The Rise of Fidel Castro
Throughout the history of Cuba, it's leaders have always played a role in its relations around the world, non more than Fidel Castro. Unlike the president of the United States, Castro was the unelected dictator of Cuba from 1959 until his resignation in 2008. His rise to power, included staging a revolution, allowed him to take control of Cuba which would contribute to the demise of relations between the United States and Cuba, virtually ending with the Bay of Pigs in 1961.
Prior to Fidel Castro becoming dictator of Cuba, the country was led by another dictator, Fulgencio Batista. Batista initially became President after a successful career in the military left him with much control and power over politics, as well as the people. In 1921, Batista, as a regular soldier played a role in the sergeants' revolt, which overthrew the current president and allowed Batista to become the chief of staff, influencing the people of who to elect as president. Batista himself only served as President from the year 1940 to 1944. When this was over, he moved to the United States but later returned to Cuba and staged a Coup, reclaiming his power and officially becoming dictator in 1952. During his time as dictator, the economy fell as corruption grew. Batista had formed ties with different mobs throughout the United States and welcomed them into Cuba. He accepted many bribes and even allowed prostitution to become a profitable business. Many regular citizens became very poor while the leaders became very rich. (Batista Cuba). This all angered many, causing the Cuban Revolution to begin. In 1955, Batista allowed a group of revolutionary sympathizers to be released from jail, including Fidel Castro, who would later stage an uprising along with his brother Raul and Che Guevara in 1958, passing control of Cuba on to Castro in 1959 and exiling Batista to Spain. (Fidel Castro).
Castro received control of Cuba in February of 1959. Soon after he became dictator, relations with the United States grew sour over economic sanctions, and also its ties to the communist Soviet Union. After he became dictator of Cuba, Castro implemented a Marxist-Leninist programme. (Fidel Castro). This program nationalized industry and commercial enterprise, as well as consolidated power. In October of 1960, all economic and business related ties to the United States were severed, along with diplomatic relations in January of 1961. With its radically changing economic policies as well as the undemocratic and strict feelings of the government, Castro's control left many sensing apprehension, enough so that many immigrated. (Van Dine). Although some did not agree with Castro's limitations, many did. Especially those who still held some ill feelings over the Platt Amendment in 1903. (Brief History). This amendment, although intended to protect the country from foreign rule, was limiting in that it essentially made Cuba a protectorate, controlled and protected by the United States. The Platt Amendment was later repealed during Franklin Roosevelt's presidency, but only after it had played a role in U.S. intervention in Cuban affairs on several occasions. (Platt Amendment). Clearly as Castro came into power, relations with the United States became skewed; leaving many to question if any action would be taken.
Approved before Dwight D. Eisenhower left office and authorized soon after John F. Kennedy became president, the Bay of Pigs attack was a last effort attempt by the United States government, as well as Cuban exiles to reclaim Cuba from Castro. In this attack led by Jose Miro Cardona, Cuban exiles were trained for assault landings and guerilla warfare to carry out the invasion of the Bay of Pigs with disguised American support. This invasion, if conducted properly, could have resulted with pleasing results, but all did not go as planned. Preparation for the attack was meant to be secret, but Castro knew about the exile training camps. Also, for the attack Kennedy ordered two air strikes using former World War Two bombers, painted to look like Cuban air force planes, to bomb Cuban airfields. When these planes went to bomb the fields, they missed many of their targets and U.S. involvement was revealed, forcing Kennedy to call off the second air strike. The intention to use the site for the invasion, the Bay of Pigs, was because it was a swampy area in southern Cuba, an attack here would be a surprise and have little resistance. Although the idea was a good one, this site was more than eighty miles from refuge in the Escambray Mountains. When the attack did occur on April 17, 1961, the cuban exiles invading were stopped by heavy fire and Cuban planes, which also destroyed escort ships and attack planes. The following day, Castro sent more troops to protect the Bay of Pigs, while Kennedy also ordered six fighter planes to provide assistance. These planes arrived too late and were shot down. It was from this moment on that the invasion was ended. Many exiles were captured and killed or imprisoned and some even escaped to sea. Those exiles who survived Cuban captivity were released after over a year and a half of imprisonment, but only on conditions of agreements with Castro. (The Bay of Pigs). This event officially ended relations between Cuba and the United States.
The rise of Fidel Castro effected American relations with Cuba. His assent to power over Batista and control of the government, as well as his people helped to cut his ties to the United States. After the Bay of Pigs invasion, Castro later officially announced in December of 1961, that Cuba was now a communistic country with himself as the sole dictator. (Van Dine). From this point on, Cuban relations have never been the same.
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“Brief History of Cuba.” Florida International University. 07 Apr. 1997. 3 Jun. 2011. http://www2.fiu.edu/~fcf/histcuba.html
“Fidel Castro (1926- ). ” BBC. 2011. 3 Jun. 2011. http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/castro_fidel.shtml
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“The Bay of Pigs.” John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. 3 Jun. 2011. http://www.jfklibrary.org/JFK/JFK-in-History/The-Bay-of-Pigs.aspx
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