Cuban Revolution

gigatos | November 2, 2021


The Cuban Revolution was an armed, guerrilla movement that culminated with the ousting of Cuba”s dictator Fulgencio Batista on January 1, 1959 by the 26th of July Movement led by revolutionary guerrilla Fidel Castro. The Soviet support, after the armed movement, emphasized its anti-capitalist and also anti-American character to later align the country with the so-called socialist bloc. However, these characteristics became clear only after the revolution, not being its initial focus, according to some historians, who claim that the communist course was taken after the lack of support from the United States to Fidel Castro”s revolution. The term “Cuban Revolution” is generically used as a synonym for Castroism, a socialist government that in its origin was notable for the implementation of a series of social and economic assistance programs, notably literacy and access to universal health care.

Fulgencio Batista was democratically elected president for the first time in Cuba, but his presidency was marked by corruption and violence. Fulgencio got the power to return through a military coup in 1952. In 1953, Fidel Castro and 160 other men (numbers uncertain) attempted the Moncada Barracks Assault but failed, and Fidel Castro was sentenced to about 20 years in prison, and his movement disappeared. In 1954, Batista was re-elected as president, and later, in an act of reconciliation, Fidel Castro was released. Fidel went to live for a time in Mexico. In November 1956, with a revolutionary plan, he formed the “Rebel Army”. One of its commanders was an Argentine doctor, Ernesto “Che” Guevara. The guerrillas gradually became popular, with two new leaders, Raúl Castro and Juan Almeida. Back in Cuba, he had enough support from the population, then began to push forward political, social and economic reforms. Fidel was very popular. He quickly became prime minister and started a more personal revolutionary process.

Still in 1959, the first reforms began, especially regarding means of production and the nationalization of banks. The Cuban revolution also had great importance since it began thanks to the mass literacy campaigns and health care that was implemented for the entire population. After this triumph, Cuba”s economic policies (especially the nationalization of foreign companies) so alarmed the United States that it broke diplomatic relations with the country. Cuba then established open relations with the Soviet Union.

In 1962, US spies discover the presence of nuclear missiles in Cuba. This is the beginning of the missile crisis. Subsequently, the United States blockaded the Cuban coast. After 13 days of being on the verge of a nuclear war, the problem was solved with the withdrawal of the missiles, but the United States decides to blockade the island completely. A year later, the United States imposed an embargo on trade with Cuba, a restriction used by the Cuban government as justification for the economic difficulties the country has been facing over the years. The Obama administration seems to be sympathetic to the removal of the embargo by the United States. This embargo, whose removal depends on the U.S. Congress, has prohibited other countries that maintain relations with the United States from establishing trade relations with Cuba. Fidel Castro becomes an enemy of the United States and gains a reputation as a leftist, especially in Latin American countries. Over time, the Cuban economy became dependent on the Soviet Union and other communist countries. The fall of the Berlin Wall dealt a severe blow to the Cuban economy, because all the financial aid received from other communist countries disappeared. The UN stated in a report that the embargo cost that country”s society the equivalent of seven times its wealth.

Cuba was marginalized in the Spanish colonial system until the last decade of the 18th century, when French producers moved to the island due to the slave revolts in Haiti. The slave and landowner features would be defined in Cuban society late in relation to the rest of the Spanish colonial empire, even though they already practiced forms of compulsory labor among the indigenous peoples, such as the encomienda.

Haitianism found an echo in Cuba, discouraging the political radicalism of the local elites, who would not engage in cruel struggles for independence, as had occurred in South America. There was even a certain lack of interest in the idea of independence between 1810 and 1820. However, this did not mean that resentment against Spain did not exist.

Cuban dissatisfactions would be routed toward favoring annexation by the United States in the 1840s, when the Texan example showed the feasibility of joining the Union. After the War of Secession, given the abolition of slavery in the United States, Cuban slaveholders were not interested in annexation. They began to demand autonomy within the Spanish empire. Madrid”s intransigence pushed them toward the idea of independence.

In 1868, the landowner Carlos Manuel de Céspedes del Castillo proclaimed the Cry of Yara, calling the people to arms for independence. He would be defeated, after ten years of war. The greatest consequence of the Ten Years War was the ruin of the Cuban sugarcane farmers, who gave way to the entrance of American capital. Thus, in the 1880”s, the Cuban contradiction was taking shape: the island was becoming dependent on the United States while acquiring a powerful tradition of revolutionary patriotism.

The second major uprising against Spain was led by José Martí, who died in 1896. The struggle entered a bloody stalemate, which alarmed the United States, whose interests were rooted in sugarcane investment and perhaps in securing the future Panama Canal. At the end of the Spanish-American War, the Cubans would not participate in the peace negotiation and would have to accept its terms, including a U.S. occupation from 1891 to 1903.

This occupation was controversial, as it had both positive and negative elements for the island:

In the 1920s, the student revolt amidst a severe economic crisis culminated in the electoral victory of the liberal Gerardo Machado in 1924. His program of economic diversification failed.

After years of tension, the students would come to power: Ramón Grau San Martín”s government. A sub-officer revolt, in which sergeant Fulgencio Batista participated, handed power over to the students. This was followed by expropriation of mills, limitation of working hours and other politically relevant acts. The Revolution of 1933 opposed the United States, the Cuban capitalists, the ABC, and the Cuban communists. It is the year of the abrogation of the Platt Amendment.

After four months of Ramón Grau San Martín”s government, Fulgencio Batista takes power. His regime would last from 1933 to 1944:

Ramón Grau San Martín returns in 1944. There is a crisis of credibility (accusation of corruption), which would pave the way for the return of Fulgencio Batista through a coup: The second Batista regime would last from 1952 until 1959.

Communist Party of Cuba

The triumph of the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, the spread of socialist and European and Latin American social-democratic ideals, led to the creation of the first Communist Party of Cuba, originally founded by Carlos Baliño (who was a founder of the PRC and an acquaintance of Martí) and Julio Antonio Mella (grand-nephew of Ramón Matías Mella, the country”s Dominican priest) in 1925.

Mella was a great organizer, the leader of the university, impressive workers” union and man of action, which led to numerous demonstrations (written and in the street) of protest and condemnation of governments. After his exile in 1926, he continued his activities in Mexico, where he achieved importance on the continent for his clear ideas about the order of actions to carry out a successful political struggle. In 1929, he was mysteriously killed in Mexico, there is still debate as to whether his death was ordered by Stalin or by Machado.

Guiteras, perhaps the most consistent Cuban revolutionary of the 1930s, was a strong enemy of the Communist Party of Cuba in those years, whose notable man was then Juan Marinello, writer and trade union organizer, Stalinist for the Soviet Union organization, which was at odds with Guiteras completely. However, in his intense activity as Secretary of the Interior, to legalize his activities and had several violent meetings with Batista for the repression to which they were subjected more than once.

Batista, besides repressing demonstrations and workers” strikes throughout this period, finally achieved the assassination of Guiteras in Matanzas (with Carlos Aponte), when he tried to go into exile to organize the insurrection from abroad. After a brief period, the Constitution, favored by the Good Neighbor Policy nurtured by U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Batista, with the radicalization of the new revolutionaries and his unpopularity with other presidential candidates, secured the support of the U.S. Embassy before taking more radical measures.

Immediate origin of the Cuban Revolution

On March 10, 1952 the coup d”état led by Fulgencio Batista easily and without resistance overthrew elected president Carlos Prío Socarrás of the Authentic Cuban Revolutionary Party in an international framework that was experiencing the first moments of the Cold War in the United States and the Soviet Union. He immediately suspended constitutional guarantees and established a strong military dictatorship. Two years later, he held fraudulent presidential elections, the results of which were known in advance.

Before 1956

The Cuban Revolution begins when the poorly armed rebels made the Assault on the Moncada Barracks in Santiago and the Bayamo Barracks on July 26, 1953. The exact number of rebels killed is debatable, however, in his autobiography, Fidel Castro claims that five were killed in the fighting, and an additional fifty-six were later killed by Fulgencio Batista. Among the dead were Abel Santamaría, the second in command of the attack on the Moncada Barracks, who was arrested, tortured and executed the same day of the attack. The survivors, including Fidel Castro and his brother Raúl Castro Ruz, were captured shortly afterwards. In an eminently political trial, Fidel Castro spoke for nearly four hours in his defense, ending with the words, “Condemn me, it doesn”t matter. History will Absolve me.” Fidel Castro was sentenced to 15 years in the Presidio Modelo prison, located on Pinos Island; Raúl was sentenced to 13 years.

In 1955, under heavy political pressure, the Batista regime releases all political prisoners in Cuba – including the guerrillas who attacked Moncada. Batista was convinced to include the Castro brothers in this, in part, by Fidel”s childhood Jesuit teachers.

The Castro brothers joined with other exiles in Mexico to prepare a revolution to overthrow Batista, receiving training from Alberto Bayo, leader of the international brigades in the Spanish Civil War. Fidel gathered and joined forces with Ernesto “Che” Guevara during this period.

December 1956 to mid-1958

The yacht Granma arrived in Cuba on December 2, 1956. It arrived in Cuba two days later than planned because the boat was overloaded. This dashed all hopes for a coordinated attack with the llano, the movement”s “plan”. After arriving and leaving the yacht, the group of rebels began making their way to Sierra Maestra, a series in southeastern Cuba.

Three days after their journey began, they were attacked by Batista”s army. Most of the members of Granma were killed in this attack, but a small number escaped. Although the exact number is disputed, it is agreed that no more than twenty of the original 82 men survived the first bloody encounter with the Cuban Army and managed to escape to the Sierra Maestra. The group of survivors included Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Raúl Castro, and Camilo Cienfuegos. The survivors were separated, alone or in small groups, and wandered the mountains, looking at each other. Eventually, the men would find one another with the help of peasant sympathizers and would form the core of the guerrilla army leadership. Celia Sanchez and Haydee Santamaria, the sister of Abel Santamaria, were two revolutionary women who helped Fidel Castro in the mountains.

On March 13, 1957, a separate group of revolutionaries – the Revolutionary Directory (Diretorio Revolucionário) – stormed the Presidential Palace in an attempt to assassinate Batista and decapitate the regime. The attack was suicidal. The leader of the DR, student José Antonio Echeverría, died in a firefight with Batista”s forces, the Havana radio station had published the news of Batista”s death. The handful of survivors included Dr. Humberto Castello (later, Inspector Escambray), Rolando Cubela and Faure Chomón (later March Commanders, centered in the Escambray mountains of Las Villas province).

The United States imposed an embargo on the government and recalled its ambassador, weakening the government”s mandate further. Batista”s aid was limited to the communists (PSP) and even they began to withdraw their long-term support in mid-1958.

The regime resorted to often lethal methods to keep the cities of Cuba under Batista control. But in the Sierra Maestra mountains, Fidel, aided by Frank Pais, Ramos Latour, Huber Matos, and many others, staged successful attacks on small Batista garrisons. Che Guevara and Raúl Castro, Fidel helped consolidate political control in the mountains, often by executing suspected pro-Batista or other Castro rivals. In addition, pauper-armed irregulars known as escopeteros harassed Batista”s forces in high elevations and from the plains of Oriente province. These also provided direct military support for Castro”s main forces, protecting lines of food and information exchange. Eventually, the mountains came under Castro”s control.

In addition, the armed resistance, the Batista regime, was also hampered by a pirate radio station called Radio Rebelde, created in February 1958. Castro and his forces broadcast their message to everyone from enemy territory. The radio transmissions were possible because of Carlos Franqui, an acquaintance of Castro and Cuban exile now living in Puerto Rico. During this time, Castro”s forces were very small, sometimes less than 200 men, while the Cuban army and police force numbered between 30,000 and 40,000 in strength. However, almost every time the army fought the revolutionaries, the army was forced to retreat. The Cuban military was remarkably ineffective. A growing problem for Batista”s forces was an arms embargo imposed on Cuba by the United States government on March 14, 1958. The Cuban air force deteriorated rapidly as aircraft could not be repaired without parts from the United States.

Batista”s forces responded with an attack in the mountains called Operation Verano (the rebels called it “la Ofensiva”). About 12,000 soldiers (half of whom were inexperienced conscripts) were sent into the mountains. In a series of small skirmishes, the Cuban Army was defeated by the soldiers led by Castro. In the Battle of La Plata, which lasted from July 11 until July 21, Castro”s forces defeated an entire battalion, capturing 240 men, while losing only 3 of their own. On July 29, when Fidel”s small army (about 300 men) was nearly destroyed in the Battle of Las Mercedes. With his forces pinned down by superior numbers, Castro requested, and was granted a temporary ceasefire (August 1). During the next seven days, while fruitless negotiations took place, Castro”s forces gradually escaped from the trap. By August 8, Castro”s entire army escaped back into the mountains effectively ending in failure Operation Verano for the Batista government.

On August 21, 1958, after the defeat of Batista”s “offensive”, Castro”s forces began their own offensive. There were four fronts in the “Oriente province” (now divided into Santiago de Cuba, Granma, Guantanamo, and Holguin), led by Fidel Castro, Raúl Castro, and Juan Almeida Bosque. Coming down from the mountains, with new weapons captured during the offensive and smuggled in by plane, Castro”s forces achieved a series of victories. Fidel Castro”s great victory in Guisa, and the successful capture of several towns, including Maffo, Contramaestre, Central and Oriente brought the plains in Cauto under his control.

The next day (the 31st), the Battle of Santa Clara was a scene of great confusion. The city of Santa Clara was captured by the combined forces of Che Guevara, Cienfuegos, Revolutionary Directory (DR), the rebels led by commanders Rolando Cubela, Juan (“El Mejicano”) Abrahantes, and William Alexander Morgan. News of these defeats caused Batista to panic. He fled Cuba for the Dominican Republic just hours after January 1, 1959. Commander William Alexander Morgan, in turn, leading the rebel forces of the Revolutionary Directory, continued fighting and captured the city of Cienfuegos between January 1 and January 2, during and following Batista”s departure. Fidel Castro learned of Batista”s escape in the morning and immediately began negotiations to take over Santiago de Cuba. On January 2, the military commander of the city, Colonel Rubido, ordered his soldiers not to fight and Castro”s forces took the city. Che Guevara and Cienfuegos” forces entered Havana in about the same time. They met no opposition to their journey from Santa Clara to the capital of Cuba. Castro arrived in Havana on January 8 after a long victory march. His choice for president, Manuel Urrutia Lleó took office on the 3rd.


Castro later went to the United States to explain his revolution. He said:

Hundreds of Batista”s alleged agents were police officers and soldiers were put on public trial for human rights violations and war crimes, including murder and torture. Most of those convicted in revolutionary tribunals of political crimes were executed by firing squad, and the rest received long prison sentences. One of the most notorious examples of revolutionary justice was the execution of more than 70 captured soldiers of the Batista regime headed by Raúl Castro after the capture of Santiago de Cuba. On the other hand, in Havana, Che Guevara was appointed supreme prosecutor at La Cabaña Fortress.

This was part of a large-scale attempt by Fidel Castro to prosecute Batista”s loyal security forces and potential opponents of the new revolutionary regime. Others were dismissed from the army and police without charge, and some high-ranking officials in the old regime were exiled as military attachés.

In 1961, after the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the new Cuban government also nationalized all property held by religious organizations, including the Catholic Church. Hundreds of church members, including bishops, were permanently expelled from the country, with the philosophical position of the new Cuban government officially becoming atheism. Faria describes how the education of children changed as Cuba officially became an atheist state: private schools were forbidden and the socialist state progressively took more responsibility for children. Nevertheless, Cuban education is similar to countries like Finland, Singapore, Canada among other developed countries, far exceeding its peers in the Third World.

Shortly after assuming power, Castro also created a revolutionary militia to expand his power base among the ex-rebels and the supporting population. Castro also started the Comités de Defensa de la Revolución – CDR (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution) in late September 1960.

Informants became exalted within the population. The CDRs were tasked with maintaining “vigilance against counterrevolutionary activity.” Local CDRs were also tasked with keeping a detailed record of the habits of every resident of the expense neighborhood, the level of contact with foreigners, their work and education history, and any “suspicious” behavior. One of the most widely punished groups were homosexuals, especially homosexual men. In an interview Fidel took responsibility for the persecution of homosexuals.

Cuba began expropriating land and private property under the auspices of the May 1959 Agrarian Reform Law. Cuban lawyer Mario Lazo writes that farms of all sizes could be and were seized by the government. Lands, businesses and companies owned by the Cuban middle and upper classes were also nationalized, including plantations owned by Fidel Castro”s family. By the end of 1960, the revolutionary government had nationalized more than $25 billion in private property owned by Cubans. The land reform took place with due compensation for the expropriated properties and with the sale values of the properties declared in the municipal registers before October 10, 1958.

The United States, in turn, responded by freezing all Cuban assets in the United States, cutting diplomatic ties, and tightened the embargo on Cuba, which remains in place after 5 decades. In response to the actions of the Eisenhower administration, Cuba gained Soviet support.

In July 1961, the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations (ORI) was formed by the merger of the July 26 Revolutionary Movement, the Popular Socialist Party (the former Communist Party) led by Blas Roca, and the March 13 Revolutionary Directory led by Faure Chomón. On March 26, 1962, the Integrated Revolutionary Organizations became the United Party of the Socialist Revolution of Cuba (PURSC) which in turn became the Communist Party of Cuba on October 3, 1965 with Fidel Castro as First Secretary.

Many attempts have been made by the United States to overthrow the Cuban revolutionary government. One of the most notorious is the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the unsuccessful Operation Mongoose of 1961. Later the former US Secretary of State assumed that Fidel was too popular and that ways should be tried to make the people dissatisfied.

After the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, when the Cold War was closest to a nuclear war, the United States vowed never to invade the island(October 28). Rebellions, but unsuccessful, known as the Fight Against the Bandits, continued until around 1965.

Insurrection derived from the Dominican Republic

At the triumph of the revolution led by Fidel Castro (January 1, 1959), a group of exiled Dominican leaders saw the opportunity to invade the Dominican Republic and get rid of the dictatorship of Rafael Leónidas Trujillo, and from the first moment they had the help of the not yet declared communist Cuban regime, and to a lesser extent with the democratically elected president of Venezuela, Romulo Betancourt who was a fierce opponent of Trujillo, to organize a spectacular attack against him.

The group that would invade the Dominican Republic began training in Pinar del Rio, and recruitment took place almost publicly in Cuba, Venezuela, the United States and other countries. The military commander was responsible for natural resources, Enrique Jiménez Moya, a native of the Dominican Republic, who arrived in the Sierra Maestra (Cuba) in early December 1958 by plane from Venezuela, joining the guerrillas who fought against Batista. Interestingly, we can say that on the plane also came, among others, Dr. Manuel Urrutia, who landed at the rebel Cienaguilla airport in the Sierra on a brief visit to the rebels.

On June 14 the first contingent of about 50 men left Cuba in a plane identified as Air Force Trujillo, and landed in the afternoon at the Constanza military airport. After a brief commotion with the soldiers from the air base who came to investigate, Jiménez Moya and his men headed for the nearby mountains. This action by Jiménez Moya was scheduled for other groups landed via boats at two points in the Dominican Republic, but for various reasons, did not occur until six days later. On June 20, the missing expeditionaries left Cuba by boat and landed in Estero Hondo and Maimon, being surprised by Trujillo”s army, where a large number of them died, and the rest failed to reach the mountains . In Cuba was another contingent, which did not participate in the invasion. Pursued by the army fell the rebels, and by the end of June was practically exterminated by the invasion. On July 4, dictator Trujillo claimed victory. Today, the martyrs of the June 14 movement is remembered in Santo Domingo as Raza Inmortal.

First invasion of Cuba

In August 1959, the dictator of the Dominican Republic, Rafael Trujillo, with support from the United States, ordered the first invasion of Cuba, through the Caribbean Anti-Communist Legion, which ended in failure. The United States, in official secrecy, pushed for the organization of anti-Castro guerrilla groups. On April 15, 1961, planes piloted by Cuban exiles bombed Cuban airfields after landing at Playa Girón in the Bay of Pigs.

Fighting the bad guys

The Lucha contra Bandidos (LCB), also called the counterrevolutionary gangs was a rebellion in the Escrambay Mountains by counterrevolutionary insurgents. The rebel group of “bandits” received assistance from the CIA and was a mix of former soldiers of the Batista regime, local farmers, allied guerrillas formed who fought alongside Fidel Castro during the Cuban Revolution. The end result was eventually the elimination of all the bandits by Cuban government forces in 1965, when the last group, headed by Juan Alberto Martinez Andrades, was captured on July 4.

At first, the bandits launched dozens of attacks against rural communities, destroying 30 more homes, setting fire to 40 more rural schools, many state farms, grocery stores, and agricultural warehouses. They ambushed about 20 civilian vehicles, among other actions. During the campaign against the bandits, more than 80 Cuban government fighters were killed and hundreds were wounded.

After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961, Alzado leader Osvaldo Ramirez returned to the mountains of Escambray and refused the offer to surrender from Fidel Castro”s envoy, Comandante Faure Chomón”s offer of surrender. Chomón was his boss in the Revolutionary Directorate in Escambray during the war against Batista.

The main tactic of the Cuban government was to deploy thousands of soldiers against small groups of alzados progressively under pressure, in concentric circles. The communist leaders sent by Castro to clear the hills of the Escambray mountains (La Segunda limpia del Escambray) promised that they would put an end to the alzados. They were “combing the brush, side by side” until they had cleared the hills of anti-communist rebels. They also promised that they would capture Comandante Ramirez. In the end, sheer numbers and lack of outside assistance, namely supplies, would outnumber the rebels.

The rebels often fought to the death. Cuban forces used tactics consisting of sweeps by militias, which caused heavy losses to the government, but finally managed to liquidate the revolt. The Spanish-Soviet advisor Francisco Ciutat de Miguel, being also present at the Bay of Pigs, played an important role in the pacification operation. The force employed was ample, at times consisting of 250,000 soldiers.

In this wave of revolt, between 1959 and 1965, 299 gangs with a total of 3,995 personnel operated throughout the Cuban territory. Cuba had to spend approximately one billion pesos. The combination of military actions with political and ideological ones played a decisive role.

US Embargo

The United States trade, economic, and financial embargo against Cuba (also known in Cuba as the blockade) was partially enforced in October 1960. Initially, the ban was a response to Cuba”s expropriations of real estate from US citizens and businesses on the island. It subsequently broke off diplomatic relations on January 3, 1961.

In response to Cuba”s alignment with the Soviets in the midst of the Cold War (the Soviet Union, for reasons of its own political interests, began offering Cuba high preferential prices for Cuban exports, especially sugar, and selling oil at low preferential prices), President John F. Kennedy extended the measures taken by Eisenhower by issuing an executive order extending trade restrictions on February 7 and again on March 23, 1962

In 1992 it acquired the force of law in order to maintain sanctions against the Fidel Castro regime. As the Cuban Democracy Act sanctions show, they will continue as long as the regime refuses to take steps to “democratize and show more respect for human rights.

Later, in 1996, the United States Congress passed the so-called Helms-Burton Act. This eliminated the possibility of doing business on the island, or the government of Cuba by American citizens. Restrictions were also placed on public or private aid from any successor regime to Havana, at least until certain claims against the government of Cuba are cleared up.

However, it only prevents economic transactions between Cuba and the United States. In 1999, President Bill Clinton extended the trade embargo that prohibits foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies from trading with Cuba worth more than $700 million annually. However, in 2000, Clinton authorized the sale of certain humanitarian goods to Cuba.

For decades, the economic embargo policy has been defended by sectors of the Cuban exile community (pro-embargo Cuban-American exiles), whose votes were crucial in the state of Florida. These exile groups have influenced several politicians who have concluded, taking the same view. In addition, the position of Cuban-Americans has generated opposition in American leaders in the business sector, whose financial interests emphasize the argument that free trade would be good for Cuba and the United States. Nevertheless, social movements in the United States are calling for an end to the embargo and the restoration of democracy in Cuba.

The trade embargo against Cuba is the best known in contemporary history. It has been condemned 18 times by the United Nations, because they argue that it is a hindrance to the Cuban economy. The embargo in the last vote was supported only by the United States, Israel, and Palau.

Currently, Brazil”s main competitors are the European Union, the second largest exporter of agricultural products to Cuba, followed by Brazil, Argentina, and Canada. In total, imports from Cuba account for about one billion dollars.

However, trade between Cuba and the United States is subject to regulation and is produced under certain conditions. For example, Cuba has to pay cash in cash and all products imported from Singapore, since Singapore does not give any credit to the Castro regime. The US government has tried to pressure Castro to indemnify the 59,138 confiscated Yankee companies in an updated amount estimated at $7 billion. According to the Cuban government considered the depreciation of the dollar against gold, the country in question has lost more than 1.1 trillion dollars since 1962.

Whereas the United States maintains normal trade relations with other states with socialist governments, such as the People”s Republic of China (with which its trade has increased from $5 billion in 1980 to $231 billion in 2004, making it its third largest trading partner, its second largest source of imports, and its fifth largest export market), and has lifted its embargo against the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in February 1994 (which caused its international trade with that socialist country to grow from $220 million in 1994 to $6.4 billion in 2004).

Post-1991: Collapse of the Eastern Bloc

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 was a common point in the international policy analysis for the impending collapse of the Cuban government. It was claimed that, in comparison with the global triumph of capitalism and formal democracy, and with the absolute economic blockade and the consequent deterioration of the living conditions of the Cuban population, a popular uprising would be inevitable on the island. However, the predictions did not come true in the short term, surprising many scholars.

Special Period

Known as the Special Period in Peacetime or Special Period for the period of Cuban history after the collapse of the Soviet Union into the new century, according to some. Although Fidel Castro claims that it is irresponsible to say that this period is over and acknowledges that it is being left behind. In reality, the special period began on September 1, 1990, with rationing on food, almost entirely to prevent a greater famine. However, it must be remembered that basic foodstuffs have always been rationed to guarantee them to the population since the early days of the revolutionary government through subsidies.

Between 1992 and 1994, the national budget was reduced to less than $2 billion per year, an unthinkable figure for a nation of 11 million inhabitants. However, despite the famine, the regime remained in power thanks to the confidence and support of the majority of the population. But inevitably, the emergence of malnutrition-related diseases began. Among them were neuropathies, avitaminosis such as optic neuritis.

From the United States predicted the imminent end of the Cuban Revolution through the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian crisis outbreaks of new diseases and sufferings that had to lead to public despair. Because the American blockade it was practically impossible to acquire the necessary medicines abroad, including for the treatment of earlier illnesses. The Cuban government was forced to take over the intensive production of emergency and nutritional supplements, pills, popularly known on the island with the trade names Multivit or Nutriforte.

The government, before the economic crisis, authorized a very small, private sector was called “Cuentapropismo” or “Self-Employment,” which was the only one capable of performing the service and craft functions that the state was at the moment unable to take on. Later, in view of the strengthening of the national budget, Self-Employment was limited by the prohibition of issuing new licenses and tax increases to unsustainable levels, so that instead of stimulating production, what was achieved was the growth of a parasitic layer of middlemen and traders (with a high level of illegality and corruption) that decimated the private sector of the current Cuban economy.

Likewise, in 1993, it legalized the possession and use of convertible currencies, including the dollar. This came on top of measures like Casas del Oro and Tiendas Recaudadoras de Divisas that, along with the others, achieved a dramatic improvement in the exchange rate of the national currency. However, workers” wages remain at unrealistic levels, totally separated from the price and most urgent needs of Cuban families. It has also brought along with the opening to tourism, an increase in prostitution in Cuba and trafficking, among other evils, and has increased economic inequality among the population.


Starting in the second half of the 1990s, the country”s situation stabilized, due in large part to foreign currency received from tourism and migrant remittances. By this time, Cuba had an almost normal relationship economically with most Latin American countries, and its relations with the European Union (which began to provide it with aid and loans) had improved. China also emerged as a new source of aid and support, although Cuba, had allied itself with the Soviets during the Sino-Soviet Rupture of the 1960s.

However, in October 2004, the Cuban government announced in November the end of this policy of dollars would not be legal in Cuba, but rather the change to convertible Cuban pesos. Later, Cuba also found new allies in President Chavez of Venezuela and President Evo Morales of Bolivia, major oil and gas exporting nations.

Some non-violent initiatives on the island have been undertaken, aimed at political reform. In 1997, a dissident group led by Vladimiro Roca, a veteran of the Angolan Civil War and son of the founder of Cuba”s Communist Party, sent a petition entitled The Homeland Belongs to Everyone to Cuba”s General Assembly, demanding democratic reforms and human rights. Roca and his three companions were imprisoned for activities considered terrorist by the government, for their relationship with various groups described as the Cuban counterrevolutionaries.

In 2001, a group of activists gathered some 11,000 signatures for the Varela Project, a petition calling for a referendum on the island”s political system. The process was openly supported by former president Jimmy Carter during his historic visit to Cuba in 2002. The petition gathered enough signatures, but was rejected for a reason. Instead, he held a referendum that was overwhelmingly approved in the Republic of Cuba will never cease to be socialist.

In April 2003, seventy-five opposition activists were arrested and sentenced to several years in prison, in the so-called Black Spring in Cuba. Since the arrival of Hugo Chavez to power in Venezuela is creating strategic alliances between the two countries in the economic and political sectors that subsequently triggered the birth of ALBA, the body caused a greater departure of the national economy.

2007 General Elections

On October 21, 2007, general elections were held in Cuba, with more than 8 million voters turning out to elect delegates to the “Municipal Assemblies of People”s Power” on the island. According to the Minister of Justice, María Esther Reus, about 8.3 million people are entitled to vote in the 37,749 electoral colleges in 169 municipalities. On the occasion of the general elections, Fidel Castro once again called on President George W. Bush to end the trade embargo on Cuba and accused George W. Bush of being “obsessed” with Cuba. The US government, the European Union, and Cuban opponents of Castro”s regime refer to the Cuban elections as a “cosmetic exercise in democracy” that excludes the opposition and is completely overseen by the Cuban Communist Party. And Cuban activists have labeled the elections as illegitimate and unconstitutional.

Fidel Castro resigned from the presidency on February 20, 2008 and his brother Raúl “headed a single list of candidates presented to the Assembly, which ratified the ballot and elected him” on February 24 to succeed him as President of Cuba. The general had been acting governor of Cuba since July 2006, due to Fidel”s health problems, which culminated in his resignation.

Raúl Castro era

Raúl promised to “eliminate prohibitions” on the island, but acknowledged the legacy of his brother, who was in power for more than 49 years: In the coming weeks, we will begin to eliminate the simplest (prohibitions), since many of them were aimed at preventing the emergence of new inequalities at a time of generalized scarcity, he declared during his inauguration speech. In March 2008 Raúl Castro released the sale of personal computers (PCs) and DVDs in Cuba, and the sale of cell phones and televisions to ordinary citizens was also released.

In late April, Raul Castro called for an assembly of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) Congress for the second half of 2009 to redefine the country”s political and economic axes. When the VI Congress of the PCC takes place, eleven years will have gone by without a meeting of Cuba”s supreme political decision-making body, and it would be the last in which Fidel Castro would participate. Russia”s Putin government forgave most of Cuba”s debt in 2015 that the previous government was trying to collect under the pretext of Soviet aid in the Cold War. According to the UJC, more than 282,000 young people are neither studying nor working in the country and the Raul government has promised more spending cuts in his administration. Informal work encompasses all activities in post-Cold War Cuba, most of them being misdemeanors and not going so far as to challenge institutional legality, and the country has an unevenness of salaries, with waiters and self-employed taxi drivers often earning more than doctors and engineers. The Raul government is worried about possible young infiltrators in the current administration who have risen quickly in their careers, firing some of them, many of them accused of corruption. Corruption is considered in the 21st century to be the greatest counter-revolutionary threat to Raul, which grows associated with persistent but low foreign investment. Some critics of the regime expect that the government needs to make further progress in reforming the electoral system and internet access, others are more optimistic about the direction of the opening, and still others say that the reforms are a bitter but necessary medicine for the population


  1. Revolução Cubana
  2. Cuban Revolution
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