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Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution

To Cuban exiles, Cuba – prior to the mid-1950’s iconic Cuban Revolution – was a paradise, one of the most successful and advanced countries in Latin American. To others, it was a hellhole, a bastion for U.S. mob activity, the brothel and playground of the Western hemisphere, an island inhabited by degraded and hungry people.

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The ousting of the U.S.-backed Cuban President and General Fulgencio Batista was the result of this Revolution – a revolution in which the former President of Cuba, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, was a major progenitor. The downfall of the repressive Batista regime was greatly welcomed by the masses. Batista fled Cuba in January of 1959 and Fidel Castro became Prime Minister on February 16, 1959.

Castro once said “a revolution is not a bed of roses. A revolution is a struggle between the future and the past (think exist).” Eradicating “past” injustice for a “future” social order founded on the premise of good values, kindness, and generosity was/is at the core of his revolutionary creed. He genuinely believed that economic inadequacy and Western dependence as well as disease, malnutrition, and illiteracy equated to a criminal disgrace (Baker). Political ideals without selfless, noble intents had no value to him. Castro coupled this motivating creed with underground/guerilla warfare tactics to catapult him to leadership and topple the Batista government. Most importantly, in order to implement his revolutionary agenda, he consolidated power via the implementation of revolutionary laws which became the signature of his transition to power and made him by far one of Cuba’s most influential and productive leaders.

An initial admirer of Batista, Castro grew discontented with what he felt was Batista’s loss of revolutionary fervor for social reform. His activism in Cuba prior to the Revolution and throughout South America (Colombia in particular) was motivated by his passionate fervor for social justice and intense hatred/bitterness of Western imperialism, as embodied in particular by the U.S. Such ideals had further been instilled in him by his mentor, the late Cuban political activist Eduardo Chibas, founder of the Orthodox Party. Castro eventually joined Ortodoxo – a party committed to exposing government corruption and implementing revolutionary change via constitutional means.

In the 1952 elections, Castro ran as a first-time candidate for a seat in the Cuban parliament. This only attempt was nullified when then former president Batista, in a coup d’etat, ousted incumbent President Carlos Prio Socarras. The elections were canceled and Batista assumed the government as provisional president. Disenchanted by Ortodoxo’s response to the coup, Castro broke away from the party and filed the famous Zarpazo petition – a petition legally arguing/challenging Batista’s violation of the constitution. Castro was not allowed a hearing and the petition was eventually denied by the Constitutional Court. It was this experience that invoked Castro to resort to revolutionary tactics to overthrow the Batista government.

Teamed with an array of revered revolutionary figures- among them, Ernesto “Che” Guevarra, Camilio Cienfuegos, Huber Matos, Jaime Vega, Frank Pais, and his brother, Raul Castro – Fidel Castro embarked on a seven-year revolutionary, concerted journey which culminated with him coming to power in 1959. Exemplifying a classic use of guerrilla warfare as the primary military tactic, three events served as the hallmark of the revolution – Attack on Moncada Barracks, 26th of July Movement, and Battle of Yaguajay. Once in power, Castro ousted all liberals, democrats, and anyone opposed to his platform. On May 1, 1961, he abolished elections and officially declared Cuba a socialist state. Rooted in his anti-American imperialism sentiment, his selection of Communist ideals as the governing principle was more or less a strategic mechanism as opposed to an ideological one (Baker).

The success and distinguishable feature of the Castro government can be attributed to creating policies that benefited the mass poor and improved quality of life. The government took control of Cuba by nationalizing industry, collectivizing agriculture (First Agrarian Reform), and redistributing property. It devised an entirely state-operated educational system that made education free. Assuming a fiscal and administrative responsibility for the health care of all its citizens, a national health care system was established Neither private clinics nor hospitals are permitted. Since the 19th century, Cuba historically has made tremendous contributions to world health and ranked high in numbers of medical personnel. Such policies alienated former middle and upper-class supporters of the revolution who later migrated to the States and primarily settled in Miami, Florida. One million exiles and over formed a vocal anti-Castro community which has grown and continues to be funded as well as actively supported by successive U.S. administrations.

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Despite critics, hardships, dissention, etc. in and out of the country, Cuba’s enduring perseverance – even under the yoke of over 40 years of the economic, commercial, and financial embargo – cannot be taken lightly or dismissed.

Without a doubt, Castro is one of the key components at the core of such an enigma. Tyrant/dictator, legendary revolutionary, a leader among men, father of the modern-day Latin American revolutionary trend, all words, and idioms used to depict Castro.

His reign was the longest ever in Latin American history and he was the second-longest continuously serving head of state in the world following the death of King Hussein of Jordan. He outlasted nine U.S. Presidents and survived over 638 assassinations attempts. Castro once said “If I’m told 98% of the people no longer believe in the Revolution, I’ll continue to fight. If I’m told I’m the only one who believes in it, I’ll continue (Baker). An accurate and introspective statement from one of the century’s most controversial and charismatic leaders.


Baker, Christopher P. Moon Handbooks Cuba. Avalon Travel Publishing. Emeryville, CA:2003.

Betto, Frei. Fidel and Religion: Castro Talks on Revolution and Religion with Frei Betto. Simon Schuster, Inc., New York: 1986.

Chasteen, John Charles. Born in Blood and Fire: A Concise History of Latin America. W.W. Norton & Co, Inc., 2005.

Fider Castro Quotes: Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, October 28). Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution. Retrieved from


StudyCorgi. (2021, October 28). Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution.

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