Wednesday, September 15, 2021

In defense of Cuba's first democratic era. (May 20, 1902 - March 10, 1952)

In 1952 the young Republic issued commemorative coins to celebrate 50 years of liberty and independence of the Cuban Republic. Sadly, democracy was attacked and destroyed on March 10, 1952 by Fulgencio Batista, one of the architects of that system, with both lights and shadows, and the half century mark was not reached. 49 years, 9 months and 20 days of democracy in Cuba, but yet much was accomplished that is worth remembering.   

Cuba’s Old Republic Outshines Colonialism and Castroism

The island’s democratic period (1902-1952) saw impressive achievements.

Commemorative issue:  50th Anniversary of the Republic of Cuba

Felipe Fernández-Armesto’s review of “Cuba: An American History” by Ada Ferrer (Bookshelf, Sept. 4) offers insights into Cuba’s history under colonialism and Castroism, but it does a disservice to Cuba’s democratic period (1902-1952). During the Cuban Republic, the island’s leaders negotiated the return of the Isle of Pines and reduced the U.S. military presence from four bases to two and then to one. The Platt Amendment was the price for ending the four-year American occupation following the Spanish-American War, and ending Platt in 1934 ended formal U.S. interference in Cuban affairs.

Over 50 years, Cuba developed a multiparty system, competitive elections, a free press, a modern public health system and a strong labor movement. This translated to social achievements placing pre-1959 Cuba at the top of Latin American indexes, outperforming Castro’s Cuba.

Cuba even led in proposing, drafting and lobbying for the passage of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Language in the declaration was selected from Cuba’s 1940 constitution. Cuban diplomats presented nine proposals, five of which are in the UDHR.

The Cuban Republic wasn’t perfect, but its achievements over a half-century delivered for all Cubans. It offers a powerful contrast to Cuba today.

John Suarez

Center for a Free Cuba

Falls Church, Va.

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Appeared in the September 14, 2021, print edition of The Wall Street Journal as 'Cuba’s Republic Outshines Colonialism and Castroism.'


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