Response to Revolution: The United States and the Cuban Revolution, 1959-1961

Response to Revolution: The United States and the Cuban Revolution, 1959-1961

Response to Revolution: The United States and the Cuban Revolution, 1959-1961

Response to Revolution: The United States and the Cuban Revolution, 1959-1961

Synopsis

The Cuban Revolution was a catalyst in shaping American foreign policy over the past generation. Welch's study is the first detailed evaluation of U.S. policy toward Cuba in the early years of the Castro regime and the first effort to analyze public sentiment during that crucial period. Our response to Cuba was a mirror of our Cold War assumptions and frustrations--and of our apprehensions concerning revolutionary movements abroad.

Excerpt

The Cuban Revolution directed by Fidel Castro transformed the political organization, economy, and class structure of Cuba. As the most radical social revolution in Latin American history it has inspired widespread sympathy and bitter denunciation. Many of its interpreters have displayed a strong ideological bias; as a result its origins and evolution are wrapped in controversy, exaggeration, and myth. One can best approach the controversies and myths by way of the comparatively solid ground of a summary chronicle, tracing the early development of Castroism and the first three years of the Cuban Revolution.

In the early hours of I January 1959 the Cuban dictator President Fulgencio Batista fled the country. Some forty-eight hours later the victorious rebels of the 26th of July Movement claimed control of Havana. These events, representing the culmination of a political struggle that had begun soon after Batista regained power in a coup d'etat of 1952, marked the end of the guerrilla war led by Fidel Castro. Castro enters Cuban history on 26 July 1953, the date of his ill-fated attack on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago, Cuba. "Castroism" may be dated from his famous "History Will Absolve Me!" speech, initially delivered at his trial in October 1953 and subsequently enlarged and amended during his imprisonment on the Isle of Pines. This speech made no effort to describe a detailed blueprint for social or economic reformation. It offered an indictment of Batista tyranny, a justification for armed violence, and a program of political reforms similar to those advocated by the Ortodoxo party, which then claimed Castro's formal allegiance. Castro was content to place himself within the general framework of Cuban left-wing politics and the revolutionary tradition of José Marti.

The beneficiary of one of Batista's periodic general pardons, Castro was released from prison and sailed for Mexico in May 1955.

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