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Leadership in the Cuban Revolution

Leadership in the Cuban Revolution

Antoni Kapcia


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Most conventional readings of the Cuban Revolution have seemed mesmerised by the personality and role of Fidel Castro, often missing a deeper political understanding of the Revolution’s underlying structures, bases of popular loyalty and ethos of participation. In this ground-breaking work, Antoni Kapcia focuses instead on a wider cast of characters. Along with the more obvious, albeit often misunderstood, contributions from Che Guevara and Raúl Castro, Kapcia looks at the many others who, over the decades, have been involved in decision-making and have often made a significant difference. He interprets their various roles within a wider process of nation-building, demonstrating that Cuba has undergone an unusual, if not unique, process of change. Essential reading for anyone interested in Cuba's history and its future.
Antoni Kapcia is professor of Latin American history at the University of Nottingham, where he also directs the Centre for Research on Cuba. Since 1975, he has published extensively on aspects of modern and contemporary Cuban history, focusing especially on political and cultural history and on the questions of ideology and national identity. His books include Cuba: Island of Dreams (2000), Havana: The Making of Cuban Culture (2005), Cuba in Revolution (2008) and (in conjunction with Par Kumaraswami) Literary Culture in Cuba: Revolution, Nation-Building and the Book (2012).
'This highly original study of Cuba turns on its head traditional views of the Cuban Revolution as being totally dominated by one man, Fidel Castro. Instead it argues, and convincingly, that the revolutionary process was the work of many. Balanced and insightful, this highly readable analysis is obligatory reading for all who seek to understand why revolutionary Cuba has lasted for so long, and where it is going after Raúl Castro leaves. This will undoubtedly prove one of the most enduring analyses of the Cuban Revolution.' John Kirk, professor of Spanish and Latin American Studies, Dalhousie University 'Antoni Kapcia's book is a magnificent account of the creation of Cuba's revolutionary government over a period of more than half a century. Going far beyond the central figures of Fidel, Raul and Che Guevara, Kapcia's encyclopaedic knowledge of less familiar figures brings into sharp focus their importance and significance. Looking in depth at the membership of the internal core of the Revolution, he has produced an indispensable work that will be welcomed by all students of the Cuban story.' Richard Gott, author of Cuba: A New History 'Tony Kapcia has produced a formidable challenge to conventional "cubanology". Characteristically original and open-minded, Kapcia's novel application of corporatist theory dismisses Fidel-centred and "totalitarian" accounts, presenting instead a dynamic typology of a radicalised but ideologically diverse leadership struggling to sustain a popular nation-state-building process through repeated crises. No serious student of contemporary Cuba can afford to ignore Kapcia's interpretation.' Dr Steve Ludlam, The University of Sheffield 'Kapcia has provided a splendid study, rich with insight and intellect. Its arguments are persuasive, and its scope and purpose are informed by what can best be described as a mature erudition on the subject of Cuba, a distillation of years of research and reflection on the complexities of the people, politics and policies of the Cuban Revolution. This superb study will assume its rightful place among the more important contributions to our knowledge of the Cuban reality, past and present.' Professor Louis A. Pérez, Jr., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 'Antoni Kapcia skilfully draws on virtually all current research on the Cuban leadership, placing the role of leaders, decision-making processes, and debates between political actors and the base within their historical context. The result is an original, balanced and must-needed book which will be of value to all social sciences in analysing Cuba as it enters the "post-Castro" era.' Arnold August, author of Cuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Front cover Front cover
About the Author i
Title iii
Copyright iv
Contents v
Abbreviations and Acronyms vi
Spanish Terms ix
Stylistic Notes xi
Introduction: The Problem With ‘fidel-centrism’ 1
Classic assumptions: personality cults, coercion and the military 5
The state and the monolith? 9
Debate 18
1 The Core Leadership: The Familiar Triumvirate 22
Fidel Castro 22
Che Guevara 28
Raúl Castro 35
Conclusion 39
2 The Formation of ‘The Vanguard’: 1953–58 41
3 Taking Stock and Finding Direction: 1959–62 61
External and internal pressures on Cuba 62
Understanding divisions 64
Early unity 67
The rebel alliance of 1959 68
The 26 July Movement and the PSP 69
Hidden government? 73
The battles within the CTC 77
The ‘Escalante affair’ 79
The early ‘inner circle’ and its historic ‘core’ 81
Ex-guerrillas and the military 82
Leading veterans? 86
Women in the inner circle 89
The Llano 92
The PSP after 1959 95
The Directorio Revolucionario 106
‘Independent’ radicals 107
The apostates 110
Inner and outer circles 114
4 The Years of ‘Revolutionary’ Flux: 1963–75 115
The changing state 116
The new radicalism 117
The new inner circle 122
The intermediate and outer circles 129
5 The Stable Years: Systems, Institutions and Bureaucrats: 1975–86 132
Contested institutionalisation 132
Return of the PSP? 139
The changing world and changing Cuba in the 1980s: a new crisis 143
Changes to the circles of power 145
6 The Return of Fluidity: 1986 to the Present 153
Explaining ‘Rectification’ 153
The Third Party Congress of 1986 157
The 1989–94 crisis and economic and political reform 159
The changing state and the changing inner circle 162
Reflections on the changing circles 180
7 Inclusion and Exclusion: ‘Within’ and ‘Against’ the Revolution 182
Cuban history and the evolution of a culture of inclusion 183
The creation of a sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’ after 1959 185
Defining ‘inside’ and ‘against’ the Revolution 189
The role and nature of debate 192
8 Inclusion and Collectivity: A Revolutionary Corporatism? 198
Seeking paradigms 198
Corporatism 200
A post-colonial corporatism? 203
The colonial binary of ‘problem’ and ‘solution’ 206
The imperative of nation-building 211
The Cuban case 212
Conclusion 220
Bibliography 224
Index 230
Back cover Back cover