An unfinished struggle?: the guerrilla experience and the shaping of political culture in the Cuban revolution

Clayfield, Anna (2013) An unfinished struggle?: the guerrilla experience and the shaping of political culture in the Cuban revolution. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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In the years that immediately followed the victory of the rebel forces in 1959, the new leaders of the Cuban Revolution seemed to approach the task of revolutionary governance as a continuation of the guerrilla campaign in the sierra. The leadership's empirical management of the Revolution in power betrayed its guerrilla roots, and resulted in an inchoate political system headed by charismatic guerrilleros. By the end of the first decade, however, it seemed that the Revolution's guerrilla past had been all but forgotten, as it established closer ties with the Soviet Union and subsequently underwent a process of 'institutionalisation'. Since that time, many Western scholars of Cuba have commented on the increased role of the military in the revolutionary leadership, and in other aspects of the Revolution which would normally be considered to be beyond the remit of most armed forces. These scholars have concluded that the pervasive presence of the military is evidence of the 'militarisation' of the Cuban Revolution.

This thesis calls into question this notion of a 'militarised' Revolution by arguing that such a perspective overlooks the guerrilla origins of both the Cuban armed forces and the Revolution more broadly, in addition to the signs and symbols that point to an on-going legacy of these origins in revolutionary Cuba. Using evidence derived from an analysis of the hegemonic discourse of the Revolution at different stages in its trajectory, this study demonstrates that the lived experience of guerrilla warfare has shaped the beliefs and values that have underpinned the Revolution since 1959. Together, these beliefs and values comprise a unique political culture in which the figure of the guerrillero is revered, and in which the guerrilla campaigns of the Cuban historical narrative are presented as unfinished struggles. The thesis argues that the active cultivation of this political culture has contributed to legitimising the long-standing presence of former guerrilleros in the revolutionary leadership, and has helped to gamer the support of civilians for the revolutionary project. In addition to challenging the idea of a 'militarised' Revolution, this study also undermines the widely accepted notion that the Revolution was thoroughly 'Sovietised' during its second decade. An examination of the hegemonic discourse of the 1970s reveals that, while the Revolution transformed structurally during those years, the guerrilla ethos which had buttressed the revolutionary project in the 1960s remained unchanged

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Kapcia, A.M.
Stockey, G.
Keywords: Cuba, Revolution, Guerilla, Politics, Culture
Subjects: F United States local history. History of Canada and Latin America > F1201 Latin America (General)
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures
Item ID: 29684
Depositing User: Walsh, June
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2015 10:01
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2016 08:22

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