Fidal Castro Essay

This essay has a total of 3190 words and 30 pages.

Fidal Castro

In 1959, a rebel, Fidel Castro, overthrew the reign of Fulgencia

Batista in Cuba; a small island 90 miles off the Florida coast. There have

been many coups and changes of government in the world since then. Few if

any have had the effect on Americans and American foreign policy as this


In 1952, Sergeant Fulgencia Batista staged a successful bloodless coup

in Cuba . Batista never really had any cooperation and rarely garnered much

support. His reign was marked by continual dissension.

After waiting to see if Batista would be seriously opposed, Washington

recognized his government. Batista had already broken ties with the Soviet

Union and became an ally to the U.S. throughout the cold war. He was

continually friendly and helpful to American business interest. But he

failed to bring democracy to Cuba or secure the broad popular support that

might have legitimized his rape of the 1940 Constitution.

As the people of Cuba grew increasingly dissatisfied with his gangster

style politics, the tiny rebellions that had sprouted began to grow.

Meanwhile the U.S. government was aware of and shared the distaste for a

regime increasingly nauseating to most public opinion. It became clear that

Batista regime was an odious type of government. It killed its own

citizens, it stifled dissent.

At this time Fidel Castro appeared as leader of the growing rebellion.

Educated in America he was a proponent of the Marxist-Leninist philosophy.

He conducted a brilliant guerilla campaign from the hills of Cuba against

Batista. On January 1959, he prevailed and overthrew the Batista


Castro promised to restore democracy in Cuba, a feat Batista had failed

to accomplish. This promise was looked upon benevolently but watchfully by

Washington. Castro was believed to be too much in the hands of the people

to stretch the rules of politics very far. The U.S. government supported

Castro's coup. It professed to not know about Castro's Communist leanings.

Perhaps this was due to the ramifications of Senator Joe McCarty's


discredited anti-Communist diatribes.

It seemed as if the reciprocal economic interests of the U.S. and Cuba

would exert a stabilizing effect on Cuban politics. Cuba had been

economically bound to find a market for its #1 crop, sugar. The U.S. had

been buying it at prices much higher than market price. For this it

received a guaranteed flow of sugar.

Early on however developments clouded the hope for peaceful relations.

According to American Ambassador to Cuba, Phillip Bonsal, "From the very

beginning of his rule Castro and his sycophants bitterly and sweepingly

attacked the relations of the United States government with Batista and his

regime". He accused us of supplying arms to Batista to help overthrow

Castro's revolution and of harboring war criminals for a resurgence effort

against him. For the most part these were not true: the U.S. put a trade

embargo on Batista in 1957 stopping the U.S. shipment of arms to Cuba.

However, his last accusation seems to have been prescient.

With the advent of Castro the history of U.S.- Cuban relations was

subjected to a revision of an intensity and cynicism which left earlier

efforts in the shade. This downfall took two roads in the eyes of

Washington: Castro's incessant campaign of slander against the U.S. and

Castro's wholesale nationalization of American properties.

These actions and the U.S. reaction to them set the stage for what was

to become the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the end of U.S.- Cuban relations.

Castro promised the Cuban people that he would bring land reform to Cuba.

When he took power, the bulk of the nations wealth and land was in the

hands of a small minority. The huge plots of land were to be taken from

the monopolistic owners and distributed evenly among the people.

Compensation was to be paid to the former owners. According to Phillip

Bonsal, " Nothing Castro said, nothing stated in the agrarian reform

statute Castro signed in 1958, and nothing in the law that was promulgated

in the Official Gazzette of June 3, 1959, warranted the belief that in two

years a wholesale conversion of Cuban agricultural land to state ownership

would take place". Such a notion then would have been inconsistent with


many of the Castro pronouncements, including the theory of a peasant

revolution and the pledges to the landless throughout the nation. Today

most of the people who expected to become independent farmers or members


cooperatives in the operation of which they would have had a voice are now

laborers on the state payroll.

After secretly drawing up his Land Reform Law, Castro used it to form

the National Institute of Agrarian Reform (INRA) with broad and ill

defined powers. Through the INRA Castro methodically seized all American

holdings in Cuba. He promised compensation but frequently never gave it.

He conducted investigations into company affairs, holding control over them

in the meantime, and then never divulging the results or giving back the


These seizures were protested. On January 11 Ambassador Bonsal

delivered a note to Havana protesting the Cuban government seizure of U.S.

citizens property. The note was rejected the same night as a U.S. attempt

to keep economic control over Cuba.

As this continued Castro was engineering a brilliant propaganda

campaign aimed at accusing the U.S. of "conspiring with the counter

revolutionaries against the Castro regime". Castro's ability to whip the

masses into a frenzy with wispy fallacies about American "imperialist"

actions against Cuba was his main asset. He constantly found events which

he could work the "ol Castro magic " on, as Nixon said , to turn it into

another of the long list of grievances, real or imagined, that Cuba had


Throughout Castro's rule there had been numerous minor attacks and

disturbances in Cuba. Always without any investigation whatsoever, Castro

would blatantly and publicly blame the U.S.. Castro continually called for

hearings at the Organization of American States and the United Nations to

hear charges against the U.S. of "overt aggression". These charges were

always denied by the councils. Two events that provided fuel for the

Castro propaganda furnace stand out. These are the "bombing" of Havana on

October 21 and the explosion of the French munitions ship La Coubre on

March 4, 1960.

On the evening of October 21 the former captain of the rebel air force,

Captain Dian-Lanz, flew over Havana and dropped a quantity of virulently

anti-Castro leaflets. This was an American failure to prevent international

flights in violation of American law. Untroubled by any considerations of

truth or good faith, the Cuban authorities distorted the facts of the

matter and accused the U.S. of a responsibility going way beyond

negligence. Castro, not two days later, elaborated a bombing thesis,

complete with "witnesses", and launched a propaganda campaign against the

U.S. Ambassador Bonsal said, "This incident was so welcome to Castro for

his purposes that I was not surprised when, at a later date, a somewhat

similar flight was actually engineered by Cuban secret agents in


This outburst constituted "the beginning of the end " in U.S.- Cuban

relations. President Eisenhower stated ,"Castro's performance on October 26

on the "bombing" of Havana spelled the end of my hope for rational

relations between Cuba and the U.S."

Up until 1960 the U.S. had followed a policy of non intervention in

Cuba. It had endured the slander and seizure of lands, still hoping to

maintain relations. This ended, when, on March 4, the French munitions

ship La Coubre arrived at Havana laden with arms and munitions for the

Cuban government. It promptly blew up with serious loss of life. (14)

Castro and his authorities wasted no time venomously denouncing the

U.S. for an overt act of sabotage. Some observers concluded that the

disaster was due to the careless way the Cubans unloaded the cargo. (15)

Sabotage was possible but it was preposterous to blame the U.S. without

even a pretense of an investigation.

Castro's reaction to the La Coubre explosion may have been what tipped

the scales in favor of Washington's abandonment of the non intervention

policy. This, the continued slander, and the fact that the Embassy had had

no reply from the Cuban government to its representations regarding the


cases of Americans victimized by the continuing abuses of the INRA.

The American posture of moderation was beginning to become, in the face

of Castro's insulting and aggressive behavior, a political liability. (16)

The new American policy, not announced as such, but implicit in the the

actions of the United States government was one of overthrowing Castro by

all means available to the U.S. short of open employment of American armed

forces in Cuba.

It was at this time that the controversial decision was taken to allow

the CIA to begin recruiting and training of ex-Cuban exiles for anti-Castro

military service. Shortly after this decision, following in quick

steps, aggressive policies both on the side of Cuba and the U.S. led to the

eventual finale in the actual invasion of Cuba by the U.S!

In June 1960 the U.S. started a series of economic aggressions toward

Cuba aimed at accelerating their downfall. The first of these measures was

the advice of the U.S. to the oil refineries in Cuba to refuse to handle

the crude petroleum that the Cubans were receiving from the Soviet Union.

The companies such as Shell and Standard Oil had been buying crude from

their own plants in Venezuela at a high cost. The Cuban government

demanded that the refineries process the crude they were receiving from

Russia at a much cheaper price. These refineries refused at the U.S. advice

stating that there were no provisions in the law saying that they must

accept the Soviet product and that the low grade Russian crude would
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