Che’s Afterlife: The The Cuba Wars: Fidel The Portable Island:
Legacy of an Image Castro, the United States, Cubans at Home
and the Next Revolution in the World
Vintage Books, 2009, Softcover, Daniel P. Erikson Ruth Behar and Lucía M.
338 pages Bloomsbury Press, 2008,
Hardcover, 314 pages Palgrave Macmillan, 2008,
Softcover, 276 pages
The Myths and Costs of the Cuban Revolution
BY EUSEBIO MUJAL-LEÓN
hen the Cuban Revolu- party poking fun at the elder Castro the tremendous price Cubans have
W tion celebrated its 50th
anniversary in early 2009,
Raúl Castro boasted it
would be around for another 50 years.
Change, however, is in the air.
and criticizing his successor—have
“generational” conﬂict and frustra-
tion written all over them.
Equally signiﬁcant is a more “si-
lent” transition, underway over the
paid for the failure of democracy to
take root. The third, Che’s Afterlife:
The Legacy of an Image, shows another
side of the Cuban global reach: the
branding of the revolution.
For one thing, Fidel Castro, though past 20 years. This has been marked The Cuba Wars, written by Daniel
still audible from the sidelines by the reintroduction of capitalism, P. Erikson, senior associate at the
through his reﬂexiones, is in the twi- growing social stratification and Inter-American Dialogue and a long-
light of his reign. His brother Raúl, inequality, an incipient civil soci- time Cuba-watcher, is an intelligent,
now ascended to the presidency, has ety, and by the weakening of a state balanced and informative book with
implemented some timid economic whose capacity to provide education, many good interviews and vignettes.
reforms and sounds like a blend of health and housing are in visible de- Both general and specialist readers
Max Weber, Henry Ford and Vladimir cline. According to ofﬁcial statistics can learn much from it. To start with,
Lenin with his continuous references from this year, there is a shortage of the title is absolutely on the mark:
to institutionalization, efﬁciency and 600,000 housing units, a number the “cold war” between Cuba and
productivity. Since taking power in that does not take into account the the United States has outlasted the
February 2008, the younger Castro (by 440,000 homes damaged by devas- Cold War by 20 years; the “civil war”
ﬁve years) has replaced more than a