The Cuban Revolution

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The Cuban Revolution of "1959"

To comprehend the true nature of the Cuban Revolution, one must first examine the exploits of Fulgencio Batista, one of Cuba’s most progressive presidents, and yet, at the same time, perhaps the most despotic and despised. Batista first asserted his democratic position in the 1930’s by ousting General Machado, the recently self-mantled martial dictator.  Batista then assumed the role of “strongman” behind a spate of figurehead presidents, a tenure which culminated in his election to the presidency in 1940.  Batista served only four years however, falling victim to the charisma of politician Ramon Grau. Batista ostensibly accepted the defeat, and sojourned to nearby Florida.  After eight stagnant years, Batista’s true personage manifested, as he seized a martial dictatorship in Cuba by means of a coup.

Only one year of Batista’s tyranny and persecution ensued unchecked, as Fidel Castro initiated his de facto insurgency with a fruitless assault on the Moncada barracks.  Apprehended, and subsequently prosecuted, Castro emitted his acclaimed speech “History Will Absolve Me,” in which he both promulgated the justness of his cause and criticized the Batista regime.  In a tactical blunder, Batista exiled Castro to Mexico, where Castro was able to rendezvous with his guerilla forces and plan his next offensive.  Two years of planning and consensus-building followed, after which the rebels landed secretly on the Cuban beachhead.  Obscured by the Sierra Maestra Mountains, the charismatic Castro fomented anti-Batista sentiment among the peasantry, a digression referred to as the 26th of July Movement.  Blundering yet again, Batista, aware of Castro’s presence, proceeded to raze adjacent towns in search of Castro, only worsening, the level of public opposition.  Moreover, the exploits of the fledgling media secured much of the urban demographic to Castro’s cause, as it romanticized the guerilla fighters.  Thoroughly irked, Batista proceeded to enact Operacion Vareno, targeting the encampment of Castro’s guerilla soldiery.  Batista’s efforts proved futile once more, as, unaccustomed to the frenzy of guerilla warfare, his soldiers unofficially capitulated, while Batista aborted the operation only a few months after its inception.  Inspired further, the Castro bloc, encompassing revolutionaries such as Che Guevara, Camilia Cienfugos, and Raul Castro, took the offensive.  The subversives advanced towards the Cuban mainland, attacking army squadrons twofold their size, which, in turn, only provided more ammunition with which the pivotal media could romanticize the insurgency.  After Batista’s panicky flight, en route to Spain, the guerilla juggernaut met desertion and surrender in its wake, thus enabling Che Guevara’s bloodless acquisitions of Santa Clara and Santiago.  The revolution concluded with Castro’s orchestrated occupation of Havana, where he initiated his resolve to “tear down the old world,” and “build up a new.”

Among the national impact of Castro’s takeover on January 1st, 1959 were the U.S.’s revamping of Latin American interventionism, eventually resulting in the attempted Chilean coup in 1973, and tangentially, the Iran-Contra Affair.  The revolution also “re-iced” the once-improving Soviet-U.S. relations, as, grasping the benevolence of a Caribbean ally, the Kremlin extended a hand of courtship.  The Bay of Pigs and the Cuban Missile Crisis, arguably the zenith of Cold War tension, solidified as implications of the Communist ascendancy in Cuba.  Within Cuba itself, “Castroism” seemed benign, even productive from the outset.  Once ailing from poverty and illiteracy, Cuba progressed, establishing the lowest infant mortality rate and the highest literacy rate of any Latin American nation.  However, in economics, Communism did little more than hamper the Cuban economy.  Once dependent on the American sugar glutton, Cubans then witnessed the Soviets’ consumer domination of the Cuban sugar market.  This, though prosperous at the time, only “unformitized” and shackled the Cuban economy, unable to adjust when the Soviet behemoth collapsed in the eighties and nineties.  

Researched by Brady Garrison

Volunteer for Cold War Museum

Cosby High School



Castro, Fidel. “Castro Internet Archive: History Will Absolve Me.” Editorial de Ciencias Sociales, 4 May 2010. Web. 4 May 2010.

“Cuban Revolution.” World History: The Modern Era. ABC-CLIO, 2010. Web. 30 Apr. 2010. <>.

“The Cuban Revolution- 1959.” Team 18355, 1998. Web. 30 Apr 2010.

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