Almost every nation in the world has experienced a revolution. A revolution can be simply
defined as "a change." When a country undergoes a revolution, its ideals that it once believed in are
being modified. Sometimes revolutionaries act intellectually, yet others may respond physically through
destruction. Some may be peaceful, some short lasting, and some pointless. Historians do argue on
identifying whether a revolution has occurred. Revolutions usually follow a rupture in the nation's
events, are directed by a hero, have an ideology and belief system, and use symbols or tools to get its
points across to the people. Cuba and its leader today, Fidel Castro, have their own roots in a
revolution that took place only some forty years ago. The causes of the Revolution itself laid behind
the military dictatorship of General Batista.
The overthrow of the June 1952 elections by Batista indirectly led to the Cuban Revolution. With
this event the weakness behind Cuba's politics was revealed to the people. Their economy also fluctuated
between high and low profits. Because Cuba, after the destruction of land in Europe in WWII, had the
most sugar production in the world, small farm owners prospered. Yet because sugar was the only major
crop they produced, Cubans suffered when economies in other nations prospered. This in turn resulted in
unemployment in the cities. With these circumstances, Cubans showed more oppression to their government
and soon began to be rebellious. However, Batista jailed, exiled, executed, and used terror and threats
of violence against all the challenges he faced. The people became even more unhappy, until finally a
rupture occurred.
While earning a doctorate of law in Havana, Fidel Castro began to participate in student protests
against Batistan polices. Castro housed weapons and prepared his supporters in the university campus in
Havana. He organized a surprise attack on the Moncada barracks in the Oriente Province on July 26, 1953,
where Batista's military stayed, hoping to destroy the army that persecuted other rebels. Castro did not
realize one major problem: the odds of taking over a nation's military base are small. All
revolutionaries except Castro and his family were massacred. Although this rupture failed, Castro's
movement gained popularity and prestige all over the world. In fact, Castro called the Revolution the 26
of July Movement. Castro himself was caught and sentenced to jail for two years. Between 1955 and 1956,
Castro went to United States and Mexico looking for supporters and money to fund his revolution. On
December 2, 1956, eighty-two men including Castro and the physician E!
rnesto "Che" Guevara, set sail once again for the Oriente on their yacht, the Granma. The campaign was
doomed from the beginning. "Nobody could navigate the boat properly, everybody was seasick, most of the
supplies were jettisoned in a storm, and the expedition landed in the wrong place."(Sinclair,15) On one
occasion Guevara followed the wrong star to travel North, and on another, his comrade put the only the
drink they had, milk, upside down in his pocket. By the end of the day the milk was gone. On December 5
in the battle of Alegría de Pío, Batista's troops killed all of the rebels except twelve. Among these
survivors, coincidentally, were Castro and Guevara.
Meanwhile, in the cities and universities, a revolutionary movement was also taking place. The
Ortodoxo political party favored a violent revolution against Batista. Its leader and University of
Havana Professor Rafael Bárcena organized the National Revolutionary Movement, which gained support from
students. Castro refused to join, partly because he was leading his own revolts. In 1953, Batista's
government found out about an upcoming attack that Bárcena planned, and sent him to prison. Colonel
Cosme de la Torriente sought a peaceful answer to Batista by having elections. Knowing he would lose,
Batista disregarded Torriente. By this time the Cubans knew that a violent revolution was unavoidable.
The police under Batista fiercely put down a student protest on November 27, 1955 with beatings. Later
during a baseball game being broadcasted on television, students showed anti-Batista banners, which led
to a demonstration that was also put down by the police. In another !
demonstration, they killed a popular student, Ciego de Ávila. His funeral on December 10 turned into a
protest that increased the support of the growing Cuban Revolution. In 1956 University of Havana was
partly destroyed by the government in hopes of preventing any public meetings or protests. On March 13,
1957, the leader of the rebellious students, José Echeverría, and his supporters attacked the
presidential palace in order to kill Batista. Immediately after