Cuba, or officially the Republic of Cuba (Spanish: República de Cuba) is a country in the Caribbean. As an island nation, it borders only the United States at its concession in Guantanamo Bay.
The Republic of Cuba is a minor unitary Presidential Republic with a high degree of both military and American influence on its government.
Independence and Machado
First settled by Spain in 1511, Cuba had been inhabited by Amerindians for thousands of years. The staunch resistance of the native Taíno and the famous chief Hatuey to colonial rule would be the first of many rebellions to occur on the island.
In the 19th century, the burgeoning influence of the United States would coincide with the birth of a new wave of Cuban resistance to Spanish rule, culminating in the nation's independence in 1902.
That independence, however, was fragile. The United States maintained control over the nation's financial institutions and foreign relations, forcibly leased Guantanamo Bay in perpetuity and disputed ownership over the Isle of Pines.
The next two decades would see a second American Occupation, the near-collapse of sugar production and scandal surrounding president Alfredo de Zayas. Zayas' successor as head of the long-dominant Liberal Party would reorient Cuban politics completely.
A veteran of the war of independence, Gerardo Machado was hailed by the people, and in the election of 1924, defeated ex-president Mario Menocal with ease. Throughout his tenure in office, Machado eroded checks on his power and ignored the constitution while drawing even closer to the United States. Dissent against his rule grew rapidly across all elements of society, and though he would successfully hold onto power following the economic collapse of the United States in 1925, by 1928, Cuba society was like a powder keg ready to explode with a single spark.
The Student Revolution
That spark would come from the University of Havana, by far the most prestigious institution of higher education in the country. On September 20th, 1928, thousands of students, led by both professors and the 'University Student Directory' of Rafael Trejo, protested in front of major government buildings throughout the city of Havana. Amidst the chaos brought on by these somewhat violent demonstrations, several opportunistic army units within the city defected. By the next day, Machado had fled to the United States and a caretaker government was declared in Havana.
Hoping to take advantage of his inexperience, the army, which had quickly come to exert a great degree of influence within the new regime it helped to establish, successfully pushed for the appointment of Rafael Trejo, merely eighteen years old, as interim president. While Trejo proved politically savvy, throughout his term the army took even greater control over the civilian government. As well, the initial broad-coalition of liberals, socialists, nationalists, and social democrats that emerged out of the revolution fractured.
Tensions were particularly high between the syndicalist-influenced Socialist faction, nominally headed by Antonio Guiteras, and the increasingly radicalized nationalists of Ramon Grau. On election day, 1935, the streets of Havana ran red as the two groups, now fully split from the ruling coalition of Rafael Trejo, battled in the streets.
In the aftermath of that infamous day, the socialists and nationalists alike were expelled from Congress and the moderates of the governing Unionist party then found themselves the only true opposition to the Army's influence, with what remained of the 'old guard', supporters of the Liberal party and its more conservative allies, more concerned with securing power than preserving Cuban democracy. New elections for both the Congress and the office of the Presidency are scheduled for the twenty-eighth of January, 1936.
Cuba is a unitary presidential republic. Under the current Cuban constitution, the President is elected by popular vote every four years on the twenty-eighth of January. While in theory the Presidency is endowed with significant power, concessions made to the largely unchecked Army in the wake of the Student Revolution undermine the office and the civilian government in general.
The Cuban legislature is bicameral with the President of the Senate serving as the head of both houses, and while not technically Head of Government, the Senate President is second only to the Executive himself. As part of the aforementioned deal with the Army, the constitution stipulates that a quarter of seats in both houses be directly appointed by the Armed Forces and the President of the Senate be subject to Military approval before taking up the office.
The Cuban economy is largely dependent on agricultural exports, with the financial services and manufacturing sectors growing rapidly. Unlike most other primarily agriculturally oriented nations, however, Cuba is fairly prosperous, with the average Cuban enjoying a standard of living higher than that of some parts of western Europe. Inequality, however, is a major problem, with a significant portion of the population, in particular, those who live in the relatively underdeveloped southeast, trapped in poverty and with only marginal social mobility.
Like the rest of Latin America, Cuban society is the product of centuries of colonial rule. In contrast to the American continent, however, Amerindian influence on the nation's culture is muted, though not non-existent. Indeed, unlike in the Dominican Republic, where the indigenous inhabitants were likewise extirpated, few Cubans possess significant native ancestry.
Cuban culture is Spanish in origin with notable West African African influence. A substantial number of white Cubans possess non-Hispanic ancestry, however, and many Afro-Cubans are of Haitian descent. These inputs have served to further enrich and diversify the nation's cultural expression.
This societal fusion is perhaps best felt in the country's unique and innovative musical tradition. Cuban music, with its African and European influences, has proven popular across the Spanish-speaking world, and in the period preceding the game's start several Cuban songs, both in Spanish and English, even topped American musical charts.