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CASTRO’S RISE TO POWER Castro and Cuba. Background Until 1898 Cuba had been ruled by Spain, although there had been various attempts by the Cubans to.

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Presentation on theme: "CASTRO’S RISE TO POWER Castro and Cuba. Background Until 1898 Cuba had been ruled by Spain, although there had been various attempts by the Cubans to."— Presentation transcript:

1 CASTRO’S RISE TO POWER Castro and Cuba

2 Background Until 1898 Cuba had been ruled by Spain, although there had been various attempts by the Cubans to gain independence. One of the most famous campaigners was Jose Marti who was killed fighting the Spanish in In 1898 the USA backed the Cubans in their struggle for independence (Spanish-American War) and Spain was defeated.

3 Independence After 1898 Cuba was independent in theory but USA retained a strong interest and influence there. (According to the Platt Amendment) USA was awarded Guantanamo Bay as a military base. Also USA claimed the right to intervene in Cuba “to preserve independence and to maintain law and order.” USA gradually gained control of the Cuban economy and was the chief importer of Cuba’s main crop- sugar.

4 Batista’s Government The Cuban government was strongly influenced by the USA and the President tended to be someone favourable to the USA. From 1933 (when he led a coup against the existing government) it was controlled by Fulgencio Batista. Under his control mafia connections increased and gambling flourished. In 1940 he was formally elected President and served until He ruled as a Social Democrat and initially was popular.

5 Constitution of 1940 Batista established a Constitution and there were some strong Social Democratic principles in its policies: 8 hour working day 44 hour week 1 month paid holiday Pension scheme Social/accident insurance Freedom to vote

6 Change of Government in Cuba In 1944 Batista was replaced by Grau San Martin who was more right wing In 1948 elections PrioSocarras was elected (strongly anti-Communist and with a reputation for being corrupt) (One of the candidates againstPrioin 1948 was Eduardo Chibas of the Ortodoxo Party who was supported by Fidel Castro)

7 Castro’s Background Fidel was the son of Spanish immigrant sugar farmer Fidel was illegitimate and his father married his mother when Fidel was 15 years old Fidel and his brother Raul attended Catholic Boarding School, where Fidel was described as unruly and was expelled for a time. In 1945 Fidel entered law school at the University of Havana He became interested in politics

8 University Life Castro was active in student political life and joined the Ortodoxo Party, led by Eduardo Chibas The party exposed corruption and demanded social reform, wanted to promote Cuban economic independence from USA and promoted a strong sense of Cuban national identity. (In 1948 Chibas had stood for election against Prio but had failed) In 1951 Chibas shot himself live on radio Castro was present and accompanied him to the hospital where he died.

9 Castro’s Early Career Castro graduated from law school, married and began practicing law in a small firm in Havana In the 1952 elections he was a candidate for the Ortodoxo Party However, Batista took over power in a coup and the elections were cancelled Batista was at first welcomed as an alternative to Prio but he then suspended the Constitution and introduced some repressive measures

10 Attack on Moncada Barracks Castro had lost the opportunity for being elected to political power and turned to less legitimate means He left his law practice and (with Raul) formed an underground group to plot against Batista On 26 th July 1953 they launched an armed attack on the Moncado Military Barracks in an attempt to overthrow Batista The attack (led by 129 men and 2 women) failed and many of the attackers were captured Castro and Raul escaped but were captured a week later

11 Trial of the Rebels Batista took harsh revenge on the rebels ordering that 10 rebels should be shot for every soldier killed (70 of the guerillas were shot in captivity) Castro, as a trained lawyer, took up the defence of the rebels himself claiming that the regime was illegal and that citizens had the right to rebel against an illegal government “the intellectual author of the rebellion is Jose Marti, the apostle of our independence” Only 26 rebels were found guilty Raul was sentenced to 13 years in prison

12 Castro’s Trial Castro’s own trial took place later and he used the occasion to make a 2 hour speech “Condemn me, it doesn’t matter. History will absolve me.” He also outlined his political programme which included: 1. Return power to the people 2. Land rights 3. Share for workers in industrial and mining enterprises 4. Share for sugar workers on the profits 5. Attack on corruption and confiscation of property of those guilty of fraud He was sentenced to 15 yearsin prison

13 Prison Castro spent his time in jail studying about politics and revolutionary movements. He re-worked his speech which was smuggled out Castro became convinced that the only way to overthrow Batista was to use guerilla tactics He also began an affair with a married woman When his wife discovered this she divorced him, taking his son

14 Release In 1954 elections were held and Batista was elected (no opponent!) He promised the return of a constitutional government and in 1955 granted amnesty for some political prisoners – Castro and his brother were released By this time Castro had broken away from the Ortodoxo Party who were finding his rhetoric too extreme He left Cuba for Mexico

15 Castro in Mexico Castro and Raul flew to Mexico and formed the July 26 th Movement (date of attack on Moncada Barracks) to plot against the Batista government On 26 th July 1955 he met Ernesto “Che” Guevara who joined the group By May 1956 Castro had raised sufficient funds to rent a farm 20 miles from Mexico City and begin training his force (Alberto Bayo a veteran of the Spanish Civil War was the trainer) In June 1956 Castro and Guevara were arrested by the Mexican authorities for their activities but were released on the intervention of a former Mexican President

16 Granma Landing Dec 2 nd 1956 Castro and 82 guerillas sailed across the Gulf of Mexico in the yacht, Granma, and landed at Playa Las Colorados in Cuba The plan was to co-ordinate with an uprising in Santiago led by Frank Pais However- bad weather made the landing 2 days late Pais’ rising had already been crushed (30 Nov) and the landing was a disaster Many of the rebels were killed or captured although a few escaped and joined up with Crescencio Perez, a local bandit leader

17 Guerilla Campaign in Sierra Maestra Castro and the remaining rebels (including Raul and Che Guevara) fled to the Sierra Maestra and began their guerilla campaign against Batista Batista responded by re-locating peasants from the slopes of the mountains so that they could not aid the guerillas Batista also set up a paramilitary squad called Los Tigros to deal with the rebels

18 Propaganda Castro made good use of propaganda and secured the support of Herbert Matthews, ex- New York Times reporter, who gave news of the rebels’ activities to the outside world and helped to give a heroic image of Castro “ The personality of the man is overpowering… Here was an educated, dedicated fanatic, a man of ideals, of courage and of remarkable qualities of leadership.” “the most remarkable and romantic figure in Cuban history since Jose Mart”

19 Che was becoming the leader of the rebels in the Sierra Maestra In urban areas there were also resistance groups to Batista The strongest was in Santiago, led by Frank Pais In Summer 1957 Pais’ group merged with Castro’s 26 th July Movement (Although there was some conflict between the two and those in the towns were not so anti-US as those in the mountains) At this point the rebels even received some money and support from PrioSocarra (ex-President)

20 Other Rebel Groups There were other groups who opposed Batista and in March 1957 a group composed of the OrganizacionAutentica (funded by Prio) and the Directorio (terrorist group dedicated to sabotage and assassination) tried to seize the presidential palace and assassinate Batista They failed This left Castro as the only viable alternative to Batista and more supporters began to join him

21 Attack on El Uvero In May 1957 Castro’s group launched an attack on the remote military garrison of El Uvero It failed but men were killed on both sides and it was seen as a great propaganda victory in showing that the rebels were a viable force against Batista

22 Manifesto of Sierra Maestra In July 1957 Castro had a meeting with Pais and the Ortodoxos They decided upon a manifesto and called for a civil revolutionary front to drive out Batista Castro promised to hold elections and to restore the Constitution of 1940 when he gained power They planned for Manuel UrrutiaLleo to become the provisional president (anti- Communist and a liberal) This also helped to raise their propaganda profile

23 Assassination of Pais Violence was escalating in the cities and at the end of July Frank Paiswas shot and killed in an ambush in Santiago This was a blow to the movement but the rebels gained a lot of publicity from a huge funeral demonstration followed by a general strike

24 General Strike The rebel leaders in the cities were pushing for a revolutionary strike accompanied by anti- government activities Castro and the rebels in the Sierra Maestrawere less keen but went along with the plan which was set for 9 th April 1958 (One of their publicity acts was to kidnap and then release a former world champion racing driver, Juan Manuel Fangio of Argentina) Students supporting the movement secured the closure of schools

25 Failure of the Strike The strike, however, was a failure and government troops suppressed it Castro and Guevara were very critical of the strike leaders “I am the supposed leader of this Movement and in the eyes of history I must take responsibility for the stupidity of others, but I am a shit who can decide nothing at all.” Castro

26 Operation Verano Batista began to crack down on the rebels after the strike in what was called Operation Verano in May ,000 soldiers were deployed against the rebels in the Sierra Maestra in a 2 month offensive The rebels were heavily outnumbered but they held out and were helped by mass desertions from Batista’s conscript army Castro said “Every entrance to the Sierra Maestra is like the pass at Thermopylae”

27 Plan for Final Attack After the failure of Operation VeranoCastro began to plan for a final attack on Batista’s regime Castro ordered 3 columns to invade central Cuba led by : A) Che Guevara B) Jaime Vega C) Camilo Cienfuegos Castro was to follow with a march towards Santiago

28 Defeat of Batista The attack began in December 1958 Che and Cienfuegos advanced swiftly through Las Villas province By 31 st December they had captured Santa Clara, the provincial capital Batista feared that his army would desert him and he fled to the Dominican Republic on 1 st January 1959 (taking with him a fortune) Castro began his triumphal journey to Havana, speaking to journalists and broadcasting on TV along the route

29 Castro’s Entry into Havana On 8 th January the rebel army rolled into Havana There were great crowds and an air of euphoria about the rebel army The junta had selected Dr Carlos Piedra as the provisional President of Cuba but Castro refused to accept him The Cane Planters Association of Cuba (the island’s crucial sugar industry) gave its support to Castro There were high hopes for a new government

30 New Government Manual UrrutiaLleo was made the President with Jose Miro Cardona as Prime Minister The USArecognised the new government Castro assumed the post of Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces On 16 th January 1959 Miro suddenly resigned and Castro was sworn in as Prime Minister of Cuba

31 Castros’ Advantages Castro’s leaders had developed over the preceding years- charismatic with support of their men The US policy towards Castro had been divided and uncertain (Eisenhower’s government had been supplying weapons to Batista but not in enough quantities to allow him a clear military victory) US had little fear of Castro winning and expected the country to be plunged into chaos as it had been after the revolution of 1933.


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