History 2501E Lecture Notes - Cuban Missile Crisis, 26Th Of July Movement, Fidel Castro

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Published on 14 Mar 2013
Department
March, 05, 2013
Cuban Revolution
Fidel Castro:
-Came from a middle class family and he was an illegitimate child of a middle class man and one of his servants
-His father took care of his education at a private school and he studied law and got a degree and during the time
of the dictatorship students were very involved in politics and many were armed and fights could result in death
-He was very unhappy with the Batista government and in 1953 he took part in a revolt he organized on July 26th
and later the movement was called the July 26th Movement but it didn’t really get anywhere
-They wanted to attack the military barracks but there wasn’t that many of them and it was not well planned so it
was a total failure (attacked the Moncada Barracks) and most of them were taken prisoner but others did escape
-Castro escaped originally but he was caught later and many were tortured and there were women involved too
-He was sent to prison and when he was going to be tried he insisted on defending himself because of his law
degree and he gave this long speech where he said “history will absolve me” but he was given a number of years in
prison but he was lucky enough that later the government gave him amnesty
-At the time he was not a Marxist as some say and he was just rebelling against the government with no real
political ties and his rhetoric was more nationalistic than anything and this translated to being anti-USA
-After his release he left Cuba for Mexico to organize another rebellion and it was here where he got to know one
of his companions who was Che Guevara and in 1956 his band landed in Cuba with 80 men
-They were betrayed and it again was another disaster and 70 men were lost and killed but the survivors escaped
to the south of Cuba to the Sierra Maestra
-This was the poorest area in the country and the people lad little to no land but they stayed there because there
was no where to go and it was very far from Havana so there was not much of a military presence so it was a
perfect place for Castro to start a guerrilla war and they attracted locals to the cause
-There were rumours about their guerrilla force so Herbert Matthews who was a US journalist went there to
investigate them and he was smuggled into their area and he interviewed Castro and he wrote an article for Time
Magazine and this was huge for Castro because he was recognized and he exaggerated his numbers (intimidating)
-The movement was growing by 1957 and there were some successful attacks and they began targeting the sugar
fields and in the same year he announced there were two choices (zafra was the time when the harvest happened
and there was limited amount of time available to process it) and he said if Batista was still in power he would
keep burning the fields and if they wanted them to survive Batista had to be ousted
-Batista in 1958 started a liquidation campaign with the army ordered to deal with the guerrillas by any means
necessary but this made many people turn on him and his image suffered greatly but the movement couldn’t be
controlled and he looked like an impotent dictator (very dangerous image for him)
-The offensive crumbled after a while and by this time the US was withdrawing their support from Batista and by
December 1958 the regime fell and the leaders fled Havana
-The 1st of January was the triumph of the Cuban revolution and the three main figures were Che Guevara, Fidel
Castro, and Camilo Cienfuegos (died shortly after), and Raoul (Castro’s brother) helped some too
-Castro had a good reception and following from the people even though they didn’t know what his plans were
and there was a political vacuum in the beginning and he didn’t take power immediately
-He had promised people a real change but this had been seen before and the government was just too corrupted
to function so he had to deliver fast to prevent the same thing happening
-People wanted all of Batista’s men out and justice for the torturing etc they did and after the revolution there
were trials for those at the head or the army and other groups for violations and each lasted a few minutes and
usually the verdict was death resulting in more than 500 executions of the previous top men
-This horrified the US and the outside world because it was televised and Castro also had to deliver on other
promises so they brought in legislation to increase salaries, lower rents in the cities, take over property owned by
Batista and his men and make it into housing, renegotiate labour laws, new education reforms, cut prices, etc
-Some weren’t happy with this and many cattle ranchers and other large property owners were greatly effected
and by March he had to choose if he wanted popular support to move the revolution forward (meant alienating
the elite and part of the middle class) or if he would try to please everyone and just go half way on everything but
he opted for popular support
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Document Summary

Came from a middle class family and he was an illegitimate child of a middle class man and one of his servants. He was very unhappy with the batista government and in 1953 he took part in a revolt he organized on july 26th and later the movement was called the july 26th movement but it didn"t really get anywhere. Castro escaped originally but he was caught later and many were tortured and there were women involved too. At the time he was not a marxist as some say and he was just rebelling against the government with no real political ties and his rhetoric was more nationalistic than anything and this translated to being anti-usa. They were betrayed and it again was another disaster and 70 men were lost and killed but the survivors escaped to the south of cuba to the sierra maestra.

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