The 122nd Anniversary of the Cuban Republic We Lost

Memories of the streets of Cuba in the 1950s / Nostalgia Cuba

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Pedro Corzo, Miami, May 26, 2024 — Cuba was not a paradise. It never was, but it was one of the countries with the best social and economic indexes in all of Latin America.

There were numerous problems, but more had been resolved than remained, although from my perspective, the military coup of March 10, 1952, which broke the constitutional rhythm, led to an imbalance that seriously affected the nation and facilitated the emergence of the totalitarianism in our country.

It is true that the 1940 Constitution had been reestablished in 1955. However, the political climate and coexistence were not the same again despite economic progress.

In the period prior to the triumph of the insurrection, the economic and social situation was in a clear process of improvement. So much so that Dr. Salvador Villa, in his book Cuba, Zenith and Eclipse, states: “many of us ourselves were unaware of the extent of the degree of development achieved compared to the rest of Latin America and the world and it is necessary to know and remember it,” with pride, to feel more Cuban.

We had broad economic freedoms and notable social mobility. Foreign investments were important and labor legislation was significantly positive, although it was not fully complied with.

The Constitution of 1940, a charter drawn up in a public assembly by all the country’s political forces, including the communists, established the division of public powers and their independence, along with social and economic prerogatives much more advanced than most other legislations of the hemisphere.

Minimum wages were set by joint commissions of employers and workers. It was prohibited to deduct workers’ wages or salaries; workers’ stipend had to be paid in money, not goods; social insurance was compulsry, including disability and old age; right to retirement was based on seniority and a pension was due until death; and Cuba was the first country in the world to grant this right to agricultural workers.

Eight-hour work days, six-hour for those between 14 and 18 years of age. Paid rest of one month for 11 months of work; protection for workers’ maternity, with forced rest and payment of wages to pregnant women six weeks before childbirth and six weeks after.

Freedom of unionization and membership; right to strike, collective labor contracting, mandatory for employers and workers. Labor immobility, obligation of the State to build cheap housing for workers and social assistance by the Ministry of Health.

Villa points out, with information gleaned from, among other sources, United Nations yearbooks, that the average salary of the Cuban agricultural worker was the seventh in the world and the second in America, and the industrial salary was the second on the continent.

We cannot affirm that these provisions in the national Constitution were fully complied with throughout the country, but they were in broad sectors of productive life.

Education was a constant concern of the Governments of the Republic. The Constitution established that it was mandatory until the sixth grade and free until the eighth. Vocational schools were free. Tuition at State universities was 50 pesos, with free registration included.

On the Island, private, religious or secular education could be provided, governed by the standards of Public Education. There were 10,600 primary educational centers in the country, of which 8,900 were public; There were 14 Normal Schools for teachers and the same number of Commerce Schools and 21 Secondary Education Institutes, not counting the private ones, in addition, schools of Journalism, Fine Arts, Agriculture and Technology.

In 1958, we had 12 universities, three of which were public, and all enjoyed full autonomy.

Unfortunately, only 77.9 percent of Cubans knew how to read and write. However, Cuba occupied the third position in literacy in Latin America, after Argentina and Uruguay.

Health was superior to other countries on our continent. Infant mortality was the lowest in all of Latin America, 37.6 per thousand, and general mortality was one of the lowest in the world, 5.8 per thousand inhabitants.

The economy showed signs of constant strength and growth, as evidenced by the national financial system, which was made up of specialized banks including, among others, the Agricultural and Industrial Development Bank, Foreign Trade, Economic and Social Development, the National Financial Institution and the Fund of Insured Mortgages.

I do not want to exhaust you with figures, but only these facts and the current devastation can testify to the Republic that we Cubans lost.


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