Question Neha Social Sciences

Economic factors in the Cuban revolution

What are the economic factors that contributed to the Cuban revolution?

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Answer Expert #735

There were several economic causal factors that contributed to the outbreak of the Cuban Revolution. The primary factor was the lack of diversification of the economy, which was predominantly based on sugar. There had been few opportunities for diversification and development as a direct result of mutually beneficial trade agreements with the United States that favoured Cuban sugar, which accounted for 85% of Cuban exports, and brought an influx of American manufactured goods into the Cuban market (Wright, 2001). This was maintained by foreign and upper class Cuban ownership of the plantations (Benjamin, 1990). As such, the economy rose and fell based upon sugar as well as the American market. The sugar industry had been in decline since the end of the 1920 sugar boom, with only one mill being built between 1926 and 1959 (Farber, 2007). Similarly, there had been a lack of capital investment and limited modernisation of the industry, which was mirrored in the economy as a whole (Farber, 2007). All of these factors served to depress the economy, significantly limiting the availability of employment and therefore provoked unrest amongst the working classes.

A further causal factor of the Revolution was the economic equality that existed in Cuba during the early 1950s. The gap between rich and poor had been exacerbated by the growth of an elite class largely based upon the sugar industry as well as ethnicity. The elites were white and a small percentage of the population (Chomsky, 2015) but controlled the majority of the capital and did little to cater for the condition of the working classes. This heightened tension and brought about a climate conducive to encouraging the outbreak of revolution.


Benjamin, J., (1990). The United States and the Origins of the Cuban Revolution. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Chomsky, A., (2015). A History of the Cuban Revolution. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Farber, S., (2007). The Origins of the Cuban Revolution Reconsidered. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.

Wright, T., (2001). Latin America in the Era of the Cuban Revolution. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.