanish maintained this system and order for the entirety of colonial rule. Once Cuba gained its de jure independence, its plantation-focused economy would be enforced by first US military occupation and later American political/economic actions. It took social, economic, and political revolution enacted by a Cuban vanguard (and one particular Argentinian physician) to radically transform Cuba’s economy from one based on agricultural exports to one based on economic sectors that produced wealth for wide portions of Cuban society. It was Cubans responsible for the Revolution and the following government that made the health, education, and equality of all Cubans (especially black and mixed-race Cubans that had been particularly deprived of rights) a priority for a new government that, unlike its predecessors had done, declared its official mission to be the welfare of all Cubans.

When we look at Cuban history starting in 1492, the year when Spanish conquistadores arrived and displaced the native (Taino and other ethnic groups) societies; it is impossible to avoid the fact that Spanish conquistadores enacted the destruction of the native Taino societies in a genocidal fury. The peoples native to Cuba stopped existing as a coherent unit – because of this, Spanish colonialists had the ability to claim ownership over now-vacant land and intermarry with native women. The Spanish destroyed the subsistence-based way of living of the natives and a new economy whose dominant sector was sugar arose under the dictates of the Spanish imperialists.

The Spanish colonizers, following an imperial-wide policy of exploitation of native resources and bodies, utilized forced labor from Africa to work the sugar plantations. The Africans, immigrants who were forced to come to Cuba to work at the whims of Spanish masters, would form the nucleus of a new black Afro-Cuban community within Cuba. The Afro-Cubans were at the bottom of a racial hierarchy that the Spanish envisioned to grant legitimacy to their rule in Cuba and over black Cubans who spent centuries in bondage. This racial hierarchy had damaging consequences for the prosperity of Afro-Cubans, even following their liberation.

Racial hierarchies exist within both the mind and within society, and in the words of Ngũgĩ wa Thiong, colonization of the mind is a tool of colonial dominance. The 1878 Pact of Zanjon ended legal slavery, but without a serious effort from the white Spanish ruling class to uplift black Cubans out of their poverty and illiteracy, the former slaves found little wealth or standing in society to be available to them after their legal servitude ended. An unofficial period of segregation, akin to the Jim Crow-era in the United States, ensued. Afro-Cubans were denied seating in movie theaters (Sierra) and many businesses refused to hire black Cubans. The Cuban government from this time ordered municipal governments to provide equal schooling for black and white Cuban children, but the municipal governments ignored the central government’s order to de-segrify, and indeed separate schools for black/white Cuban children persisted. The central government refused to act because the prevailing ideology of racial supremacy still dominated Spanish thought, the white ruling class on the island made no more than this piecemeal effort to stymie segregation as a result. It is noteworthy that unlike the federal government of the USA, which did not make an effort to combat segregation until the 1960s, the Cuban government at this time did at least pay lip service to the combating of racism.

Cubans blacks remained in poverty. Poverty itself is a major problem because communities afflicted by poverty are overall less healthy and the children of those born into poverty tend to stay poor. Communities afflicted by poverty are indeed by and large the same communities that were historically disadvantaged as result of racism, racism in the past taking blatant forms such as slavery or apartheid. Even with the official abolition of slavery in all countries, and state-led initiatives to combat racism and poverty in developed (largely capitalistic) nations, poverty is still endemic amongst these ethnic minorities (minorities only within the capitalistic, predominantly white nations). Historical data available on the effects of education in combatting poverty are minute, but it is clear that when we look at the present trends for disadvantaged communities that education is the tool to empower those who would otherwise have no power in capitalistic nations (Ferguson).

As such, when black Cuban children were denied their opportunity for education by the municipal governments, poverty remained endemic amongst these communities. Afro-Cuban poverty was an issue that persisted until the Revolution. In spite of the beliefs of Jose Marti, the Cuban national hero whose passionate words invigorated the Cuban people and initiated the rebellion that won Cuba its independence from Spain: beliefs that were, in his own words: “No hay odio de razas, porque no hay razas.” (There is no hatred of races, because there are no races). Marti envisioned an ethno-nationalist society where all Cubans were equal, where there were no divisions between Afro- or white- Cubans. In spite of Marti’s idealistic vision of a non-racial Cuban society, the reality in Cuba was that divisions existed between black and white Cubans because of endemic poverty concentrated within the Afro-Cuban communities. This was allowed to happen by the Cuban government and ruling class because: in the minds of the ruling, Spanish class the old racial hierarchy that Spain imposed in Cuba to sustain their plantation-based agricultural system (with black African slaves at the bottom of the hierarchy and the white slaveholders and freeholders at the top) persisted. The mind dominates the body, and in this case the minds of the Spanish ruling class were set on denying the bodies of Afro-Cubans the same economic opportunities promised in Jose Marti’s vision.

The Cuban Revolution came about as a result of widespread Cuban dissatisfaction with widespread government corruption and abuses under and pre-dating the Batista regime. Cuban governmental corruption was so widespread because of the lack of wealth-producing sectors (such as financial services or manufacturing) as a result of the dictated plantation-economy. And so, Cubans aspiring to attain greater economic success went into governmental work. Government jobs served as a form of patronage, filling the role that financial services or manufacturing would for workers in more diverse economies. However, jobs in the public sector are not intended for wealth production. As a result, in order to grant government workers the financial incentives that are more easily possible in these more diverse economies, gross corruption in the form of graft and patronage networks weighed down the efficiency of the Cuban bureaucracy.

The arrival of the Cuban Revolution overthrew the prevailing racist ideology that until this point had permeated white Cuban society. Fidel Castro, a white Cuban and his clique brought to the government of Cuba an ideology that not only promised equality for all Cubans, but acknowledged the divide in Cuba between Afro-Cubans and white Cubans. It is worthy to note that Fulgencio Batista was indeed a mulatto Cuban, and part of the anti-Batista propaganda attacked him for his mulatto nature. Epithets such as “el mulato malo” (the black beast) (Aviva Chomsky) were used in reference to Batista, and such racially charged terms indicate the racism prevalent even amongst anti-government forces. As such, it is clear that both sides were not completely free of the Spanish-created preconceptions of racial supremacy. However, once Castro’s clique came to power, the state ideology would indeed be anti-racist in nature.

The Cuban government aimed to make equality for all Cubans through the means of socialism the reigning doctrine in Cuba, by which a careful planning of the economy would be the means to achieve equality. The economy and its means of production were placed under public control, from education to the sugar industry. A system of quotas was put in place, as in the economy of the Soviet Union. It became clear to Cuban planners that motivation was necessary to make meeting of the quotas by the Cuban people a reality, and it was clear to Che Guevara that the best way to do this was through a system of voluntarism. Cubans as a people were subjected to propaganda by the government, the hombre nuevo (Aviva Chomsky), to meet and exceed the expectations set by the government, but also, according the state propaganda, the Cuban people. This socialist planned system’s purpose was to create wealth for all Cubans, not just the white urban elite as in the past pre-Revolution.

The regime aimed for accomplishing this goal of generating wealth for all Cubans by instituting two separate programs, the first being government distribution systems (such as rationing) – intended to secure resources for the largely rural poor – and the popular mobilization of the Cuban people – to increase availability of certain services even when resources were not available – education and healthcare being the most notable of these services. (Aviva Chomsky) The increasing accessibility of healthcare and education meant for Cubans that not only would the traditionally advantaged in Cuban society, the white urban elite, have access to the resources necessary for the health of a community. Indeed, it would be all Cubans, especially the Afro-Cubans that had been disadvantaged under the pre-Revolution government, that benefitted from the uplifting effects of education and healthcare. As explained by the study the on education is the resource that brings traditionally poverty-stricken communities the benefits of greater income potential and security of life. Income potential is a given, as noted by the study linked to earlier within my case study, but by security of life I mean that the benefits of an education gift the one educated with the toolset necessary to survive as a critically-thinking member of society who does not rely only upon authority for their opinions and beliefs.

I will diverge now to discuss the relations between pre-revolutionary Cuba and the United States. It has already been discussed that Cuba pre-Revolution had close relations with the United States as a result of military occupation and later American business interests. Cuba gained its independence from Spain following the Spanish-American War. Cubans had been fighting a war of liberation for decades before, from 1868, and during this time period several peace treaties (the Pact of Zanjon) had been signed. Hundreds of thousands of Cubans died in either warfare, massacres, or within concentration camps created by Spanish occupiers. All of this bloodshed might inevitably have led to Cuban independence, but the explosion of the USS Maine changed the course of Cuban history and oriented it towards American occupation. American troops (the Rough Riders under Theodore Roosevelt) and ships came into Cuban waters and fought out the Spanish occupiers. Cubans that might have been relieved by seeing the backs of their centuries-old oppressors found themselves now at the bayonet’s-point of a new foreign occupier. This American occupier may have spoken about totally different ideas of sovereignty and republicanism but his actions of force were ultimately the same as the absolutist Spanish occupiers. The American troops in Cuba were under explicit orders to defend the old racist planter order and they did, maintaining a system that many Cuban intellectuals who fought in the Revolution had pledged to reform or overthrow. And so the high-minded American ideals that the politicians who sent the troops pledged to defend were Cuba’s commerce with foreign nations (akin to how the British had restricted American colonial trade with foreign nations in the so-called Intolerable Acts)

And as for post-revolutionary Cuba, it is notable in our previous case study that Guatemala, another Latin American nation outside of the European/North American sphere, was subjected to countless interventions by the United States government as well as American business, namely the United Fruit Company. The United States’ policy towards Cuba was no different. It is notable that CIA and other American officials admitted in Senate hearings in the 1960s to orchestrating coup attempts and other anti-Cuban activities. The Bay of Pigs is well-known with common American political discourse as a failed effort spearheaded by the CIA and Amero-Cuban operatives to invade Cuba and depose the Cuban government.

The post-Revolutionary Cuban government’s mission to improve the quality of life for all Cubans proved to indeed be successful, for a time. When we look at Gini coefficient, Cuba’s 0.24 in the late 1980s indicated a largely equal society. At this point in time Fidel Castro’s message of equality for all Cubans was proving to be the reality. However, with the end of the Special Period inequality in Cuba increased. Cuba’s Gini coefficient has by some reports hit 0.5, which places it at a level similar to other Latin American nations. It is clear now that Cuba’s government’s mission to create a socialist paradise for Cuban people has failed.  It is important to note the American embargo on Cuba and the brain drain of Cuban professionals to Florida had in crippling the growth of the Cuban economy. Cuba’s accomplishments in creating a widely-available health care and education system should be noted. However, it remains to be seen what effects the growing inequality will have upon Cuban society. So, with this case study on Cuba concluded, we must now turn to other nations for potential solutions to the disparity between developed and developing nations.\


While Cuba, Guatemala, and the United States still experience a lack of equality, and it is clear to us that a total solution for inequality in societies has not been found as of this writing; we believe that a recipe for economic success and equality is still found in the developing world. The governments of resource-rich nations such as Azerbaijan (focused upon oil) or Indonesia (that has diversified with manufacturing) are spearheading widespread social programs that spread the profits from their industries throughout their societies to all their peoples. Inequality and poverty, issues that are measured as increasing in developed nations (especially the US, but this is true across all developed nations), are decreasing for a certainty in Azerbaijan (0.39 Gini coefficient) as well as Indonesia (0.36 by 2019). We believe that these nations have found the recipes for success as might be found in Norway, an oil-rich nation that invested its profits from oil to create astounding institutions in education and health care that will power these nations’ economies through this century.

We finish this paper by saying that a combination of imperialism from European and American nations placed developing nations in a very poor starting position in the global economy. American imperialism crippled the fates of many Latin American nations and while Guatemala and Cuba today both face severe problems with inequality, Indonesia and Azerbaijan represent paths for development that had the great fortune of being independent from imperialism in the past few decades. Both of these nations’ governments openly discuss the issues of inequality and poverty and how best to combat these issues.

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Schlesinger, Stephen. “Ghosts of Guatemala’s Past.” The New York Times, The New    York Times, 3 June 2011,            www.nytimes.com/2011/06/04/opinion/04schlesinger.html?mcubz=3.

“The Need in Numbers.” CoEd – Poverty & Education,       www.coeduc.org/guatemala/poverty.html.

Sierra, J. (n.d.). Front Door to Cuban History. Retrieved September 29, 2017, from                http://www.historyofcuba.com/cuba.htm



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