Fidel Castro1 Essay

This essay has a total of 1720 words and 9 pages.


Fidel Castro1





When most Americans awoke on January 1, 1959, it was a seemingly ordinary day bearing with
it the usual, ordinary routines. Few could have imagined, however, that the day’s
events would bring about drastic change for the Cuban government; a change that would not
only dramatically alter the lives of the Cuban people, it would serve to impose an
enormous threat to United States’ interests and its national security. To many
Americans, January 1 simply marked a new year in time. Yet, in Cuba, it was a day that a
band of revolutionaries, led by Fidel Castro, overthrew the authoritarian government of
Fulgencio Batista and seized Havana. While it was a day that Cuba would succumb to the
political, social, and economic control of Fidel Castro, it was time that spawned enormous
friction between the United States and the Cuban government. Inasmuch as this friction
led America to an intense confrontation with the Cuban government, one might be led to
question who is Fidel Castro, how did he come into power, and what contributing factors
fueled the tension between Cuba and the United States government?

Born Fidel Castro Ruz on May 13, 1927, Castro’s birth took lace on his
family’s sugar plantation near Biran, Cubaa (CNN). As a boy, Castro worked on the
familys sugar cane fields and, at six years old, convinced his parents to send him to
school (CNN).

After attending two Jesuit institutions, Castro earned a law degree at the University of
Havana (CNN). Marrying into one of Cuba’s wealthiest families, Castro did not use
his law degree to secure a comfortable life among the island’s oligarchy (CNN).
Rather, he devoted his efforts to helping the poor by leading a mass movement for social
change (CNN).

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Embarking on a platform of political reform, Castro planned to campaign for a
parliamentary seat in Cuba’s election in 1952 (Britannica). His plans, however,
were abruptly ended by Fulgencio Batista who overthrew the present govennment and
cancelled the election (Britannica). Although Castro protested Batista’s overtthrow
violated the constitution, the court rejected his claim (Britannica). Castro, in an
attempt to launch an attack against the military and overthrow Batista, failed in that
attempt and was, subsequently, imprisoned in 1953 (Britannica). Upon Castro’s
release in 1955, he traveled to Mexico and organized a revolutionary movement
(Britannica). When that movement failed in its attempt to overthrow Batista, Castro, his
brother, and nine other rebels hid out in the Sierra Maestra Mountains (Britannica).
Gathering the support of roughly eight hundred men, Castro’s guerilla campaign
overthrew the Batista regime in 1959.

“Euphoria is the only word to describe Havana’s mood in the early days of
1959“ (Skidmore, 276). Castro, promising great hope to those desperate for a
“new political message“, quickly rose to “heroic status” (276). A
brilliant propagandist and charismatic orator, Castro became premier and established a
totalitarian government that benefited the working class at the expense of the middle
class (CNN). Creating a one-party government to exercised dictatorial control over all
aspects of Cuba’s political, economic, and cultural life, Castro quelled any
political opposition and began to pursue more radical policies (Britannica). As a result
of these policies, Many members of Cuba’s upper and middle classes felt betrayed
and, therefore, chose to immigrate to the United States (Britannica).

Relations between the United States and Cuba began to deteriorate, as well (History, 1).
Instituting the Agrarian Reform Law in 1959, Castro nationalized all

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holdings over a thousand acres and forbid foreign land ownership (1). The United
States, as well as other critics, questioned if Castro’s Agrarian Reform Law was a
first step toward communism (Skidmore, 276). In the months that followed, Cuba became
increasingly “Anti-American” (278). Accusations of a “Yankee-backed
plot to restore Batista” into power were not only rumored, they were rooted in fact
(278).

Another source of antagonism between the U.S. and Cuba emerged when Castro discovered he
could purchase crude oil form the Soviet Union at a lower cost (278). Consequently,
Castro ordered the U.S. oil companies located in Cuba to refine the Russian crude oil
(278). These U.S. oil companies were not only pressured by the U.S. government to refuse
to process the oil, they were forced to refuse to sell oil to Cuba, as well (History, 1).

A series of retaliations between Cuba and the U.S. when Cuba consfiscates U.S. oil
company holdings for their refusal to refine or sell the crude oil (1). In response to
these seizures, the U.S. Congress passes the “Sugar Act” to eliminate
Cuba’s remaining sugar quota (1). In another act of retaliation, President
Eisenhower approved a “covert action plan against Cuba (1).” This plan
included the use of a powerful propaganda campaign to overthrow Castro’s regime (1).
As a result, Cuba reacts by seizing all U.S. business and commercial property (1). As a
counter action, the U.S. imposes a partial economic embargo on Cuba that excludes food and
medicine (1). Castro, in return, passes an Urban Reform Law in Cuba to nationalize
additional properties owned by American interest’s (1). On January 3, 1961, merely
two years after Castro took office, the United States severed all diplomatic relations
between the U.S. and Cuba (1).

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While it would appear that severing diplomatic ties would put an end to this cat and mouse
Continues for 5 more pages >>




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