Title of Course: Black History 301: The History of Cuba

Instructor: Mba Mbulu

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Class #16: Fidel Castro

Read the Essay below. Be able to answer and expound on the following questions.

(1) How many revolutionaries attacked the Moncada army stronghold? Was the attack a success?
(2) Why did Cuba's government grant amnesty to Castro and his comrades?
(3) How many fighters started the guerilla war against the Cuban government?
(4) Did it matter to the revolutionaries that the United States and the odds were against them?
(5) When Castro nationalized U. S. companies, was it important that the Cuban people were the ones who benefitted from the change?

Class #16 Essay [Audio Version]

In 1950, Fidel Castro was in law school. Two years later he ran for Congress. It was a time when Fulgencio Batista had been undoing much of what Grau had done to help Cuba's masses. From the time the U. S. occupied Cuba in the 1890s until the present, most of Cuba's wealth went straight into the pockets of U. S. businesses, and Cuba's politics revolved around U. S. interests, not Cuba's. The U. S. dominated, either directly or indirectly, Cuba's mines, public utilities, railways, sugar production and banks. Fidel Castro and other educated Cubans wanted to make Cubans the primary beneficiaries of Cuba's wealth and politics.

On July 28, 1953, Castro led an attack of 100 men and women on the Moncada army garrison near Santiago de Cuba. Guillermon Moncada, a Black man, was one of the leading figures in Cuba's War for Independence, and the army stronghold had been named in his honor. The attack failed to achieve its immediate objective, and Castro and most of his compatriots who were not killed were captured. However, this failed attack of untrained students against an army stronghold is what catapulted the people of Cuba to a higher level of political action.

As a result of people protesting, the government was forced to grant amnesty to Castro and his comrades. Most of them went to Mexico City, where they planned what their next move would be. Later, 82 of them secretly returned to Cuba on a yacht named "Granma," but were surprised by Batista's troops. The few who avoided being killed escaped in the Sierra Mountains. It is here that Castro realized how much Cuba's well being relied on an agrarian economy, and it is here that Castro became a complete revolutionary.

The remaining 15 fighters (they only had 7 weapons) organized their first guerilla unit and attacked a small army garrison, where they seized a dozen more weapons. Then they unexpectedly received a small shipment of automatic weapons and ammunition from supporters in Santiago de Cuba. Shortly thereafter, they started Radio Rebelde and urged the people to join the armed revolution and end U. S. domination of the country. Finally, the revolutionaries attacked Batista's strong points. Batista's arms, ammunition, ordnance and training came from the U. S. That didn't matter to the revolutionaries.

On January 1, 1959, the revolutionary army forced Batista out of Cuba. The U. S., thinking that Castro would respond to threats, pressure or bribes the same way most of Cuba's leaders had, gave official recognition to Cuba's new government. But when the revolutionary government nationalized the U. S. owned phone company, reduced telephone rates, forbade foreign ownership of Cuban land, struck up a sugar deal with the Soviet Union, and turned it all to the benefit of Cuba's people, President Dwight D. Eisenhower decided that Castro must go. Assassination plans were hatched, paramilitary forces were organized to invade the island, economic and military embargoes and blockades were enforced, agent provocateurs were strategically positioned to destabilize the government and U. S. laws were regularly broken by U. S. officials as they developed a fixation on sabotaging and undoing Cuba's revolutionary government. But to little avail. Up through the turn of the 21st century, all of the attempts to undo Cuba's revolutionary government have failed in whole or in part.

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