Visions of Power in Cuba

Revolution, Redemption, and Resistance, 1959-1971

By Lillian Guerra

488 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 30 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-1886-9
    Published: August 2014
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-0-8078-3736-8
    Published: October 2012
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-8254-7
    Published: October 2012

Envisioning Cuba

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Awards & distinctions

Special Mention, 2013 Gordon K. and Sybil Lewis Award, Caribbean Studies Association

A 2013 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

2014 Bryce Wood Book Award, Latin American Studies Association

In the tumultuous first decade of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro and other leaders saturated the media with altruistic images of themselves in a campaign to win the hearts of Cuba's six million citizens. In Visions of Power in Cuba, Lillian Guerra argues that these visual representations explained rapidly occurring events and encouraged radical change and mutual self-sacrifice.

Mass rallies and labor mobilizations of unprecedented scale produced tangible evidence of what Fidel Castro called "unanimous support" for a revolution whose "moral power" defied U.S. control. Yet participation in state-orchestrated spectacles quickly became a requirement for political inclusion in a new Cuba that policed most forms of dissent. Devoted revolutionaries who resisted disastrous economic policies, exposed post-1959 racism, and challenged gender norms set by Cuba's one-party state increasingly found themselves marginalized, silenced, or jailed. Using previously unexplored sources, Guerra focuses on the lived experiences of citizens, including peasants, intellectuals, former prostitutes, black activists, and filmmakers, as they struggled to author their own scripts of revolution by resisting repression, defying state-imposed boundaries, and working for anti-imperial redemption in a truly free Cuba.

About the Author

Lillian Guerra is professor of Cuban and Caribbean history at the University of Florida and author of The Myth of José Martí: Conflicting Nationalisms in Early Twentieth-Century Cuba and Popular Expression and National Identity in Puerto Rico.
For more information about Lillian Guerra, visit the Author Page.


“Should be a required (and saddening) assignment. . . . Guerra reconstructs how Fidel Castro went about narrowing the range of civil liberties, autonomous institutions, and finally the society itself, until he completely dominated them.”—New York Review of Books

"Essential for students of 20th-century Cuban and Latin American history. . . . Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above."—Choice

"A unique book in the historiography of the Cuban Revolution.... Avoiding approaches common to [scholars] inside and outside the island, Guerra places herself in that rare space defined by a commitment to truth, at a time of generalized skepticism reinforced by post-structuralist unbelief. Writing against the grain, this book intervenes in a profound and impeccable manner in the debate over how to remember, read and give voice to those subjects who have been buried by the great undertakings of the State and those "heroic figures" of a certain monumental historiography."—translated from Gerardo Munoz, Diario de Cuba

“A stimulating, original—and in some circles, provocative—contribution to the historiography of the Cuban revolution.”—International Affairs

"Combines a captivating narrative style, academic rigor and an invitation to rethink the very basics of the history and political culture of the Cuban revolution. . . . A unique and masterful piece of historical and sociological prose. . . . Captures you and does not let go. . . . Possibly one of the most significant of recent contributions to the historiography of the Cuban revolution."—Havana Times

"Guerra's efforts to develop [her] thesis are carefully constructed, thought-provoking, and persuasively presented."—The Americas