Cuban Revolution

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Cuban Revolution
Raúl Castro (left), with his arm around his second-in-command, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, in their Sierra de Cristal mountain stronghold in Oriente Province, Cuba, in 1958
Date 26 July 19531 January 1959
(5 years, 5 months and 6 days)

26th of July Movement victory


Flag of Cuba sky blue.svg Cuban Government

Supported by:
Flag of the Dominican Republic.svg  Dominican Republic
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg  United States
M-26-7.svg 26th of July Movement
Supported by:
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg  United States
Flag of Cuba.svg Second National Front of Escambray
Flag of the Revolutionary Directorate of 13 March.png Student Revolutionary Directorate
Infobox PSP.png Socialist Party
Commanders and leaders
Flag of Cuba sky blue.svg Fulgencio Batista
Flag of Cuba sky blue.svg Eulogio Cantillo
Flag of Cuba sky blue.svg José Quevedo
Flag of Cuba sky blue.svg Alberto del Río Chaviano
Flag of Cuba sky blue.svg Joaquín Casillas  Skull and Crossbones.svg
Flag of Cuba sky blue.svg Cornelio Rojas  Skull and Crossbones.svg
Flag of Cuba sky blue.svg Fernández Suero
Flag of Cuba sky blue.svg Cándido Hernández
Flag of Cuba sky blue.svg Alfredo Abon Lee
M-26-7.svg Fidel Castro
M-26-7.svg Raúl Castro
M-26-7.svg Che Guevara
M-26-7.svg Abel Santamaría   Skull and Crossbones.svg
M-26-7.svg Camilo Cienfuegos
M-26-7.svg Huber Matos
M-26-7.svg Juan Almeida Bosque
M-26-7.svg Frank País  
M-26-7.svg René Ramos Latour  
M-26-7.svg Roberto Rodriguez 
M-26-7.svg Rolando Cubela Secades
M-26-7.svg Humberto Sori Marín
M-26-7.svg Alfonso Perez Leon
Flag of Cuba.svg Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo
Flag of Cuba.svg William Alexander Morgan
Flag of the Revolutionary Directorate of 13 March.png José Antonio Echeverría  
Infobox PSP.png Reynol Garcia  Skull and Crossbones.svg
Casualties and losses
5,000+ combat-related deaths; unknown thousands of dissidents arrested and murdered by Batista's government; unknown number of people executed by the Rebel Army [1] [2] [3] [4]
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History of Cuba
Insigne Cubicum.svg
Governorate of Cuba (1511–1519)
Viceroyalty of New Spain (1535–1821)
Captaincy General of Cuba (1607–1898)

US Military Government (1898–1902)
Republic of Cuba (1902–1959)

Republic of Cuba (1959–)

    Flag of Cuba.svg   Cubaportal

    The Cuban Revolution (Spanish : Revolución cubana) was an armed revolt conducted by Fidel Castro's revolutionary 26th of July Movement and its allies against the military dictatorship of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista. The revolution began in July 1953, [5] and continued sporadically until the rebels finally ousted Batista on 31 December 1958, replacing his government. 26 July 1953 is celebrated in Cuba as the Day of the Revolution (Dia de la Revolución). The 26th of July Movement later reformed along Marxist-Leninist lines, becoming the Communist Party in October 1965, and the government of Cuba later brought under its guise. [6]


    The Cuban Revolution had powerful domestic and international repercussions. In particular, it transformed Cuba's relationship with the United States, although efforts to improve diplomatic relations have gained momentum in recent years (see the Cuban thaw). [7] [8] [9] [10] In the immediate aftermath of the revolution, Castro's government began a program of nationalization, centralization of the press and political consolidation that transformed Cuba's economy and civil society. [11] [12] The revolution also heralded an era of Cuban intervention in foreign military conflicts in Africa, Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. [13] [14] [15] [16]

    Several rebellions occurred in the six years following 1959 among the impoverished peasantry, mainly in the Escambray mountains, which were repressed by the Revolutionary government. [17] [18] [19] [20]


    Politics of Cuba

    In the decades following United States' invasion of Cuba in 1898, and formal independence from the U.S. on May 20, 1902, Cuba experienced a period of significant instability, enduring a number of revolts, coups and a period of U.S. military occupation. Fulgencio Batista, a former soldier who had served as the elected president of Cuba from 1940 to 1944, became president for the second time in 1952, after seizing power in a military coup and canceling the 1952 elections. [21] Although Batista had been relatively progressive during his first term, [22] in the 1950s he proved far more dictatorial and indifferent to popular concerns. [23] While Cuba remained plagued by high unemployment and limited water infrastructure, [24] Batista antagonized the population by forming lucrative links to organized crime and allowing American companies to dominate the Cuban economy, especially sugar-cane plantations and other local resources. [24] [25] [26] Although the US armed and politically supported the Batista dictatorship, later US presidents recognized its corruption and the justifiability of removing it. [27]


    During his first term as President, Batista had not been supported by the Communist Party of Cuba, [22] , and during his second term he became strongly anti-communist. [24] [28] Batista developed a rather weak security bridge as an attempt to silence political opponents. In the months following the March 1952 coup, Fidel Castro, then a young lawyer and activist, petitioned for the overthrow of Batista, whom he accused of corruption and tyranny. However, Castro's constitutional arguments were rejected by the Cuban courts. [29] After deciding that the Cuban regime could not be replaced through legal means, Castro resolved to launch an armed revolution. To this end, he and his brother Raúl founded a paramilitary organization known as "The Movement", stockpiling weapons and recruiting around 1,200 followers from Havana's disgruntled working class by the end of 1952. Batista was known as a corrupt leader and constantly pampered himself with exotic foods and elegant women. [30]

    Early stages

    Attack on Moncada Barracks

    Striking their first blow against the Batista government, Fidel and Raúl Castro gathered 69 Movement fighters and planned a multi-pronged attack on several military installations. [31] On 26 July 1953, the rebels attacked the Moncada Barracks in Santiago and the barracks in Bayamo, only to be decisively defeated by government soldiers. [5] It was hoped that the staged attack would spark a nationwide revolt against Batista's government. After an hour of fighting the rebel leader fled to the mountains. [32] The exact number of rebels killed in the battle is debatable; however, in his autobiography, Fidel Castro claimed that nine were killed in the fighting, and an additional 56 were executed after being captured by the Batista government. [33] Due to the government's large number of men, Hunt revised the number to be around 60 members taking the opportunity to flee to the mountains along with Castro. [34] Among the dead was Abel Santamaría, Castro's second-in-command, who was imprisoned, tortured, and executed on the same day as the attack. [35]

    Imprisonment and emigration

    Numerous key Movement revolutionaries, including the Castro brothers, were captured shortly afterwards. In a highly political trial, Fidel spoke for nearly four hours in his defense, ending with the words "Condemn me, it does not matter. History will absolve me." Castro's defense was based on nationalism, the representation and beneficial programs for the non-elite Cubans, and his patriotism and justice for the Cuban community. [36] Fidel was sentenced to 15 years in the Presidio Modelo prison, located on Isla de Pinos, while Raúl was sentenced to 13 years. [37] However, in 1955, under broad political pressure, the Batista government freed all political prisoners in Cuba, including the Moncada attackers. Fidel's Jesuit childhood teachers succeeded in persuading Batista to include Fidel and Raúl in the release. [38]

    Soon, the Castro brothers joined with other exiles in Mexico to prepare for the overthrow of Batista, receiving training from Alberto Bayo, a leader of Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War. In June 1955, Fidel met the Argentine revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara, who joined his cause. [38] Raul and Castro's chief advisor Ernesto aided the initiation of Batista's amnesty. [36] The revolutionaries named themselves the "26th of July Movement", in reference to the date of their attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953. [5]

    Student demonstrations

    Student protests in Havana, 1956. Directorio Revolucionario Jose Antonio Echevaria, juan-pedro-carbo. University of Havana, Cuba.jpg
    Student protests in Havana, 1956.

    By late 1955, student riots and demonstrations became less common, and unemployment became problematic as new graduates could not find jobs. [39] [40] These protests were dealt with increasing repression. All young people were seen as possible revolutionaries. [41] Due to its continued opposition to the Cuban government and much protest activity taking place on its campus, the University of Havana was temporarily closed on November 30, 1956 (it did not reopen until 1959 under the first revolutionary government). [42]

    Attack on Domingo Goicuria barracks

    While the Castro brothers and the other July 26 Movement guerrillas were training in Mexico and preparing for their amphibious deployment to Cuba, another revolutionary group followed the example of the Moncada Barracks assault. On 29 April 1956 at 12:50 PM during Sunday mass, an independent guerrilla group of around 100 rebels led by Reynol Garcia attacked the Domingo Goicuria army barracks in Matanzas province. The attack was repelled with ten rebels and three soldiers killed in the fighting, and one rebel summarily executed by the garrison commander. Florida International University historian Miguel A. Brito was in the nearby cathedral when the firefight began. He writes, "That day, the Cuban Revolution began for me and Matanzas." [43] [44]

    Escalating conflict

    Granma landing

    The yacht Granma departed from Tuxpan, Veracruz, Mexico, on 25 November 1956, carrying the Castro brothers and 80 others including Ernesto "Che" Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos, even though the yacht was only designed to accommodate 12 people with a maximum of 25. On December 2nd [45] , it landed in Playa Las Coloradas, in the municipality of Niquero, arriving two days later than planned because the boat was heavily loaded, unlike during the practice sailing runs. [46] This dashed any hopes for a coordinated attack with the llano wing of the Movement. After arriving and exiting the ship, the band of rebels began to make their way into the Sierra Maestra mountains, a range in southeastern Cuba. Three days after the trek began, Batista's army attacked and killed most of the Granma participants – while the exact number is disputed, no more than twenty of the original eighty-two men survived the initial encounters with the Cuban army and escaped into the Sierra Maestra mountains. [47]

    The group of survivors included Fidel and Raúl Castro, Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos. The dispersed survivors, alone or in small groups, wandered through the mountains, looking for each other. Eventually, the men would link up again – with the help of peasant sympathizers – and would form the core leadership of the guerrilla army. A number of female revolutionaries, including Celia Sanchez and Haydée Santamaría (the sister of Abel Santamaria), also assisted Fidel Castro's operations in the mountains. [48]

    Presidential palace attack

    On 13 March 1957, a separate group of revolutionaries – the anticommunist Student Revolutionary Directorate (RD) (Directorio Revolucionario Estudantil, DRE), composed mostly of students – stormed the Presidential Palace in Havana, attempting to assassinate Batista and overthrow the government. The attack ended in utter failure. The RD's leader, student José Antonio Echeverría, died in a shootout with Batista's forces at the Havana radio station he had seized to spread the news of Batista's anticipated death. The handful of survivors included Dr. Humberto Castello (who later became the Inspector General in the Escambray), Rolando Cubela and Faure Chomon (both later Commandantes of the 13 March Movement, centered in the Escambray Mountains of Las Villas Province). [49]

    Frank País's death and strike

    On July 20, 1957 rebel leader Frank País was captured and killed in Santiago de Cuba during an intense and violent policing campaign. During his funeral, activists began marching through the city and raised a general strike. The strike would start skirmishes with the police and spread across various provinces that would last days. [50]

    Strengthening insurgency and United States involvement

    The United States supplied Cuba with planes, ships, tanks and other tech such as napalm, which was used against the rebels. This would eventually come to an end due to a later arms embargo in 1958. [51]

    According to Tad Szulc the United States began funding the 26th of July Movement around October or November of 1957 and ending around middle 1958. "No less than $50,000" would be delivered to key leaders of the 26th of July Movement. [52] The purpose being to instill sympathies to the United States amongst the rebels in case the movement succeeded. [53]

    Comandante William Alexander Morgan of the Second National Front of the Escambray William Alexander Morgan.jpg
    Comandante William Alexander Morgan of the Second National Front of the Escambray

    While Batista increased troop deployments to the Sierra Maestra region to crush the 26 July guerrillas, the Second National Front of the Escambray kept battalions of the Constitutional Army tied up in the Escambray Mountains region. The Second National Front was led by former Revolutionary Directorate member Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo and the "Yanqui Comandante" William Alexander Morgan. Gutiérrez Menoyo formed and headed the guerrilla band after news had broken out about Castro's landing in the Sierra Maestra, and José Antonio Echeverría had stormed the Havana Radio station. Though Morgan was dishonorably discharged from the U.S. Army, his recreating features from Army basic training made a critical difference in the Second National Front troops battle readiness. [54]

    Thereafter, the United States imposed an economic embargo on the Cuban government and recalled its ambassador, weakening the government's mandate further. [55] Batista's support among Cubans began to fade, with former supporters either joining the revolutionaries or distancing themselves from Batista. Once Batista started making drastic decisions concerning Cuba's economy, he began to nationalize U.S oil refineries and other U.S properties. [56] Nonetheless, the Mafia and U.S. businessmen maintained their support for the regime. [57] [58]

    Batista's government often resorted to brutal methods to keep Cuba's cities under control. However, in the Sierra Maestra mountains, Castro, aided by Frank País, Ramos Latour, Huber Matos, and many others, staged successful attacks on small garrisons of Batista's troops. Castro was joined by CIA connected Frank Sturgis who offered to train Castro's troops in guerrilla warfare. Castro accepted the offer, but he also had an immediate need for guns and ammunition, so Sturgis became a gunrunner. Sturgis purchased boatloads of weapons and ammunition from CIA weapons expert Samuel Cummings' International Armament Corporation in Alexandria, Virginia. Sturgis opened a training camp in the Sierra Maestra mountains, where he taught Che Guevara and other 26th of July Movement rebel soldiers guerrilla warfare.

    In addition, poorly armed irregulars known as escopeteros harassed Batista's forces in the foothills and plains of Oriente Province. The escopeteros also provided direct military support to Castro's main forces by protecting supply lines and by sharing intelligence. [59] Ultimately, the mountains came under Castro's control. [60]

    In addition to armed resistance, the rebels sought to use propaganda to their advantage. A pirate radio station called Radio Rebelde ("Rebel Radio") was set up in February 1958, allowing Castro and his forces to broadcast their message nationwide within enemy territory. [61] Castro's affiliation with the New York Times journalist Herbert Matthews created a front page-worthy report on anti-communist propaganda. [62] The radio broadcasts were made possible by Carlos Franqui, a previous acquaintance of Castro who subsequently became a Cuban exile in Puerto Rico. [63]

    During this time, Castro's forces remained quite small in numbers, sometimes fewer than 200 men, while the Cuban army and police force had a manpower of around 37,000. [64] Even so, nearly every time the Cuban military fought against the revolutionaries, the army was forced to retreat. An arms embargo – imposed on the Cuban government by the United States on 14 March 1958 – contributed significantly to the weakness of Batista's forces. The Cuban air force rapidly deteriorated: it could not repair its airplanes without importing parts from the United States. [65]

    Operation Verano

    Batista finally responded to Castro's efforts with an attack on the mountains called Operation Verano, known to the rebels as la Ofensiva. The army sent some 12,000 soldiers, half of them untrained recruits, into the mountains, along with his own brother Raul. In a series of small skirmishes, Castro's determined guerrillas defeated the Cuban army. [65] In the Battle of La Plata, which lasted from 11 to 21 July 1958, Castro's forces defeated a 500-man battalion, capturing 240 men while losing just three of their own. [66]

    However, the tide nearly turned on 29 July 1958, when Batista's troops almost destroyed Castro's small army of some 300 men at the Battle of Las Mercedes. With his forces pinned down by superior numbers, Castro asked for, and received, a temporary cease-fire on 1 August. Over the next seven days, while fruitless negotiations took place, Castro's forces gradually escaped from the trap. By the 8 August, Castro's entire army had escaped back into the mountains, and Operation Verano had effectively ended in failure for the Batista government. [65]

    Rebel offensive

    The enemy soldier in the Cuban example which at present concerns us, is the junior partner of the dictator; he is the man who gets the last crumb left by a long line of profiteers that begins in Wall Street and ends with him. He is disposed to defend his privileges, but he is disposed to defend them only to the degree that they are important to him. His salary and his pension are worth some suffering and some dangers, but they are never worth his life. If the price of maintaining them will cost it, he is better off giving them up; that is to say, withdrawing from the face of the guerrilla danger.

    Che Guevara, 1958 [67]
    Map of Cuba showing the location of the arrival of the rebels on the Granma in late 1956, the rebels' stronghold in the Sierra Maestra, and Guevara and Cienfuegos' route towards Havana via Las Villas Province in December 1958 Revolution Map of progress.jpg
    Map of Cuba showing the location of the arrival of the rebels on the Granma in late 1956, the rebels' stronghold in the Sierra Maestra, and Guevara and Cienfuegos' route towards Havana via Las Villas Province in December 1958
    Map showing key locations in the Sierra Maestra during the 1958 stage of the Cuban Revolution Sierra Maestra -mapa rev cubana-.png
    Map showing key locations in the Sierra Maestra during the 1958 stage of the Cuban Revolution

    On 21 August 1958, after the defeat of Batista's Ofensiva, Castro's forces began their own offensive. In the Oriente province (in the area of the present-day provinces of Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Guantánamo and Holguín), [68] Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro and Juan Almeida Bosque directed attacks on four fronts. Descending from the mountains with new weapons captured during the Ofensiva and smuggled in by plane, Castro's forces won a series of initial victories. Castro's major victory at Guisa, and the successful capture of several towns including Maffo, Contramaestre, and Central Oriente, brought the Cauto plains under his control.

    Meanwhile, three rebel columns, under the command of Che Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos and Jaime Vega, proceeded westward toward Santa Clara, the capital of Villa Clara Province. Batista's forces ambushed and destroyed Jaime Vega's column, but the surviving two columns reached the central provinces, where they joined forces with several other resistance groups not under the command of Castro. When Che Guevara's column passed through the province of Las Villas, and specifically through the Escambray Mountains – where the anticommunist Revolutionary Directorate forces (who became known as the 13 March Movement) had been fighting Batista's army for many months – friction developed between the two groups of rebels. Nonetheless, the combined rebel army continued the offensive, and Cienfuegos won a key victory in the Battle of Yaguajay on 30 December 1958, earning him the nickname "The Hero of Yaguajay".

    Battle of Santa Clara and Batista's flight

    On 31 December 1958, the Battle of Santa Clara took place in a scene of great confusion. The city of Santa Clara fell to the combined forces of Che Guevara, Cienfuegos, and Revolutionary Directorate (RD) rebels led by Comandantes Rolando Cubela, Juan ("El Mejicano") Abrahantes, and William Alexander Morgan. News of these defeats caused Batista to panic. He fled Cuba by air for the Dominican Republic just hours later on 1 January 1959. Comandante William Alexander Morgan, leading RD rebel forces, continued fighting as Batista departed, and had captured the city of Cienfuegos by 2 January. [69]

    Cuban General Eulogio Cantillo entered Havana's Presidential Palace, proclaimed the Supreme Court judge Carlos Piedra as the new President, and began appointing new members to Batista's old government. [70]

    Castro learned of Batista's flight in the morning and immediately started negotiations to take over Santiago de Cuba. On 2 January, the military commander in the city, Colonel Rubido, ordered his soldiers not to fight, and Castro's forces took over the city. The forces of Guevara and Cienfuegos entered Havana at about the same time. They had met no opposition on their journey from Santa Clara to Cuba's capital. Castro himself arrived in Havana on 8 January after a long victory march. His initial choice of president, Manuel Urrutia Lleó, took office on 3 January. [71]


    I believe that there is no country in the world, including the African regions, including any and all the countries under colonial domination, where economic colonization, humiliation and exploitation were worse than in Cuba, in part owing to my country's policies during the Batista regime. I believe that we created, built and manufactured the Castro movement out of whole cloth and without realizing it. I believe that the accumulation of these mistakes has jeopardized all of Latin America. The great aim of the Alliance for Progress is to reverse this unfortunate policy. This is one of the most, if not the most, important problems in America foreign policy. I can assure you that I have understood the Cubans. I approved the proclamation which Fidel Castro made in the Sierra Maestra, when he justifiably called for justice and especially yearned to rid Cuba of corruption. I will go even further: to some extent it is as though Batista was the incarnation of a number of sins on the part of the United States. Now we shall have to pay for those sins. In the matter of the Batista regime, I am in agreement with the first Cuban revolutionaries.

    U.S. President John F. Kennedy, interview with Jean Daniel, 24 October 1963 [72]
    The greatest threat presented by Castro's Cuba is as an example to other Latin American states which are beset by poverty, corruption, feudalism, and plutocratic exploitation ... his influence in Latin America might be overwhelming and irresistible if, with Soviet help, he could establish in Cuba a Communist utopia.

    -– Walter Lippmann, Newsweek , 27 April 1964 [73]

    The Cuban Revolution was a crucial turning point in U.S.-Cuban relations. Although the United States government was initially willing to recognize Castro's new government, [74] it soon came to fear that Communist insurgencies would spread through the nations of Latin America, as they had in Southeast Asia. [75] Meanwhile, Castro's government resented the Americans for providing aid to Batista's government during the revolution. [74] After the revolutionary government nationalized all U.S. property in Cuba in August 1960, the American Eisenhower administration froze all Cuban assets on American soil, severed diplomatic ties and tightened its embargo of Cuba. [7] [12] [76] The Key West–Havana ferry shut down. In 1961, the U.S. government backed an armed counterrevolutionary assault on the Bay of Pigs with the aim of ousting Castro, but the counterrevolutionaries were swiftly defeated by the Cuban military. [75] The U.S. Embargo against Cuba – the longest-lasting single foreign policy in American history [77] – is still in force as of 2018, although it has undergone a partial loosening in recent years, only to be recently strengthened in 2017. [7] The U.S. began efforts to normalize relations with Cuba in the mid-2010s, [9] [78] and formally reopened its embassy in Havana after over half a century in August 2015. [10] The Trump administration has reversed much of the Cuban Thaw by severely restricting travel by US citizens to Cuba and tightening the US government's 59-year-old embargo against the country. [79] [80]

    Propaganda poster in Havana, 2012 Outdoor em Havana, Cuba.jpg
    Propaganda poster in Havana, 2012

    Castro's victory and post-revolutionary foreign policy had global repercussions as influenced by the expansion of the Soviet Union into Eastern Europe after the 1917 October Revolution. In line with his call for revolution in Latin America and beyond against imperial powers, laid out in his Declarations of Havana, Castro immediately sought to "export" his revolution to other countries in the Caribbean and beyond, sending weapons to Algerian rebels as early as 1960. [16] In the following decades, Cuba became heavily involved in supporting Communist insurgencies and independence movements in many developing countries, sending military aid to insurgents in Ghana, Nicaragua, Yemen and Angola, among others. [16] Castro's intervention in the Angolan Civil War in the 1970s and 1980s was particularly significant, involving as many as 60,000 Cuban soldiers. [16] [81]

    Following the American embargo, the Soviet Union became Cuba's main ally. [12] The two Communist countries quickly developed close military and intelligence ties, culminating in the stationing of Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba in 1962, an act which triggered the Cuban Missile Crisis. Cuba maintained close links to the Soviets until the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991. The end of Soviet economic aid and the loss of its trade partners in the Eastern Bloc led to an economic crisis and period of shortages known as the Special Period in Cuba. [82]



    At the time of the revolution various sectors of society supported the revolutionary movement from communists to business leaders and the Catholic Church. [83]

    The beliefs of Fidel Castro during the revolution have been the subject of much historical debate. Fidel Castro was openly ambiguous about his beliefs at the time. Some orthodox historians argue Castro was a communist from the beginning with a long term plan; however, others have argued he had no strong ideological loyalties. Leslie Dewart has stated that there is no evidence to suggest Castro was ever a communist agent. Levine and Papasotiriou believe Castro believed in little outside of a distaste for American imperialism. As evidence for his lack of communist leanings they note his friendly relations with the United States shortly after the revolution and him not joining the Cuban Communist Party during the beginning of his land reforms. [83]

    At the time of the revolution the 26th of July Movement involved people of various political persuasions, but most were in agreement and desired the reinstatement of the 1940 Constitution of Cuba and supported the ideals of Jose Marti. Che Guevara commented to Jorge Masetti in an interview during the revolution that "Fidel isn't a communist" also stating "politically you can define Fidel and his movement as 'revolutionary nationalist'. Of course he is anti-American, in the sense that Americans are anti-revolutionaries". [84]

    Women's roles

    Raul Castro, Vilma Espin, Jorge Risquet and Jose Nivaldo Causse in 1958 Raul, Vilma, Jorge Risquet y Jose Nivaldo Causse.jpg
    Raúl Castro, Vilma Espín, Jorge Risquet and José Nivaldo Causse in 1958

    The importance of women's contributions to the Cuban Revolution is reflected in the very accomplishments that allowed the revolution to be successful, from the participation in the Moncada Barracks, to the Mariana Grajales all-women's platoon that served as Fidel Castro's personal security detail. Tete Puebla, second in command of the Mariana Grajales Platoon, has said:

    Women in Cuba have always been on the front line of the struggle. At Moncada we had Yeye (Haydee Santamaria) and Melba (Hernandez). With the Granma (yacht) and November 30, we had Celia, Vilma, and many other compañeras. There were many women comrades who were tortured and murdered. From the beginning there were women in the Revolutionary Armed Forces. First they were simple soldiers, later sergeants. Those of us in the Mariana Grajales Platoon were the first officers. The ones who ended the war with officers' ranks stayed in the armed forces. [85]

    Before the Mariana Grajales Platoon was established, the revolutionary women of the Sierra Maestra were not organized for combat and primarily helped with cooking, mending clothes, and tending to the sick, frequently acting as couriers, as well as teaching guerrillas to read and write. [86] Haydée Santamaría and Melba Hernandez were the only women who participated in the attack on the Moncada Barracks, afterward acting alongside Natalia Revuelta, and Lidia Castro (Fidel Castro's sister) to form alliances with anti-Batista organizations, as well as the assembly and distribution of "History Will Absolve Me". [87] Celia Sanchez and Vilma Espin were leading strategists and highly skilled combatants who held essential roles throughout the revolution. Tete Puebla, founding member and second in command of the Mariana Grajales Platoon, said of Celia Sanchez, "When you speak of Celia, you've got to speak of Fidel, and vice versa. Celia's ideas touched almost everything in the Sierra. [85]

    There were many foreign presences in Cuba during this time. Esther Brinch was a Danish translator for the Danish government in 1960's Cuba. Brinch's work covered the Cuban Revolution and Cuban Missile Crisis. [95] A collection of Brinch’s archival materials is housed at the George Mason University Special Collections Research Center.

    See also

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    Juan Almeida Bosque was a Cuban politician and one of the original commanders of the insurgent forces in the Cuban Revolution. After the rebels took power in 1959, he was a prominent figure in the Communist Party of Cuba. At the time of his death, he was a Vice-President of the Cuban Council of State and was its third ranking member. He received several decorations, and national and international awards, including the title of "Hero of the Republic of Cuba" and the Order of Máximo Gómez.

    Radio Rebelde is a Cuban Spanish-language radio station. It broadcasts 24 hours a day with a varied program of national and international music hits of the moment, news reports and live sport events. The station was set up in 1958 by Che Guevara in the Sierra Maestra region of eastern Cuba, and was designed to broadcast the aims of the 26th of July Movement led by Fidel Castro. Transmitting on shortwave, Radio Rebelde also broadcast the latest combat news, music and spoken literature to the people of Cuba during the Cuban Revolution. Today, Radio Rebelde has forty-four transmitters on the FM dial covering 98 percent of the island of Cuba, plus a shortwave signal on the 60-meter band at 5.025 MHz, (5025 kHz) and several AM transmitters on various frequencies, most commonly 530, 540, 550, 560, 600, 610, 620, 670, 710, and 770 kHz.

    Foco theory of revolution through guerrilla warfare

    The foco theory of revolution by way of guerrilla warfare, also known as, was formulated by French intellectual and government official Régis Debray, whose main source of inspiration was Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara's experiences surrounding his rebel army's victory in the 1959 Cuban Revolution.

    The Cuban Revolution was the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista's regime by the 26th of July Movement and the establishment of a new Cuban government led by Fidel Castro in 1959.

    The Military history of Cuba begins with the island's conquest by the Spanish and its battles afterward to gain its independence. After the Communist takeover by Fidel Castro in 1959, Cuba became involved in many major conflicts of the Cold War in Africa and the Middle East, where it supported Marxist governments and fought against Western proxies. Castro's Cuba had some 39,000–40,000 military personnel abroad by the late 1970s, with the bulk of the forces in Sub-Saharan Africa but with some 1,365 stationed in the Middle East and North Africa.

    Felipe Pazos Roque was a Cuban economist who initially supported the Cuban Revolution of Fidel Castro, but became disillusioned with the increasingly radical nature of the revolutionary government. Born in Havana, Pazos earned a doctorate from the University of Havana in 1938. He was a member of the Cuban delegation to the 1944 Bretton Woods conference. In 1946, he joined the staff of the fledgling International Monetary Fund that had been established at the Bretton Woods conference. He worked there for three years before returning to Cuba in 1950 to head the newly established National Bank of Cuba for two years at the behest of Cuban President Carlos Prío Socarrás.

    Orlando Borrego Cuban politician

    Orlando Borrego is a Cuban economist, writer and former guerrilla who worked with Che Guevara during the Cuban Revolution.

    Propaganda in Cuba

    The Cuban Revolution was not only fought by armed rebels on the battlefield but also through the propaganda campaigns designed and orchestrated by Fidel Castro and his rebel comrades. Propaganda in Cuba during revolution included Castro's use of personal interviews with journalists, radio broadcasts and publicity seeking operations that contributed significantly to the victory of the rebels over Fulgencio Batista's and provided insight into the successful propaganda campaign established by Castro after gaining power. The limited yet successful revolutionary propaganda apparatus transitioned into what Castro has called "one of the most potent weapons in his foreign policy arsenal." Today the Cuban government maintains an intricate propaganda machine that includes a global news agency, magazines, newspapers, broadcasting facilities, publishing houses, front groups, and other miscellaneous organizations that all stem from the modest beginnings of Castro's revolutionary propaganda machine.

    The Cuban communist revolutionary and politician Fidel Castro took part in the Cuban Revolution from 1953 to 1959. Following on from his early life, Castro decided to fight for the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista's military junta by founding a paramilitary organisation, "The Movement". In July 1953, they launched a failed attack on the Moncada Barracks, during which many militants were killed and Castro was arrested. Placed on trial, he defended his actions and provided his famous "History Will Absolve Me" speech, before being sentenced to 15 years' imprisonment in the Model Prison on the Isla de Pinos. Renaming his group the "26th of July Movement" (MR-26-7), Castro was pardoned by Batista's government in May 1955, who no longer considered him a political threat. Restructuring the MR-26-7, he fled to Mexico with his brother Raul Castro, where he met with Argentine Marxist-Leninist Che Guevara, and together they put together a small revolutionary force intent on overthrowing Batista.

    Haydée Santamaría Cuban rebel & civil servant

    Haydée Santamaría Cuadrado was a Cuban revolutionary and politician, regarded as a heroine in post-revolutionary Cuba. She participated in the assault on Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba on July 26, 1953, an action for which she was imprisoned along with Melba Hernández. She was a founding member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Cuba. and one of the first women to join the PCC. She maintained a high position in its leadership throughout her life. Having participated in the attack on the Moncada Barracks, Haydée Santamaría is among a relatively small group of people who were involved in every phase of the Cuban Revolution, from its inception to its fruition.

    Delsa Esther Puebla Viltre, known by the nom de guerreTeté Puebla, is a Cuban politician and former guerilla fighter. She is the head of Cuba's Office of Veterans' Affairs and a member of Cuba's parliament, the National Assembly of People's Power, representing Havana. During the Cuban Revolution, Puebla fought as one of Fidel Castro's guerillas in the Sierra Maestra mountains as part of the Mariana Grajales Women's Platoon. In July 1996 she was promoted to brigadier general in the Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces, becoming the first female general in the nation's history.

    Aftermath of the Cuban Revolution

    During its first decade in power, the Castro government introduced a wide range of progressive social reforms. Laws were introduced to provide equality for black Cubans and greater rights for women, and there were attempts to improve communications, medical facilities, health, housing, and education. In addition, there were touring cinemas, art exhibitions, concerts, and theatres. By the end of the 1960s, all Cuban children were receiving some education, unemployment and corruption were reduced, and great improvements were made in hygiene and sanitation. Fidel dedicated many of his years to the equality among Afro-Cubans and the wealthy white people of Cuba. His anti-discrimination legislation was his first and major attempt to give equality to the people of Cuba. His many reforms gave opportunities to those Afro-Cubans who lived in poverty because of the racial discrimination in Cuba.

    The equal right of all citizens to health, education, work, food, security, culture, science, and wellbeing – that is, the same rights we proclaimed when we began our struggle, in addition to those which emerge from our dreams of justice and equality for all inhabitants of our world – is what I wish for all.

    The 'Combate del Uvero' , developed on May 28 of 1957, was an armed confrontation corresponding to the Cuban Revolution. It was the first major confrontation between the July 26th Movement guerrilla commanded by Fidel Castro and the dictator's army Fulgencio Batista, since the latter settled in Sierra Maestra.


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    Further reading