Chapter Seven – Love and Executions

Notes on The Cuban Revolution

The Cuban Revolution 1959


  • 1492: Cuba is claimed by Spain, following Columbus’ conquest
  • 1526: Import of Slaves
  • 1868-78: Wars of independence, truce
  • 1886: Slavery abolished
  • 1895-98: Jose Marti leads a second war of independence; US declares war on Spain.
  • May 19, 1895: Marti dies in military action
  • 1898: US defeats Spain, Spain signs treaty ceding Cuba to the US

US Economic Interest in Cuba

  • By 1860, Cuba was devoted to growing sugar, having to import all other goods. Cuba was particularly dependent on the United States, which bought 82 percent of its sugar.
  • In 1895, American capital flows into Cuba, mostly sugar, tobacco and mining. Politically under Spanish control, dependent on US commerce
  • 1902: Cuba independent country, but Platt Amendment keeps the island under US protection and gives the US the right to intervene in Cuban affairs
  • Cuba considered key to the Caribbean and continued commerce with the US
  • US capital displaced local capital and almost 90 percent of the economy was in US hands, as was its commerce
  • During Batista’s dictatorship (1933-59), Cuba also becomes a brothel and gambling site for US citizens (The Godfather 2, Boardwalk Empire)

Failed Governments and Dictators

  • 1912: US returns to Cuba to help put down protests against discrimination of black people
  • 1933: Machado overthrown in a coup led by Sergeant Fulgencio Batista
  • 1953: Fidel Castro leads an unsuccessful revolt against the Batista regime. Jail time and exile in Mexico
  • 1956: Castro lands in eastern Cuba from Mexico and takes to the Sierra Maestra mountains where, aided by Ernesto “Che” Guevara, Cienfuegos, Raul Castro, and others he wages a guerrilla war
  • 1958: The US withdraws military aid to Batista

Organization of Revolution

  • 1954: Ernesto “Che” Guevara arrives in Mexico City
  • 1955: Castro exiles to Mexico after being released from jail over the failed takeover of Moncada army barracks
  • 1955: Raul and Fidel are introduced to Guevara
  • 1956: Fidel, Raul, Guevara, Camilo Cienfuegos and 78 insurgents board the Granma

Voyage and Landing (1956)

  • The Granma needed repairs that could not be completed due to safety issues
  • The boat exceeded capacity by 60 people, leaked, and used up too much oil. One of them went overboard and had to be rescued
  • They arrived later than planned, to the wrong spot, and two days after the popular attacks against federal buildings that was meant to distract authorities during their landing
  • Spotted and attacked by Batista’s army, out of the original 80 people, less than 20 made it to the Sierra Maestra

Ongoing Actions in the Jungle and Cities

  • As the “barbudos” (bearded people) gain positions in the jungle, actions were taken by university students and unions
  • 1957: students unsuccessfully attack government
  • 1957: Cuban leader, Frank Pais, is killed by government while organizing Batista overthrow
  • 1958: Castro’s Movement, 25 of July, organizes a fairly successful general strike
  • 1959: General strike opens Havana to the “barbudos” and to the women involved in the revolution

USA Involvement

  • Not a socialist revolution at the beginning (treacherous bourgeoisie, Socialism and Man)
  • 1961: Bay of Pigs radicalizes Cubans
  • CIA Assassination attempts
  • Ongoing Embargo


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