Cachita's Streets: The Virgin of Charity, Race, and Revolution in Cuba
Revolutionary Streets, 1959–1998
The rebel victory of January 1, 1959, was heralded by spontaneous celebrations of huge crowds in Cuba’s streets, and photographs of these events of public jubilation became iconic images of the “victory of the revolution.” Frequent rallies in public plazas and streets to hear Fidel Castro’s speeches became institutionalized events for demonstrating, producing, and reproducing political support for the new policies of the revolutionary government. The Virgin’s original El Cobre image was (again) brought to Havana, this time for the National Catholic Congress of 1959, and this chapter interprets the claims about race, class, and the nation’s changing political orientation that were made by planners and participants at the ceremony. The event, which attracted several hundred thousand Cubans, served notice that not only Fidel, but the Virgin, too, could draw great multitudes to Havana’s Plaza Cívica—where the Virgin presumably blessed the Catholic Congress’s anti-Communist slogans.