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To understand how Cuba arrived at the point it is at today, it is important to know the history of the island. When Columbus arrived in Cuba in 1492, there were three major native cultures on the island. As a result of the Spanish presence, these native groups quickly disappeared. New diseases brought by the Spanish, combined with their less than kind treatment, quickly reduced the population of natives (Suchliki 13-20).
Spain began significant colonization of Cuba in 1508. Fatefully, colonists from the Canary Islands began planting sugar cane in the early 1500’s. A labor-intensive sugar industry and diminishing native population led to the introduction of Africans for the use of slave labor (Suchliki 18-31).
Cuba remained under Spanish control until the 1800’s when revolutionaries like Jose Marti of Havana, Ignacio Agramonte of Camaguey, and Maximo Gomez of the Dominican Republic all fought to liberate Cuba from the Spanish government that denied freedom to its Spanish descendants and slaves alike (Suchliki 67-70). The patriots struggling within Cuba has almost succeeded in taking control away from the Spanish when the United States joined in the battle. This was enough for the United States to justify a presence in Cuba similar to that of Spain in the earlier centuries. The “freedom” that Cuba got in 1902 was not complete. The Americans simply replaced the Spanish (Suchliki 79-84).
Eventually, Cuba’s government was able to eliminate provisions such as the Platt Amendment. For a period of a few decades, Cuba was, at least in theory, free of outside interference. This was not completely the case, but at least the dictator and crooked governments were now Cuban (Suchliki 93-100).
What followed politically is what exists and has existed since 1959. In the 1940’s during Fulgencio Batista’s democratically elected presidency, a young man by the name of Fidel Castro began pursing anti-Batista ideas. In 1953, Castro led an attack on the infirmary of the Moncada Barracks. He was arrested and jailed. Batista decided against the death penalty for fear of making Castro a martyr. After Castro's release from jail. He fled Cuba, reorganized with accomplices like Che Guevara, and returned to continue what had begun in 1953. Fidel Castro led revolution from one end of the island to the other. In 1959, Castro’s years of fighting came to an end a Batista flew out of Cuba on New Year’s Day. Castro had ended Batista’s second presidency (this time a dictatorship) and he began with a promise of free elections which have yet to occur (Suchliki 127-156).
In the early 1960’s, Castro nationalized industry and began establishing ties with the USSR. From this point on, relations between Cuba and the US worsened, especially with the US backed Bay of Pigs innovation and the missile crisis of the early 1960’s. In the decades following, economic difficulties we along with expanded military influence, expanded party influence, and expanded Soviet ties. Throughout the late 1970’s, Castro exported “his revolution to countries such as Nicaragua and Afghanistan (Suchliki 163-179). The 1980’s brought an end to subsidization of Cuba’s economy by the USSR and Castro’s mistrust led to the execution of one of Castro’s most trusted generals, probably on trumped up charges (Manegold and Lane 36). Fidel Castro has faced two kinds of oppositions since 1959, oppositions from inside of Cuba and outside of Cuba. For many years opponents of the revolution fled Cuba or were jailed. Today, opposition groups exist within Cuba such as Concilio Cubano. Mauricio A. Font of Queens College describes them as “…more than a hundred dissident groups” (Font 5). In spite of the fact that the Cuban government would not grant authorization, Concilio Cubano planned a national meeting in February of 1996. Aside from arrests within Cuba also reacted by shooting down two civilian aircraft belonging to the US organization (Font 5).
Opposition in Cuba takes many forms. Economists Martha Beatriz Roque and Vladimiro Roque are still in jail for the publication of a work which disagreed with a government document. Sometimes what the government perceives as opposition is hard to believe. Dessy Mendoza was sentenced for 7 years of prison for the spread of propaganda. Mendoza’s betrayal consisted of altering the Cuban popular lies to the dengue epidemic in 1997. In spite of the
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