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“Fidel Castro did not win power in Cuba, rather Fulgencio Batista lost it”
Discuss the origins and causes of the Cuban revolution. Account for Castro’s success.
Fulgencio Batista was a military dictator who ruled Cuba during 1940-44, in this time he drew up the democratic constitution. He once again became president during 1952-59. In his second effort as President of Cuba, he abolished the constitution. Batista was a military dictator who oppressed the people. It was because of Batista’s harshness and heartlessness that he lost power of Cuba. It just so happened that a young man by the name of Fidel Castro was ready to take his place and offer the people what they really wanted. Batista lost power in Cuba because the people wanted something better.
Fulgencio Batista lost power in Cuba because he was doing nothing to help the people. Batista had the support of the US Government in his time of power “The United States saw him as a stabilising force with respects for their interests.” (Turning Points – Modern History Depth Studies Pg.230) When in power, Batista increased the amount of exports going to America. Batista lost support in Cuba because under his presidency gambling flourished in Havana, which became commonly known as “the Latin Las Vegas.” (opcit Pg. 235) With the gambling came the gangs and crime commonly associated with the American mafia. Cuba was relatively prosperous during this time but the wealth was not shared equally.
During the time of Batista, Cuba was comparatively wealthy compared to Latin American countries, the only problem was the wealth was not shared. The sugar workers of Cuba were amongst the highest paid workers in Latin America, the problem was the work was only seasonal. “Cuba itself was marked with stark inequalities, the rural areas landless peasants lived in poverty and over half of all urban wage earners were paid less than one dollar per day.” Batista did not look to help these people in any way, so when Castro came along with the ideas of land reform and property allocation the working class people were only to happy to follow him. Cuba during the time of Batista had a high national income, but it was not equally distributed. The differences between the rich and poor were extreme. Also the middle class of Cuba were angry because the got little say in political issues. “…Cuban middle class was frustrated by its lack of political power and influence.”
The problems continued for Batista as the people became aware of the dependence on the American markets for their sugar. After the Spanish rule ended many people felt that America had taken over where the Spanish left off. “Batista was held responsible for this.” (Opcit pg. 235) The Cuban middle class resented the fact the America had such a big influence over the Cuban economy. Castro was held in a good light because he was offering the people land reform, and to end dominance on the American economy, especially their dominance of the Cuban sugar market. Batista lost power in Cuba because he was not willing to lose the support that America had given him. If he had made some major changes to the Cuban economy like the redistribution of land the people may have settled down and the “upsurge of nationalism in Cuba…” (Opcit pg. 235) Batista set himself up for a fall because of his unwillingness to change Cuban policy towards America and its own people.
The Cuban people hated the way the American people were taking over Havana and using it for gambling but also because America owned so much of the resources of Cuba. American owned business owned 90% of all mines, 40% of the sugar industry, 80% of public services, 50% of all railways and the whole oil industry of Cuba. With figures like these you can understand why the Cuban people would be frustrated by the inequalities of wealth, and lack of money staying in the country. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. described Cuba, “I was enchanted by Havana – appalled by the way that…city was being debased into a great casino and brother…One wondered how any Cuban - on the basis of this evidence – could regard the United States with anything but hatred.” (L. A. Perez,
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