• Heritage Action
  • More

Freedom Denied: The Costs and Consequences of the Cuban Revolution

Recorded on December 16, 2008

Location: The Heritage Foundation's Lehrman Auditorium

In the earliest hours of January 1, 1959, Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista fled the island for foreign exile.  Rebel fighters streamed triumphantly into Havana.  Within days the Castro brothers - Fidel and Raul - began to mete out instant justice against Batista's henchman driving a wedge between Washington and the new revolutionary regime.  Within weeks, the masks of democracy and pluralism fell away and Cuba under Fidel Castro's leadership embarked on a course of Communist rule that has lasted 50 years.

As the United States moves to install its eleventh President since Fidel Castro seized power, we as a people must once again reflect upon the cost and consequences of the Cuban Revolution and upon the continuing obstacles that separate the world's greatest democracy from a still intact totalitarian regime.  As the United States looks to the future, it must weigh potential trade offs between principles and pragmatism, between openness to the Cuban people and their aspirations for political and economic freedom and accommodation and appeasement of Cuba's unreformed and inflexible communist leadership.  Finding the correct way forward requires a sound grasp of where we have been as well as principles to guide us in the years ahead.