The United States, Cuba, and Castro: An Essay on the Dynamics of Revolution and the Dissolution of Empire

By William Appleman Williams | Go to book overview

9
The Crisis of the Revolution
III. The Agrarian Reform Law and Castro's First Calculated Risk

Upon his return to Cuba from his trips to the United States and the OAS economic conference in Buenos Aires, Castro immediately realized that the crisis of the Revolution had become significantly more serious during his absence. Conservatives, moderates, and Communists were attacking the government and its programs, and attempting to influence it overtly as well as implicitly. He faced this situation quite aware that he had very little chance to resolve the dilemma by obtaining capital on terms that would allow him to carry through the Revolution explicit in his own outlook and implicit in his commitment to the Cuban Constitution of 1940.

It can be maintained that, if there was a turning point in the Revolution, it came between Castro's return from Buenos Aires and his announcement of the Agrarian Reform Law on May 17, 1959. Actually, if one is going to discuss the Revolution in terms of turning points, then it is far more accurate to say that it came when the United States Government decided to let Castro "go through the wringer." But it can be argued, in an abstract sort of way, that Castro could have given in to the economic crisis, and retreated when confronted by conservative and Communist challenges to his leadership, struck a bargain with the moderates who were willing to meet American terms for a loan, and proceeded to carry through the modest reforms that would have been possible under those conditions.

It is possible to make this contention, either overtly or implicitly, as do Draper and other critics But it is not very meaningful to do so because it is an assertion based on a high

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