Why Can't I Have My Cake and Eat It Too? 

Cuban Socialist Society                      



Unit Overview. Capitalism and communism have been at odds for over a century, with each side accusing the other of failing to adequately provide for its citizens.  How does one define good government?  What is a government’s responsibility to its people?  How should a society prioritize its efforts to increase the quality of life of its citizens?  Is access to free healthcare and quality education more valuable than freedom of speech and movement?  These questions lie at the heart of any study of political systems. Students will examine the impact of communism on Cuban daily life, with a particular emphasis on evaluating how much American views of Cuba have been influenced by propaganda and the US political agenda.

Cuban Communism: The Success and Failure of the Revolution There is a longstanding joke in Havana that the Cuban revolution produced three great successes: public health care, excellent education, and social equality. It also produced three great failures: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Students will examine the pros and cons of the Cuban political and social system through the lens of Cuban daily life.  Is universal healthcare worth the grinding poverty of slum housing?  Does a monthly food distribution make up for the need to hitchhike to work each day?  Is a free rock concert worth waiting in line for bread?  Does a system that puts the needs of society over the needs of the individual also encourage strong and enduring social ties?  How valuable is literacy when books are censored and you only have access to state newspapers?

Footage Highlights:

    1. An intimate look at the life and work of a family doctor in rural Cuba
    2. Slum housing in Havana
    3. Hitchhiking as an official form of public transport
    4. A public rock concert put on by the state for Cuba’s youth
    5. A dry goods distribution store
    6. A street party on the Malecon – Havana’s “living room”
    7. The public bus system

This unit includes: Digital footage of general life in Cuba; footage illustrating the pros and cons of communism/socialism in Cuban society; a teaching unit supporting social science standards complete with class activities, grading rubrics, and teacher support materials; flowcharts, and detailed background information on the footage.  Teacher support materials include instructional strategies which may be used in sequence to progress through the unit or used in a "cafeteria" manner. Also included are four PowerPoint presentations, lecture materials, issues summary, graphic organizers, homework assignments, a video on how to use the footage, and student briefing materials.