The Cuban Revolution saw the overthrow of General Fulgencio Batista, who himself had himself seized power in a military coup, after several years of armed struggle by the forces of Fidel Castro. Castro was a former lawyer who had been angered by Batista’s abolition of elections after he had seized power and his co-operation in the exploitation of Cuban resources by American businesses. Castro survived imprisonment and exile from his own country and fought a guerrilla war against government forces from 1953 to 1959.
Having forced Batista to flee the country Castro declared himself ‘President for Life’, but crucially on a platform of acting for the people of Cuba. Castro was socialist in his political outlook, desiring to see Cuban resources in the hands of the Cuban people and not foreign companies. This led to him being snubbed by his most powerful neighbour, the United States, and drove Cuba in the welcoming arms of the Soviet Union. Cuba became an ally of the Soviets, a fact which would increase the tensions of the Cold War exponentially, due to Cuba’s proximity to mainland America. This tension would reach its peak during the Cuban Missile Crisis.
The expulsion of Batista and the rise of Castro’s Communist dictatorship would have a profound effect on world politics for the next fifty years, bringing the world to the brink of nuclear disaster. This revolution was the last in a series of armed conflicts fought by Cubans against the rule and exploitation of foreign powers. The first significant series of conflicts occurred in the second half of the eighteenth century and resulted in both Cuban independence from Spain and its immediate annexation by the United States. These independence conflicts shifted the antagonists for the Cuban nationalists from the Spanish imperialists to the American capitalists. In turn, this would encourage the growth of socialist ideologies and the ultimate rejection of America and the West and alignment with the Soviet Union.
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Mark Rodger and Steven Lazaroff live in Canada.