Cuban Cultural Awareness


The scholars are unanimously defining culture as a cumulative paradigm of customs, rules, beliefs, rituals and traditions shared, followed and protected by a particular group of individuals. Cultural awareness in its turn is the scope and the way this groups associates itself with a particular cultural set.  It is attributed on different levels, ranging from racial culture to a tribal one.

One of the most culturally distinguished nations in the world is the Cubans. The cultural development and evolution of this nation has been influenced by the numerous factors of internal and external natures. First and foremost, the Cubans originated from a mixed nation of the deported African slaves and their white skin owners, predominantly French and Spanish colonists, with a  slight admixture of the Dutch blood. Hereby, the culture of this country is a melting pot of the national cultural peculiarities of these nations, considerably sophisticated by the exclusively Cuban national development aspects like world famous Cuban revolution  with the personalities of dramatic significance like Ernesto Che Guevara , Fidel Castro  and internationally recognized Cuban singer Carlos Puebla.

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that for Cubans, their own, native cultural awareness is of paramount importance. The analysis is provided in the light of musical and literature aspects, religious situation in the country, linguistic features of Español spoken here and the distinguished Cuban cuisine. The message delivered by this paper is that for those living in Cuba cultural awareness has become the issue of vital importance, which conditions the existence of the Cubans as the national formation.

Music and Literature

National Cuban music is taking its roots in the ancient African and West European musical traditions, or being more exact the combination of those musical areas. As far as native Indian musical elements are concerned, it shall be accentuated that with the Spanish and French colonization of the island, these elements of the musical paradigm has been practically obliterated. Traditional pre-revolutionary musical stage of the island of liberty consisted of African and West European musical styles fusion, which has been heavily influenced by the history of the island.

Most popular music styles in Cuba nowadays are rumba, bachata, salsa, new flamenco and the punto. The rising popularity of Cuban hip-hop can’t be disregarded as well, since the success of Los Orishas band has been recognized by the  most rigorous international musical critics.

Radically new musical trends have taken roots with the commencement of the Cuban Revolution (Skaine, 44). The songs of Carlos Puebla are considered as international insurrection anthems nowadays, widely cited and chanted by  the revolutionary movements nowadays and in the past.

The literature of Cuba is also important in the national cultural awareness of the Cubans. The works of Reinaldo Arenas and Cirilo Villaverde has conquered the international literature arena and received predominantly positive feedbacks from the critical community (Skaine, 63). National Cuban literature takes dominant positions in the educational syllabuses of the Cuban primary and secondary educational establishments.

Overall, literature and music occupy important positions in the cultural awareness compound of the Cuban population. The Cubans admit that having migrated to any country overseas, the need to listen to the national tunes and to read Cuban literature works remain  vital for them.  Cuban dance communities are among the most proactive social minorities clubs in the European Union and the United States of America. The grave importance of this aspect of Cuban daily life forms the issue that is understood under the term national identity.

Cuban dialect of Spanish Language and Demeanor

Traditional castellano language has been subjected to significant transformations in Cuba. The context of the isolated words has been drastically altered and their interpretation may significantly differ from the way they are understood in Spain or the rest of Latin America.  Specific highlight is always laid  by the scholars to peculiar Cuban greetings that help them to recognize each other on the global arena and definite meaning of the Cuban words that originated from the combination of the native Cuban population words,  words and lexical structures of African origin and traditional lexical, grammatical and semantic structures brought to the continent by the Spanish colonists.

Cuban daily or “cotidiano” conduct is very distinguished from traditional American or European ones. The Cubans or  “los Cubanos” (self-name) are rather informal comparatively to their European, American and even Latin American peers. The only common feature with those nations is more reverend and even formal communication with the elderly or superiors in the business sphere. Another fact worth accentuating is the official recognition of Cuban. The authorities and state officials in Cuba are free to compose the official documentation abstaining from the classical standards of Spanish language.

Overall, the impact of linguistic identity of this nation is pivotal for the Cubans to feel their national identity (Rubiera-Castillo, 58). If a Cuban citizen meets his compatriot overseas, the one who speaks this dialect of Spanish immediately becomes a brother and becomes highly respected and welcomed.


After the colonization period and pre-revolutionary era, the Cubans were highly religious nation, with Catholicism being the predominant religion among the population. Traditional and native beliefs, as well as Protestant church were remorselessly eradicated by the proactive Spanish inquisition that had a very strong presence on the island.

During the pre-revolutionary period the Cubans were very religious people. The archives report that average Cuban family attended church two or three times a week, while listening to the sermons of the ministers were ranked as a most sacred tradition. 

However, with the advent of the communist-based revolution  led by Fidel Castro and Ernesto Guevara, in accordance with the popular communist doctrine religion was almost forbidden. Religious practices and rituals, as well as their worshipping were strongly banned, and the Cubans who violated the edicts of the government were severely persecuted and castigated by the government. The punishment for the violation of this rule included prison terms and forced labor camps.

However, since 1970 the ruling authorities in Cuba realized the core wrongfulness of this policy, and the light was given to the practice of religion. The Cubans  were initially partially and then fully given absolute liberty to practice whatever religion they prefer or not to profess any, that is absolutely consistent with the existing democratic standards, encapsulated in the Charter of the United Nations Organizations (Mamanzo, 74).

However, it shall be noted that during the church-hostile period of the Cuban communist rule, the churches and other religious installations were almost totally obliterated by the governing party of Cuba. Nowadays, they  are being gradually re-built with the help of western and American missionaries.

While Catholicism is the major religion on the island, the presence of other religions is not significant. The second popular religion is the so-called Santeria, which can be classified as a mixture of Catholicism and traditional island religions.  That religion is predominantly practiced by the descendants of the African slaves and their families (Mamanzo, 34).

Generally, religion is not the dominant issue of the Cuban cultural paradigm. Whilst recently it remained almost alienated thereof, nowadays religious affiliation is almost forcibly imposed on the islanders by the European and American religious missionaries. Overall, it can be assumed that long-standing Spanish Catholicism traditions are taking its toll, with Cuban population becoming more religiously dedicated every single year (Mamanzo, 71).

Family Life and Sport

Traditionally, family remains one of the most fundamental values for the Cubans and the status of mother is one of the most highly respected and valued by the community. Having decided to conclude matrimonial relations, the Cubans remain loyal to their spouse almost all their lives and the divorce rate in that country is among the lowest internationally as well as the abortion rate. With rising solidification of Catholicism the Cubans started to perceive pre-matrimonial connection negatively, preferring to establish their connections officially.

As far as sport life on the island is concerned, it shall be stated that under the support of Soviet Union  sport instructors. Special popularity can be attributed to boxing, since Cuban champions are known worldwide (Rivero, Kelley & Kelley, 13). Moreover, sport situation of the region was intensified by Fidel Castro’s personal admiration with baseball and his personal partaking in several competitions.

Overall, family life and proactive daily sport orientation are one of the most fundamental aspects that compose Cuban cultural arena. These two aspects are among the most sacred values for the Cubans and inability to practice one of them inevitably leads to the sense of national inferiority for them.

Other Determinative Factors

However important the aforementioned factors are, plenty of others do influence the Cuban society as well, as far as their impact on the cultural paradigm is concerned.  First and foremost, Cuban geographical location, and in particular its proximity to the United States of America is one of the most determinative factors affecting the cultural awareness of the Cubans. Communist orientation and the closeness of the biggest global capitalist shark has produced a unique fusion of Cuban cultural aspects, that generated a strong association of the Cubans with “the rebels” and “the revolutionaries”.

Secondly military history of this country is another very important aspect that is to be taken into account by the researchers. The most significant events are the Cuban revolution and the Caribbean Nuclear Crisis, that made the Cubans able to withstand the most outwardly catastrophic international tensions. Moreover, a great variety of different must and literature works have been based on the Cuban  revolutionary, Soviet-Union cooperation and subsequent nuclear crisis events. The Cubans have become more resilient, adaptable to crisis and particularly non-vulnerable to the factors of external influence that can affect their well-being.

The people in Cuba are really unique and they are the most important determinants of the Cuban cultural paradigm. First and foremost, they are the bearers of the culture and the interpreters of the factors that determine the culture. Whatever effect is done, it is reflected in the way the people demean and the way the speak. This factor is of paramount importance to the formulation of the cultural paradigm of Cuba. However, the strong presence of the various organizations shall also be mentioned. In particular, Cuban communist party has strong presence in the island and definitely the activity of the communist units contributes significantly to the formulation of the cultural paradigm of the island. Communist elements are evident in the songs, poetry and other literature works of the Cubans.  Specifically strong these processes started after the culmination of the Cuban revolution, when Che Guevar and Fidel Castro entered La Habana and the entire Cuban population was seized with growing enthusiasm of the possibility to build a brand new society, in where the law and equality rules.


Having summarized the main points of this essay several inferential conclusions can be made. First and foremost,  the Cubans are very particular in their cultural awareness spectrum, feeling themselves very distinguished from other nations. Their cultural peculiarities are evident from their attitude to music and literature, religion, linguistic peculiarities, family life and sport practice. Failure to succeed in one of this areas contribute to the sense of national inferiority of the Cubans and all them can be ranked a having equal importance for the composition of Cuban national awareness.  

Moreover, the biggest and most determinative contributors that define the cultural paradigm of the island are the Cuban military and revolutionary past and the way the people of this country interpret the cultural reflections and determinants. In other words, Cuban cultural awareness remains as long as the Cuban population preserves these traditions and practices them. One of the most peculiar facts is that in contrast to the overseas nations, the Cubans are the nation that actively acts to preserve its cultural legacy and to remain closely affiliated to its own culture. In contrast, in the GB for instance national cultural customs and practices are artificially promoted and supported by the state agencies, while in Cuba this policy is intuitive to the people.

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