Cuban Revolution - Cold War DOCUMENTARY

Cuban Revolution - Cold War DOCUMENTARY

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For anybody who has watched The Godfather Part II,  one of the pivotal scenes in the movie takes place   in Havana on New Years Eve, 1958. The movie uses  the overthrow of Fulgencio Batista as a backdrop   for what is just a phenomenal film. If you haven’t  seen it, go fix that. Right AFTER watching his   video. The Cuban Revolution in Cold War terms is  one of the watershed moments of the time period,   setting the stage for a failed invasion and a  missile crisis and just a constant thorn in the   side of the United States. I’m your host David  and today, we are going to pick up where we left   our Cuba story from previous episodes by looking  at the Cuban Revolution. This is...The Cold War.

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social media profiles directly to your website!  If you've been thinking about creating a website,   and I know you have, whether for your business,  your personal brand, or even just for fun, then go   to to start your  free trial and get 10% off your first purchase!. OK, so we are going to start on March 10,  1952. This is the date that the fragile   democracy of Cuba came to an end with a coup  d’etat orchestrated by one Fulgencio Batista.   General elections were scheduled to be held  in June of that year but Batista, who had been   President of Cuba from 1940 to 1944, was polling a  distant 3rd in the campaign. In order to avoid an   otherwise humiliating defeat, he orchestrated  a coup and simply took power by force.   Batista established a military dictatorship  over the island and was well supported by the   United States. The Americans, who had massive  financial interests in Cuba, from utilities to  

the vital sugar cane industry, were content to  support a leader who kept not only the peace,   but security to ensure the dollars kept flowing.  Now keep in mind, this open support for a military   dictator did little to win the hearts and minds  of Cubans and others across Latin America and in   fact really only served to alienate them from the  Americans, who were seen as an imperialist power. And like any good coup, resistance formed among  progressive opposition forces. At the forefront of   this emerging movement was a young lawyer who had  been born into a well-off Cuban family. You may   have heard of him, his name was Fidel Alejandro  Castro Ruz. Even before the coup, Castro had been  

politically minded and politically active and had  been running as a candidate in the cancelled 1952   elections. A member of the left-wing populist  Partido Ortodoxo since the late 1940s, the   establishment of Batista’s dictatorship created  a feeling of disillusionment with traditional   politics among Fidel and others on the left.  They came to the conclusion that the only way   to remove the military dictatorship in Cuba was  by means of revolution. Castro began to organise. Any successful revolution needs people  to lead it and guide it. As such,   Fidel began to recruit people who could and  would conduct a guerilla warfare campaign   against the Batista regime. This process  included the publication and circulation  

of a newsletter, El Acusador, The Accuser. He  found support among other disillusioned members   of the Partido Ortodoxo and it did not take him  long to gather as many as 1,500 activists around   him. He also found support among student leaders  at the universities in Cuba as well and convinced   his followers to procure and donate guns and  other weapons necessary for a revolution. The plan that Castro and his group developed was  centered on an attack on the Moncada Barracks   in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba’s second city  located in the southeast of the island.  

The Moncada Barracks was the primary  provincial garrison in the region   and were adjacent to the Palace of Justice.  By capturing the Barracks and the Palace   of justice, as well as a hospital  and radio station that were nearby,   the movement could broadcast their manifesto  calling for a return to democracy for Cuba.   Fidel figured this would be enough to ignite the  Cuban people to rebel against the Batista regime.

Training for the attack took place  over several months and the would-be   insurgents had to disguise themselves as private  businessmen with an interest in trap shooting   and hunting in order to practice with the  motley assortment of weapons they had collected.   The plan was that by capturing  the Barracks by surprise,   they could augment their own weapons with  those they would seize from the garrison. At 5am on the 23rd of July, 1953, the plan was  launched. 119 rebels in 16 cars, assembled to   look like a convoy of government officials,  began their assault on the Moncada Barracks.   The attack went...poorly. Many men had to be left  behind due to a lack of weapons and of those that   did participate, some became separated from the  main group, including the men equipped with the   heavy weapons. At the barracks themselves, the  attack failed to penetrate the main gate and the  

assault fell apart. In total, 19 Cuban soldiers  were killed for only 8 rebels, but more than   70 more rebels were taken prisoner. Of these, many  were executed either on the spot or after being   tortured in prison. Fidel and a small group did  manage to escape into the surrounding countryside.  

Batista’s reaction to the failed attack was  the declare martial law across all of Cuba. Within a few days, Fidel had received guarantees  from the authorities that he would not be killed   or tortured and he surrendered. He was  subsequently put on trial, and as a lawyer,   represented himself, which incidentally,  I have been told by several lawyers, is   usually a TERRIBLE idea. But Castro didn’t use the  opportunity to absolve himself of responsibility   or to try and win his own freedom. He  instead used the trial as a platform  

to denounce Batista and promote his own platform  to Cubans. He took ownership of his position as   a leader in the attack, even stating “You  may condemn me. History will absolve me”.   And he was condemned. The court sentenced  him to 15 years in prison. Other rebels who   were also being tried, including Fidel’s brother  Raul, received sentences between 7 and 13 years.   Although Castro was in prison, he had gained  a platform and recognition across Cuba. Although the putsch had been easily put down by  Batista’s military, sympathy for the rebellion   and the imprisoned rebels grew, especially  as opposition to military rule increased   across the island. After two years in prison, a  letter-writing campaign was started by the mothers  

of the political prisoners, seeking their release.  This was followed by a public appeal endorsed by   intellectuals, academics, editors and politicians  also looking to have the prisoners released. And how did Batista receive this campaign? Well,  quite favourably actually. By this point, Batista  

was well entrenched as leader and well supported  by the Americans. As such, he not only felt that   Castro couldn’t pose any threat to him but that  it would actually serve a good will gesture and   positive publicity for his regime. The Cuban  Congress passed a bill of amnesty for the rebels   which Batista then signed. Having served 22  months in jail, Fidel and his group were released. Castro returned this favour by returning to  political activism almost immediately. Fidel   and his fellow prisoners had used their time  reading and studying the philosophy and history,   largely, but not exclusively, of the left. Upon  his release, he gave interviews, conducted press   conferences and founded a new organization  dedicated to toppeling the Batista regime.  

It was called, fittingly, the Movimiento  26 de Julio, or the 26th of July Movement,   dedicated to the attack on the Moncada Barracks.  But, Batista was not a stupid man. Fidel may have   been free, but he was under constant government  surveillance. When unrest and violence broke out   on the island in 1955, both Raul and Fidel as  well as several close comrades fled to Mexico   to escape the inevitable repressions that  would follow. Once in Mexico, Castro wasted   no time in beginning to prepare for a return to  Cuba, with the intent of waging guerilla war.

So a word or two about Fidel and his ideological  beliefs. At the time of Casto’s flight to Mexico,   he had no known ideological affiliations. He was  clearly a believer in left-wing ideals from his   membership in the Partido Ortodoxo, but unlike  his brother Raul, he was not a communist. Fidel,   in fact, actively avoided any links to the Cuban  Communist Party. He did this in order to avoid The   Movement being labeled a Communist organization.  He wanted to ensure that other groups and  

individuals would remain sympathetic to their  cause and would not become alienated from it. Mexico in the late 1950s was a hotbed of  revolutionaries-in-exile, gathered there from   all across Latin America, many of them interacting  with each other and sharing ideas and thoughts.   Some of these people were Marxists and  interactions with them certainly helped   to shape and form Fidel’s ideological beliefs.  Prominent among these revolutionaries was a   trained doctor and journalist from Argentina,  and future capitalist t-shirt model I might add,   Ernesto Che Guevara. It was during this time in  Mexico that Che joined the 26th of July Movement. Now, Fidel had no intention of remaining for  long in Mexico and used the time there to train   his fellow rebels as well as to raise financial  support for the movement. After all, the first  

rule of war is that it isn’t free and needs to be  paid for. It was at this time that Fidel visited   the United States, raising funds from supporters,  including Carlos Prio Socarras, the former   President of Cuba, the one Batista had overthrown  in 1952. Using the money raised, The Movement took   $15,000 of the money raised and bought a small  yacht which was to be used to transport the rebels   from Mexico back to Cuba. The Granma was a 60-foot  cabin cruiser that had begun its life in 1943,   built as a lightly armoured target practice  craft for the US Navy. It had been converted at  

some point into a civilian yacht, designed for 12  people. Just after midnight on November 25, 1956,   Fidel and Raul Castro, Che Guevara, and 79  other revolutionaries boarded the craft.   The original plan had been for up to 140 rebels  to be transported, but the Granma was just unable   to accommodate that many people. At about 2am,  she left the port of Tuxpan in Mexico, destined  

for Oriente Province in the Southeast of Cuba. The  region for the landing was selected with symbolic   purpose in mind. This was the same area of the  island that the Cuban poet and revolutionary hero   of the Cuban War of Independence, Jose Marti  had landed in in 1895 to fight the Spanish. The crossing was...inauspicious. Leaving in a  storm, the seas were very rough and the Granma  

was not equipped or prepared for the crossing.  To quote from John Thorndike’s book on Camilo   Cienfeguos, A Hundred Fires in Cuba: “Camilo…  remembered how seasick he had been on the first   day of the voyage. Almost everyone got sick. Only  an hour out of Tuxpán, soon after the swells rose   up beneath them, the men started vomiting. Some  threw up overboard, some into buckets, some were  

packed so tightly they couldn’t move and puked  where they sat, spattering those around them.   The stench enveloped them all. Camilo himself  sat wedged between two men, unable to lie down,   feeling like death. For two days no one ate. There  were men who shit in their pants and sat in it.”.   Although the sea conditions mellowed by the  third day, mechanical issues plagued the Granma   and the crossing to Cuba took 8 days, making  landfall at Playa las Colorados on December 2.

Now, the crossing had been planned to take  six days. A two day delay might not have   seemed significant at any other time, but in  this instance, it proved fatal for many. This   was because the plan was that Fidel and his rebels  would land to help support an uprising in Oriente,   led by Frank Pais, a member and organizer  of The Movement that had remained in Cuba   when Fidel and Raul had fled to Mexico.  Pais had begun the uprising on time,   but by the time the Granma landed, the uprising  had already been suppressed by Batista’s forces. A grueling march into the swamps of Oriente  began but Batista and his army knew Castro and   The Movement had landed as well as where they had  landed and an assault was begun. With poor cover   and outnumbered and outgunned, only 19 of the men  who disembarked from the Granma survived, fleeing   into the Sierra Maestra mountains. Among the  survivors was Che Guevera, Camile Cienfuegos, Raul  

Castro, and Fidel. Once sheltered in the Sierra  Maestra and with the help and support of local   peasants, a guerilla war began to be organized,  dedicated towards the removal of Batista. The next step of the Revolution occurred on March  13, 1957 when an attack on the Presidential Palace   was launched, aimed at killing el Presidente.  Except, this attack WASN’T carried out by Fidel   and The Movement but rather by a group largely  made up of students who organized themselves under   the name Directorio Revolucionario Estudiantil,  the DRE or Student Revolutionary Directorate.   The attack, meant to capture and kill  Batista as well as the radio station   so the DRE could announce this to the Cuban people  and initiate a general strike, was carried out   by 50 men. But the attack was NOT successful,  with 30 of the 50 DRE attackers being killed.

What followed were disturbances across the island,  especially in Havana and Santiago, as attempts to   launch a general strike were launched. But these  protests were met with pro-Batista demonstrations,   including one in Havana on April 10, 1957 in which  participants numbered in the tens of thousands.   How many of these people were there of  their own volition instead of having   been coerced by the government is unclear,  but it is highly unlikely that all were   voluntary participants. Protests and disruption  continued across the island until on August 1,   1957 Batista suspended freedom of assembly  and freedom of expression. This was done   in preparation for elections,  scheduled to be held in 1958.

At this point, we need to talk a bit about  the American reaction to all of this.   Washington, which had long been a supporter of  various Cuban governments, was starting to grow   tired of Batista and his violent and repressive  reactions to events on the island. There had   been a growing outcry of protest from the larger  international community and the US was beginning   to see Batista as more of a liability, with this  legitimacy weakened. Washington was nervous about   the reactions of other countries in Latin America,  themselves cautious of the Americans following   recent US involvement in places like Guatemala.  Of course, on the flip side, Batista was a   staunch ally to the Americans, not only providing  reliable political support but also purchasing   significant amounts of military supplies at  favourable rates. With no back left unscratched,   Batista continued to let American business  interests flourish on the island. The Americans  

saw their option as being continued support  for Batista or providing support to Castro.   This wasn’t a difficult choice, at the end of  the day as Fidel was strongly suspected of being   a communist with an anti-American agenda. This was  despite Castro’s continuous public assurances that   he was NOT a communist. At the end of the day,  Washington stuck with the dictator they knew. Now, as we’ve alluded to, Fidel and The Movement  were not the only anti-Batista organizations   acting in Cuba. With a fractured field, Casto  went about the process of creating a unified   front against the military dictatorship while  ensuring the United States remained relatively   neutral in the Cuban Conflict. And we would  be remiss to not point out that by doing this,  

Fidel was strengthening his own legitimacy as  a leader of the Cuban Revolutionary movement.   To this end, on July 12, 1957 the Sierra  Maestra Manifesto was signed by Fidel Castro,   Felipe Pazos and Raul Chibas. Pazos was  the recognized leader of the Cuban emigre   community while Pazos was the head of the Partido  Ortodoxo. The Sierra Maestra Manifesto called for  

the creation of the Revolutionary Citizens Front,  whose main aim to coordinate the fight against   Batista. It also pledged to conduct free elections  as well as agrarian reform once Batista had been   removed from power. The Manifesto even selected an  interim President who would oversee the transition   period between the overthrow and elections  being held...they selected a former judge,   Manuel Urritia, who at the time was a key  anti-Batista lobbyist in the United States. 1958 was a year of grinding  action against the regime,   with hit-and-run attacks designed to  weaken the abilities of the regime.  

Targets naturally included both the military and  the police but also property targets including   sugar mills and sugar plantations. These were  natural targets for the revolutionary groups as   they were key drivers of the Cuban economy  and therefore the source of the regime’s   income. In the same vein, tourism also became  a prominent target, with a bombing campaign in   Havana, as well as general unrest, kept  potential visitors to the island away. As instability grew, the United States made the  decision to distance itself from the Batista   regime, imposing an arms embargo in March of 1958.  This move proved to be a significant nail in the   coffin of the Cuban government as it removed one  of the key advantages that Batista held over the   resistance movements. Deprived of new weapons and  supplies, the fight against the increasing power   and popularity of the rebels became significantly  more difficult. With unrest increasing, the June  

elections that were to be held were rescheduled,  but this only served to created a new wave of   greater unrest, with the Communists, led by  Juan Marinello, calling for a General Strike. Batista’s response to these escalations was  to move to crush the rebel movements once   and for all. On May 24, Operation Verano orSpring,   was planned against the 26th of July Movement  in the Sierra Maestra. Verano consisted of   6 batallions on the ground with support from  both air and naval units. They aimed to block   in the rebels and isolate them, preventing their  resupply before moving in to finally destroy them.   Which looked fine on paper except the bulk of  the government forces was made up new recruits   with little experience operating in the  field. Fidel and his forces on the other  

hand were not only combat tested but knew the  terrain and how to use it to their advantage. On the 28th of June, the first engagement took  place as Army units moved out from the Estrada   Palma Suga Mill, located north of Santiago  de Cuba. Rebel troops under the command of   Che Guevara sprang an ambush on the government  troops, killing 86 soldiers while only losing 3.   Two weeks later, Battalion 18 was  landed at the mouth of the Plata River,   West of Santiago de Cuba. Their goal was to  surround The Movement’s base just to the north   but another ambush was triggered and a week  of fighting ensued, resulting in 40 soldiers   killed but 240 soldiers taken prisoner by  the rebels. Many of these prisoners would not  

only just lay down their arms but driven by low  morale in the Army, joined the rebel movement. Now, during the Battle of La Plata, Battalion 17  had been blocked by rebel forces from supporting   the ill-fated Batallion 18. But as Battalion 17  was pulled back, they planned an ambush of their   own in the hopes that Castro would follow them.  The rebels took the bait and in the Battle of  

Las Mercedes, the rebel forces were surrounded by  Battalion 17, which inflicted heavy damage. In a   last-ditch effort to save the rebellion, Castro  proposed a ceasefire to the Cuban commander,   General Cantillo, who for reasons which remain  unclear, accepted Castro’s offer. This allowed   Castro, who had suffered 70 dead, to withdraw his  rebels back into their safe areas to rearm and   regroup. This ended Operation Verano, a victory  for Castro, if only one of reputation. His forces   had engaged the Cuban military, and not only  just survived, but demonstrated the weakness   of the government. By extension, he was now firmly  seen as the main leader of the Cuban Revolution. The Summer of 1958 was also marked by the  kidnapping of foreign civilians by the   pro-Castro forces. These civilians were mostly  American citizens and the goal was very much  

to put pressure on the United States to end  its support for the Batista regime. On June 26,   10 Americans and 2 Canadians were kidnapped  from the Freeport Sulphur Company headquarters.   The very next day, 28 American sailors were  kidnapped from a bus traveling outside of   the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. This obviously  sparked a massive outcry and Castro, looking to   avoid a massive American backlash, ordered the  release of the prisoners inside of the week.   Kidnapping had been a favourite tactic  of the rebels looking to bring attention   to their cause. Although the release of  the American sailors scaled down its use,   it had been a successful tactic. It’s victims even  included a five-time Formula One champion driver,  

Juan Manuel Fangio, who was kidnapped on the eve  of the 1958 Cuban Grand Prix race but released   after 29 hours to the care of the Argentinian  Embassy. These kidnappings, while certainly   high profile, did nothing to win the love of  the Castro rebels in the eyes of the West.   Incidentally, the Grand Prix went  ahead and was won by Stirling Moss. But, back to Operation Verano. The failure  of the Operation to break the rising tide   of the Revolution was not just a standalone  failure: it had consequences. The Batista  

regime lost any momentum it had, handing  over the initiative to the rebels.   Bolstered by the weapons that they  had captured during Operation Verano,   in October of 1958, Castro, along with  other rebel groups, went on the offensive. Coming down from the Sierra Maestra mountains,  Castro attacked into Oriente Province, capturing   the towns of Maffo, Contramaestra, and Central  Oriente. By December, the towns of Fomento,   Cabaiguan, and Placetas had all been captured  by other rebel groups. These three towns, were  

not located in the south of the island but were  south-east of Santa Clara, in central Cuba. The   rebellion and its action was spreading. By late  December, Che Guevara and his forces had joined   up with the rebels of the Revolutinary Directorate  in the Escambray region south of Santa Clara while   on December 30, a column of rebels led by Camilo  Cienfuegos defeated government forces in Yaguajay,   northeast of Santa Clara. This combined action  opened the road to the main city of central Cuba. Forces led by Che Guevara moved on Santa  Clara, occupying the city. Batista launched   a counterattack to dislodge the rebels and  recapture the city, but government troops,   under the command of Colonel Casillas Lumpuy  were unable to get past the defences that   Che and his troops had established. In a final  attempt to dislodge the rebels from the city,  

Batista dispatched a train to his forces in the  region loaded with mean, weapons and ammunition.   The train however proved to be  the final straw for the government   as it was captured by Guevara and his  men, with 350 government soldiers and   officers laying down their arms and surrendering  without putting up any resistance. Santa Clara was   captured and held by December 30, 1958,  effectively cutting the island in two. The rebels were now well armed, well motivated  and were ready to move on the key prize, Havana.   The day after Santa Clara  fell was a momentous one.  

A general strike was begun, aimed at bringing the  government to a standstill. But more importantly,   January 1, 1959 was the day the Batista not  only stepped down from power, but gave up power,   handing control over to the Commander of  the Cuban Army, General Eulogio Cantillo. And with that, the bloody Batista regime was  done. Thousands of Cubans had lost their lives   under the regime and wealth and racial inequality  had grown wider between those few at the top and   those not born to privilege. The close association  of the United STates to the Cuban government  

had furthered the already tainted  reputation of the United States   not only in Cuba itself but across Latin America.  A new era in Cuba was very clearly dawning   and it was evident that Fidel Castro  was going to be the face of a new Cuba. Castro, still in the south of the island, began  talks to assume control of Santiago de Cuba,   which he did on January 2, 1959. Once in the  city, he spoke from the balcony of the City Hall,   proclaiming the victory of the Revolution,  refusing to recognise the authority of Cantillo.   Cienfuegos and Guevara meanwhile, had  quickly moved their troops towards Havana,   entering the city at around the same  time that Fidel was entering Santiago.   With the capital now occupied, the Cantillo  Presidency collapsed and Manuel Urrutia Lleo,   a leftist lawyer who had opposed Batista was named  as the new President with a Cabinet largely made   up of Castro supporters. Urrutia’s selection as  President is often attributed to him being both  

educated and Christian, making him a more moderate  candidate that the United States could accept.   But despite Urrutia’s being the nominal new  leader of Cuba, the real power still lay with   the rebels who retained their weapons. Political  power through the barrel of a gun and all that! Castro entered the capital on January 8 and took  up residence in the penthouse of the Havana Hilton   Hotel and proclaimed himself the Representative of  the Rebel Armed Forces of the Presidency. Although   he wasn’t officially in power, he began to  exert his influence to influence both corruption   and illiteracy across the island. At the  same time, he began a campaign to punish   supporters of the Batista regime, especially  those who had participated in repressions.  

Now, this is al so when political parties were  outlawed, although it was promised at the time   that the ban was only a temporary measure while  the situation on the island was stabilized. T-shirt icon Che Guevera at this point was granted  Cuban citizenship and put in charge of La Cabaña,   the 18th-century fortress complex that was to  be used as a prison. It was at La Cabaña that   representatives of the Batista government were  taken and put on trial. These trials however,  

fell well short of any requirements for  due process and impartiality and hundreds   of people were executed. Despite the lack of  proper due process, the majority of the Cuban   population was in favour of the drastic actions  carried out by Guevera at La Cabaña and Fidel   rejected any criticism by calling the  executions acts of revolutionary justice. On February 16, 1959, Fidel became the  Prime Minister of Cuba. He replaced Jose  

Miro Cardona who had been appointed to  the office by Urrutia only 6 weeks prior.   Cardona had made a decision to close down all  the brothels and casinos on the island, which   Castro feared would cause mass unemployment  and destabilize the country. Castro still   wanted to close the casinos and brothels  but he wanted it postponed until other   employment opportunities for the  Cuban people had been developed. In April of 1959, Prime Minister Castro made a  trip to the United States at the invitation of   the American Society of Newspaper Editors. The  Americans in general were very suspicious of   Castro’s motives on the island and although Castro  didn’t refer to himself as a socialist, he was in   favour of nationalizing American business  in Cuba as well as radical agrarian reform.  

To help offset American distrust, Castro hired  a PR firm to help improve his image. During his   11-day visit to the United STates, Castro toured  New York and Washington and was generally seen   as a media darling, but the trip had some stormy  moments including when he abruptly left a talk to   the Council on Foreign Relations after being  asked some particularly difficult questions.   The trip did not include a meeting with  President Eisenhower, who pointedly   made himself unavailable by going golfing, so  instead Castro met with Vice-President Nixon,   who concluded that Castro was “either  incredibly naive about communism   or under communist discipline  — my guess is the former”.

Upon returning to Cuba, reforms began to be  implemented. Some of the earliest of these   included decreasing the salaries of judges  and government officials while at the same   time increasing the the wages paid to lower level  bureucrats. The cost of rent, electricity, gas,   and other utilities were decreased. But these were  small compared to what came next: agrarian reform. On the 17th of May, Fidel appointed himself the  head of the National Agrarian INstitute of Reform   and proclaimed his first agrarian reform package.  As part of the program, and piece of land or   farm over 3,333 acres and any real estate over  1,000 acres was to be expropriated by the state   and then either redistributed to farmers in strips  of land no larger than 67 acres per household or   be taken into the ownership of the state. In  addition,fForeign ownership of sugar plantations   was expressly forbidden. Owners were offered  compensation by means of Cuban currency bonds.  

The effect of this reform package ended the vast  American ownership of Cuban land. 200,000 peasant   households received land and 60% of land in  Cuba was now owned by peasants and smallholders,   with the rest being owned by the state. There  was also the beginning of a program to encourage   Cuban peasants to accept collectivization  and begin to use the land owned by the state.

As you might expect, these reforms were not  well received by everybody. Unsurprisingly, the   American business elite reacted poorly to having  their major interests stripped away from them.   Additionaly though, Cuban liberals  and anti-communists were also   unhappy with the reforms, fearing that  Cuba was becoming a Socialist state.

Against this background, the head of the Chief  of the Revolutionary Air Force of Cuba, Pedro   Luis Dias resigned his position and immediately  left Cuba for the United States where he would   become heavily involved in the anti-Castro  movement, even being recruited by the CIA.   Dias’s defection was denounced by President  Urrutia but he himself began to express   concern and criticism for the increasingly  communist policies that Castro was implimenting.   In response to this criticism,  Fidel resigned as Prime Minister,   which resulted in a huge crowd, maybe as  many 500,000 people, all Castro’s supporters   gathering at the Presidential Palace, calling  for the resignation of President Urrutia.This  

gathering was largely prompted by Castro making a  television appearance that day, denouncing Urrutia   as hindering the progress of the Revolution.  Bowing to the clear will of the people, his   resignation was tendered. Fidel then resumed his  position as Prime Minister and appointed one of   his loyalists, Osvaldo Dorticos Torrado as the new  President. The consolidation of power had begun. Overall, 1959 and 1960 were years of massive  socialist reforms. On August 6, 1960 for example,   the Cuban Telephone COmpany, 3 oil refineries,  and 21 sugar factories were nationaliszed. In  

September 1960, Cuban banks as well as  large trade and industrial companies   which were owned by either foreigners or Batista  supporters were also nationalised. October 1960   saw a housing reform go though which saw housing  properties nationalized by the state and then   redistributed among the people. All of these  reforms resulted in huge losses for the Cuban   upper-class as well as American businesses  but resulted in gains for the poor of Cuba. Politically though,Castro continued to  postpone political reformation while he   also became increasingly reluctant to engage  in any power-sharing deals with other factions.   Che Guevara and Raul Castro  were given ministerial positions   which helped to solidify Fidel’s control  but also sent a significant signal to Cuba   and the world that the Cuban Revolution  was turning into a Socialist Revolution.

By the Autumn of 1959, the independent press  in Cuba had been all but banned and former   revolutionary leaders, including Huber Matos  and William Morgan had been arrested for their   oppostion to the Marxist direction that  Castro was leading the Revolution. The   National Revolutionary Militia was established,  a volunteer defence force committed to furthering   the aims of the Revolution, as well as the  Committees for the Defence of the Revolution,   a wide network of citizens groups who acted as  community watchdogs to observe people’s behaviour   and conduct and ensure loyalty to the Revolution.  The results of the creation of these two bodies   the start of large scale arrests of those  considered not-loyal to the emerging regime.   In July of 1961, the Intigrated Revolutionary  Organizations was formed by merging Fidel’s   26th of July movement together with the Popular  Socialst Party and the Revolutionary Directorate.  

The merged organization would later go  on to become the Cuban Communist Party. Now, the revolution was having a considerable  impact on Cuban society. Namely, as the Castro   regime moved more and more to the left, a brain  drain began to form. Qualified professionals   from a wide variety of different spheres left  Cuba, with many heading to the United States.   These professionals and intellectuals were joined  by those unhappy that their economic privileges   were taken away. But not everyone who opposed  Castro fled Cuba. Some anti-Castro groups even  

took up arms and took to the hills, recreating  the guerilla movement that had overthrown Batista.   In fact, one of the main forces involved was  the Second National Front of the Escambray,   led by Eloy Guiterrez Menoyo, who had been  involved in the March 1957 attack on Batista   at the Presidential Palace and had then  been a leader in the fight against Batista. And it wasn’t just the relationship between Castro  and some Cubans that was becoming strained. The   relationship between Cuba and the United States  was also fraying rapidly. Washington was most   upset with the expropriations of American-owned  land, property, and other business assets.   In response, Washington imposed a ban  on the import of Cuba’s main export   and currency generator, sugar. It also allowed  for a much more streamlined immigration process  

for anti-Castro Cubans and began supporting  anti-Castro groups operating in Cuba. On the 4th of March, 1960 a  French-flagged freighter, La Coubre,   which was offloading Belgian-made munitions in  Havana harbour exploded. Between 75 and 100 people   were killed in two explosions. Castro, almost  immediately and without any actual evidence,   publicly blamed the United States for  the explosion, ending his speech with by   saying “Patria o Muerte”, Fatherland  or Death. Not inflammatory at all,   right? Incidentally, the explosion of La  Coubre was likely caused by sabotage by an   anti-Castro group working in the Port of Havana  and not directly by the CIA as is often implied. In September of 1960, Castro returned to the  United States, but this time he did not go to   meet with US officials but rather to attend a  General Assembly session of the United Nations.  

During his time in New York, Fidel met  instead with other leaders including Malcom X,   the prominent spokesman for the Nation of Islam as  well as the Corn Lord himself, Nikita Khrushchev.   This meeting with the Soviet leader is interesting  because up until that point, Cuba had had very few   dealings with the USSR. in fact, Moscow had been  rather standoffish, unsure of Fidel’s ideological   leanings. But, as the US-Cuban relationship  increasingly turned into a train wreck, the   Soviets were happy to step in, eventually making  Cuba Moscow’s most important ally in the Americas.   Now, while Fidel was at the General Assembly,  he got up and spoke, giving the longest speech   in the GAs history, clocking in at  an impressive four and a half hours,   during which he largely criticized  American imperialism in Latin America. Starting from the 2nd of January of 1961,   US-Cuban relations collapsed. It began when Fidel  ordered the US EMbassy in Havana to downsize  

to no more than eleven people. The  Americans responded the next day   responding that the Cuban action was” designed  to achieve an effective termination of diplomatic   and consular relations between the Government  of Cuba and the Government of the United States.   Accordingly, the Government of the United States  hereby formally notifies the Government of Cuba of   the termination of such relations.” In short, the  US response was to terminate diplomatic relations. This was the final blow for any hope of  Castro steering away from the Socialist path   as Cuba would begin to forge  significantly deeper ties to Moscow   and the socialist world. The United States  now had to contend with a Socialist state,   only 90 miles off the coast of Florida. Washington  began preparation and planning for an ultimately  

ill-fated operation to remove Castro from power  before he could complete a total consolidation of   power. But, the fisco that became the Bay of Pigs  invasion will be the subject of a future video. We hope you’ve enjoyed today’s episode and to make  sure you don’t miss all of our future episodes,   please make sure you are subscribed to our channel  and have led a multi-year guerilla campaign   against General Campana. I would like to take  this opportunity to thank all of our supporters   and If you aren’t a patron, please consider  supporting us at   or through YouTube membership. We can be reached  via email at   This is the Cold War Channel and as we think about  the Cold War, I will leave you with the words of   JFK “In the final analysis, our most basic common  link is that we all inhabit this small planet.  

We all breathe the same air. We all cherish  our children's future. And we are all mortal.”

2022-07-04 16:14

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