The importance of information about History of Cuba part two

The importance of information about History of Cuba part two

  • The importance of information about History of Cuba part two

  • The United States refusal to recognize Grau complicated the many problems facing him because Cuban political leaders considered United States recognition as a key factor for the existence of any Cuban government. The United States policy condemning the Grau regime encouraged opposition groups and rebellious purged army officers. Opposition was strongest from the communists, the displaced army officers, and the ABC. Student leader Eduardo (Eddie) Chibas bitterly com[1]plained that although the Directorio had never used terrorism against the ABC-backed Cespedes regime, the ABC used it to combat Grau’s government. The ABC seemed unhappy over their inability to obtain a share of power and feared that the consolidation of the Grau regime might exclude them from future political participation. Inner conflict in the government contributed to its instabil[1]ity. A faction led by student leader and Minister of Interior Antonio Guiteras advocated a continuation of the program of social reform. Strongly nationalistic and sincerely motivated, Guiteras initiated much of the regime’s legislation, and many considered him the real brains behind Grall. Another faction, which was controlled by Batista and the army, wanted a conser[1]vative program that would bring about United States recogni[1]tion. Grau seemed to have been caught in the middle of these conflicting forces. On November 6, 1933, the Directorio, feel[1]ing that its mandate had expired, declared itself dissolved, announcing, however, that its members would continue to sup[1]port President Grau. By January 1934, it became evident that the regime would soon collapse. Student support was rapidly waning, the military conspired to take power, and Washington refused to recognize a regime that threatened its vested interests in Cuba. In addi[1]tion, industrial and commercial leaders opposed Grau’s legisla[1]tion. Fearing that the government’s program would attract labor support, the communists violently attacked Grau. A national teachers’ strike for better wages further aggravated the already unstable situation. On January 14, Army Chief Fulgen[1]cio Batista forced President Grau to resign. Two days later, Batista appointed Carlos Mendieta as Cuba’s provisional presi[1]dent. Within five days after Mendieta’s accession to power, the United States recognized Cuba’s new government. To the United States and to its ambassadors in Cuba-Sum[1]ner Welles and his successor, Jefferson Caffrey-Batista repre[1]sented order and progress under friendly rule. Welles had 48 Historical ,Setting been persistently hostile to Grau, distrusting his personality as well as his ideas and programs. He was fearful of the social and economic revolution that Grau was attempting to enact and the damage this might cause to United States interests in Cuba. Both Welles and Caffrey looked to Batista as the one leader capable of maintaining order while guaranteeing a friendly posture to the United States and its corporate interests in Cuba. The Failure of Reformism, 1944-52 Despite its short duration, the revolutionary process of 1933 had a profound impact on subsequent Cuban developments and events. It gave university students a taste of power, cata[1]pulted them into the mainstream of politics, and created an awareness among the students and the population at large of the need, as well as the possibility, for rapid and drastic change. It also weakened foreign domination of the economy and opened new opportunities for several national sectors hitherto prevented from obtaining a bigger share of the national wealth because of Spanish and North American presence and control. Furthermore, the state’s involvement in the management of the economy was accelerated, and new impetus given to the rise of organized labor. But the failure of the revolution also convinced many that it would be almost impossible to bring profound structural changes to Cuba while the country remained friendly toward the United States. For the more radi[1]cal elements emerging out of the 1933 process, it became clear that only an anti-United States revolution that would destroy the Batista military could be successful in Cuba. In the years following Grau’s overthrow, the “generation of 1930” experienced the harsh facts ofCuba’s power politics. The students thought that Machado’s overthrow would signal the beginning of a new era of morality and change. They learned differently. Dominated by the army, Cuba’s political life returned to the corruption and old ways of the past. To govern Cuba, Batista chose as allies many of the old politicians expelled from power with Machado. Opportunistic and unscrupulous individuals assumed important government posi[1]tions, corruption continued, repression and terrorism flour[1]ished. The years of struggle and suffering seemed in vain. Students felt disillusioned and frustrated. Most abandoned their earlier idealism and found comfort in professional and business ventures. Some departed for foreign lands, never to 49 Cuba: A Country Study return. Others accepted radical ideologies such as communism or fascism. Several broke with their past and shared in the spoils of office. Desiring to continue fighting for their frus[1]trated revolution, many joined the Cuban Revolutionary Party (PRC) , which was organized in February 1934. Taking their name from Marti’s PRC of 1892, this group, also known as the Authentic Party, became the repository of revolu[1]tionary virtue. Former Directorio leaders joined the new party, and Grau, then living in exile in Mexico, was appointed presi[1]dent. The party’s program called for economic and political nationalism, social justice, and civil liberties and emphasized the right of Cubans to share more fully in the country’s eco[1]nomic resources. Although the party was silent on the question of peaceful or forceful methods of achieving power, Grau seemed at first to favor peaceful opposition to Mendieta and Batista. In the years that followed, Batista and the army all but domi[1]luted Cuba’s political life. Until 1940, when he officially assumed the chief-executive office, securing his election through a coalition of political parties that included the com[1]munists, Batista maintained tight political control, ruling through puppet presidents. In addition to Mendieta, these included Jose A. Barnet y Vinageras (president, 1935-36), Miguel Mariano Gomez y Arias (president, 1936), and Federico Laredo Bru (president, 1936-40). Desiring to win popular sup[1]port and to rival the autenticos (members of the Authentic Party), Batista imitated his Mexican counterpart, General Lazaro Cardenas (president, 1934-40), by sponsoring an impressive body of welfare legislation. Public administration, health, sanitation, education, and public works improved. Workers were allowed to unionize and organize the Cuban Workers Federation (Central de Trabajadores de Cuba-CTC). Legislation to provide pensions, insurance, limited working hours, and minimum wages largely satisfied the workers’ demands. Batista also made a serious effort to bring education and bet[1]ter living conditions to the countryside. Under his ambitious “civic-rural” program, numerous schools were built. Where teachers were lacking, he sent army personnel to fill their places. The Civic-Military Institute, which he established, pro[1]vided for the housing and education of the orphans ofworkers, soldiers, and peasants. In 1936 he issued the Sugar Coordina[1]tion Law, which protected the tenants of small sugar planta[1]50 A view o/the National Capitol (CajJitolio Nacional) Courte5} Danielle Hayes, United Nations Development Programme tions against eviction. Although Batista and his associates continued the practice of pocketing some of the funds ear[1]marked for these projects, they nevertheless made a sincere attempt to improve the health and educational level of the rural population. In the late 1930s, Batista called for the drafting of a new con[1]stitution. With elections for a constitutional convention and for a new president in sight, politics took a more normal course. Grau himself, aware that violence would not bring him to power, returned from exile and engaged in electoral practices, thus legitimizing the Batista-supported regimes. When the convention convened in Havana in early 1940, Grau was chosen president of the assembly. Despite pressure from both right and left, work went smoothly, with Batista and Grau competing for popular support. But when Batista and 51 Cuba: A Country Study former President Menocal signed a political pact that left oppositionist groups in a minority position in the assembly, Grau resigned. Nevertheless, there was an unusual degree of cooperation among the various political groups, and the consti[1]tution was completed and proclaimed that same year. The constitution was in many respects the embodiment of the aspirations of the “generation of 1930.” The president was to serve only one term of four years, although he might be reelected after eight years out of office. Many civil liberties and social welfare provisions were defined at great length. The state was to playa strong role in economic and social development. Workers were guaranteed paid vacations, minimum wages, and job tenure. Cuban nationals were to be favored over foreigners in the establishment of new industries. The University of Havana’s autonomy received constitutional sanction in Article 53. The convention thus fulfilled one of the oldest demands of the students. Batista was the first president elected under the new consti[1]tution. Supported by a coalition of political parties and by the communists, he defeated his old rival Grau. His administration coincided with World War II, during which Cuba collaborated closely with the United States, declaring war on the Axis powers in 1941. The United States, in turn, increased aid and trade relations with Cuba. It granted Batista credits for agricultural development and for public works in Havana. Batista allowed for the establishment of a variety of United States military facil[1]ities on Cuban territory, and in early 1941 he concluded a sugar deal with the United States authorizing the sale of the whole harvest at $.0265 per pound. Many Cubans complained that the low price represented an excessive sacrifice for Cubans. This burden, combined with a series of war taxes that Batista had earlier imposed and shortages of finished goods and some food, caused much unhappiness among the popula[1]tion. Although Batista enjoyed wartime powers, his administration was short of dictatorial. He enjoyed the backing of the proper[1]tied classes, and he cultivated labor support. He also catered to the left, allowing the communists complete freedom of opera[1]tion. Mter Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, the Cuban communists ended their denunciation of the United States as an imperialist power and began defending President Roosevelt as a “great statesman” and the war against Germany as a ‘Just war.” In 1944 the communists changed the name of 52 Historical Setting their party from Communist Revolutionary Union (Uni6n Rev[1]olucionaria Comunista-URC) to the People’s Socialist Party (Partido Socialista Popular-PSP) and issued a mild political program that called for racial equality and women’s rights. The program failed, however, to attack the United States or even to request agrarian reform or large-scale nationalization of for[1]eign properties in Cuba. At the end of World War II, as Grau and the autenticos came to power, the organized use of violence took on an unprece[1]dented dimension. The relative calm of the war years suddenly ended, giving way to a violent and materialistic era. Urban vio[1]lence reappeared, now with tragic proportions. Although part of the generation that emerged out of World War II retained a redemptionist fanaticism and a desire to fulfill the aspirations of “the frustrated revolution,” a still larger part evidenced an insatiable appetite for power and wealth, and a determination to obtain both regardless of obstacles. Violence-prone refugees of the Spanish Civil War also extended their activism and rival[1]ries to Cuba. Elected to the presidency in 1944, Grau followed a concilia[1]tory policy toward these groups and permitted their prolifera[1]tion, in many instances placing their leaders on government payrolls. Fearing the power of these gangs and their trouble[1]making capabilities if employed against the government, Grau allowed them almost complete freedom of action. This situa[1]tion continued under the presidency of Grau’s protege, Carlos Prio Socarras (president, 1948-52). Elected in 1948, the former Directorio leader also avoided confronting his old friends and continued his predecessor’s mild policies. A system of nepotism, favoritism, and gangsterism predomi[1]nated. Despite numerous accomplishments that included respect for human rights, freedom of the press, and a demo[1]cratic climate, the autenticos failed to provide the country with an honest government or to diversify Cuba’s one-crop econ[1]omy. The reformist zeal evident during Grau’s first administra[1]tion had diminished considerably in the intervening decade. Grau himself seemed softened after years of exile and frustra[1]tion. He faced, furthermore, determined opposition in Con[1]gress and from conservative elements that had joined his party. Not only Grau, but many of the old student leaders of the “gen[1]eration of 1930,” shared in the spoils of office. When con[1]fronted with the reality of Cuban politics, their early idealism and reformism gave way to materialism and opportunism. 53 Cuba: A Country Study For many, the autenticos had failed to fulfill the aspirations of the anti-Machado revolution, especially in the area of adminis[1]trative honesty. Perhaps the Cubans expected too much too soon. The people still remembered the rapid reforms imple[1]mented during Grau’s first administration and expected their continuation. Grau’s failure to bring honesty and order to Cuba’s public life and the presidential aspirations of Eduardo Chibas, an autentico congressman, produced a rift in the party. In 1947 Chibas and other autentico leaders formed the Cuban People’s Party (Partido del Pueblo Cubano-PPC), Orthodox (Orto[1]doxo) branch, also known as the Orthodox Party (Partido Ortodoxo). Led by Chibas, a former student leader of the gen[1]eration of 1930, the PPC became the repository of the ideals of the “frustrated revolution” and the refuge of a new generation determined to transform those ideals into reality. By 1950 the ortodoxos (PPC members) had become a formi[1]dable political force. Although the party lacked a well-defined platform, its nationalistic program of economic independence, political liberty, social justice, and honest government, and its insistence upon remaining free from political pacts, had won for it a considerable following, especially among University of Havana students. With the slogan “verguenza contra dinero” (honor versus money), Chibas, now an elected senator, pounded on the consciences of the Cubans in his Sunday radio programs and sought to awaken their minds to the corruption of the autentico administrations. Chibas monopolized the rheto[1]ric of revolution, becoming the exponent of the frustrated old generation and the leader of a new generation bent on bring[1]ing morality and honesty to Cuban public life. It was he more than anyone else who, with his constant exhortations, calls for reform, and attacks on Cuba’s political leadership, paved the way for the Revolution that followed. One of those captivated by the Chibas mystique was Fidel Castro Ruz. As a student at the Jesuit Belen High School in Havana in the early 1940s, Castro fell under the particular influence of two of his teachers, who were admirers of Franco’s Spain and his fascist Falangist ideology. While studying law at the University of Havana in the late 1940s, Castro participated in the activities ofstudent gangs and associated closely with violent leaders. He soon acquired a rep[1]utation for personal ambition, forcefulness, and fine oratory. Yet he never became a prominent student leader. On several 54 Historical Setting occasions, he was defeated in student elections or prevented from winning by the nature of student politics. Castro, as did many Cubans, followed Chibas with enthusi[1]asm, regarding him as the only hope Cuba had of redeeming its political institutions and defending its sovereignty. Yet in one of the most bizarre episodes of Cuban political history, Chibas committed suicide in August 1951, at the end of his radio program. Chibas’s death produced a feeling ofshock and sadness among the masses. It also created a leadership vacuum, produced a rift in the Orthodox Party, and facilitated Batista’s coup d’etat of March 10, 1952. By the time of Chibas’s death, Cuba’s political life was a sad spectacle. Although Carlos Pdo Socorras, elected president in 1948, had introduced a number of reforms and gangsterism had diminished within the University of Havana, his adminis[1]tration resembled that of his predecessor. Politics came to be regarded by the Cuban people with disrespect. To become a politician was to enter into an elite, a new class apart from the interests of the people. The elected politicians did not owe alle[1]giance to their constituents, not even to their nation, but only to themselves and their unsatisfied appetites for power and for[1]tune. Political figures, furthermore, were the objects of popu[1]lar mockery. In particular, the image of the presidency was ridiculed and abused. Chibas’s criticism, furthermore, helped to undermine not only the authority of the autenticos, destroy[1]ing what little prestige they still enjoyed, but also the stability of Cuba’s already fragile political institutions. The breakdown in morale, respect, and values was aggravated by Batista’s inter[1]ruption of constitutional government in 1952. What Cubans believed would never happen again-the return to military rule-became a reality. Background to Revolution, 1952-59 Convinced that he could not win the election scheduled for June 1952, Batista overthrew President Carlos Prfo’s regime in a bloodless and masterfully executed coup d’etat on March 10. The coup was almost entirely dependent on army backing and caught the Cuban population, as well as Pdo and his followers, by surprise. Batista quickly consolidated his position by replac[1]ing dissenting army officers with his own loyal men, exiling or arresting key Pdo supporters, and taking temporary control over the mass media. Prfo himself sought asylum in the Mexi[1]can Embassy and later left the country. 55 Cuba: A Country Study The ease with which Batista took over underscored the weak[1]ness of Cuba’s political institutions. The legislative branch was weak and permeated with corruption. Even the judiciary had lost prestige because of its subservient role to the executive branch. The ortodoxos were leaderless and had been largely ineffectual since Chibas’s death. The autenticos’ corruption and inability to bring profound structural changes to the Cuban economy had cost them a good deal ofsupport and discredited them in the eyes of many Cubans. The failure of this demo[1]cratic reformist party was perhaps the single most important factor contributing to the 1952 coup and the events that fol[1]lowed. By then the importance and power of the business commu[1]nity had grown significantly, helped in part by the rapid eco[1]nomic growth experienced by the island in the 1940s. World War II had paralyzed sugar production in many areas of Europe and Asia, making possible the further expansion of Cuba’s sugar industry. At the same time, the deterioration of international trade during the war years gave Cuba an extraor[1]dinary amount offoreign exchange that would otherwise have gone toward the purchase of agricultural and industrial import items. All of this served to accelerate the diversification process in Cuba’s economic development. Domestic production flour[1]ished, and other new productive activities were established. This circumstance was put to good use by Cuban entrepre[1]neurs, who began to occupy relatively important positions in the development of the island’s economy. Yet despite this progress, the Cuban economy suffered from certain structural weaknesses that prevented any sustained period of rapid economic growth. Chief among these was an excessive concentration on sugar production and foreign trade, a critical dependency on one major buyer-supplier, sub[1]stantial unemployment and underemployment, and inequali[1]ties between urban and rural living standards. Despite the apparent support of business, labor, and peasant groups, Batista failed to develop an active base of political back[1]ing. Political loyalties were often the result of intimidation or expediency and for that reason were often short-lived. Batista’s actual political base was now narrower than in the 1930s. Even within the armed forces, and particularly in the middle and lower echelons of the officer corps, there were numerous dis[1]gruntled ortodoxo and autentico officers who engaged in conspir[1]atorial activities against the regime. 56 Historical Setting The imposition of strict censorship by the Batista regime silenced all criticism. Opposition leaders were either jailed or exiled. Repression increased. The voices that clamored for a peaceful solution to the interruption of Cuba’s constitutional process were soon drowned by voices clamoring for violence. Cuba again was submerged in terrorism and violence, a vio[1]lence that finally culminated in a major revolution. Opposition developed from various sectors. Numerous orto[1]doxos, a faction of the Authentic Party under Grau, and most of Cuba’s politicians peacefully opposed Batista, hoping for an honest election. Another faction of the autenticos, together with several Ortodoxo leaders, went underground and began plot[1]ting insurrectionary activities. The active banner ofrebellion, however, was to be carried by university students. Students laid aside their rivalries, directing all their efforts against the new regime. Militant anti-Batista stu[1]dent leaders emerged with effective political power, not only in the student community, but nationally as well. During the first three years of Batista’s rule, student opposition was limited to sporadic riots, demonstrations, and protests. Although at the time these unorganized acts may have seemed unimportant, they did help awaken the minds of Cubans to the increasingly oppressive nature of Batista’s regime and thus paved the way for the insurrection that followed. A small faction within the ortodoxos advocated violence as the correct tactic to combat Batista. Fidel Castro belonged to this group. Mter receiving his law degree from the University of Havana in 1950, he joined the party and was nominated to run as an ortodoxo candidate to the House of Representatives in the aborted 1952 election. Batista’s coup thwarted Castro’s ambi[1]tions for a parliamentary career, and Castro began organizing a small group of followers for his ill-fated attack on the Moncada military barracks in Oriente Province on July 26, 1953. Expecting army discipline to be low, Castro and his group planned a surprise attack to capture the Moncada barracks. The attack would coincide with a vigorous publicity campaign projecting the movement as an ortodoxo uprising supported by pro-ortodoxo army officers. Castro hoped for sufficient confu[1]sion to paralyze the army and thus prevent it from reacting against the rebels. Batista would then be forced to resign, and the ortodoxos would be catapulted into power with Castro as the party’s undisputed leader. In reality, the party was not con[1]57 Cuba: A Country Study sulted, and its leaders were informed of Castro’s plans only the day before the Moncada assault. Castro’s Moncada attack ended in disaster. The garrison’s discipline was not relaxed, and the army fought back the attack. Some of the attackers failed even to enter the military barracks. Those who did were massacred. Castro himself escaped to the mountains, only to be captured and sentenced to prison. In “History Will Absolve Me,” his speech before the tribunal that sentenced him, Castro outlined his political program. He associated his movement with the ideals of Marti and Chiba.s and called for reforms that were within the mainstream of Cuba’s political tradition. At no time during his struggle against Batista did Castro outline a program that departed from Cuba’s political tradition. Although the most radical ele[1]ments of the revolutionary leadership thought that Cuba needed major economic changes that would cure the ills of monoculture, unemployment and underemployment, and dependence, most of the oppositionist leaders to Batista wanted political changes. None of these groups offered a pro[1]gram along Marxist lines. The great majority of the Cuban peo[1]ple who supported the anti-Batista struggle were hoping for a return to the constitution of 1940, honesty in government, and an end to violence. Cuba’s small communist party, the PSP (People’s Socialist Party), also opposed Batista, but through peaceful means. Since the 1930s, when it supported the Machado dictatorship, the party had lost prestige and membership and was a weak, ineffectual contender in the political process. Now, as a result of the international situation, particularly the pressure of the United States, the communists were unable to arrive at a modus vivendi with Batista. Not until very late in the anti[1]Batista struggle did the communists join the revolutionary forces, and even then their participation contributed little to the final overthrow of the regime. The mock election of November 1954, from which Batista, running unopposed, emerged victorious, placed Cuba at a dan[1]gerous crossroads. The opposition wanted a new election, while Batista insisted on remaining in power until his new term expired in 1958. Government officials and oppositionist lead[1]ers met throughout 1955 in an attempt to find a compromise. The failure to reach an agreement forced the Cuban people 58 Historical Setting reluctantly onto a road leading to civil war, chaos, and revolu[1]tion. The students reacted violently to the failure of political groups to find a peaceful solution. At the end of 1955, a series of riots shocked the country. On November 27, the FEU orga[1]nized a ceremony to honor the memory of eight students shot by Spanish authorities in 1871. Rioting quickly spread to Havana. On April 21, a group of university students stoned a TV station where a government-sponsored youth program was being televised. Several participants were wounded. A police cordon was thrown around the grounds of the University of Havana, and, on the pretext of searching for hidden arms, gov[1]ernment forces entered the university, demolishing the rector’s office and destroying documents, scientific equipment, and furnishings. Batista replied to the moral indignation of univer[1]sity authorities and students by declaring that the autonomy of the university was limited to educational, administrative, and internal affairs; when subversive political elements were entrenched within the university, the government must enforce law and order. Instead of seeking to discourage rebellion and demonstra[1]tions, particularly from university students, by moderation, the regime encouraged it by meeting terrorism with a counterter[1]rorism that defeated its own ends. No better method could have been devised to increase the bitterness and opposition of the people. Each murder produced another martyr and new adherents to the struggle against Batista. By the end of 1955, the leaders of the FEU realized that the efforts of nonpartisan organizations to reconcile government and opposition were futile. They proposed the creation of an insurrectionary move[1]ment to lead the struggle against Batista. When the FEU pro[1]posal found little response among the electorally oriented politicians, the students formed their own clandestine organi[1]zation-the Revolutionary Directorate. While student riots and demonstrations were going on, other Cubans not connected with student activities were plot[1]ting to unseat Batista. A group known as Montecristi plotted with army officers to overthrow the regime, but Batista uncov[1]ered the conspiracy and arrested its principal instigators in April 1956. That same month, another group, belonging to Prio’s Authentic Organization (Organizaci6n Autentica), unsuccessfully attacked the Goicuria army barracks in Matan[1]59 Cuba: A Country Study zas Province. From jail, Fidel Castro exhorted his supporters to organize and to cooperate with other groups. In 1956 Castro was released from jail and traveled to the United States seeking funds for the revolutionary cause and organizing his followers into the Twenty-Sixth ofJuly Move[1]ment (Movimiento 26 de Julio), an organization named after his ill-fated Moncada attack. In December 1956, Castro and a group of more than eighty young revolutionaries, including his brother Raul and an Argentine physician, Ernesto “Che” Gue[1]vara, left from Mexico in the small yacht Granma and landed in Oriente Province. There, underground commando groups had attacked several military installations, touching off a wave of sabotage throughout the province. Terrorism flared, and bombs exploded. Underground cells derailed trains and sabo[1]taged power lines, blacking out entire towns. By the time that Fidel Castro landed on December 2, how[1]ever, the uprising was well on its way to being crushed, and most of the leaders of Castro’s Twenty-Sixth ofJuly Movement were either dead or in jail. In response to the uprising, Batista suspended constitutional guarantees and established tighter censorship of news. The dreaded military police patrolled the streets of Havana day and night, rounding up suspected revolu[1]tionary elements. When Castro found that his actions were not supported by the general public, the army, or regular opposi[1]tion parties, he and about a dozen survivors found refuge in the Sierra Maestra mountain range and from there began wag[1]ing guerrilla warfare against the regime. Despite the instability of the late 1930s, the fall of Machado had ushered in almost two decades of political freedom and constitutional government. The students and the Cuban peo[1]ple in general saw Batista’s regime as only a temporary inter[1]ruption of Cuba’s democratic political development and as the consequence of Batista’s own ambitions for power and Pdo’s corrupt rule rather than a symptom of more profound national problems. The elimination of Batista’s dictatorship became the pana[1]cea to cure all of Cuba’s ills. This simplistic thinking served Fidel Castro’s purposes well during his stay in the Sierra Maes[1]tra. Lacking a well-defined ideology, he proclaimed the over[1]throw of the regime as the nation’s sole, overriding task, advocating only the most obvious popular reforms. The Revolutionary Directorate, together with several auten[1]tieo leaders, planned to overthrow the government by assassi[1]60 Fidel Castro flanked by Raul Castro and Camilo Cienfuegos at a Rebel Army camp in the Sierra Maestra Courtesy Library of Congress 61 Cuba: A Country Study nating Batista. Student leaders reasoned that such fast, decisive action would cause the regime to crumble and prevent unnec[1]essary loss of life in a possible civil war. On March 13,1957, in one of the boldest actions of the anti-Batista rebellion, a group of forty men stormed the presidential palace in the center of Havana and almost succeeded in killing Batista. Fidel Castro, from his hideout in the mountains, criticized the students’ attack. In a taped interview shown in the United States in May, Castro called it “a useless waste of blood. The life of the dictator is of no importance. Here in the Sierra Maestra is where to fight.” Throughout his stay in the mountains, Castro opposed a military coup, the assassination of Batista, or any other violent act by a group not directly under the control of his Twenty-Sixth ofJuly Movement. The defeat suffered at the presidential palace and the death of student leaderJose A. Echeverria, perhaps the most popular figure opposing Batista, during a simultaneous attack on a Havana radio station left the Revolutionary Directorate leader[1]less and disorganized. Almost a year went by before the organi[1]zation recovered from the blow, and even then it never regained the prestige and importance that it had enjoyed prior to the palace assault. While the Revolutionary Directorate declined, Castro, unchallenged in the mountains, grew in pres[1]tige, strength, and following. He gained adherents in the cities and won to his side many discontented elements who, whatever differences they might have had with his Twenty-Sixth ofJuly Movement, found no other insurrectionary organization to join. Corroded by disaffection, corruption, and internal disputes, the army was unable to defeat the guerrillas during Batista’s final year in power. This inability increased the guerrillas’ pres[1]tige and contributed to the internal demoralization of the armed forces. The guerrillas had certain other advantages over the army. For years the peasantry in the Sierra Maestra had been terrified by Batista’s Rural Guard (Guardia Rural), and they welcomed the protection and promises offered by Castro and his group. The knowledge of the terrain and the intelli[1]gence provided by these allies proved invaluable. In addition, the guerrillas operated in extremely mobile units in a vast and rugged terrain. The Cuban army was not trained in guerrilla tactics and also lacked the military leadership capable of carry[1]ing out this type of warfare against highly motivated guerrilla fighters. For many of the urban youth who joined Castro in the 62 Historical Setting mountains, there was a sort of mystique in being a guerrilla, fighting for a just cause against an oppressive regime, and liv[1]ing in a rural environment. Finally, the guerrillas were sup[1]ported by an urban network that supplied manpower, weapons, money, and other necessary aid. Guerrilla warfare in the rural areas was accompanied by increased sabotage and terror in the cities. A large and loosely related urban resistance movement developed throughout the island. Underground cells of the Twenty-Sixth ofJuly Move[1]ment, the closely allied Civic Resistance Movement (Movi[1]miento Civico Revolucionario-MCR), the Revolutionary Directorate, and the autenticos conducted bombings, sabotage, and kidnappings, as well as distributed propaganda. These actions undermined the foundations of the government and helped to create the atmosphere of civil war. This urban underground developed into the backbone of the anti-Batista struggle. It was the work of the urban under[1]ground more than anything else that brought about the down[1]fall of the regime. The action of these groups provoked Batista and his repressive forces into such extreme retaliatory mea[1]sures that the Cuban population became almost totally alien[1]ated from the regime. United States policy also contributed somewhat to the grow[1]ing demoralization within the military. Although the United States had supported the Batista regime, by the fall of 1957 the United States government began holding up shipments of weapons and munitions. An arms embargo was publicly announced in March 1958. Although these arms shipments were small and from Batista’s point of view not decisive in the struggle against Castro, they did represent a sign of continuous backing for his administration. Thus, when the embargo was declared, many Cubans saw it as a change in Washington’s pol[1]icy, indicating disapproval and withdrawal of support for the regime. United States actions were undoubtedly a strong blow to the declining morale of the Batista regime and of the armed forces in particular. The regime was further weakened when several institutions and sectors of Cuban society began a progressive withdrawal of their support. The church, professional and business groups, and the press exerted pressure on the government to allow a peaceful solution. At first they advocated free elections with absolute guarantees for all political parties, but the rigged elec[1]tion of November 1958, in which Batista’s hand-picked candi[1]63 Cuba: A Country Study date, Andres Rivero Aguero, won the presidency for a new four[1]year term, convinced many that violence was the only means of eliminating Batista’s rule. The army’s refusal at the end of 1958 to continue fighting dealt the final blow to a crumbling regIme. The Cuban Revolution, 1959­ Fidel Castro Takes Charge When Batista and his closest allies escaped to the Dominican Republic in the early hours ofJanuary 1, 1959, power lay in the streets. Of the several groups that fought the Batista regime, the Twenty-Sixth ofJuly Movement had an almost undisputed claim to fill the vacuum left by the dictator. Castro’s charisma and his revolutionary prestige made him, in the eyes of the Cuban people, the logical occupant of Batista’s vacant chair; he was the man of the hour, the new messiah. The other insurrec[1]tionary organizations lacked the mystique, the widespread sup[1]port, and the organized cadres of Castro’s movement. Castro had unquestionable qualities of leadership. Endowed with an extraordinary gift of oratory and an exceptional mem[1]ory, he would speak extemporaneously for hours. Like Marti had done years earlier, Castro lectured the Cubans on the evils of their society and the need for profound and rapid changes. The overwhelming majority of the Cubans accepted his leader[1]ship enthusiastically. The atmosphere of gloom that had pre[1]vailed during the Batista era was now converted into euphoria and hope for the future. Even those who had failed to partici[1]pate in the anti-Batista struggle fervently joined the revolution[1]ary ranks with a feeling of guilt for their past behavior. During the first few weeks in power, Castro assumed no offi[1]cial position except commander of the armed forces. His hand[1]picked president, former Judge Manuel Urrutia, organized a government, appointing a civilian cabinet composed mainly of prominent anti-Batista political figures. Urrutia then pro[1]ceeded to tear down Batista’s governmental structure. It soon became clear, however, that real power lay with Fidel and his youthful Rebel Army officers. In public addresses, Cas[1]tro announced major public policies without consultation with the Urrutia cabinet and complained of the slowness of reforms. In mid-February, Prime MinisterJose Miro Cardona resigned in favor of Castro, and by October Castro had forced Urrutia to resign and had replaced him with Oswaldo Dorticos 64 Four Batista men (among seventy-one executed the next day) on summary trial on Sunday, January 11, 1959, with Rebel Army membeTs in the audience Courtesy National Imagery and Mapping Agency, Washington Torrado (president, 1959-76), an obscure lawyer and former communist party member. Fidel Castro’s formal assumption of power initiated a period of increased radicalization. Some of Batista’s more prominent military and civilian leaders were immediately and publicly brought to trial before revolutionary tribunals, and the pro[1]ceedings were televised; hundreds were executed summarily. Faced with mounting criticism, the regime ended these public trials but continued them in private, while also confiscating property of Batista supporters or collaborators. On May 17, 1959, the first Agrarian Reform Law was passed. It required expropriation of farm lands larger than 404 hect[1]ares and forbade land ownership by foreigners. The law, together with a sharp reduction in urban rents, marked the beginning of the rapid confiscatory phase of the Revolution, 65 Cuba: A Country Study which lasted until the formal establishment of the socialist economy in April 1961, when Castro proclaimed that the Revo[1]lution was socialist. The revolutionary leadership aimed at agri[1]cultural diversification and industrialization, thus hoping to lessen dependence upon sugar. They also sought to weaken United States economic presence and influence in Cuba by confiscating foreign and domestic enterprises. Natural resources, utility companies, the credit system, and most large and medium industries fell into the hands of the government. As a result of these actions and the Agrarian Reform Law, the upper classes were wiped out, and middle-class families lost most of their income-producing property. Many emigrated, particularly to the United States, or were absorbed into the larger proletariat created by the Revolution. A gradual take[1]over of the mass communication media and the educational system also took place, and both became powerful tools of the state apparatus. In addition, the government initiated a pro[1]gram of low-income housing and a massive literacy campaign, which, according to official claims, has wiped out the 30 per[1]cent illiteracy rate that existed prior to the Revolution. New equal educational and employment opportunities offered to women had the effect of undermining the family, one of the most important conservers of the old order. Rela[1]tions between husband and wife were undermined, and the family largely lost control of the children. Large numbers of children attended free boarding schools and saw their parents for only short periods of time during the year. There was, therefore, not only frequent separation of husband and wife because of the work demands of the Revolution, but also sepa[1]ration of parents from children (see The Family Institution, ch. 2). The regime systematically encouraged these developments, perhaps aware that the only way to develop Cuba’s new socialist man was through the destruction of culture-transmitting insti[1]tutions, such as the family and the church. During the 1960s, the Castro government sharply curtailed the power and influ[1]ence of the church (see The Roman Catholic Church, ch. 2). In February 1960, the regime created a Central Planning Board Qunta Central de Planificaci6n-Juceplan) to plan and direct the country’s economic development. For the most part, the board adopted the organizational models followed by East European countries and transformed Cuba’s private enterprise system into a centralized state-controlled economy. The trans[1]formation resulted in disorganization, bureaucratic chaos, inef[1]66 Historical Setting ficiency, and growing shortages. Agricultural production declined sharply, partly as a result of neglect and Castro’s plan for industrialization, and by 1961 food rationing was intro[1]duced for the first time in Cuba’s history. The growing radicalization of the regime was accompanied by the destruction of possible opposition and by the growth in influence of the PSP. Political parties were not permitted to function, with the exception of the communist PSP, which later merged with Castro’s own Twenty-Sixth ofJuly Movement and adopted the party’s original name, the PCC. Abetted by Castro, communists progressively occupied important positions in the government, gaining in prestige and influence. As a result, former Castro allies became disenchanted with the Revolution, believing that Castro had betrayed the ideals that he espoused while in the mountains. Evidently, Castro saw significant advantages in using the PSP. The party provided the trained, disciplined, and organized cadres that Castro’s movement lacked. But more importantly, the party had Moscow’s ear, and therefore could serve as the bridge for any possible Cuban-Soviet rapprochement. Castro knew well that as he developed an anti-American revolution and insisted on remaining in power, a conflict with the United States would ensue. Only the protective umbrella of the Soviet Union could defend him against possible United States pres[1]sures or attack. No other power, Castro reasoned, could or would confront the United States over Cuba. Ideologically, Fidel Castro was far from being a Marxist. Although strongly influenced by Falangist and fascist ideas while a high school student, and by Marxist ideas while at the University of Havana, Castro embraced none of these ideolo[1]gies and was instead more a product of the Marti-Chibas tradi[1]tion, although he broke with it in several fundamental respects. Whereas Marti and Chibas had envisioned reforms in a demo[1]cratic framework in a nation politically and economically inde[1]pendent of the United States, they both advocated friendly relations with the “northern colossus.” Castro did not. He had been anti-United States since his student days, when he distrib[1]uted anti-United States propaganda in Bogota, Colombia, in 1948. Perhaps because of his anti-North Americanism, and par[1]ticularly his conviction that a major revolution with himself in absolute control could not be undertaken within Cuba’s politi[1]cal framework and in harmony with the United States, Castro broke with the Marti-Chibas tradition. 67 Cuba: A Country Study Initially, the United States, which recognized the Castro gov[1]ernment on January 7, 1959, followed a “wait and see” policy. The Dwight D. Eisenhower administration seemed to have been caught by surprise over events in Cuba and failed to grasp the magnitude of the changes going on or the nature of the leader sponsoring those changes. Differences arose between those who, believing that Castro was a Marxist, advocated a hard line toward Cuba and those who counseled patience with h.im. .. Although tensions arose in connection with the public trials and executions of Batista supporters, serious differences did not emerge until after the Agrarian Reform Law had been pro­ .mulgated. The United States protested, to no avail, the expro[1]priations of United States properties without compensation that were initiated under the law. Agricultural expropriations were followed by additional expropriations of foreign invest[1]ments, notably in the mining and petroleum industry. Compli[1]cating the relations between the two countries were arrests of United States citizens, Castro’s refusal to meet with United States Ambassador Philip W. BonsaI in late 1959, and the sabo[1]tage and raids carried out against the Castro government by Cuban exiles operating from United States territory. Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, and Raul Castro believed that the political, social, and economic conditions that had produced their Revolution in Cuba existed in other parts of Latin Amer[1]ica and that revolutions would occur throughout the conti[1]nent. From 1960 onward, Cuban agents and diplomatic representatives established contact with revolutionary groups in the area and began distributing propaganda and aid. Several Cuban diplomats were expelled for interfering in the internal affairs of the countries to which they were accredited. As ten[1]sions mounted between the United States and Cuba, Fidel Cas[1]tro’s assertion of the international character of his Revolution increased, as did his involvement in promoting violence in Latin America. ByJuly 1960, Castro was boasting that he would convert “the cordillera of the Andes into the Sierra Maestra of Latin America,” and money, propaganda, men, and weapons began to flow from Havana in increasing quantities to foment the “antiimperialist” revolution. .. The radicalization of the Revolution and the deterioration of relations with the United States grew apace with Cuban[1]Soviet rapprochement. During the February 4-13, 1960, visit to Havana of Soviet Deputy Premier Anastas Mikoyan, Cuba 68 Cuban governm.ent officials, including Ernesto “Clle” Guevara, Rmil Castro, Fidel Castro, and President Osvaldo DOTtitos TOTmdo, lead the iVIay Day jJarade, j\I[ay 1, 1961. CouTteS)’ National hnagel), and lVIajJjJing Agenc)” Washington signed a major commercial agreement with the Soviet Union. The agreement provided that Cuba would receive, among other products, Soviet oil in exchange for sugar. Formal diplo[1]matic relations between the two countries were established on May 8, ] 960. That April and May, the Cuban government nationalized major foreign businesses, including the transpor[1]tation, banking, communications, and educational systems and the media. On June 28, the Castro regime confiscated United States-owned oil refineries without compensation. On July 26, Castro issued the “Declaration of Havana,” claiming Cuba’s right to export revolution and calling for Soviet support. Nationalization of United States- and other foreign-owned property in Cuba began on August 6. And on October 13, the Castro government expropriated most Cuban-owned busi[1]nesses. In October the United States announced an embargo on most exports to Cuba, and when Castro restricted the staff of the United States embassy to eleven persons, the United 69 Cuba: A Country Study States, on January 3,1961, severed diplomatic relations and withdrew its ambassador. By then the United States had embarked on a more aggres[1]sive policy toward the Castro regime. Groups of Cuban exiles were being trained, under the supervision of United States offi[1]cials, in Central American camps for an attack on Cuba. The internal situation on the island then seemed propitious for an attempt to overthrow the Cuban regime. Although Castro still counted on significant popular support, that support had pro[1]gressively decreased. His own Twenty-Sixth ofJuly Movement was badly split on the issue of communism. Also, a substantial urban guerrilla movement existed throughout the island, com[1]posed of former Castro allies, Batista supporters, Catholic groups, and other elements that had been affected by the Rev[1]olution, and significant unrest was evident within the armed forces. The Bay of Pigs Invasion of April 17-19, 1961, was a tragedy of errors. Although the Cuban government did not know the date or the exact place where the exile forces would land, the fact that an invasion was in the offing was known both within and outside of Cuba. The weapons and ammunition that were to be used by the invading force were all placed in one ship, which was sunk the first day of the invasion. The site for the invasion was sparsely populated, surrounded by swamps, and offered little access to nearby mountains, where guerrilla oper[1]ations could be carried out if the invasion failed. The invading forces could, therefore, all but discount any help from the nearby population. At the last minute, a confused and indecisive PresidentJohn F. Kennedy canceled some of the air raids by Cuban exiles that were intended to cripple Castro’s air force. Perhaps trying to reassert his authority over the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)-sponsored invasion, to stymie possible world reaction, or to appease the Soviets, Kennedy ordered no further United States involvement. The failure of the invasion and the brutal repression that fol[1]lowed smashed the entire Cuban underground. On the first day of the invasion, the regime arrested thousands of real and suspected oppositionists. The resistance never recovered from that blow. His regime strengthened and consolidated, Fidel Castro emerged victorious and boasted of having defeated a “Yankee-sponsored invasion.” The disillusionment and frustra[1]tion caused by the Bay of Pigs disaster among anti-Castro 70 Historical Setting forces, both inside and out of Cuba, prevented the growth of significant organized opposition. Meanwhile, United States prestige in Latin America and throughout the world sank to a low point. Following the Bay of Pigs fiasco, the United States turned to other methods of dealing with Fidel Castro. It pursued a vigor[1]ous, although only partially successful, policy to isolate the Cuban regime and strangle it economically. The nation pres[1]sured its allies throughout the world to reduce their commerce with Cuba. In the Organization of American States (OAS-see Glossary), the United States forced the expulsion of Cuba by a slim majority in January 1962, and several countries broke dip[1]lomatic relations with the Castro regime at this time. In 1964, after Castro had increased subversive activities in Latin Amer[1]ica and had moved fully into the socialist camp, the OAS voted to suspend trade and diplomatic relations with Cuba; except for Mexico, all countries that had not already done so severed relations. The single most important event accelerating Soviet military involvement in Cuba was the Bay of Pigs fiasco. The failure of the United States to act decisively against Castro gave the Sovi[1]ets some illusions about United States determination and inter[1]est in Cuba. The Kremlin leaders now perceived that further economic and even military involvement in Cuba would not entail any danger to the Soviet Union itself and would not seri[1]ously jeopardize United States-Soviet relations. This view was further reinforced by President Kennedy’s apologetic attitude concerning the Bay of Pigs invasion and his generally weak per[1]formance during his summit meeting with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev in Vienna inJune 1961. The Soviets moved swiftly. New trade and cultural agree[1]ments were signed, and increased economic and technical aid was sent to Cuba. By mid-1962 the Soviets had embarked on a dangerous gamble by surreptitiously introducing nuclear mis[1]siles and bombers into the island. Through these actions, Khrushchev and the Kremlin leadership hoped to alter the bal[1]ance of power and force the United States to accept a settle[1]ment of the German issue. A secondary and perhaps less important motivation was to extend to Cuba the Soviet nuclear umbrella and thus protect Castro from any further hostile actions by the United States. On October 22,1962, President Kennedy publicly reacted to the Soviet challenge, instituting a naval blockade of the island 71 Cuba: A Country Study and demanding the withdrawal of all offensive weapons from Cuba. For the next several days, the world teetered on the brink of nuclear holocaust. Finally, after a hectic exchange of correspondence, Khru[1]shchev agreed to remove the missiles and bombers, and to allow unsupervised inspection of the removal in exchange for the United States’ pledge not to invade Cuba. Although Castro refused to allow a United Nations inspection, the missiles and bombers were removed under United States aerial surveil[1]lance, and the crisis ended. The United States has never pub[1]licly acknowledged that it pledged not to invade Cuba, but subsequent United States policies indicate that a United States[1]Soviet understanding was reached over Cuba that included a United States “hands off’ policy toward the island. The missile crisis had a significant impact on the countries involved. Although it led to a thaw in United States-Soviet rela[1]tions, it significantly strained Cuban-Soviet relations. Castro was not consulted throughout the negotiations between Kennedy and Khrushchev, and the unilateral Soviet withdrawal of the missiles and bombers wounded Castro’s pride and pres[1]tige. It was a humiliating experience for the Cuban leader, who was relegated throughout the crisis to a mere pawn on the chessboard of international politics. Castro defiantly rejected the United States-Soviet understanding and publicly ques[1]tioned Soviet willingness and determination to defend the Rev[1]olution. Mter the missile crisis, Fidel Castro increased contacts with communist China, exploiting the Sino-Soviet dispute and pro[1]claiming his intention of remaining neutral and maintaining fraternal relations with all socialist states. Cuba also signed vari[1]ous trade and cultural agreements with Beijing, and Castro grew increasingly friendly toward the Chinese, praising their more militant revolutionary posture. He also defied the Sovi[1]ets, as he joined the Chinese in refusing to sign the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (1963). All of this maneuvering somewhat increased Castro’s leverage with the Soviets and gained him more assistance. The Chinese honeymoon was short-lived, however. In 1966 Fidel Castro blasted the Chinese for reducing rice shipments to Cuba below the quantities that Castro alleged had been agreed on between the two countries. He described Mao Tse-tung’s ideological statements as lightweight, called for the creation of a “council of elders” to prevent aged leaders from “puttin
  • A medium-range ballistic missile site in San Cristobal, Pinal’ del Rio
    Province, on October 23, 1962
    The S’oviet cargo vessel Anosov, carl)’ing eight missile transporters
    with canvas-covered missiles, departs Cuba on N(rocllliJer 7, 1962.
    Courtesy National Imagery and NlajJPing Ageru)” Washington
    73 Cuba: A Country Study
    their whims into effect when senility has taken hold of them,”
    and threatened to handle Chinese diplomats the same way “we
    handle the American Embassy.” By then Castro had also
    become disappointed with China’s attitude toward Vietnam
    and by its propaganda efforts to sway Cubans to its side in the
    Sino-Soviet conflict. Castro’s insistence on absolute control of
    the revolutionary movement in Latin America and his awareness of China’s limitations in supplying Cuba’s economic needs
    were further key factors in the cooling of the friendship
    between the two nations. Subsequently, relations became more
    cordial, but never reached the closeness achieved before 1966
    (see Foreign Relations, ch. 4).
    Revolutionary Adventurism and Institutionalization
    Revolutionary Adventurism
    The principal area of Soviet-Cuban conflict in the early
    1960s was Fidel Castro’s revolutionary ventures in Latin America, beginning with his attempt in 1963 to subvert and overthrow the Venezuelan government and his guerrilla operations
    in Guatemala and Bolivia. Castro’s attempts at revolution all
    ended in disaster, however. His failures weakened his leverage
    with the Soviets, increased Soviet influence with Cuba, and
    forced him to look inward to improve his faltering economy.
    In the early 1970s, Castro’s speeches played down the notion
    of Latin American revolution; Castro had come to recognize
    that there were “different roads to power.” Although not completely renouncing his original goal of exporting his own
    brand of communism, he became more selective in furnishing
    Cuban support.
    The overthrow of the Salvador Allende Gossens regime in
    Chile in September 1973, however, marked a turning point for
    the Cuban-inspired revolutionary struggle in Latin America.
    The Cuban leadership examined its strategy and tactics in the
    area and concluded that the way to power in Latin America was
    not through ballots but through bullets. Beginning in the mid1970s, Castro increased his support to select groups, particularly in Central America, providing them with propaganda
    material, training, advisers, financial help, and ultimately weapons. An acceleration of the revolutionary armed struggle in the
    area followed.
    The acceleration coincided with the United States debacle
    in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal. The inability of United
    74 Historical Setting
    States administrations to respond swiftly and decisively to conditions in Central America, as well as in other parts of the
    world, and to the Soviet-Cuban challenge in Mrica, emboldened the Cuban leader. More than 40,000 Cuban troops, supported by Soviet equipment, were transferred to Mrica in
    order to bring to power communist regimes in Angola and
    Ethiopia.
    Encouraged by Cuban-Soviet victories in Angola and Ethiopia, the Castro regime focused its attention on the rapidly deteriorating conditions in Nicaragua. Cuba, together with Panama
    and Venezuela, increased support to the Sandinista National
    Liberation Front (Frente Sandinista de Liberaci6n NacionalFSLN) , the principal guerrilla group opposing the Anastasio
    Somoza regime. In July 1979, Somoza fled and the FSLN rode
    victorious into Managua.
    The Sandinista victory in Nicaragua stands as an imposing
    monument to Cuban strategy and ambitions in the hemisphere. The overthrow of Somoza gave the Castro line its most
    important boost in two decades. It vindicated, although belatedly, Castro’s ideological insistence on violence and guerrilla
    warfare as the correct strategy to attain power in Latin America. Castro’s long-held belief that the political, social, and economic conditions that had produced the Revolution in Cuba
    existed or could be created in other parts of Latin America,
    and that revolution would occur throughout the continent,
    seemed at last justified.
    From that time on, the tempo of Cuban-supported violence
    accelerated in Central America. Aided by an extensive network
    of intelligence, military forces, and sophisticated propaganda
    machinery, the Cuban government increased its support to various groups in the area. In cooperation with Sandinista leaders,
    Cuba aided insurgent groups in El Salvador, Guatemala, and
    Colombia. Castro’s commitment to revolutionary violence had
    been reinforced once again, showing convincingly that the
    Cuban leadership was willing to seize opportunities and take
    risks to expand its influence and power.
    Cuban-Soviet Rapprochement
    By the late 1960s, the Cuban economy was plagued by low
    productivity, mismanagement, poor planning, and shortages of
    almost every item (see Structure of the Economy, ch. 3). Structural shortcomings seemed more entrenched than ever. The
    ills of the past were still there, with renewed vengeance. Long75 Cuba: A Country Study
    term trade agreements with the Soviets were perpetuating
    Cuba’s role as a sugar producer, forcing the country to abandon indefinitely any plans for significant diversification and
    industrialization. Trade continued with one large industrialized nation, whose commercial policies reminded Castro of
    those pursued by Cuba’s previous trading partner, the United
    States. Cuba’s foreign debt also reached alarming proportions
    without significant improvements in the island’s ability to save
    foreign exchange. The unemployment of the pre-Castro era
    gave way to a new type of unemployment in the form of poor
    labor productivity, absenteeism, and an ineffective and overstaffed bureaucracy. In response to the situation, the regime
    resorted to coercive methods to ensure a labor supply for critical agricultural tasks. The living standard ofCubans also deteriorated, as high capital accumulation was given first priority
    over consumer goods.
    In its second decade, the Cuban Revolution faced critical
    problems. Internally, mounting economic difficulties inspired
    a new frenzy of planning activity and greater regimentation in
    the hope of stimulating productivity. One result was the
    expanded influence of the military in society, and its increasingly important role in both economic and political life. The
    party, which had remained weak and ineffective throughout
    the 1960s, was enlarged and strengthened its efforts to spread
    its influence throughout society. Meanwhile, the regime continued to pursue its aim of transforming Cuba in accordance
    with a new set of values and with the ultimate end of creating a
    new socialist citizen. Externally, the Cuban leadership
    attempted to break out of its isolation in Latin America,
    became selective in its support of revolutionary movements in
    the area, moved even closer to the Soviet Union, increased its
    influence on the Nonaligned Movement (see Glossary), and
    embarked on a series of successful military interventions, primarily on the Mrican continent.
    Although past Cuban-Soviet relations had been punctuated
    by frequent instances of Castro’s insubordination and attempts
    to assert his independence, in mid-1968 relations entered a
    period of close collaboration and friendliness. A turning point
    occurred in August 1968, when Castro supported the Soviet
    invasion of Czechoslovakia, a response dictated primarily by
    political and economic considerations.
    In the” early 1970s, Soviet military and economic aid
    increased substantially, arid Cuba moved closer to the Soviet
    76 Soviet rochet-launch vehicles in the/ourth anniversary jJaracie
    in H(wana on1anuary 2, 1963
    Courtesy National Imagel)1 and JVIapping AgenGy, Washington
    Union, becoming in 1972 a member of the Council for Mutual
    Economic Assistance (CMEA; also known as Comecon-see
    Glossary). The result was greater direct Soviet influence on the
    island. During this period, Soviet technicians became extensively involved in managerial and planning activities at the
    national level. The total number of Soviet military and technical advisers increased considerably, and numerous economic
    advisers arrived. Of special significance were long-term agreements between Cuba and the Soviet Union that geared the
    Cuban economy to the Soviet economic plans. A new InterGovernmental Coordinating Committee was also established,
    giving the Kremlin considerable leverage over Cuban developments.
    Institutionalization
    In an attempt to increase economic efficiency and in line
    with Soviet objectives, the PCC was expanded and strengthened in the 1970s. The aim was greater party conformity to the
    needs of a socialist society, with principal emphasis on a higher
    77 Cuba: A Country Study
    level of ideological training and the acquisition of specialized
    knowledge by party members.
    During the early period, the party remained small, disorganized, and relegated to a secondary position vis-a-vis the military. It lacked a clear and defined role. Internal leadership and
    coordination remained poor, and meetings were few and of
    questionable value. Evidently, Castro saw little need for a welldeveloped party structure, which would have reduced or at
    least rivaled his style of personalista (personalism-see Glossary)
    leadership. Conflict between old-guard communists and
    Fidelistas also created tension and prevented the development
    of a strong organization. Competition from the military or the
    bureaucracy took the best talents away from the party. These
    cadres saw better opportunities for advancement in those other
    sectors than in a party riddled with factionalism and not
    warmly supported by the lider maximo (maximum leader).
    The decade of the 1970s was one of expansion and consolidation for the party. During the first half of the decade, membership expanded from some 55,000 in 1969 to 202,807 at the
    time of the First Party Congress in 1975. During the second
    half, the rapid rate of expansion slowed down somewhat. By
    the time of the Second Party Congress in 1980, there were
    fewer than 400,000 members and candidates. At the Third
    Party Congress (1986), Castro disclosed that full members and
    candidates numbered 482,000.
    The First Party Congress was a watershed in legitimizing the
    position of the party as the guiding and controlling force in
    society. It reassured the Soviet Union of Cuba’s loyalty and
    friendship, extolling the Soviets’ continuous military and economic aid to the Cuban Revolution, and rehabilitated oldguard communists, some of whom had been mistrusted and
    persecuted by the Castroites. The Congress also expanded the
    party’s Central Committee from ninety-one to 112 members,
    increased the Political Bureau from eight to thirteen members,
    and maintained the Secretariat at eleven members, with Fidel
    Castro and Raul Castro as first and second secretaries, respectively.
    In his report to the Congress in 1975, Fidel Castro attempted
    to reconcile the adoption of Soviet-style institutions on the
    island with a renewed emphasis on nationalism and on the historical roots of the Cuban Revolution. He emphasized that
    Cuban socialism was the culmination of a struggle against
    Spanish colonialism and United States neocolonial involve78 Historical Setting
    ment in Cuban affairs. With total disregard for Marti’s ideas,
    Castro linked the Cuban independence leader with Lenin in
    order to justify Cuba’s move into the communist camp. The
    Congress adopted a Five-Year Plan, calling for closer economic
    integration with the Soviet Union and an economic system
    modeled on other socialist states. The approval of the party’s
    platform stressing “Marxist-Leninist principles and the leading
    role of the party” was further evidence of the impact of Sovietstyle orthodoxy on the island.
    Of paramount importance was the adoption of Cuba’s first
    socialist constitution, which was approved by a 97.7 percent
    majority in a popular referendum in early 1976. Modeled on
    other communist constitutions, the Cuban document recognizes the party as “the highest leading force in state and society” and defines the function of mass organizations, such as the
    Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (Comite de
    Defensa de la Revoluci6n-CDR) and the Federation ofCuban
    Women (Federaci6n de Mujeres Cubanas-FMC). It divided
    the island into fourteen new provinces instead of the six old
    ones.
    The Unchanging Revolution, 1980-89
    In the early 1980s, the Cuban Revolution reached a critical
    stage in its development. Persistent structural and managerial
    problems in the economy, low prices for Cuba’s export products, and an inability to break away from economic dependence on the Soviet bloc forced a reexamination of basic goals.
    Because production in most key sectors had fallen short of
    expected targets, emphasis was placed on increased planning
    with more modest goals. The regime adopted Soviet economic
    methods, decreased emphasis on moral incentives, and
    attempted to create more efficient economic organizations. In
    the process, the Cubans suffered more austerity, with greater
    rationing offood and consumer goods, and, therefore, harder
    times. Life became increasingly more difficult: people faced
    long lines to obtain the most basic goods, the public transportation system was collapsing, and the education and health systems were deteriorating rapidly. In desperation, many Cubans
    fled the country, preferring to risk dying in the Straits of Florida on flimsy rafts rather than live in Castro’s Cuba.
    The establishment of a Soviet-type, centrally planned economy burdened Cuba with a vast and cumbersome bureaucracy
    that stifled innovation, productivity, and efficiency. The island

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