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Rural Cuba

Rural Cuba

Lowry Nelson
Copyright Date: 1950
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    Rural Cuba
    Book Description:

    Impoverished people in a rich land -- that is the paradox of Cuba described with thorough documentation by Lowry Nelson, passed professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota. Professor Nelson studied rural Cuba’s problems for a year during his appointment as rural sociologist for the U.S. Department of State. With the cooperation of the Cuban government, Professor Nelson directed a series of detailed sociological surveys of representative rural districts. Data were gathered in these surveys on the family habits, agricultural methods, farm tenure, income, educational opportunities, social activities, and level of living of more than 700 rural Cuban families. This material is combined with historical background, census analyses, and on-the-spot observations for a comprehensive study that fills a gap in the available literature on the subject. The volume includes appendixes providing a description of the geography of the survey area and a verbatim sample report of a survey interviewer, together with a glossary of Spanish words, a bibliography, and tables. In this book rural Cuba’s problems are thoroughly discussed, present-day progress toward their solution is reported, and suggestions are offered for future agricultural policies that could help enrich the lives of Cuba’s people.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-3664-2
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Preface
    (pp. v-viii)
    Lowry Nelson
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. CHAPTER I Rich Land—Poor People
    (pp. 3-22)

    “The land is very rich and the people very poor,” said José Fariñas Castro, operator of a two-thousand-acre livestock ranch in central Cuba. I was sitting on the porch of their relatively good ranch home with Señor and Señora Fariñas and their two charming daughters, asking questions which I hoped would bring forth expressions of opinion and attitudes that might help me to a better understanding of the life and aspirations of Cuban farm people. I had come to Cuba for a year of study and investigation as rural sociologist in the United States Department of State, and I wanted...

  5. CHAPTER II The Cuban People
    (pp. 23-46)

    Columbus discovered Cuba on Sunday, October 28, 1492, and took possession of the island “in the name of Christ, Our Lady, and the reigning sovereigns of Spain.” He named the island Juana in honor of the Infante Don Juan, son of Ferdinand and Isabella, but the name failed to take hold; Cuba, the name by which the natives had called their land, persisted. For four centuries Cuba was a colony of Spain, the last of her possessions in the New World to win its independence (in 1898). The firstconquistadoresreadily overcame the feeble resistance of the native inhabitants, and...

  6. CHAPTER III The Land, Climate, and Seasonal Rhythms
    (pp. 47-59)

    Every society has to face the problem of adapting to the physical environment, including the climate, the topography, the quality of the soil, and other natural resources. Human beings, like all other forms of life, subsist upon and owe their existence to the beneficence of nature. But while people are dependent upon the physical world for sustenance, they are able to add greatly to the natural productivity of the earth through intelligent control over natural forces. Their level of culture or civilization largely determines the manner of their utilization of natural resources. Indeed, resources can scarcely be said to exist...

  7. CHAPTER IV Locality Groups and the Settlement Pattern
    (pp. 60-78)

    There are three main patterns of occupancy of land—the farm village, the line village, and dispersed farmsteads. In the case of the farm village, farmers build their homes in a cluster rather than on their separate farms; in the line village, the farm homes are built on farms which are long and narrow in shape, so that all the houses face a highway, river, or other means of transportation and are reasonably close together without being separated from the fields. The pattern known as dispersed farmsteads is that in which the farm homes are located on the farms themselves...

  8. CHAPTER V The Evolution of the Cuban Land System
    (pp. 79-106)

    During the four and a half centuries of occupation of Cuba by Europeans, the systems of land use, land distribution, and land division passed through several phases. These various phases were not always sharply differentiated in time. Often they overlapped and merged into or even ran parallel to each other. The dates indicated for each period are only approximate and do not in most cases represent an absolute point of beginning and ending of each land system; they do, however, include the years when each system was at its height. The following rough designation as to time periods and general...

  9. CHAPTER VI Land Division, Measurement, and Registration
    (pp. 107-113)

    In Chapter V only passing reference was made to the problem of land surveys. This very interesting problem is still a cause for complaint and unrest among Cuban farmers and landowners, as it has been throughout most of the history of the country. The present situation had its origin in two historical antecedents. The first was the introduction by the Spaniards of the system of land location by metes and bounds, that is, according to topographic features, natural objects, or even less specific descriptions. This system was not peculiar to the Spanish colonizers in the New World; it was the...

  10. CHAPTER VII Systems of Farming
    (pp. 114-138)

    The way in which the agricultural enterprise is organized makes a great deal of difference in the social life of rural people. Where there is a small-farm economy, one kind of community life exists; where the latifundia prevail, there is quite a different kind. Usually both large and small farms occur side by side, although there are areas devoted exclusively to one or the other. For example, large parts of the provinces of Camagüey and Oriente are utilized either as sugar plantations or as livestock ranches. In other sections of the same provinces there are areas given over exclusively to...

  11. CHAPTER VIII The Social Class Structure
    (pp. 139-161)

    Before describing the stratification of rural society in Cuba, it is desirable to examine the structure of the society as a whole. This is not an easy task, and the writer does not pretend that this analysis is conclusive. No doubt there will be objections raised by other observers that this analysis does not provide an adequate overview of Cuban classes. No student of a culture foreign to his own can feel secure in drawing conclusions based upon no more than one year of observation. Nevertheless, the presentation to follow is the author’s best judgment as to the contemporary system...

  12. CHAPTER IX Social Stratification in Rural Cuba
    (pp. 162-173)

    Farmers and farm workers in 1943 constituted about 41 per cent of the labor force in Cuba (Table 18). The next most important occupation group from the standpoint of numbers is that composed of unskilled workers, followed by the clerical and sales group, the skilled workers, the proprietors, managers, and high employees, and the professional and semiprofessional groups. The distinctively rural character of Cuba’s population makes it important to analyze further the status structure of this segment of Cuban society.

    While most of the rural population would fall into the lower class, as indicated in Chapter VIII, there are some...

  13. CHAPTER X The Cuban Family
    (pp. 174-200)

    The family occupies a basic position in practically all societies throughout the world, but it is particularly important in some because of the weakness or absence of other institutions. Cuba is such a society. In most of the other Latin-American countries, for example, the family shares with the church much authority over its members. In North America, there is not only a wide distribution of church organizations, but the schools, farm organizations, and clubs and societies of every kind also compete for the attention of family members. In Cuba the church plays only a minor role among farm people.¹ In...

  14. CHAPTER XI The Level of Living
    (pp. 201-219)

    The level of living of the Cuban farm population in 1946 was probably higher than it had ever been before; at least it was higher than at any time since the early 1920’s. This situation rested on the fact that more widespread employment opportunities were available as a result of the war and postwar demands for sugar and other agricultural commodities. The statement is made with full knowledge that there were thousands of families in rural Cuba who could not afford to purchase at inflated prices the clothing and food articles in the stores. It does not mean that the...

  15. CHAPTER XII Education and the Schools
    (pp. 220-244)

    Enrique José Varona, one of the great intellectuals of Cuba, reported on October 23, 1895, that the Cuban budget for that year provided $182,000 for education. “All of the countries of America excepting Bolivia,” he said, “all of them, including Haiti, Jamaica, Trinidad, and Guadeloupe, where the colored race predominates, spend a great deal more than the Cuban Government for the education of the people. On the other hand, only Chile spends as much as Cuba for the support of an army. In view of this it is easily explained why 76 per cent of such an intelligent and wide-awake...

  16. CHAPTER XIII The Rural Prospect
    (pp. 245-256)

    In making a few concluding generalizations about rural Cuba, the author is aware that within the broad framework of Cuban society there are many variations and diversities; and that although there are here, as in all societies, some common elements which provide a certain homogeneity, there is always a measure of heterogeneity as well. The student of a culture must attempt to see both the likenesses and the differences.

    As we have seen, Cuban culture of today is derived predominantly from the heritage of Spain. The conquistadores who overran the island in the early sixteenth century founded the first settlements,...

  17. APPENDIX A. Brief Description of Areas Covered by the Special Surveys
    (pp. 259-261)
  18. APPENDIX B. General Social and Economic Conditions in the Cienfuegos-Trinidad Survey Area
    (pp. 262-272)
  19. Glossary
    (pp. 273-275)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 276-280)
  21. Subject Index
    (pp. 281-283)
  22. Index of Names
    (pp. 284-285)