The Story of a Hero Became Villain: Castro’s Revolution and Rise to Power

October 21, 2021 by Essay Writer

In modern stories of oppressive government, an archetype of a ruler who doesn’t care for his people, violently ends protests and seems to simply be the villain. Debatably, the man who created this archetype is Fulgencio Batista.

Batista was elected president of Cuba in 1940 and voted out in 1944, however he regained power by less lawful means in 1952. In a three-way election, Batista was a distant third place in the polls, and seemed to have little to no chance of winning, but on March 10, 1952 Batista led an illegal seizure of the Cuban government , canceled the election he was doomed to lose and appointed himself the head of Cuba as a “Provisional President”. (Kapcia)

Illegally taking over a democratic government could never go well with the Cuban people, and the egregiousness of Batista’s later actions only cemented him as negative to the people of Cuba. Batista allowed Cuba to, metaphorically, become the dumping yard for America’s elite. Gambling licenses were radically easy to obtain, the police were corrupt and as a result, drugs and prostitution became rampant.

The United States government did little to stop Batista as Eisenhower’s administration supported Batista’s regime, and provided a plethora of weaponry to Batista’s army, helping to keep Batista in absolute control. Rich foreign businessmen would come to Cuba for “Dirty Holidays” where they would take advantage of the plentiful gambling and exploit citizens living in poverty.(Hugh)

In the days leading up to the beginning of the revolution, Fidel Castro, the leader of the Cuban Revolution, recruited lower class men who held menial jobs such as delivery men, chauffeurs and unskilled labor. Mixed raced Cubans were seldom recruited as the majority supported Batista, who was also of mixed heritage, in addition, Intellectuals were also excluded as Castro feared they may challenge his ideas. (James)

In order to train his men, Castro brought them to shooting ranges in Havana, disguising them as businessmen interested in hunting. The rebels were armed with a variety of civilian firearms, including 12 and 16-gauge shotguns, .22 calibre rifles, and a variety of varying handguns and rifles. The first battle of the Cuban Revolution was fully explained the day of, Castro and his men gathered at a farm in Sibonev, and worked out their objectives. Castro’s men planned to take over the Moncada Barracks in Santiago, steal their weapons, spam the military airwaves and use Santiago’s radio stations to mobilize the public against Batista. (James)

On the dawn of July 26, 1953, Fidel Castro led a group of over 150 rebels to to the Moncada Barracks. The attack did not end well, Fidel Castro’s men had mobilized in cars, and the car carrying the heaviest firepower had been lost, leaving many of the rebels unarmed. Fifteen soldiers and three police were killed, with 28 more wounded, the rebels lost nine men with eleven wounded, however 56 were executed in retaliation. In addition to the executions, other rebels were sentenced to jailtime, including Fidel Castro.(Hugh)

Ernesto Guevara was born on May 14, 1928 in Rosario, Argentina to an upper class family. Guevara spent his childhood as most other Armenian children did, though it is noted that he had a lack of hygiene and was especially promiscuous with women. Guevara attended medical school in Buenos Aires, but took a break before finishing his final year to take a motorcycle trip with his friend Alberto Granado. Though the trip had a primary goal of volunteering to help at a leper colony in Peru, it was mostly planned to explore South America and have fun before graduating college. On the trip, Guevara was subjected to seeing poverty, something he’d neglected to acknowledge in his youth. From being subjected to shocking scenes of the lower class struggling, Guevara developed an anti-Capitalist marxist worldview. Though Granado opted to stay in Caracas, Venezuela, Guevara returned home to Buenos Aires to complete his medical schooling.(Anderson)

Once Guevara completed medical school he continued to travel around South America, but would eventually set his destiny in Guatemala. Guevara arrived during the presidency of Jacobo Arbenz, who was in the process of attempting to turn Guatemals into a prosperous Capitalist society and cut off foreign influence. Arbenz’s policies ended up causing outside forces to plan a government takeover. Guevara joined forces with pro-Arbenz Guatemalans to stop said takeover, but the group ultimately failed, forcing Guevara into Mexico City. In Mexico City, Guevara would earn the name “Che”, as “Che” was in some dialects similar to the word “hey”, other revolutionaries would yell out “Che! Guevara!”, and it eventually stuck.(Anderson)

Back in Cuba, Fidel Castro was let out of prison in May 1955, after only two years through amnesty. Castro went into exile in Mexico City immediately afterward. It was here where Castro and Che met, and began forming the “26th of July Movement”. In Mexico City, Castro formed a battle plan to retake Cuba from Batista, with Che as a head in the movement. Small disturbances from the 26th of July Movement took place in Cuba, though nothing major had taken place as every major player still remained in Mexico City. (Anderson)

At the end of 1956, a group from 26th of July Movement, including Che and Castro, sailed to Cuba on a decaying yacht named the “Granma”. The rebels reached Cuba’s Southeastern coast on December 2, 1956. From this point, the group made their way for Havana in an attempt to overthrow Batista. In regards to the battles fought during the Cuban Revolution, it is said that Che was especially ferocious in battle, his men told stories of him dealing with serious battle wounds like they were negligible cuts, and acting like a hardened vet despite having no prior military experience.(Hugh)

On the path to Havana, Castro’s forces remained relatively small, often dipping below 200 men, and though Batista had over 30,000 men, Castro managed to defeat them time and time again, heavily outgunned and heavily outnumbered. Factors that played into Castro’s success in Cuba included a weapons embargo the United States had put on Cuba and heavy determination in his men. These factors played a key role in the landslide victory of Operation Verano where Batista send 12,000 men, a large number being untrained recruits, into the Cuban mountains. Castro’s men won by a landslide, losing 76 men, but killing 126 and capturing 240. (Kapcia)

On August 21, 1958 Castro’s forces went full offensive in a series of battles leading to the Battle of Santa Clara in late December where Castro’s forces took the entire city with support from civilians, and set a final route for Havana. Castro’s victory at Santa Clara scared Batista into fleeing to the Dominican Republic. Castro’s forces marched to the Havana and met no opposition, Castro’s initial choice of president, Manuel urrutia Lleo took office on January 3, 1959(Chomsky)

After the revolution succeeded, hundreds of Batista-era public servicemen were tried for war crimes and other human rights violations. All of the convicted were either executed or imprisoned for a long period of time. Che was appointed the supreme prosecutor, though he later resigned to fight other revolutions before being killed by the CIA on October 9, 1967. Castro became president of Cuba from December 1976 until February 24, 2008, and is still living to this day.(Hugh)

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