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Fidal Castro Essay Research Paper In 1959

Fidal Castro Essay, Research Paper In 1959, a rebel, Fidel Castro, overthrew the reign of Fulgencia Batista in Cuba; a small island 90 miles off the Florida coast. There have

Fidal Castro Essay, Research Paper

In 1959, a rebel, Fidel Castro, overthrew the reign of Fulgencia

Batista in Cuba; a small island 90 miles off the Florida coast. There have

been many coups and changes of government in the world since then. Few if

any have had the effect on Americans and American foreign policy as this

one.

In 1952, Sergeant Fulgencia Batista staged a successful bloodless coup

in Cuba . Batista never really had any cooperation and rarely garnered much

support. His reign was marked by continual dissension.

After waiting to see if Batista would be seriously opposed, Washington

recognized his government. Batista had already broken ties with the Soviet

Union and became an ally to the U.S. throughout the cold war. He was

continually friendly and helpful to American business interest. But he

failed to bring democracy to Cuba or secure the broad popular support that

might have legitimized his rape of the 1940 Constitution.

As the people of Cuba grew increasingly dissatisfied with his gangster

style politics, the tiny rebellions that had sprouted began to grow.

Meanwhile the U.S. government was aware of and shared the distaste for a

regime increasingly nauseating to most public opinion. It became clear that

Batista regime was an odious type of government. It killed its own

citizens, it stifled dissent.

At this time Fidel Castro appeared as leader of the growing rebellion.

Educated in America he was a proponent of the Marxist-Leninist philosophy.

He conducted a brilliant guerilla campaign from the hills of Cuba against

Batista. On January 1959, he prevailed and overthrew the Batista

government.

Castro promised to restore democracy in Cuba, a feat Batista had failed

to accomplish. This promise was looked upon benevolently but watchfully by

Washington. Castro was believed to be too much in the hands of the people

to stretch the rules of politics very far. The U.S. government supported

Castro’s coup. It professed to not know about Castro’s Communist leanings.

Perhaps this was due to the ramifications of Senator Joe McCarty’s

discredited anti-Communist diatribes.

It seemed as if the reciprocal economic interests of the U.S. and Cuba

would exert a stabilizing effect on Cuban politics. Cuba had been

economically bound to find a market for its #1 crop, sugar. The U.S. had

been buying it at prices much higher than market price. For this it

received a guaranteed flow of sugar.

Early on however developments clouded the hope for peaceful relations.

According to American Ambassador to Cuba, Phillip Bonsal, “From the very

beginning of his rule Castro and his sycophants bitterly and sweepingly

attacked the relations of the United States government with Batista and his

regime”. He accused us of supplying arms to Batista to help overthrow

Castro’s revolution and of harboring war criminals for a resurgence effort

against him. For the most part these were not true: the U.S. put a trade

embargo on Batista in 1957 stopping the U.S. shipment of arms to Cuba.

However, his last accusation seems to have been prescient.

With the advent of Castro the history of U.S.- Cuban relations was

subjected to a revision of an intensity and cynicism which left earlier

efforts in the shade. This downfall took two roads in the eyes of

Washington: Castro’s incessant campaign of slander against the U.S. and

Castro’s wholesale nationalization of American properties.

These actions and the U.S. reaction to them set the stage for what was

to become the Bay of Pigs fiasco and the end of U.S.- Cuban relations.

Castro promised the Cuban people that he would bring land reform to Cuba.

When he took power, the bulk of the nations wealth and land was in the

hands of a small minority. The huge plots of land were to be taken from

the monopolistic owners and distributed evenly among the people.

Compensation was to be paid to the former owners. According to Phillip

Bonsal, ” Nothing Castro said, nothing stated in the agrarian reform

statute Castro signed in 1958, and nothing in the law that was promulgated

in the Official Gazzette of June 3, 1959, warranted the belief that in two

years a wholesale conversion of Cuban agricultural land to state ownership

would take place”. Such a notion then would have been inconsistent with

many of the Castro pronouncements, including the theory of a peasant

revolution and the pledges to the landless throughout the nation. Today

most of the people who expected to become independent farmers or members

of

cooperatives in the operation of which they would have had a voice are now

laborers on the state payroll.

After secretly drawing up his Land Reform Law, Castro used it to form

the National Institute of Agrarian Reform (INRA) with broad and ill

defined powers. Through the INRA Castro methodically seized all American

holdings in Cuba. He promised compensation but frequently never gave it.

He conducted investigations into company affairs, holding control over them

in the meantime, and then never divulging the results or giving back the

control.

These seizures were protested. On January 11 Ambassador Bonsal

delivered a note to Havana protesting the Cuban government seizure of U.S.

citizens property. The note was rejected the same night as a U.S. attempt

to keep economic control over Cuba.

As this continued Castro was engineering a brilliant propaganda

campaign aimed at accusing the U.S. of “conspiring with the counter

revolutionaries against the Castro regime”. Castro’s ability to whip the

masses into a frenzy with wispy fallacies about American “imperialist”

actions against Cuba was his main asset. He constantly found events which

he could work the “ol Castro magic ” on, as Nixon said , to turn it into

another of the long list of grievances, real or imagined, that Cuba had

suffered.

Throughout Castro’s rule there had been numerous minor attacks and

disturbances in Cuba. Always without any investigation whatsoever, Castro

would blatantly and publicly blame the U.S.. Castro continually called for

hearings at the Organization of American States and the United Nations to

hear charges against the U.S. of “overt aggression”. These charges were

always denied by the councils. Two events that provided fuel for the

Castro propaganda furnace stand out. These are the “bombing” of Havana on

October 21 and the explosion of the French munitions ship La Coubre on

March 4, 1960.

On the evening of October 21 the former captain of the rebel air force,

Captain Dian-Lanz, flew over Havana and dropped a quantity of virulently

anti-Castro leaflets. This was an American failure to prevent international

flights in violation of American law. Untroubled by any considerations of

truth or good faith, the Cuban authorities distorted the facts of the

matter and accused the U.S. of a responsibility going way beyond

negligence. Castro, not two days later, elaborated a bombing thesis,

complete with “witnesses”, and launched a propaganda campaign against the

U.S. Ambassador Bonsal said, “This incident was so welcome to Castro for

his purposes that I was not surprised when, at a later date, a somewhat

similar flight was actually engineered by Cuban secret agents in

Florida.”

This outburst constituted “the beginning of the end ” in U.S.- Cuban

relations. President Eisenhower stated ,”Castro’s performance on October 26

on the “bombing” of Havana spelled the end of my hope for rational

relations between Cuba and the U.S.”

Up until 1960 the U.S. had followed a policy of non intervention in

Cuba. It had endured the slander and seizure of lands, still hoping to

maintain relations. This ended, when, on March 4, the French munitions

ship La Coubre arrived at Havana laden with arms and munitions for the

Cuban government. It promptly blew up with serious loss of life. (14)

Castro and his authorities wasted no time venomously denouncing the

U.S. for an overt act of sabotage. Some observers concluded that the

disaster was due to the careless way the Cubans unloaded the cargo. (15)

Sabotage was possible but it was preposterous to blame the U.S. without

even a pretense of an investigation.

Castro’s reaction to the La Coubre explosion may have been what tipped

the scales in favor of Washington’s abandonment of the non intervention

policy. This, the continued slander, and the fact that the Embassy had had

no reply from the Cuban government to its representations regarding the

cases of Americans victimized by the continuing abuses of the INRA.

The American posture of moderation was beginning to become, in the face

of Castro’s insulting and aggressive behavior, a political liability. (16)

The new American policy, not announced as such, but implicit in the the

actions of the United States government was one of overthrowing Castro by

all means available to the U.S. short of open employment of American armed

forces in Cuba.

It was at this time that the controversial decision was taken to allow

the CIA to begin recruiting and training of ex-Cuban exiles for anti-Castro

military service. Shortly after this decision, following in quick

steps, aggressive policies both on the side of Cuba and the U.S. led to the

eventual finale in the actual invasion of Cuba by the U.S!

In June 1960 the U.S. started a series of economic aggressions toward

Cuba aimed at accelerating their downfall. The first of these measures was

the advice of the U.S. to the oil refineries in Cuba to refuse to handle

the crude petroleum that the Cubans were receiving from the Soviet Union.

The companies such as Shell and Standard Oil had been buying crude from

their own plants in Venezuela at a high cost. The Cuban government

demanded that the refineries process the crude they were receiving from

Russia at a much cheaper price. These refineries refused at the U.S. advice

stating that there were no provisions in the law saying that they must

accept the Soviet product and that the low grade Russian crude would

damage

the machinery. The claim about the law may have been true but the charge

that the cheaper Soviet crude damaging the machines seems to be an excuse

to cover up the attempted economic strangulation of Cuba. (The crude

worked

just fine as is soon to be shown)

Upon receiving the refusal Che Gueverra, the newly appointed head of

the National Bank,and known anti-American, seized all three major oil

company refineries and began producing all the Soviet crude,not just the

50% they had earlier bargained for. This was a big victory and a stepping

stone towards increasing the soon to be controversial alliance with Russia.

On July 6, a week after the intervention of the refineries, President

Eisenhower announced that the balance of Cuba’s 1960 sugar quota for the

supply of sugar to the U.S. was to be suspended. . This action was

regarded as a reprisal to the intervention of the refineries. It seems

obvious that it was a major element in the calculated overthrow of Castro.

In addition to being an act of destroying the U.S. record for statesmanship

in Latin America, this forced Cuba into Russia’s arms and vice-versa.

The immediate loss to Cuba was 900,000 tons of sugar unsold. This was

valued at about $100,000,000. Had the Russians not come to the rescue

it would have been a serious blow to Cuba. But come to the rescue they

did, cementing the Soviet-Cuban bond and granting Castro a present he could

have never given himself. As Ernest Hemingway put it,”I just hope to Christ

that the United States doesn’t cut the sugar quota. That will really tear

it. It will make Cuba a gift to the Russians.” And now the gift had

been made. Castro had announced earlier in a speech that action against the

sugar quota would cost Americans in Cuba “down to the nails in their shoes”

Castro did his best to carry that out. In a decree made as the Law of

Nationalization, he authorized expropriation of American property at Che

Gueverra’s discretion. The compensation scheme was such that under current

U.S. – Cuban trade relations it was worthless and therefore confiscation

without compensation.

The Soviet Unions assumption of responsibility of Cuba’s economic

welfare gave the Russians a politico-military stake in Cuba. Increased arms

shipments from the U.S.S.R and Czechoslovakia enabled Castro to rapidly

strengthen and expand his forces. On top of this Cuba now had Russian

military support. On July 9, three days after President Eisenhowers sugar

proclamation, Soviet Premier Nikita Kruschev announced, “The U.S.S.R is

raising its voice and extending a helpful hand to the people of

Cuba…..Speaking figuratively in case of necessity Soviet artillerymen can

support the Cuban people with rocket fire. Castro took this to mean

direct commitment made by Russia to protect the Cuban revolution in case of

U.S. attack. The final act of the U.S. in the field of economic aggression

against Cuba came on October 19, 1960, in the form of a trade embargo on

all goods except medicine and medical supplies. Even these were to be

banned within a few months. Other than causing the revolutionaries some

inconvenience, all the embargo accomplished was to give Castro a godsend.

For the past 25 years Castro has blamed the shortages, rationings,

breakdowns and even some of the unfavorable weather conditions on the U.S.

blockade.

On January 6, 1961, Castro formally broke relations with the United

States and ordered the staff of the U.S. embassy to leave. Immediately

after the break in relations he ordered full scale mobilization of his

armed forces to repel an invasion from the United States, which he

correctly asserted was imminent. For at this time the Washington

administration, under new President-elect Kennedy was gearing up for the

Cuban exile invasion of Cuba. The fact that this secret was ill kept led

to increased arms being shipped to Cuba by Russia in late 1960. President

Kennedy inherited from the Eisenhower-Nixon administration the operation

that became the Bay of Pigs expedition. The plan was ill conceived and a

fiasco. Both Theodore Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger describe the

President as the victim of a process set in motion before his inauguration

and which he, in the first few weeks of his administration, was unable to

arrest in spite of his misgivings. Mr. Schlesinger writes -”Kennedy saw

the project in the patios of the bureaucracy as a contingency plan. He did

not yet realize how contingency planning could generate its own reality.”

The fact is that Kennedy had promised to pursue a more successful

policy towards Cuba. I fail to see how the proposed invasion could be

looked upon as successful. The plan he inherited called for 1500 patriots

to seize control over their seven million fellow citizens from over 100,000

well trained, well armed Castroite militia! As if the plan wasn’t doomed

from the start, the information the CIA had gathered about the strength of

the uprising in Cuba was outrageously misleading. If we had won, it still

would have taken prolonged U.S. intervention to make it work. This along

with Kennedys decision to rule out American forces or even American

officers or experts, whose participation was planned, doomed the whole

affair.

Additionally these impromptu ground rules were not relayed to the

exiles by the CIA, who were expecting massive U.S. military backing! The

exiles had their own problems; guns didn’t work, ships sank, codes for

communication were wrong, the ammunition was the wrong kind – everything

that could go wrong, did. As could be imagined the anti-Castro opposition

achieved not one of its permanent goals. Upon landing at the Bay of Pigs

on April 17, 1961, the mission marked a landmark failure in U.S. foreign

politics. By April 20, only three days later, Castro’s forces had

completely destroyed any semblance of the mission: they killed 300 and

captured the remaining 1,200!

Many people since then have chastised Kennedy for his decision to pull

U.S. military forces. I feel that his only mistake was in going ahead in

the first place, although, as stated earlier, it seems as if he may not

have had much choice. I feel Kennedy showed surer instincts in this matter

than his advisors who pleaded with him not to pull U.S. forces. For if the

expedition had succeeded due to American armed forces rather than the

strength of the exile forces and the anti- Castro movement within Cuba, the

post Castro government would have been totally unviable: it would have

taken constant American help to shore it up. In this matter I share the

opinion of `ambassador Ellis O. Briggs, who has written “The Bay of Pigs

operation was a tragic experience for the Cubans who took part, but its

failure was a fortunate (if mortifying) experience for the U.S., which

otherwise might have been saddled with indefinite occupation of the island.

Beyond its immediately damaging effects, the Bay of Pigs fiasco has

shown itself to have far reaching consequences. Washington’s failure to

achieve its goal in Cuba provided the catalyst for Russia to seek an

advantage and install nuclear missiles in Cuba. The resulting “missile

crisis” in 1962 was the closest we have been to thermonuclear war.

America’s gain may have been America’s loss. A successful Bay of Pigs may

have brought the United States one advantage. The strain on American

political and military assets resulting from the need to keep the lid on in

Cuba might have lid on Cuba might have led the President of the United

States to resist, rather than to enthusiastically embrace, the advice he

received in 1964 and 1965 to make a massive commitment of American air

power, ground forces, and prestige in Vietnam.

Cuban troops have been a major presence as Soviet surrogates all over

the world, notably in Angola. The threat of exportation of Castro’s

revolution permeates U.S.-Central and South American policy. (Witness the

invasion of Grenada.) This fear still dominates todays headlines. For years

the U.S. has urged support for government of El Salvador and the right wing

Contras in Nicaragua. The major concern underlying American policy in the

area is Castro’s influence. The fear of a Castro influenced regime in

South and Central America had such control of American foreign policy as to

almost topple the Presidency in the recent Iran – Contra affair. As a

result the U.S. government has once again faced a crisis which threatens to

destroy its credibility in foreign affairs. All because of one man with a

cigar.

In concluding I would like to state my own feelings on the whole affair

as they formed in researching the topic. To start, all the information I

could gather was one-sided. All the sources were American written, and

encompassed an American point of view. In light of this knowledge, and

with the advantage of hindsight, I have formulated my own opinion of this

affair and how it might have been more productively handled. American

intervention should have been held to a minimum. In an atmosphere of

concentration on purely Cuban issues, opposition to Castro’s personal

dictatorship could be expected to grow. Admittedly, even justified

American retaliation would have led to Cuban counterretaliation and so on

with the prospect that step by step the same end result would have been

attained as was in fact achieved. But the process would have lasted far

longer; measured American responses might have appeared well deserved to

an

increasing number of Cubans, thus strengthening Cuban opposition to the

regime instead of, as was the case, greatly stimulating revolutionary

fervor, leaving the Russians no choice but to give massive support to the

Revolution and fortifying the belief among anti-Castro Cubans that the

United States was rapidly moving to liberate them. The economic pressures

available to the United States were not apt to bring Castro to his knees,

since the Soviets were capable of meeting Cuban requirements in such

matters as oil and sugar. I believe the Cuban government would have been

doomed by its own disorganization and incompetence and by the growing

disaffection of an increasing number of the Cuban people. Left to its own

devices, the Castro regime would have withered on the vine.

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