Revolutions Essay, Research Paper
Almost every nation in the world has experienced a revolution. A revolution can be simplydefined as “a change.” When a country undergoes a revolution, its ideals that it once believed in arebeing modified. Sometimes revolutionaries act intellectually, yet others may respond physically throughdestruction. Some may be peaceful, some short lasting, and some pointless. Historians do argue onidentifying whether a revolution has occurred. Revolutions usually follow a rupture in the nation’sevents, are directed by a hero, have an ideology and belief system, and use symbols or tools to get itspoints across to the people. Cuba and its leader today, Fidel Castro, have their own roots in arevolution that took place only some forty years ago. The causes of the Revolution itself laid behindthe military dictatorship of General Batista. The overthrow of the June 1952 elections by Batista indirectly led to the Cuban Revolution. Withthis event the weakness behind Cuba’s politics was revealed to the people. Their economy also fluctuatedbetween high and low profits. Because Cuba, after the destruction of land in Europe in WWII, had themost sugar production in the world, small farm owners prospered. Yet because sugar was the only majorcrop they produced, Cubans suffered when economies in other nations prospered. This in turn resulted inunemployment in the cities. With these circumstances, Cubans showed more oppression to their governmentand soon began to be rebellious. However, Batista jailed, exiled, executed, and used terror and threatsof violence against all the challenges he faced. The people became even more unhappy, until finally arupture occurred. While earning a doctorate of law in Havana, Fidel Castro began to participate in student protestsagainst Batistan polices. Castro housed weapons and prepared his supporters in the university campus inHavana. He organized a surprise attack on the Moncada barracks in the Oriente Province on July 26, 1953,where Batista’s military stayed, hoping to destroy the army that persecuted other rebels. Castro did notrealize one major problem: the odds of taking over a nation’s military base are small. Allrevolutionaries except Castro and his family were massacred. Although this rupture failed, Castro’smovement gained popularity and prestige all over the world. In fact, Castro called the Revolution the 26of July Movement. Castro himself was caught and sentenced to jail for two years. Between 1955 and 1956,Castro went to United States and Mexico looking for supporters and money to fund his revolution. OnDecember 2, 1956, eighty-two men including Castro and the physician E!rnesto “Che” Guevara, set sail once again for the Oriente on their yacht, the Granma. The campaign wasdoomed from the beginning. “Nobody could navigate the boat properly, everybody was seasick, most of thesupplies were jettisoned in a storm, and the expedition landed in the wrong place.”(Sinclair,15) On oneoccasion Guevara followed the wrong star to travel North, and on another, his comrade put the only thedrink they had, milk, upside down in his pocket. By the end of the day the milk was gone. On December 5in the battle of Alegr a de P o, Batista’s troops killed all of the rebels except twelve. Among thesesurvivors, coincidentally, were Castro and Guevara. Meanwhile, in the cities and universities, a revolutionary movement was also taking place. TheOrtodoxo political party favored a violent revolution against Batista. Its leader and University ofHavana Professor Rafael B rcena organized the National Revolutionary Movement, which gained support fromstudents. Castro refused to join, partly because he was leading his own revolts. In 1953, Batista’sgovernment found out about an upcoming attack that B rcena planned, and sent him to prison. ColonelCosme de la Torriente sought a peaceful answer to Batista by having elections. Knowing he would lose,Batista disregarded Torriente. By this time the Cubans knew that a violent revolution was unavoidable. The police under Batista fiercely put down a student protest on November 27, 1955 with beatings. Laterduring a baseball game being broadcasted on television, students showed anti-Batista banners, which ledto a demonstration that was also put down by the police. In another !demonstration, they killed a popular student, Ciego de +vila. His funeral on December 10 turned into aprotest that increased the support of the growing Cuban Revolution. In 1956 University of Havana waspartly destroyed by the government in hopes of preventing any public meetings or protests. On March 13,
1957, the leader of the rebellious students, Jos Echeverr a, and his supporters attacked thepresidential palace in order to kill Batista. Immediately after this, he declared on national radio thatthey killed Batista. Minutes later, police entered the studio and shot him, while the Cubans rejoiced tohear that their dictator had been killed. Later, it was confirmed that Batista had actually escaped theattack. Today, March 13 is a national holiday. The Cuban Revolution, however, was double-fronted. “In a taped interview shown in the United states in May, Castro called it a useless waste ofblood. The life of the dictator is of no importance. . . . Here in the Sierra Maestra is where tofight.’”(Suchlicki,170) After the unsuccessful battle of Alegr a de P o, Castro and his few followersfled to the Sierra Maestra mountain range. Here Castro healed his wounds, the failed attempts to destroythe military, through support. The peasants who lived in the hills favored Castro easily over Batista. This population provided Castro with supplies and supporters. They also protected them against theBatistan military, traveled to the cities to obtain information, and directed those who wanted to becomerebels to the premier himself, Fidel Castro. After gaining more popularity, Castro began to use atechnique that was to become a tool in winning the Cuban Revolution: Guerilla Warfare. Using hit and runtactics, the power of the Batistan Dictatorship declined, mostly due to !the lack of preparation for guerillas on Batista’s part. With seven rifles in total, the guerillas wontheir first victory at La Plata Barracks. In May 1957, the peasants delivered a shipment of ammunitionand explosives to Castro. With these they began to destroy bridges, railroads, and telephone lines. Without this communication, Batista did know what was happening on the rural war front, thus he neverknew when to send out the military. During the battle of El Uvero on May 27, 1957, the guerillas gaineda major victory. Because they overtook a coastal military base in daylight, the guerillas received agreat boost in self confidence. Batista was eventually forced to remove his troops from the SierraMaestra. With the student protests occurring simultaneously, it looked as though an end to the CubanRevolution was in sight. Historians argue on whom the “hero” of the revolution was. Some look upon the students as heros,yet others see Castro as the person most affiliated militarily with the Cuban Revolution, and Guevara themost affiliated philosophically. If we look closer, we can see how Castro is the one who made therevolution possible in the first place. Without his actions and ideas, the revolts in Cuba would befailures. Fidel Castro organized the guerrilla warfare in Cuba, which helped bring a decisive beginningto the end of the Revolution. His general presence, one of determination and results, also fueled theCubans. The minds of all the so-called heros did share a certain ideology. In the summer of 1958,Castro signed the Caracas Pact, which would formerly restore the Constitution of 1940. The ideals in theconstitution focused on a democratic nation over a military dictatorship. Guevara believed that having ajefe m ximo was necessary. This translates in English into “maximu!m boss.” Fidel Castro was chosen to fill this position for the rest of Cuba’s history. Castro alsoenvisioned a moral society in which everyone acted humanely with respect to others. He believed infreedom of the press (without television and radio, the revolution would have never gained support fromthe middle class in Cuba) and direction of justice through the courts. After working with the peasants,Guevara thought of himself as an “agrarian revolutionary.” He wanted farmers to have more rights withtheir land and political power. Castro and Guevara both did not support student protests, for theybelieved that they were not fighting for any particular reason. During 1958, guerrilla warfare in rural areas and also urban movements increased. The Batistanrule weakened until its collapse on January 1, 1959, when Batista fled to the Dominican Republic. The”power vacuum” created was filled by the 26 of July Movement, lead by Fidel Castro. He brought uponrapid changes and gained Cuba worldly prestige and power. The six-year revolution was finally over withinfluential results. Changes in Cuba have been made that reflect democracy, agrarianism, and a humanesociety. A hero has been celebrated and declared el jefe m ximo. The Cuban Revolution, bothintellectual and physical, has lived up to its prestige and will alter history forever.