Date of Award
Culminating Project Type
College of Liberal Arts
Keywords and Subject Headings
History, 20th-Century, Cold War, Soviet-Cuban, propaganda, diplomacy, foreign policy
In the middle of the twentieth century, a series of events brought the world’s largest country into an intimate connection with one of the world’s smaller nations. A globe apart, the Soviet superpower and powerless Cuba connected themselves in a common goal—protecting a burgeoning Marxist revolution from what the leaders in both countries saw as preordained interference by the U.S. When the two solidified their connections in the late 1950s, no one could have predicted that their relationship would bring the world to the brink of nuclear war, or that the Revolution in Cuba would far outlast communist rule in the Soviet Union. In both Castro’s Cuba and Khrushchev’s U.S.S.R., appearances were vital. For both leaders, foreign policy successes—particularly vis-à-vis the U.S—were essential in consolidating and holding power domestically. Both men used façades to accomplish their political ends. Such political use of façades has a long history in Russia and an intense, if shorter, history in Cuba. Such strategies worked well for both leaders until the early 1960s, when the U.S. finally exposed Khrushchev’s bluff for what it was—a Potemkin village. Even so, Khrushchev was able to ensure that Castro was safe from intervention by the U.S. This project revises our understanding of Castro’s success—and why he chose Bolshevism as his modus operandi. It details the historical complexity of the Soviet-Cuban relationship and explores the migration of Leninist propaganda and its counterpart—Russian pokazukha—from Russian Eurasia to the Cuban Caribbean.
Westrate, Michael Thomas, "Real Potemkin Villages : Pokazukha and Propaganda in the Soviet-Cuban Connection" (2007). Culminating Projects in History. 18.