Cuba Under Castro Part I

By | December 16, 2021

Castro’s increasingly violent attacks on the USA won the approval of the new African and Asian states; also in many Latin American countries, Castroism took on decidedly anti-American tones, especially in Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Venezuela and Mexico. Relations between Cuba and the USA entered a critical phase when Castro ordered the American embassy in Havana to reduce its staff to eleven people. Eisenhower, in January 1961, at the end of his term, withdrew his ambassador to Cuba, Philip Bonsal, who had made every effort to avoid the definitive breakdown of diplomatic relations. Meanwhile, Cuban refugees, including many of Batista’s supporters, were training in Florida in order to prepare for an invasion of Cuba. The landing (April 17, 1961) organized and financed by the CIA, but known to Castro through his informants, he failed miserably in the Baia de los Cochinos (or of the Pigs) and the 1180 survivors of the invasion were exposed to public mockery in the streets of Havana. It was a moment of triumph for Castro, and of bitter humiliation for the United States. Encouragement and aid came from the USSR and China, while the peoples of Latin America were invited to continue the struggle against the “paper tiger” and imperialism; Moscow awarded Castro (May 1) the Lenin Peace Prize; in his river speech of December 1, 1961, Fidel Castro proclaimed his adherence to Marxism-Leninism. Moscow awarded Castro (May 1) the Lenin Peace Prize; in his river speech of December 1, 1961, Fidel Castro proclaimed his adherence to Marxism-Leninism. Moscow awarded Castro (May 1) the Lenin Peace Prize; in his river speech of December 1, 1961, Fidel Castro proclaimed his adherence to Marxism-Leninism.¬†For Cuba political system, please check

The Cuban economy was initially directed towards industrialization, but the modest results achieved and political pressures forced the revolutionary theorist Ernesto “Che” Guevara, former governor of Banco Nacional and then minister of the economy, to return to the main Cuban product: sugar. All the people were mobilized to increase the cultivation of cane in an exhilarating atmosphere. Schools and hospitals were built, farms expanded and Cuba became a huge construction site with grueling working hours, while a moralizing campaign also imposed radical reforms in customs. The Church, which had raised objections to the communist turn, was hit with the expulsion of 435 Spanish and Cuban priests and a bishop. At the Punta del Este conference (5-17 August 1961) of the OAS, where Kennedy’s grandiose plan, known as the Alliance for Progress, was launched, Cuba was present with his delegate “Che” Guevara, who defined the plan “incompatible with the dignity of our continent” and refused to sign it. A second OAS conference in Punta del Este (22-31 January 1962) sanctioned Cuba’s exclusion from the Inter-American Organization for having “identified with the Marxist-Leninist ideology, incompatible with the principles of the regional system”. Despite North American pressure, six of the most important countries voted against exclusion: Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador and Mexico. Cuba, isolated on the continent, was attracted to the Soviet political-economic orbit: a crisis arose that entailed the risk of a direct confrontation between the USA and the USSR.

On October 14, 1962, a US spy plane, after taking photographs on Cuban territory, revealed to the world, in an irrefutable way, the existence of a launch pad and a depot of Soviet missiles capable of hitting the USA, which reacted alerting the armed forces and concentrating men and equipment in Florida. Dramatic messages were exchanged between Khrushchev and Kennedy, to whom the military advised the immediate invasion of the island. The American president wisely opted for a blockade of Cuba (October 24), with the interception of naval vessels carrying weapons. The USSR, faced with a situation that risked becoming irreparable, ordered the ships en route to Cuba to keep offshore; a few days later (October 29), Khrushchev informed Kennedy that the missiles would be dismantled and sent back to the Soviet Union. The world learned with relief the overcoming of the crisis, while Fidel Castro did not hide his disappointment. Some Latin American nations, especially Argentina and Venezuela, offered their immediate participation in the C block; other Latin American countries showed open solidarity with the USA. This attitude can be explained by the decreasing popularity of Castro, due to the close ties with Moscow. Furthermore Cuba offered hospitality to many young people from various parts of the subcontinent, trained in the art of guerrilla warfare and sent back to their countries of origin to create subversion centers there. In Venezuela (November 1963) many weapons depots from Cuba

In May 1963, Castro spent a long time in the Soviet Union and took a stand against China, which had made heavy accusations against Moscow for the withdrawal of missiles from Cuban territory. Between 1963 and 1964 the tension between Cuba and the USA continued, and there were indeed reciprocal disturbing actions: freezing of Cuban deposits in North American banks, confiscation of the USA embassy in Havana, interruption of the water supply at the American base in Guant√°namo. In October 1965 Castro suddenly decided to let anyone who wanted to get away from Cuba leave. They left by plane at the expense of the USA, which welcomed them, about 14,000 people.

Cuba Under Castro Part I