Cuban Cliff’s Notes

Cuba’s been in the news a lot lately, due to the fact that Fidel is stepping down. Here’s a few things you might wanna know about the place:

  • It was the first island discovered by Columbus. He immediately enslaved and killed most of the indiginous population (especially the ones who resisted Christianity), and within a century almost all of the native population had been destroyed by the Spanish.
  • Cuba was a Spanish possession from 1511-1898.
  • In 1848, James Polk commissioned his ambassador to Spain to offer them $100 million for the island, but the Spaniards refused the offer.
  • Cuba’s national hero is a poet named Jose Marti, who was a leader of the movement which resulted in Cuba’s independence in 1898.
  • Remember the Maine! To Hell With Spain! The sinking of the USS Maine is one of the original conspiracy theories. Donspiracist, can you clear this up for us?
  • An American, Charles Magoon, was appointed of governor of Cuba and retained his position as leader of the supposedly independent nation three years (1906-1908).
  • Fulgencio Batista was running a distant third in the 1952 elections when he decided to just say the hell with it and staged a coup, becoming leader by force.
  • In 1956, hundreds of Cuban officers attempted a coup against Batista. It failed, but the result was that the army was weak when Castro staged his coup a couple of years later.
  • As is depicted in Godfather 2, there were a lot of casinoes in Cuba before the Revolution, almost all of them owned by the US Mob.
  • Thousands of Batista backers were executed by Castro following the coup.
  • Most cars in Cuba are US 1950s models, which are called yank tanks. They have usually been modified to accept replacement engines.
  • The Mariel boatlift, depicted in Scarface, was a diabolically sharp maneuver by Castro in 1980 to rid his country of criminals and malcontents.
  • The Cuban government still regularly imprisons journalists who question the direction of the country.
  • Cuba has one of the highest literacy rates in the world, as 99.8 of it’s people are literate.
  • According the WHO, Cuba and Canada have the lowest infant mortality rates in the Americas. Life expectancy in Cuba is similar to that in the US. Doctors in Cuba make $15 a month.

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