Rise of Castro

Castro and Cuba
Sepura and Cesar

Pretty good information on Castro. Good short overview of his initial policies. http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.u/COLDcastroF.htm

Cuba and the Rise of Fidel Castro

Conditions in Cuba prior the rise of Fidel Castro

  • Conditions were terrible
    • Widespread poverty (actual wealth laid in the hands of only a few)
    • unemployment was high
    • Economy was very dependent on sugar
    • High volume of corruption (especially in Havana)
    • Cubans were oppressed by government

United States had a heavy influence on Cuba

  • Because of the Teller and Platt Amendment instigated after Spanish American War of 1898
  • US controlled
    • 75% of the agriculture, sugar
    • Oil Refineries
  • Electricity production
    • Telephone system
    • The industries and factories
    • Cuban’s despised United States involvement

Fulgencio Batista’s government was corrupt and unstable

  • Bastista seized power illegally in 1952 and ruled as a dictator
  • He failed to implement reforms but rather, he used brutal measures to keep his people under his control
  • He needed to take drastic and aggressive measures to maintain his country. The United States, who initially supported him, ended their support and began to support Castro

Fidel Castro

  • Studied to become a lawyer at the University of Havana, at which time he gained a strong interested in politics
  • At first (early 1950s) Castro fought Batista through legal means by charging Batista for violating the 1940 Cuban Constitution; However he failed and from then on, he used more covert rebellions.
  • In 1953, Castro and Raul (his bro) along with a group of 160 anti-Batista armed man attacked the Moncado Barracks, which was a military base This was known as the 26th of July Movement.
  • The attempt to overthrow the government failed, however Castro became famous
  • Castro and Raul were sentenced to jail for ten years
  • There were released in 1955, Castro fled to Mexico.
  • In Mexico, he meet Che Guevera
  • In mexico he also trained men then sailed to the tip of Cuba on the Grandma where he landed with around a dozen men
  • Using guerrilla tactics, he took over one town after another
  • He came into power one January 1, 1959 after Batista Fled to the Dominican Republic
  • On February 16, 1959, Castro was sworn in as Prime Minister of Cuba.
  • AIMS:
    • He visualized a reformed Cuba. He wanted to end Latifundia, limit foreign ownership, end Cuba’s dependence on United States, and nationalize public services
  • Support:
    • poor peasants at first however than the general population
  • He did not consider himself a communist but turned communist because he need administrative help. Communist were willing to help. United States refused to offer any help.

Establishment of single party-party

  • Method: guerrilla warfare (especially in the Sierre Maestra (mountains)) , bombings, force, illegal.
  • Castro created the Partido Comunista de Cuba (PCC)
  • Form of government –definitely left wing SOCIALISTIC GOVERNMENT but not communist at first
  • Castro established himself as an authoritarian ruler over the people

Rule of Single Party State

Political, economic, and social policies and reforms


  • Turned to Khrushchev in 1961 because United States was unwilling to help
  • Established a communist state


  • Nationalized the oil refineries and sugar industries
    • This angered the United States which a great investment in them
    • Seized all American owned businesses and farms
    • Distributed the land upon farmers and peasants


  • Health care – medical service was free
  • Public Housing provided for cheap rent
    • Education
    • Opened 10,000 new schools
    • Literacy rose to become the highest in Latin America
  • New Man’s Theory
    • which was basically that Cubans should no longer work for personal benefits, but for the good outcome for everybody in the society.
  • Censorship of the Media
  • Created the National Ballet of Cuba
  • Created more freedoms for women, created the FMC (Federation of Cuban Women)
    • Mobilized women to support the establishment of more day care centers
  • Family Code of 1975
    • Equal rights in the home to the areas of marriage, divorce, adoption, and childbearing

Cuba and the Rest of the World

Cuba was a pivot country involved in the Cold War. It escalated and heightened tensions between the United States and Soviet Union. Events include: Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis

United States

By seizing control and nationalizing sugar industries, Castro began to slow process of ending relations with the United States

  • In 1960, United States placed an embargo on Cuba’s imports
  • Castro was seen to be dangerous and worst of all, a social democrat, or potentially a communist
  • This all lead to Cuba to side with USSR

Bay of Pigs (1961)

Eisenhower created the plan for the Bay of Pigs in his presidency. However, it was Kennedy who gave permission to the CIA to train exiles in order to implement a coup and overthrow Castro ( exactly the same to what they did in Guatemala a couple years earlier).

  • On April 17 1961, 1000 Cuban exiles landed on the shore Cuba, but nothing went has planned.
  • When the main commando unit landed, it faced 25000 Cuban troops backed up by Soviet tanks and jet aircraft.
  • USA underestimated the support of Castro
  • USA denied being involved but it was obvious that they were involved. USA looked bad and Kennedy was extremely embarrassed. Kennedy need to pay large amount of money to release the exiles.
    • Kennedy warned the spread of any communism in Latin America
    • Castro was scared of USA’s potential of a second invasion and the need to improve conditions led to the agreement between Castro and Khrushchev

Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)

  • US spy planes took photos of nuclear missiles sights in Cuba, which were put there by the communist in Russia
  • They immediately warned Castro and Khrushchev to remove the missiles
  • USA implemented a naval quarantine, which blocked off imports and exports into Cuba
  • USA mobilized for a potential war against Cuba and Soviet Union
    • 100000 troops prepared in Florida
  • Kennedy and Khrushchev finally came to a compromise
    • USA would take out missile sights in Turkey and promise not to invade Cuba. The fact that they were removing their missile was not publicized
    • USSR would remove their missiles in Cuba (this was publicized)
    • Therefore USA appeared to have received the better end of the compromise.
  • Kennedy was criticized for losing Cuba like China was lost in the 1940s. He was also blamed for allowing such problem to arise and for his brinkmanship policies.
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