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(Public Record Office Class FO 371)

Part 1: Revolution in Cuba, 1959-1960
(PRO Classes FO 371/139396-139521, 148178-148345 & PREM 11/2622)

Part 1 of this microfilm project offers the complete Foreign Office Files for Cuba for 1959 and 1960. Charting the beginning of an era which would eventually bring the world to the brink of World War Three, these documents offer new perspectives on issues relating to the revolution in Cuba from the ending of the Batista regime to Fidel Castro’s takeover and first year in power.

Some of the principal topics covered include:

  • The internal political situation in Cuba.
  • Political relations with nations such as the US, Japan, the Netherlands, Peru, the Soviet Union, Mexico and the Commonwealth countries.
  • Industry (e.g. mining, sugar production) and the Cuban economy.
  • Imports and exports.
  • The sale of military aircraft and helicopters.
  • Commercial relations with countries such as China, Japan, Poland, the US and the UK.
  • Military files documenting Naval bases and the Cuban Army.
  • Communication and utility networks.
  • The Nationalisation of the Cuban oil industry.
  • Security and intelligence organisations.
  • Tourism and emigration.
  • Labour and Trade Unions.
  • Expropriation of US and UK owned property in Cuba.
  • Visits by politicians and journalists.
  • Education and religion in Cuba.

Many documents are critical of both American and British Governments. The British files offer a perspective on the events of 1959 and 1960 which is often significantly different to the material to be found in US official files of the same period. They are useful for assessing world opinion, from Europe and the Baltic to the Commonwealth and Latin America. The material suggests numerous possibilities of comparative research work and will enable scholars to explore such questions as:

  • To what extent was Cuba’s revolutionary government recognised by the world’s leaders?
  • Was Britain more than a bystander?
  • How do communism and capitalism in Cuba compare?
  • How did the Revolution shape further events in Cuba?
Fidel Castro

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