This paper analyzes the transition from extensive bovine production systems based mostly on meat production to an intensive model to increase milk production, as one of the agricultural policies prioritized by the Cuban revolution after 1959. It is a less-studied topic compared with other economic, political or social issues during this period, a story connected to the goal of increasing the consumption of animal protein to feed the Cuban population. Although the center of attention will be cattle, this work also considers other achievements including production of eggs, poultry, pork, and fish. In particular, the paper emphasizes the collaborative relationships with Canada in the context of the Cold War. The Cuban bovine female stock shifted to emphasize Canadian Holstein breeds, a history that involves famous stud bulls and the famous Cuban cow named Ubre-Blanca, world record-holder in milk production in 1981-1982. Finally this development stopped suddenly after the economic crisis of 1991 and the end of the Soviet Union, raising questions about the sustainability of intensive milk production in a tropical country.
Dr. Reinaldo Funes-Monzote is a visiting professor at Yale University (2015-2017), Center for Latin American and Iberian Studies (CLAIS), MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies.