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The History of the Cuban Revolution: East-West Confrontation Essay

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Updated: Nov 4th, 2021

During the 1950s, the world was still undergoing the impact of an international ‘Cold War’ atmosphere; an environment in which Cuba required and got the solidarity of the Soviet Union. The renewal of friendly relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union made many specialists interpret the Cuban struggle as an East-West confrontation. Prior to the revolution, the U.S Congress in 1901 had passed the Platt Amendment and incorporated it into Cuba’s Constitution until 1934; which had given the U.S direct intervention in the domestic affairs of this Island nation. Cuba became a U.S military colony and a naval base was established in Guantanamo bay. By the 1950s, the U.S controlled approximately 80% of Cuban utilities, 90% of her mines, and close to 100% of Cuban oil refineries. The U.S also had considerable control of Cuba’s sugar industry and cattle ranches. U.S hotel owners, gambling syndicates, and real estate operators had found an investor paradise in Cuba and the U.S also supported Fulgencio Batista’s government. The Cuban revolution was therefore a war against U.S imperialism after whose victory the U.S lost tremendous profits as well as its former holdings on this Island. A new relationship between Cuba and the Soviet Union ensued with the latter providing credits and oil to Cuba, as well as a market for her sugar after the U.S imposed an embargo.1

The victory achieved by the Cuban Revolution on January 1, 1959, was a very significant news event even to those who had little knowledge about Cuba. For many people, Cuba appeared like a new discovery and a lot of prejudice and ignorance clouded the encounter of this part of the world. The revolution had a unique character that provoked a lot of surprises, curiosity, and fascination. A combined force of urban revolters and rural guerilla fighters had managed to oust from power, the dictator Fulgencio Batista. Yet, it was so fascinating to learn that the forces that waged and sustained this uprising were practically unknown to the wider world and operated independently from any supranational agency or the international socialist movement. Moreover, the Cuban struggle took place in direct conflict with U.S imperialism and the revolutionaries involved in this struggle appear to have been very willing to identify with socialism. The vents surrounding the Cuban revolution shocked analysts and researchers, as well as the world at large because it gave a clear indication that the war between capitalist imperialism and socialism was far from over.2

Through a very tough struggle, the bearded rebels under Fidel Castro had managed to oust the tyrannical dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. The victory was warmly welcomed by the Cuban people as well as in the rest of Latin America and abroad. Batista’s dictatorship had become notoriously brutal and corrupt and too many people, Fidel Castro and his group of lieutenants appeared to represent a renewal of socialism. The Cuban revolution’s ideological and military conflict turned Latin America into a very important theatre by creating an economic alliance with the Soviet Union soon after victory. This caused alarm in the U.S with the CIA declaring an embargo in 1960. A struggle ensued between Cuba and the U.S and in 1962 when the Soviet Union decided to station missiles in Cuba, the world came the closest it could ever be to nuclear war. Through Fidel Castro, the Cuban revolution ushered communism into Cuba and the nation became a Soviet client as well as a police. After the collapse of the Soviet Union however, Fidel Castro found new patrons in Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez as well a rising China. Venezuela which is rich in oil has become Cuba’s supporter.3

Conclusion

50 years after the euphoria of the Cuban revolution has disappeared, Cuban life is characterized by a dull occurrence of queues and shortages although starving is not common and violent crime has been put under control. Cuba is the only country in the region where citizens have no freedom of assembly and expression. Fidel Castro continues to stubbornly cling to Cuban communism and he is said to have outlasted the collapse of the Soviet Union and Berlin to experience new alliances not only in Latin America but elsewhere. The Cuban leader currently suffers ill health and has relinquished power to his younger brother Raul who may be more realistic and open to capitalism.4

Bibliography

  1. Raymond Lotta, Raymond, (2006), “ Web.
  2. he Economist, (2008), The Cuban Revolution at 50: Heroic Myth and Prosaic Failure.
  3. Alarcon de Quesda, Ricardo, (2009), Monthly Review, “The Long March of the Cuban Revolution”.

Footnotes

  1. Raymond Lotta, “U.S Imperialism, the Cuban Revolution, and Fidel Castro”.
  2. Ricardo Alarcon de Quesda, The Long March of the Cuban Revolution, Monthly Review, 2009.
  3. The Economist, The Cuban Revolution at 50: Heroic Myth and Prosaic Failure, 2008.
  4. Ibid
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IvyPanda. (2021) 'The History of the Cuban Revolution: East-West Confrontation'. 4 November.

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