Youth organizations in revolutionary Cuba, 1959–1962: from Unidad to Vanguardia
AbstractThe ubiquitous billboards in Cuba featuring the emblem of the Young Communist League (UJC) are part of the landscape of the revolution. The profiles of Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos, and Julio Antonio Mella, staring into a blissful future under the slogan “Estudio, Trabajo, Fusil” (Study, Work, Rifle) are among the most recognizable motifs of communist Cuba. Such organization came from the first three years of the revolution; its existence cannot be taken for granted. The enthusiasm of the early years is not in doubt, but a closer assessment of the search for stability and meaning is timely. Youth is a case in point. The high expectations, uncertainty, and excitement for young people become evident through an examination of the evolution of youth organizations between 1959 and 1962. Initiatives aimed at unity largely coordinated by the Young Socialists (JS), the ascendance of a culture of mass participation with the meteoric rise of the Association of Young Rebels (AJR), and the creation of the UJC in 1962 show the move to selectivity and youth politics as opposed to other, broader initiatives. The story of the youth organizations not only reveals the reasons behind the failure to sustain a mass organization for young people, but also the rapid change and levels of uncertainty to which young Cubans were exposed in the early years of the revolution as they sought to be and become young rebels and young communists within an evolving social revolution
CitationLuke, A. (2017). 'Youth organizations in revolutionary Cuba, 1959–1962: from Unidad to Vanguardia' in Font, M., A., and Tinajero, A. (eds.) 'Handbook on Cuban history, literature, and the arts'. London: Routledge, pp. 1-16.