The American made “staghound”
tank occupies a place of honor on the campus of the University of Havana. Local
yore says this tank was a Christmas gift from Eisenhower to Batista in 1957.
The armored vehicle is one of the few remaining artifacts of the military
relationship which the Cuban government had with the United States during the
Cold War period.
Cuba’s later relationship with the Soviet Union, American security assistance
did not transform Cuba’s capital city into a militaristic enclave. Instead,
during the early period of the Cold War conflict, when the Americans provided
military assistance and arms transfers to the Cuban government, the urban form
and organization of Havana were transformed through the clash of two domestic
forces, the military dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista and the paramilitary
urban underground opposing his regime.
the early Cold War period, Havana’s loyalty to the US was taken for granted and
the government was considered a staunch ally in the fight against communism.
Cuba’s trade relationship with the United States dominated the
country’s economic system so much so that in 1959 almost 80 percent of the
country’s commercial transactions were with the US. The capital city, Havana, was
dominant, handling a majority of the country’s imports, with between 60 and 80
percent of the country’s incoming cargo passing through the port of Old Havana.
it is important to note that while it may be argued that Cuba was a client of
the United States, the country’s political system was not penetrated in the
strict sense of the term.
other words, while more than half of Cuba’s foreign trade was with the United
States, military and aid receipts from the Americans were not more than half
its budget. Actually, in some years, US military assistance was quite
after 1972, when Cuba joined the economic arm of the Soviet bloc, COMECON, was
the country penetrated both economically and politically by a Cold War
although allied with the US in the 1950s and shaped by the Soviets in the
1960s, it was not until the 1970s — the mid years of the Cold War — that Havana
could be called a Cold War City.
then, Fidel Castro’s rise to power and the American response had cemented
a mutual enmity.
By Lisa Reynolds Wolfe. This article originally appeared on www.coldwarstudies.com,
a site about Cold War politics and history that has a particular focus on Cuba.
Photograph by Lisa Reynolds Wolfe
This article is the first in a regular series of syndicated articles from some of the most interesting history blogs that will appear on the site.