• Short Summary

    January the first, 1979, will see the 20th anniversary of the fall of Cuba's Batista dictatorship.

  • Description

    January the first, 1979, will see the 20th anniversary of the fall of Cuba's Batista dictatorship. He fled the Caribbean island after most of the country came under the control of guerrillas led by a thirty-two-year-old lawyer, Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz.

    SYNOPSIS: It had taken Dr. Castro over five years to achieve his ambition of toppling the Batista government. The early years of Castro's leadership saw the abortive invasion of Cuba by a band of exiles...and Soviet interest in the new revolutionary state established in the American hemisphere. The links between Cuba and the Soviets became clear when United States reconnaissance revealed evidence of missiles on the island. Under American pressure they were removed.

    The Soviet Union still has close ties with Cuba, through they are primarily economic. Cuba is fully integrated into the communist economic grouping COMECON and receives substantial aid from the Soviet Union. Development is based on promoting agriculture and creating basic industries to replace the need for imports. But there's a battle for efficiency. Cuba lacks industrial expertise and there's a shortage of trained middle management.

    Heavy investment in the fishing industry, with the aid of Soviet vessels, has helped to extend the range of Cuba's fleet. Catches have risen over five-fold since 1959. And there are plans to increase this even further, to 260,000 tonnes.

    But Cuba still remains basically a one-product economy...sugar. More than 85 percent of exports are derived from the crop. That statistic shows how far the success of each year's crop influences the industrialisation programme. Its importance has resulted in an investment programme to improve efficiency and yields. Most of the crops is sol??? to the Soviet Union at high fixed prices, the rest goes to earn badly needed foreign currency.

    Cuba, once the playground of the rich, is again using tourism as another source of foreign currency. It is one area in which there are plans to expand the tentative but slowly improving relations with the United States.

    An American college basketball team became the first delegation to visit Cuba in early 1977 -- after the lifting by President Carter of a travel ban. Relations between the two countries were broken off in 1961, but they exchanged diplomatic missions fifteen months ago. Despite early progress there have been recent difficulties, American has been hostile towards Cuba's military involvement in Africa.

    Cuba has rejected American pressure on its African policies, saying international links are its own affair. Dr. Castro's week long visit to Ethiopia in September this year included discussions on strengthening military ties. American statements have linked the further improvement of relations, to Cuban troop withdrawals from Africa. But Dr. Castro insists Cuba cannot give up revolutionary principles.

    For Cubans, twenty years of socialism have given them a better lifestyle, but one that remains austere. From appearances on the streets of the capital there are indication that Cuba in gradually solving some of the problems still left since the overthrow of Batista.

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