What do Cubans want for their future?
Second edition. December 2020.

Cubans have very different opinions about their country and its history, particularly about the Cuban Revolution that began in 1959. Led by Fidel Castro, the Revolution fundamentally changed Cuba’s government, economy, and society. While it brought opportunities and advances for many, others lost property, jobs, political freedoms, and the positions they held in Cuban society. These different views of Cuba’s past affect how Cubans think about the future. Using lessons, readings, and primary sources, History, Revolution, and Reform: New Directions for Cuba helps students explore Cuba’s history and the Cuban Revolution, and consider the country’s future.

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.

Operation Carlota

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: Cultural Expressions

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.

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.

Cuban American Experiences

Using excerpts of Cuban American memoirs, students present perspectives representing a wide array of Cuban American experiences and points of view.

Assessment Using Documents: Fidel Castro’s Legacy

Students synthesize information from primary and secondary sources and provide a written analysis of Fidel Castro’s legacy.

  • Includes a map of Cuba and a map of José Martí's travels, to be used with the lesson "José Martí and His Legacy."

Supplemental Resources

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.

Brenner, Philip, Marguerite Rose Jiménez, John M. Kirk, and William M. LeoGrande. A Contemporary Cuba Reader: The Revolution Under Raúl Castro. Second Edition. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2015.

Gleijeses, Piero. Conflicting Missions: Havana, Washington, and Africa, 1959-1976. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2002.

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.

Yaffe, Helen. We Are Cuba!: How a Revolutionary People Have Survived In a Post-Soviet World. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2020.

English version of Granma, the official newspaper of the Cuban Communist Party.
A bilingual online journal that is probably the most diverse, current, and read online publication about and from Cuba.
Includes an overview, timeline, and links to articles.
Includes an overview of the history and current status of U.S.-Cuba relations, an interactive timeline, and links to additional resources.
A compilation of independent Cuban blogs translated into English by a volunteer collective.
Cuba’s first independent digital news outlet, directed by Yoani Sánchez.
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