..." Quirk is noted to have said that: "Many times in later years Castro spoke of his ignorance as a university student. He admitted to being a 'political illiterate' and had studied law, he said, not because he felt an attraction to the legal profession but because his family expected it." (Quirk; as cited by Escobar, 2004) Fidel Castro became involved in political activism and became a widely renowned orator and was labeled a political agitator. His group attempted a coup d'etat against the rule of Batista however they failed and were imprisoned. While in prison Castro wrote the work entitled: "History will Absolve Me" finally putting his views of revolution down on paper. Castro is noted to have stated:
know the imprisonment will be hard for me as it has been for anyone - filled with cowardly threats and wicked torture. But I do not fear prison, just as I do not fear the fury of the miserable tyrant who snuffed life out of seventy brothers of mine. Sentence me I don't mind. History will absolve me." (Escobar, 2004)
Although sentenced to 15 years in prison Castro was released after only two years under the amnesty law. Fidel and his group once again attempted revolution and failed retreating to the Sierra Maestra mountain range. While in the Sierra Maestra Castro and his men attacked and gained ground over the under equipped rural guardsmen and tales of victories went to Havana. Batista immediately responded by suspending the constitutional guarantees for 45 days and terror ensured. The media was censored and military action against Castro and his men began. Approximately 2000 families were removed from the highlands, lock, stock and barrel and those who remained in the zone that was cleared were "presumed guilty of aiding the guerrillas, and were treated accordingly." (Escobar, 2004) Support for Castro and his men grew quickly.
IV. ECONOMIC REASONS CASTRO GAINED SUPPORT IN THE REVOLT
The Cuban economy of 1957 was second only to Venezuela's in terms of the standard of living but the cost of living was high stated to be due to their relationship with the United States. (Escobar, 2004) The "impoverished conditions facing the people of Cuba allowed Fidel Castro to position himself as the political and economic savior of the downtrodden." In fact, the "...ousting of Fulgencio Batista would eventually lead to many questions that the United States would have to contend with, regarding America's investment in Cuba and the leadership of Fidel Castro." (Escobar, 2004) The policy in the U.S. toward Cuba during the presidency of Eisenhower was one described as "status quo." Escobar (2004) states that the U.S. policy in Cuba:
and for that matter in Latin America had grown under the foundation of the Monroe Doctrine. This policy along with the principals of Manifest Destiny indicated that the United States would have full reign over the territory south of the border; and 'suggested that if there were to be imperialism in the region it would not be European." (Simmons p.182; as cited by Escobar, 2004) The United States was given a voice of power in selecting Cuban leaders through the Platt Amendment which "rested on the central if not fully stated premise that the principal danger of U.S. interests in Cuba originated with Cubans themselves or at least those Cubans with antecedents in revolution." (Perez, Platt Amendment, p. 50; as cited by Escobar, 2004)
V. AMERICAN POLICY TOWARD CUBA - ASSISTANCE TO BATISTA
The United States realized great profits assisted by these policies. In fact "the formation of companies such as the United Fruit Company, The American Sugar Company, and the Taco Bay Company allowed the United States to profit greatly in Cuba." (Perez, Platt Amendment, p. 50; as cited by Escobar, 2004) The interests of the United States in Cuba and other Latin American countries were, according to the work of Escobar (2004) and Sewell (2006) driven by economic reasons, specifically "economic prosperity and the control of that wealth." (Escobar, 2004) President Eisenhower and the Eisenhower administration were concerned primarily with protecting the interests of the United States in their dealings with...
The United States is stated to have continued in their relationship with Batista which incidentally: "included the continuous sale of weapons to the Cuban dictator." (Escobar, 2004)
In the memorandums during the year of 1958 the Eisenhower administration showed great concern in Fidel Castro's revolution and at the fact that it seemed he might actually gain power in Cuba and this meant that the "United States would played a delicate game that would require them to maintain their allegiance to Batista while searching for a better alternative." (Escobar, 2004) A Cuban Embassy dispatch to the U.S. Department of States was a request from Batista for:
1. 100,000 rounds of 20 mm. ammunition for the Cuban Navy;
2. 10,000 hand grenades
3. 3,000-75 mm. howitzers shells and two aiming devices. (Escobar, 2004)
American investments in Cuba as of January 17, 1958 were stated to be approximately $774 million with 5,000 Americans residing in Cuba. (Escobar, 2004) The United States worked toward assisting Batista in holding democratic elections however history reveals that it wasn't democracy that drove the Eisenhower administration but instead the interests of American investments and the interests of those living in Cuba. In the view of the Eisenhower administration Fidel Castro was a threat to be eliminated. It is reported that "In an August 19, 1958 memorandum Ambassador Smith proclaims that 'it would probably be necessary for the newly elected President [in regards to the democratic election that were to be held in Cuba] to try to remove Fidel Castro as the center of active opposition. This might entail giving Castro a large sum of money and making him a Senator." (FRUS, 1958-1960, p. 168; as cited by Escobar)
VI. FIDEL CASTROS REVOLT OUSTS BATISTA
What had began as a small revolution spread like wildfire across Cuba and at the end of the year of 1958 the rebels led the revolution and the army reached "nearly 50,000 men and women and as much as 90% support in places like Santiago de Cuba (Perez, Reform and Revolution, p. 311; as cited by Escobar, 2004) Batista was ousted from power and the Eisenhower administration considered invading Cuba. On the 1st day of January, 1959 Castro's troops marched into Santiago de Cuba and no shots were even fired. In a speech given by Fidel Castro in January of 1959 Castro stated:
The revolution begins now. The revolution will not have an easy task. The revolution will be a very difficult undertaking, full of danger. This time it will not be like 1898, when North Americans came and made themselves masters of our country. This time, fortunately, the revolution will truly come to power. At this moment we must consolidate our position before anything else...The revolution will not be made in two days, but now I am sure that the revolution will be made, that for the first time the republic will really be entirely free, and that the people will have what they deserve...The war has been won by the people"! (Simmons, p. 287; as cited by Escobar, 2004)
Although Batista was overthrown by the rebel forces led by Fidel Castro on January 1, 1959 "...the brief honeymoon with the Eisenhower administration ended When Cuba took control of the U.S. -owned telephone company, closed all gambling casinos, reestablished diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and instituted the Agrarian Reform Law, which nationalized the 75% of arable land in foreign hands (roughly 90% American-owned) offering compensation based on current tax values." (Weinmann, 2004) In January 1961 the Eisenhower administration is stated to have: "broke off diplomatic ties with Havana, barred travel to Cuba without government approval, and authorized training by the Central Intelligence Agency of an exile army to oust Castro." (Weinmann, 2004)
Fidel Castro was set against any type of American involvement in Cuba holding that Cuba would and could govern itself without any outside interference. The United States made a decision to give attention to "the termination of the Castro regime." (FRUS1958-1960, p. 397-399 as cited by Escobar, 2004) The animosity escalated between the United States and Castro resulting in Castro continuing "to push an anti -- American revolution while the United States sought to increase its covert operation against Castro and Cuba. The unfolding of a Communist element in Cuba further strained the relationship between Castro and the United States. Communism; a word that triggered absolute fear in the hearts and minds of American citizens was becoming a reality just 90 miles south of the United States border.
The threat of Communism so near the United States meant that the Eisenhower administration would have to take action in eliminating Castro. Ironically, the one thing that the United States did not worry about in relation to Castro was the element of Communism, however as time passed the reality of Castro falling into the hands…
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