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Fascism and nationalism in Cuba : a case study on the global projection on an European ideology

Virga, Andrea (2018) Fascism and nationalism in Cuba : a case study on the global projection on an European ideology. Advisor: Bruni, Prof. Domenico Maria. Coadvisor: Figueredo Cabrera, Prof. Katia . pp. 216. [IMT PhD Thesis]

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Abstract

This thesis focuses on the diffusion of fascism in Cuba and its relationship with local nationalism, since up to now this question has not been studied satisfactorily by historiography, as most works on the subject still resent of World War propaganda. The research makes mostly use of original sources, both archival and printed, with the help of press and previous studies, in order to reconstruct and discuss historical events and ideological standpoints in Cuba, in the time that goes from Machado’s dictatorship to Castro’s Revolution. To this extent, a clarification on the too often mistaken concept of fascism, in the light of scientific literature, is necessary. Fascism as a modern 20th-century ideology, strongly opposed and reactive to liberalism and communism, advocated a radical inter-class mobilization and rebirth of the nation, in militaristic and organicistic sense, under a totalitarian revolutionary single party or movement headed by a charismatic leader. Inside fascism, four main trends can be distinguished, according to different conceptions of nation: classical Fascism, National Socialism, Integrism and Falangism. In the ‘30s, due to the crisis of Liberalism and the advance of Communism, Fascism had become a viable ideological alternative in many undeveloped countries, even outside Europe. This was especially true in Latin America, where European fascist regimes created local sections of the ruling party to cater with the large immigrant communities (especially Italians, Germans and Spaniards). This fascist influence, with its revolutionary nationalism, was strong on local nationalist forces, which struggled for national sovereignty and economic independence from colonial powers. These founded native fascist and populist groups, with the support of lower and middle classes. At the same time, the socioeconomic and political situation in Cuba was not exceptional in comparison with other Latin American countries. In 1933, Machado’s dictatorship was brought to an end by a heterogeneous coalition of political forces. After a convulse phase of struggle, power was assumed by Fulgencio Batista who controlled Cuba, either directly or indirectly, until 1944. This long period, marked by the emergence of social mass movements and the relative decline of the old political class of independence veterans, was crucial for the development of new Cuban nationalism, which had to cope with United States influence and Batista’s strategy to preserve his personal authority. In the core part of the thesis, nationalist people and groups in Cuba are examined and analysed to ascertain their ideological and political relationships with fascism. The Cuban conservative Right is explored through the study of three important figures: the authoritarian writer Alberto Lamar, apologist of Machado’s rule, the aviation heroAgustín Parlá and the journalist José Ignacio Rivero, a great sponsor of Francoism in Cuba. It is also observed how, following the Second World War, the Cuban Right gradually lost its European influence, becoming more and more Americanized by the time of Castro’s Revolution, despite Franco’s attempt at maintaining cultural and political ties. The period of the Spanish Civil War was the high-water mark of foreign Fascist influence in Cuba, because of the influence exercised by the wealthier sectors of the Spanish colony, organized in the Spanish Nationalist Committee, in favour of the Nationalist faction in order to collect money and obtain diplomatic recognition. Along with it, and not without some contrasts, the Foreign Service of the Spanish Falange had set up a branch in Cuba, which operated among Spanish immigrants, with a Social Aid section, which raised funds to finance assistance projects for poor Spaniards in Cuba and in the Fatherland. On the other hand, Italy and Germany were much less influential, due to the scarce size of their respective communities. Nonetheless, the aforesaid organizations only catered for foreign minorities in Cuba, and were all illegalized, when Cuba entered war along with the United States. Their example, aswell as the circumstance of the legalization of the hated Communist Party, inspired a few native fascist groups. Still, even the only one, which could actually be considered fully fascist, the National Revolutionary Syndicalist Legion, still remained a minor actor in national politics, before being outlawed. For certain, they did not left any lasting mark in Cuban society and history. On the other hand, the study of the main Cuban nationalist forces disproves any actual connection with fascism, despite the accusations made by contemporary political opponents. It is the case of the ABC Party, who shared with fascism some ideological features (corporatism, anti- Communism, nationalism), as well as means of political and economical mobilization (paramilitary parades, armed struggle). Another such example is Batista himself, with his corporatist three-year plan (1937-40), his support from the Army and his authoritarian leadership, well before the 1952 coup. Finally, Eduardo Chibás, in the post-war period, presented an anti-imperialist, anti-Communist, populist party, rooted in the Cuban nationalist tradition. Nevertheless, all of these projects declared to be antifascist and committed to the values of liberal democracy. Last but not least, the accusations of “Red Fascism” levelled against Castroism, even in academic literature, cannot be ignored. In fact, there are a few elements who would support this hypothesis, namely Fidel Castro’s conservative upbringing, his good standing with Francoist Spain, and some aspects of his government and ideology, such as militarism, charismatic leadership, voluntarism, nationalism, which deviate from standard Marxism. However, these features have been typical of most real socialist States. Furthermore, Castroism is distinctly different from fascist ideology, since it embraced Marxist-Leninism and refused class collaboration between capitalists and workers. In sum of all, this thesis demonstrates how Cuba constituted an exception among main Latin American countries, insofar as fascism did not hold sensible sway on local politics, despite the social and economical situation was comparable. The most immediate cause lies in the fact that the United States power was stronger in the Caribbean than in South American countries, so that it hampered any foreign ideological influence. A deeper root of Cuban antifascism lies in the process of development of Cuban nationalism, which took place before the independence and involved a political debate and reflection among Cuban intellectuals and activists. This explains the prominence of democratic and progressive thought in later Cuban nationalists, which engendered in Cuban public opinion a general loathing for fascism, that fascist police makers were not able to understand.

Item Type: IMT PhD Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: Castroism, Cuba, Falange, Fascism, Francoism, Ideology, Latin America, Nationalism, Populism, Right.
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
PhD Course: Political History
Identification Number: 10.6092/imtlucca/e-theses/242
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2018 10:28
URI: http://e-theses.imtlucca.it/id/eprint/242

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