One of the first social measures undertaken by the revolutionary government was the eradication of illiteracy. Throughout 1961, declared the year of education, more than 700,000 Cubans learned to read and write. In the following years, illiteracy was eradicated and the number of university students ceaselessly increased, which was three times higher than in the days of Fulgencio Batista.
Medical care has become completely free, which has significantly reduced the country’s mortality rate. The Ministry of Health started to oblige doctors to work for at least two years in rural areas after graduation.
Before the revolution, Cuban land belonged to national and foreign landowners. Agrarian reform extinguished the latifundium and installed state agricultural cooperatives and establishments. In turn, the urban reform law made it possible for many families to own their own homes, paying low monthly fees to the state for a period of five to twenty years. Corruption, gambling and prostitution, common before the revolution, were the subject of a strong eradication campaign, accompanied by severe police measures that sought to prevent, among other things, the development of a black market to trade with many of the goods that were scarce under the harsh conditions. economic policy measures adopted.
The traditionally predominant religion in Cuba is Catholic, although, especially among the black population, a religious syncretism similar to that of Brazil and other Latin American countries has spread, with cults to African deities formally identified with Catholic saints.
In the early 1960s, the Catholic Church and the state faced each other openly: the church sought to prevent the complete nationalization of education, while the government accused it of being counter-revolutionary. Many priests and nuns left the country, others were deported. Since 1965, however, the government and the church have improved their relations and cooperate closely on many projects, especially of a social nature.
According to Recipesinthebox.com, Cuban cultural life has been profoundly transformed, as the government considered this aspect to be one of the most important aspects of the revolution. In the past, almost all artistic manifestations of any kind were limited to what the elite did in Havana. Since the revolution, the government has endeavored to spread culture in the provinces, as well as to endow it with a nationalist personality, often using it as a propaganda vehicle for the revolution, both at home and abroad.
The first Cuban author was Silvestre de Balboa, who wrote Espejo de patiencia in the early 17th century. In 1764 the first newspaper, Gaceta de la Habana, appeared, which exerted great influence on the colony and contributed to forge the nationalist character of the population. Romanticism had its precursor in the country José María Heredia, a poet committed to the revolutionary movement of the 1820s. Domingo del Monte, of Venezuelan origin, as well as a romantic poet, carried out intense studies on the folklore and traditions of the island.
Modernism began with José Martí and Julián del Casal and developed with Dulce María Borrero, Juan Guerra Núñez and Alfonso Hernández-Catá. José Martí established himself as a major figure of nationality, both for his political participation in independence, as well as for his work in poetry and prose.
In the 20th century, the novelist Luis Felipe Rodríguez stood out first for the style of his small articles and later for the complex psychological plot of his novels. Authors of great international prominence were the poet Nicolás Guillén, who incorporated into Spanish the black rhythms of his Cosongo Sóngoro, José Lezama Lima, a poet and novelist very influential in the following generations, and Alejo Carpentier, who in 1977 received the Miguel de Cervantes Prize.
After the revolution, all literary publication was centered on the Book Institute, an organization that came to edit tens of millions of volumes per year. About seventy percent of these books are works of consultation or of a technical and scientific nature, many of them distributed for educational purposes. The press is in the hands of the government, its main publications being Granma (the name of the boat from which Fidel Castro landed to head the revolution), the official journal of the Communist Party of Cuba, and Juventud Rebelde, official body of the Union of Young Communists.
In recent decades, new generations of writers, usually young, have created quality and politically committed literature. On the other hand, Cuban literature was also produced in exile, such as Guillermo Cabrera Infante, and even in prisons, as is the case with the poet Armando Valladares.
The first style of the colonial era was the Hispanic-Mudejar (Moorish of the Iberian Peninsula), from the 17th century, whose main exponents are the palaces of the Plaza de Armas, the Government House and the Intendency, as well as the ruins of the São Francisco convent Paula, all in Havana.
Havana’s cathedral corresponds to the 18th century baroque. In the following century, neoclassicism developed, driven by Bishop Juan José Díaz Espada y Landa, who took the controversial decision to replace the cathedral altars, in Baroque style. Many tobacco factories, large sugar stores, as well as theaters and other public buildings, were built according to the canons of neoclassicism.
The great buildings of the last colonial and early republican times are sumptuous palaces and benches whose architectural style was influenced by European movements and, above all, by Americans.