Students explore the changing relationship between the United States and Cuba.
What do Cubans want for their future?
First edition. May 2015.
Cuba, often at center stage in international affairs, is again the focus of global attention. Since Fidel Castro stepped down after nearly fifty years as Cuba’s leader, his brother, Raúl Castro, has embarked upon a series of reforms that are gradually but fundamentally changing the country. The 2014 announcement to normalize Cuba-U.S. relations after more than five decades, during which the two countries had no diplomatic ties, also signifies a historic shift. Outsiders have highly diverging views about Cuba and its history, particularly since the 1959 Revolution, which made major changes to Cuba’s government, economy, and society. While the revolution brought opportunities and advances long denied to many Cubans, others lost property, jobs, and the positions they held in Cuban society. Cubans today have very different opinions about their country’s history and its future direction.
History, Revolution, and Reform: New Directions for Cuba explores Cuba’s history from the country’s precolonial past to its most recent economic, social, and political changes. Students re-create the discussions Cubans on the island are having about their country’s future.
Part I of the reading focuses on the influence of Spanish colonialism on Cuba and Cuba’s struggles for independence. Part II surveys the changes the 1959 Revolution brought to Cuba. Part III focuses on the Special Period and Cuba today.
Preview this unit. Preview includes the Table of Contents for the Student Text and the Teacher Resource Book as well as a student reading excerpt and one lesson plan.
José Martí and His Legacy
Using a variety of primary sources as well as a timeline and map, students assess the contested legacy of José Martí among Cubans.
The Dance of the Millions
Students analyze economic data from Cuba's "dance of the millions" in 1920 and compare the prices of Cuban sugar to those of commodities in Germany that same year.
Using a variety of Cuban, U.S., Russian, South African, Angolan, and European sources, students assess competing perspectives of Cuba's foreign policy in Angola.
The Special Period
Using numerous sources from the 1990s, including literature, hip-hop lyrics, jokes, and art, students explore the relationship between politics and popular culture and gain a deeper understanding of what life was like for Cubans during the Special Period.
Students explore the changing relationship between the United States and Cuba by interpreting political cartoons on the restoration of diplomatic relations and monitoring news media coverage of U.S.-Cuba relations.
Students analyze photographs of present-day Cuba, considering the benefits and limitations of using photographs as a source for learning about life in Cuba.
The Options Role Play
Working collaboratively, students take on the roles of Cuban citizens and explore three different options for Cuba's future in a role-play activity.
Students create their own working definitions of "democracy" and explore a variety of media sources to assess claims that Cuba is a democracy.
Cuban American Experiences
Using excerpts of Cuban American memoirs, students present perspectives representing a wide array of Cuban American experiences and points of view.
Additional reference material for added context and support.
Blight, James G. and Philip Brenner. Sad and Luminous Days: Cuba's Struggle with Superpowers after the Missile Crisis (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002). 324 pages.
Brenner, Philip, Marguerite Rose Jiménez, John M. Kirk, and William M. LeoGrande, eds. A Contemporary Cuba Reader: Reinventing the Revolution (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2008). 413 pages.
Chávez, Lydia, ed. Capitalism, God, and a Good Cigar: Cuba Enters the Twenty-First Century (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005). 253 pages.
Frank, Mark. Cuban Revelations: Behind the Scenes in Havana (Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida, 2013). 344 pages.
Gleijeses, Piero. Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976 (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2002). 552 pages.
LeoGrande, William M. and Peter Kornbluh. Back Channel to Cuba: The Hidden History of Negotiations Between Washington and Havana (Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2014). 544 pages.
Sweig, Julia E. Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009). 304 pages.