George Prida is an American born Cuban, who's parents fled the island for a better future back in the late 60s. I've known george since 1978, when we were in the first grade together. In fact, when I didn't quite understand how to add and subtract, he helped me out. He's been a friend ever since.
My recollection of his home was VERY fast Spanish that didn't sound like my grandparents (who were Mexican), and he was always with the black beans, white rice, and I think some pork dish. His mother was sweet although very frowned. She had fled her home under grave conditions, so no wonder. I grew up with no context or real understanding of Cuba's history. It wasn't covered in my school, and no one seemed to ever really talk about it, yet I was always curious...
Many years later, I found myself taking a musical journey through Latin Jazz, which was originally Afro-Cuban Jazz, which originated in Cuba and neighboring islands, namely Puerto Rico. It was in essence polyrhythms from it's African roots combined with jazz influences. New sounds emerged such as the Mambo, Rumba, Cha-Cha, and more, all during a pre-Castro era. I got to poking around the history of it all and noticed an interesting parallel story to the startup world - how companies break thru to the mainstream and disrupt a market.
That pre Castro era of Cuba sounds like one hell of a party. In the 50s it became a haven for American mobsters, who partnered with the Cuban president at the time (Batista), and created a tropical version of Las Vegas. As they created massive wealth for themselves, they created a wide gap between the have's and have nots. After years of rebellion against the corruption, Castro and a small army slowly began taking over the island. He began with newspaper propaganda, and slowly grew a base of passionate soldiers eager to take control, and they did, one small town at a time. His movement had meaning, and touched the have nots enough to give them hope and motivation to see this thru, against the odds.
When news came that Castro's rebels had overtaken nearby towns, Batista conceded and fled Havana. Later that evening (this was new year's eve '59) Castro's army of rebels took the streets of Havana, and namely the hotels and casinos. In one big multiyear movement, not only did Castro push the corrupt president aside, he also pushed the American mob out of town just when they were proving out their model. The people wanted change, and they got it. 50 years later, that rebel government is mainstream and still in control. Grassroots recruiting, muscle, cause and persistence prevailed over corruption.
There's certainly much more to this story, but I thought the analogy of Castro's movement as a startup was interesting.