History of the Cuban Revolution
|Table of contents|
2 Early Revolution years
3 Sierra Maestra
4 Triumph of the Revolution
Since Cuba's independence granted by the 1898 Paris peace treaty between Spain and the United States of America (see: Spanish American War), the country was ruled by a series of weak and sometimes corrupt presidents.
In 1933, an elected president turned cruel dictator Gerardo Machado was toppled by a coup d'etat staged by Fulgencio Batista. In 1944, Batista endeavored to have his rule legitimated by democratic elections, but lost. In 1952, he regained power by another coup. Opposition began to form, one of the most important leaders of the anti-Batista movement was a young lawyer called Fidel Castro
Early Revolution years
On July 26, 1953, a group of 119 rebels attacked the Moncada barracks in Santiago de Cuba. Many of them were killed in the attack, the survivors, among them Fidel and his brother Raśl Castro were captured shortly afterwards. In a highly political trial, they were sentenced to long imprisonments; Castro got 15 years in the presidio modelo located on Isla de Pinos. After the 1955 elections, Batista freed all political prisoners, including the Moncada attackers. The Castro brothers went into exile in Mexico where they gathered more exiled Cubans ready to fight for their country's liberation. During that period, Castro also met the Argentinian doctor Che Guevara, who joined their forces. In November 1956, a total of 82 rebels left Mexico onboard the vessel Granma heading for Cuba. All but 12 of them were killed in the first combat right after their landing in what was later renamed Granma Province. Both Fidel and Raul Castro as well as Che were among the survivors.
The surviving rebels fled to the Sierra Maestra mountains where they established their camp. With support from the Cuban population they were able to enlarge their army and score several successes against Batista's troops. By the end of 1957, Castro was able to found a fixed headquarters at La Plata in the Sierra Maestra. Journalists from various countries, including the US, visited the rebels and offered their support for the struggle against the dictatorship.
Triumph of the Revolution
In 1958, the rebel troops started their offensive. They advanced in two groups, so called columnas. The first was led by Raul and Fidel and headed for the eastern part of the island with the second biggest city Santiago. The second columna was under the command of Che Guevara and Camilo Cienfuegos and proceeded towards the West and the capital Havana. The decisive battle of Santa Clara was fought and won by this second column at the year's turn. On January 1, 1959, Batista fled to the Dominican Republic. A day later, the rebels occupied both Havana and Santiago. On January 8, Fidel Castro reached Havana, completing the revolution's victory.
Castro arbitrarily nationalized all United States and other foreign-owned property in the nation on August 6, 1960 and the United States responded by placing an embargo on Cuba, which is still in place after more than 40 years.
See also: History of Cuba