Lesson 2 Cuba: The Reality Tour

Focus: Cuba during the 1990’s Special Period of economic crisis after the dissolution of the Soviet Union
Perspective: American cartoonist, Bill Griffith

Teacher Instructions

Student Activities

Reading on the Special Period (reading for Activity 2)

Extra Resources


Cuba’s Special Period

An excerpt from “Cuba: Between Reform & Revolution” by Louis A. Pérez, Jr.

Chapter 12 – Socialist Cuba
Section XII – Pages 381-387

Find it at Oxford University Press

Cuban women in the Special Period by Yoseti Herrera Guitián from Ebb Magazine

Cuba’s “Special Period” Remembered by Irina Pino from Havana Times


The Godfather – Godfather Partners in Cuba
Use with page 5 of Cuba: The Reality Tour cartoon

Cuba during the “Special Period” – El Periodo Especial

Filmed by camcorder in Cuba by Lutz Mommartz – Presented here for educational purposes. Views of Cuba and television broadcast of Castro Speech. Spanish (53Min)

Cuba past and present: The Special Period (3:36) from CGTN America

The Cuban economy went into free fall, and there was widespread hunger. Despite a tightening of the trade embargo by the United States, Cuba pulled through.

Cuba’s ‘Special Period’ from BBC: Witness History

In the 1990s the Cuban economy came close to collapse after the fall of the Soviet Union. The end of the millions of dollars in Soviet aid meant power cuts and severe food shortages on the Caribbean island. Some of the first private businesses started up under communism. We hear from Juan Carlos Montes, who opened a small restaurant at home to make ends meet, but was arrested by the communist authorities. Spanish/English subtitles (4:00)

This filmmaker followed 45 years of change in Cuban life from PBS News Hour

In 1972, intrigued by the promises of communism, then-24-year-old Jon Alpert sailed illegally to Cuba. For the next 45 years, the New York City filmmaker made regular trips to the island, documenting post-revolution Cuba through the daily lives of three families. The NewsHour Weekend’s Christopher Booker spoke to Alpert, whose work will appear in the Netflix documentary, “Cuba and the Cameraman.”

Official trailer from NBC News Latino