When then-U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower started dropping trade embargoes and cutting off diplomatic relations with Cuba starting in 1960, the proverbial cold shoulder being given the island nation by America meant imported goods started to rapidly dwindle. It’s the reason why the streets of Cuba are cluttered with classic pre-1960 American cars that have been creatively pimped to stay road-worthy and household items are re-purposed to serve functions they were never intended for. Under Fidel Castro’s leadership, in 1959 Cuba became the first communist country in the western hemisphere.
Did You Know?
- Under Fidel Castro’s leadership, in 1959 Cuba became the first communist country in the western hemisphere.
- The pre-Castro government stole millions of pesos from the National Bank and Treasury when they fled the country.
- With the importing of many products completely cut off, Cubans were instructed by Castro to repair, repurpose and reinvent what they could.
- With their access to free education, many Cubans obtained degrees in engineering and put their schooling to work at home.
- Whatever pieces of metal scrap or plastic that was found was put to use in some way-from clothing basics to industrial machinery.
- Washing machine dryer engines are a hot commodity, and are used to make dozens of different items like fans and lawnmowers.
- When Castro took power, Cubans were not allowed to buy foreign cars. 60-year-old patched and re-painted American cars like Buicks and Oldsmobiles are a common sight.
- The Cuban military published The Book For The Family, which compiled articles from international publications like Popular Mechanics.
- Diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S. were restored in 2015, but the do-it-yourself mentality of Cubans remains intact.
- How communism turned Cuba into an island of hackers and DIY engineers
- Cuba’s DIY Inventions from 30 Years of Isolation
- Fidel Castro
- Cuba is poor, but who is to blame-Castro or 50 years of US blockade?
- Technological Disobedience
- Wayback machines: The classic cars of Cuba
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