Ancient history

The Cuban Revolution

The Cuban Revolution began when Eduardo Chibás of the Orthodox Party, being the great winner of the 1952 elections, committed suicide, opening a political vacuum, which Fulgencio Batista would fill. , who had participated in the Peace Movement, close to the Communist Party, and who, to please the United States, expressed an anti-communist line while increasing political repression against the left.

In this context, Fidel Castro organized, on July 26, 1953, the assault on the Moncada barracks, in Santiago de Cuba , the second military garrison in the country, an action that would be the beginning of the popular insurrection to overthrow the dictatorship, but its failure momentarily strengthened the regime. The increase in repression isolated Batista, who in 1954 was appointed president after elections without competition, which relaxed political life, thanks, among other things, to the release of Castro and his departure to exile.

Start of the Cuban revolution

In Mexico, Castro organized the Gramma yacht expedition who landed in Cuba in November 1956. Despite his initial defeat, Castro and his July 26 Movement (M-26) created a guerrilla focus in Sierra Maestra , province of Oriente, which would be the base of the Rebel Army. The M-26 had emerged from the left of the Orthodox Party with an egalitarian, socializing, nationalist and anti-American ideology . While the guerrillas consolidated in the mountains, the urban opposition also grew and began to carry out armed actions in the cities, in a context in which the repression against anti-dictatorial militants continued to grow. In 1957, Castro's guerrilla had achieved a certain entity, but was not yet in a position to promote the insurrection that would end Batista . His general strike proposal failed amid popular indifference and lack of support from the official and communist unions. The Communist Party, known as the Popular Socialist Party (PSP), rejected the insurrectionary tactic . The guerrillas slowly came out of their isolation thanks to a military offensive in the plains, with the burning of cane fields and the destruction of crops. The opening of two guerrilla fronts, under the command of Raúl Castro and Juan Almeida, and the coordination of military actions by Camilo Cienfuegos and Ernesto Che Guevara, consolidated the revolutionary advance, while the military integration of the PSP in the M-26 increased the agitation. urban. Due to their experience in the revolutionary struggle and their greater protagonism, the communist cadres held key positions in the M-26 and controlled the Rebel Army with the support of Fidel and Raúl Castro. This is one of the elements that explains the rapid pro-Soviet turn of the revolution after the seizure of power.

Batista Fall

In July 1958, the Pact of Caracas consolidated the anti-Batista coalition and accelerated the fall of the dictatorship , no longer supported by Washington, which had not sent him weapons since April. In August the final offensive began and on January 1, 1959, with the people in the streets and raising the flags of moralization, nationalism and anti-imperialism, Castro's followers took Havana .

Fidel Castro takes power

The popular support of the M-26 allowed Castro to take control of the situation to promote political, social and economic transformations . Thus began a revolutionary process, characterized by traditional Cuban nationalism and with a great consensus among the population. However, in a very short time, Castro promoted an authoritarian turn, with a strong personalist content and marked by his leadership and his charisma. Anti-imperialism and nationalism became the axes of the revolutionary discourse ("Homeland or death" is the main slogan of the regime), which adopted Marxism-Leninism, and Castro pointed out that in Cuba you could only be a revolutionary if you were a communist. After its integration into the Soviet bloc, Cuba launched egalitarian policies to build socialism, an objective it has not yet given up on. Some explanations insist that the North American opposition to the socializing course of the Revolution explains the pro-Soviet turn, but the truth is that these tendencies were backed by Castro and well established in part of the leading nucleus of the M-26.

The various tendencies that coexisted in the revolutionary movement were controlled by Fidel Castro. In its beginnings, the revolution was supported by the urban bourgeoisie, since the urban and rural workers and the sugar businessmen and landowners were not involved in the struggle against Batista. At the beginning of 1959, the old Cuban Revolution had been reborn, with its nationalist, moralizing and anti-dictatorial banners, which was converted by Castro into a social revolution, which with its pro-Soviet turn generated serious conflicts with the United States. Halperín Donghi points out that what was new in this situation was not authoritarianism, something common in Latin America, but rather the march towards social revolution. Castro's refusal to institutionalize the revolution and to call elections responded to his decision to maintain the revolutionary course. In 1959 the first reforms took place, of a populist tone and hardly revolutionary, followed by the nationalization of North American interests and an urban reform that lowered and froze rents . These measures were complemented by literacy campaigns and a health network that guaranteed medical attention to the entire population. This initial restraint allowed the government to broaden its base of popular support.

Economic Situation of the Cuban Revolution

The economy was controlled by young technocrats, with experience in international organizations and supporters of industrialization and development , an objective that would be achieved through state intervention and by expanding the internal market. But when che Guevara assumed control of the industrial and banking sector , from where he attempted the implementation of his socializing goals, those goals were set aside. Guevara wanted to quickly implant socialism and in his search for the "new man" he had to destroy the market economy and eliminate any material incentive, be it in money or in kind, to replace them with moral incentives that would stimulate work productivity, but experience failure. Carlos Rafael Rodríguez, a communist leader linked to Castroism before the revolutionary triumph, was opposed to Guevara's industrialism, since he was in favor of greater gradualism, both due to the lack of cadres to promote Che's policy, and not to increase the number of the enemies of the revolution. Although it was not listened to, the failures led to the abandonment of industrialization and in a 180° turn some low-productivity primary products, such as nickel, were once again exploited. . Thus began a constant in Castro's economic policy:the continuous fluctuations between the plan and the market, between a centralized economy and another that responds to mercantile stimuli. In 1963, in a new swing of the pendulum, Castro rescued the reviled sugar sector , from which the resources to finance the revolution should come, pointing out that in 1970, "the year of the decisive effort", the sugar economy, at full capacity, would obtain a harvest of 10 million tons, something unprecedented in the history of Cuba. Despite the great efforts made and the great mobilization of men and resources, the objectives could not be achieved, despite the fact that the 1970 harvest was the largest in all of history. The erratic course of economic policy, once in favor of industry and once in favor of agriculture, with its dilemmas between moral or material incentives, is the cause of the current difficult situation, since the structural crisis of the economy predates the disappearance of the Soviet Union and its aid to Castro.

Political and Military Situation of the Cuban Revolution

The United States, faced with the Soviet Union in the Cold War, viewed the course of the Cuban revolution with concern. Raúl Castro, related to the communists before the Cuban revolution, controlled the military apparatus and was put in charge of the Revolutionary Armed Forces , direct heir to the Rebel Army. The disappearance of Camilo Cienfuegos, in a dubious accident that has not yet been clarified, and the imprisonment of Hubert Matos, put an end to two of the most popular revolutionary commanders who could question the course of the revolution and Castro's administration. In January 1960, the labor leaders opposed to the pro-Soviet turn were removed from the leadership of the unions and in their place former PSP cadres were installed , in tune with the leadership leadership. Castro focused on the government and after a month of operation of the first revolutionary cabinet, the moderate José Miró Cardona ceased as prime minister. In July, after the resignation of President Manuel Urrutia, another moderate, he appointed Osvaldo Dorticós, who remained in office until 1976.


The operation of exceptional courts to judge war crimes and Castro's request to change the Pan-American system and the economic relations between Latin America and the United States, ended up distancing Cuba from Washington and from Latin America. When the United States wanted to put pressure on Cuba with the threat of suppressing the sugar quota, its main source of foreign currency, the conflict intensified . It was then, in February 1960, when the Soviet delegate in Havana offered to acquire all the sugar necessary to support the regime and since then the ties between Cuba and the Soviet Union became closer . A part of the Cuban exile in Miami, with the support of the CIA, began to conspire against Castro and in 1961 they invaded the island. The landing at Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs) was a disaster and a blow to anti-Castroism, which allowed Castro to hoist the banner of anti-imperialism, increase his international support and show the solidity of his position and that it was not enough to land a few hundred of men to bring him down.

Impact of the Cuban Revolution in Latin America

The triumph of the Cuban revolution was a stimulus for the Latin American insurrectionary left , which, inspired by the Cuban model, tried to create rural guerrilla centers for the conquest of power. The example of Castro and Che Guevara caught on in Central America (Guatemala and Honduras), in the Caribbean (the Dominican Republic), in the Andes (Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru or Bolivia) and in Brazil. In some cases, the convergence of the revolutionary left, anti-imperialist nationalism and Christian supporters of the armed struggle led to the creation of pro-Castro parties, which entered into contradiction with the pro-Soviet communist parties opposed to the armed struggle. At the end of 1964, Latin American communism held a secret conference in Havana to discuss the revolutionary methodology, which revealed the opposing positions. Since then, the regime redoubled its efforts to export the revolution to the mainland and At the beginning of 1966, the First Tricontinental Conference of Revolutionary Solidarity met in Havana, with 500 delegates from governments and revolutionary movements from Asia, Africa and Latin America. In 1967 the OLAS (Latin American Solidarity Organization) was created, whose first meeting reflected the rupture between revolutionary Castroism and communist reformism and also revealed the will of the Latin American revolutionary organizations to extend the armed struggle to the countryside and cities. .