Patriots and Traitors in Revolutionary Cuba, 1961–1981

No other historian has even tried to reconstruct, as Guerra does, how structures of hegemony and control were so efficiently built in postrevolutionary Cuba. As Cuba’s future becomes increasingly open to diverging views and possible paths, conflicts over what ‘patria’ is and who can legitimately claim it will become more central, perhaps even more violent. Patriots and Traitors is the first historical reconstruction of that future.
Alejandro de la Fuente, Harvard University

Authorities in postrevolutionary Cuba worked to establish a binary society in which citizens were either patriots or traitors. This all-or-nothing approach reflected in the familiar slogan “patria o muerte” (fatherland or death) has recently been challenged in protests that have adopted the theme song “patria y vida” (fatherland and life), a collaboration by exiles that, predictably, has been banned in Cuba itself. Lillian Guerra excavates the rise of a Soviet-advised Communist culture controlled by state institutions and the creation of a multidimensional system of state security whose functions embedded themselves into daily activities and individual consciousness and reinforced these binaries. But despite public performance of patriotism, the life experience of many Cubans was somewhere in between. Guerra explores these in-between spaces and looks at Cuban citizens’ complicity with authoritarianism, leaders’ exploitation of an earnest anti-imperialist nationalism, and the duality of an existence that contains elements of both support and betrayal of a nation and of an ideology.

508 Pages, 6.1 x 9.1 in.

January, 2023

isbn : 9780822947738

about the author

Lillian Guerra

Lillian Guerra is professor of Cuban and Caribbean history at the University of Florida. She is the author of several poetry collections, a short story collection, and four books of history, including Visions of Power in Cuba, which received the Bryce Wood Book Award from the Latin American Studies Association.

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Lillian Guerra