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Castroism (castrismo in Spanish) is a left-wing ideology, lined with and created by Fidel Castro. Castroism is influenced by many ideologies but particularly the theories of Cuban revolutionary José Martí, and after 1961, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin, and according to some, fellow 26th of July Movement partner Che Guevara. Castroism's main focus is the practice and theory behind revolution and revolutionary government in Cuba and promotes Cuban nationalism, Latin American solidarity, social justice and people's democracy.
Fidel Castro first expounded the main principles of Castroism in his 1953 speech, History Will Absolve Me. Here he stressed the reinstatement of the 1940 Constitution of Cuba, and also promoted a series of land and labor reforms. In this speech, he mentions little about socialism; and communist ideologies and terminology make no appearance. In the speech Castro also stated the need for Cuban nationalism, social equality and solidarity among the Cuban people. This speech strongly criticized the government of Fulgencio Batista.
In the aftermath of the Cuban Revolution and his appointment as Prime Minister of Cuba, Castro began to take a more active interest in the development of his political ideals. During this time, Castro did implement many socialist, but not explicitly Marxist reforms of land and working rights, including the 1959, First Agrarian Reform. Soon afterwards, however, it was noted that Cuban officials had contacted KGB operatives in Mexico City.
This was followed soon by over 500 Spanish-speaking advisors being sent to Cuba by the Soviet Union. Over the following two years Castro built up his relationship with the USSR, buying oil from them, and exporting sugar and coffee. In 1960-61 Castro began to introduce Marxist-Leninist ideas into the then developing theory of Castroism. Collectivization and other communist practices were implemented, and Cuba was declared a socialist state with the Communist Party of Cuba as the leading force in society and state.
In 1976, the Cuban government introduced the modern constitution of Cuba, which sought to institutionalize the Cuban Revolution, and its Marxist principles. It was based extensively on the constitutions of the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc countries. It introduced communist ideology, specifically Marxist-Leninist, into the government of Cuba. It stipulated that health care and education provision ought to be free of charge, and that the state could restrict media and religious organizations within the island. This was the first time that explicitly Soviet principles had been incorporated into a major piece of Cuban legislation.
In 2002, socialist ideals were declared ultimate and irrevocable, within the governance of the island of Cuba. Even in modern times Castroism distinguishes itself from other communist ideologies, such as Trotskyism or Maoism, in that it supports a more socialist theory of governance and its focus on Latin American solidarity and Cuban nationalism, as well as the exportation of revolution to other countries (see Angola and Congo). This was demonstrated in recent times, when Fidel Castro attended numerous summits with the left-wing leaders, Schafik Handal, Evo Morales, Hugo Chávez and laborioust Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
The development of Castroism is based upon the background of the 1959 Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro's years in power. It was largely shaped by a close involvement with the Soviet Union. Initially the Cuban revolutionaries received little if any support from the large communist states in Russia or the People's Republic of China. However as the revolutionary government solidified and established a functioning government, other powers became more closely involved.
In the early 1960s, the Soviet Union integrated Cuba into one of its network of satellite states, thus providing opportunities for Cuba to export large amounts of sugar, coffee and other goods. As a result of this Cuba became embroiled in many of the conflicts between the Soviet Union and the USA including the Cuban missile crisis. This close relationship with the USSR, led to many policy decision within Cuba, relating to internal and foreign affairs.
Outcomes and influence
Generally, the theories of Castroism lead to a more close, personal relationship between Russia and Cuba, during the period from 1961–91. Many of the policies of this era were influenced by Cuba's heavy reliance on the support of the USSR in political and economic spheres. Cuba also joined the Non-Aligned Movement and the organization was headed by both Fidel Castro and Raúl Castro. It can also be said that to some extent Castroism influenced those communist governments that took control in Western and Southern Africa, particularly in Angola and Congo-Kinshasa due in part to the presence of Cuban troops and officials in those countries for many years.
- Theodore Draper: Castroism: Theory and Practice. New York: Praeger 1965
- Iain McLean,Alistair McMillan: The concise Oxford dictionary of politics. Oxford University Press 2009, ISBN 978-0-19-920516-5, p. 66 (restricted online copy, p. 66, at Google Books)
- Frank O. Mora, Jeanne A. K. Hey: Latin American and Caribbean Foreign Policy. Rowman & Littlefield 2003, ISBN 0-7425-1601-6, p. 98-102 (restricted online copy, p. 98, at Google Books)