Cuba Libre: An Island in the Imperialist Sea

LESSON PLANS

A revolution is a struggle to the death between the future and the past.” – Fidel Castro.

  • Bartolomé de Las Casas and the Atrocities of the Spanish Conquistadors (Free online text suited for middle or high school classroom use, guided reading questions, and suggested activities): Bartolomé de Las Casas (1484 – July 17, 1566) was a 16th century Spanish priest living in Spanish Cuba who wrote and advocated extensively against the mistreatment of indigenous peoples in the Americas.  This lesson includes a primary source excerpt from Las Casas describing Spanish treatment of Indios.
  • The Duty of the Hour: The Cuban Revolution Part I (Free online text suited for middle or high school classroom use, guided reading questions, and suggested activities):  Even after its independence from Spain, Cuba spent decades as a semi-colonial state, its politics and economy guided by the United States. The 1959 Cuban Revolution, headed by Fidel Castro, was one of the first defeats of US foreign policy in Latin America.
  • Trading Card Propaganda: Winning Over the Children of the Revolution (Primary document analysis and critical thinking questions): Those adults who live through a revolution will always remember a time before, but children are considered more impressionable.  Examine Album de la Revolución Cubana, a set of trading cards issued as propaganda in Cuba in 1960 that tell the story of the revolution as intended for young children, and reflect on the sometimes invisible propaganda that surrounds you in your everyday life.
  • Reform and Resistance: The Cuban Revolution Part II (Free online text suited for middle or high school classroom use, guided reading questions, and suggested activities):  Once in power, the revolutionary government of Fidel Castro faced challenges from within and without.  The Cubans found themselves increasingly under fire from the U.S. government, turning toward the Soviet Union for support and defense – and in turn, further alienating the Americans.  This lesson discusses in context the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the U.S. Embargo, as well as the social reforms of the Cuban Revolution.
  • An American in Cuba, Travel Writing:  In March 2017, Openendedsocialstudies.org founder Thomas Kenning conducted firsthand research for lessons centered on the island of Cuba.  Educational in their own right, his blog posts offer plenty of history, culture, and photos woven into a first person narrative, which attempts to present honestly and conversationally one traveler’s experience while conducting research abroad.
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