Cuba Recent History

As the new Constitution forbade the re-election of the President-in-Office, Batista had to leave the government in Grau, elected on June 1, 1944. He applied important reforms, not always appreciated by the masses, then he had the misfortune of having to put the territory back in place hard devastated by a hurricane in October 1946.

In January 1947 the US withdrew its forces from the base of San Julian and then others, and in May also abandoned the airport of San Antonio de los Banos, which had cost 20 million dollars. In November 1947 the too strict terms of the peace treaty signed with Italy at the end of the war were mitigated, with the full approval of the Italian Constituent Assembly.

On June 1st, 1948 the new elections were the prerogative of Carlos Prio Socarras, candidate of the two parties, the Republican and the Authentic. He tried to solve the various problems that afflicted the island and it seemed that the desired improvement could occur, also by virtue of the military assistance pact signed with the US on March 7, 1952; but only three days after this ratification, with a coup de hand seized power Fulgenzio Batista who immediately began strict controls in all sectors, broke diplomatic relations with the USSR and outlawed the communist party; then he expelled all Soviet diplomatic couriers.

Difficult times began; there were several attempts at rebellion until on July 26, 1953 a revolt of young people from Santiago de Cuba was suffocated in blood and his boss, Fidel Castro Ruiz, a 26-year-old lawyer from a wealthy family, was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

According to Abbreviationfinder, Batista was re-elected in 1954 and with the intention of making himself more popular with the people, he granted an amnesty, which also benefited Fidel Castro.

He immediately put himself at the head of the “July 26 Movement” and began guerrilla warfare against the government in the mountains of the East, attracting sympathies not only of the masses but also of the clergy and the opposition, which had long been forced to operate in a clandestine regime. After two years of struggle, Batista, still on the crest of the wave, called new elections that won his candidate Andres Rivero Aguero, keeping the command of the armed forces for himself.

Cuba Recent History

Immediately Fidel Castro unleashed the offensive and just over two months later he forced the Batista to flee on 1 January 1959, and with the approval of the whole nation he placed the government in the hands of Judge Manuel Urrutia.

He kept the command of the armed forces to himself and shortly thereafter served as Prime Minister. He immediately set to work modifying some points of the Constitution which not only assigned full powers to the President but also lowered the candidates’ eligibility age by 5 years, from 35 to 30 (Fidel Castro was 32 at the time).

Then he embarked on courageous but bloody purges, he found himself in the midst of enormous economic and financial difficulties and moreover lost his credibility especially in the USA where he was considered in full collusion with the Communists.

On May 17, 1959 he proclaimed and applied an agrarian reform so drastic that even the Movement he created could not be exempt from some perplexities. There were various reactions throughout the country and especially in the US which counted the largest number of Cuban political refugees. China, on the other hand, of course, showed great sympathy with a Chou-en-Lai declaration; and meanwhile the New China Democratic Alliance was created for the Chinese communists living in Cuba.

In 1959 Fidel Castro, following conflicts that arose with President Urrutia, resigned but shortly afterwards the President did the same thing.

The vacant government was taken over by Osvaldo Dorticos Torrado and after ten days Castro resumed his position as Prime Minister, relations with the US were increasingly tense and even those with Spain suffered worsening such as to cause the expulsion of the Ambassador of Madrid on January 21, 1960.

In the following February the Minister of Soviet Trade AI Mikojan visited Havana, who entered into an agreement for the supply in 5 years of 5 million tons of sugar in the USSR and from this came a loan of 100 million dollars, repayable in 12 years.

Meanwhile, the internal situation deteriorated and Castro restored the military courts to pursue all subversive activities and created the Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces, to replace the suppressed Ministry of Defense, entrusting it to his brother Raul Castro.
In 1960, relations between Cuba and the United States worsened considerably, the latter interrupted the supply of sugar. Conversely, Castro expropriated all US possessions on the island; he re-established relations with the USSR and popular China by disavowing nationalist China; signed economic treaties with all Eastern European states and with North Korea and People’s China. On July 9, 1960, N. Khrushchev threatened to target missiles in the US if they intruded on Cuba’s internal affairs. D. Eisenhower, president of the US, responded to this threat, declaring that he would never allow the establishment of a communist regime. in the western hemisphere.

Cuba tried to get the United Nations to intervene to settle the matter, which instead was settled by the OAS, with the prohibition of Sino-Soviet interference in Latin America.
Relations between Cuba and the SU. they deteriorated more and more and in January 1961 Eisenhower withdrew his ambassador Philip Bonsal, who had done everything to avoid the final break.

Meanwhile in the US many political refugees, Batista supporters, organized the invasion of Cuba, with the help of the CIA. This thing, made known to Castro by espionage, failed and in the “Baia de los Cochitos” (Bay of pigs), 1180 Cubans were taken prisoner and exposed to the derision of the masses, which poured upon Castro great admiration and also from China and USSR encouragement and help arrived. The USSR even awarded Castro the “Lenin Peace Prize” on May 10, 1962. In December of the same year Castro openly proclaimed his adhesion to “Marxism-Leninism”.

The period of economic improvement began immediately, giving impetus to industrialization. The result, however, was poor and then the theorist of the revolution Ernesto Che Guevara turned to what had always been Cuba’s first resource, namely sugar cane. And on the spur of the patriotic sentiment inspired by Castro, the masses worked in shifts, including in return, the construction of schools and hospitals, the expansion of farms and the moral rehabilitation of customs, until then somewhat free.

The Church, which had not sided with Castro at the time of changing politics, was hit with the expulsion of 435 Spanish and Cuban priests and a bishop.

In August 1961 there had been an OAS conference in Punta del Este, which discussed a plan prepared by John Fitzgerald Kennedy, President of the United States, for the progress of the continent. Che Guevara, in charge of Cuba, did not sign it and a second conference, again in Punta del Este in January 1962, decreed the expulsion of Cuba. All this led to the maximum deterioration between the United States and the USSR so much so that a future conflict was thought of.

On October 14, 1962 a US spy plane took some photos of Cuban territory; they revealed quite clearly the existence of a Soviet missile base with a launch pad facing the United States.

There was a dramatic exchange of messages between Khrushchev and Kennedy. And while the American military advised Kennedy an immediate invasion of Cuba, he did not comply with the request opting for a wait to know the future moves of Khrushchev who, in fact, ordered the dismantling of the missiles, the loading on the Soviet ships, remained offshore, and the consequent return home. All seasoned with a huge sigh of relief from the whole world.

Because of his symbiosis with the communist world, Castro alienated his popularity in the countries of Latin America and also because all young active guerrillas from neighboring territories went to Cuba. In November 1963, several arms depots from Cuba were discovered in Venezuela to remove President Romulo Betancourt. Castro received a severe sentence.
He made a trip to the USSR in 1963 and spoke out against People’s China who had criticized Moscow for removing missiles from Cuba.

Meanwhile, the cold war between Castro and the United States continued to cause several disturbing episodes. Then Castro in October 1965, surprisingly, communicated to those who intended to leave the country that he was free to do so; 14,000 people moved away, helped by expenses from the United States.

And as his popularity on the continent had gradually waned, he turned his attention to the countries of the Third World, with the aim of eradicating imperialism everywhere.

From 3 to 15 January 1966 there was a conference in Havana in which a message from Che Guevara, absent, was read in which all the submissive peoples were invited to procure “two, three, many Vietnam” to imperialism.

In August 1967, OLAS, the Latin American Solidarity Organization, brought together delegates from around the world to reconfirm the aversion to capitalism.

In October 1967 Che Guevara died in a guerrilla war that he was leading to Bolivia; this marked a severe blow to “Castrism” which was already less widespread throughout Latin America. Even with regard to China and the USSR Castro could no longer count on full support for his policy. The USSR was trying to improve its relations with Latin American states and China had greatly reduced the import of Cuban sugar, creating serious difficulties for the economy.

But also political difficulties arose when a political process was launched in which the old guard’s most beloved “leader”, Anibal Escalante, was sentenced to 15 years in prison together with 36 defendants, for anti-revolutionary activities.

In the economic field, after the difficulties that arose, Castro asked the people to intensify the cultivation of sugar cane in order to reach a harvest of 10 million tons for 1970.

The enterprise failed and on July 26, 1970 Castro made a public self-criticism acknowledging all the mistakes made. But there had been improvements in other fields, especially in health care and the fight against illiteracy, which had been almost completely eradicated.

In the meantime, relations with the USSR had returned to a friendly one, while those with China had not. With the states of Latin America they had improved so much that some of them, between 1972 and 1974, had removed the blockade that had existed for many years. Even with the. SU there was some relaxation and some US politicians went to Cuba for short but pleasant stays.

These reports, however, returned tense when Castro, in December 1975, at the Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, declared that he felt he was entitled to intervene in the internal diatribes of African countries in the name of the socialist international. This triggered a severe controversy with President Ford when he found that Castro had intervened in Angola in 1976 with Soviet weapons to help the local Independent Popular Movement, which was fighting for the conquest of power.

Internally in Cuba in 1976, Castro’s duties were well defined and he became, as well as head of state, First Secretary of the Single Party, President of the Council of State and President of the Council of Ministers, while each vice-presidency was entrusted to Brother Raul, in addition to the Ministry of Revolutionary Armed Forces, which already administered.

In 1977 Castro sent troops to Ethiopia, then at war with Somalia, and supported all verified separatist movements. Between 1979 and 1982 he was President of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries.
In 1980, after a brief improvement in relations with the United States, under the chairmanship of Carter, they returned to being tense when Castro intervened in Nicaragua to support the Sandinistas.

In 1986, after a trip to Cuba by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, relations with the Church also improved.
In the same year, Castro canceled the foreign debt to Third World countries, despite the economic difficulties in which Cuba continued to struggle.

Corruption and drug trafficking were also fought and in February 1989 two ministers and several senior officers were tried for this reason. In July of the same year 4 soldiers were shot and among them A. Ochoa Sanchez, former commander of the Cuban forces in Angola.

1989 also saw the resolution of major controversies on African soil and the complete withdrawal of all Cuban forces.
With Moscow, then, thanks to the changed economic policy of Gorbachev, which questioned that of aid and financing, a free market relationship was established instead.

This new policy caused some dissent in Havana and even during the Persian Gulf crisis in November 1990, Cuba did not sign the pact authorizing the use of force against Iraq.

In the late 1990s, Moscow also changed the duration of the commercial treaties with Cuba; from five years they became annual; hence the increase in the difficulties that caused the rationing of basic necessities.

Then, in 1991, Moscow decided to withdraw all military advisers from Cuba. On the other hand, the United States has always refused to remove the tents from Guantanamo, still their naval base in Cuban territory.

With the downsizing of economic relations with the Soviet Union, Cuban difficulties increased but, contradicting all forecasts, Castro kept his popularity at home high. This certainly contributed to the best cultural and health levels that the people had reached, which had not occurred in any other country in Latin America.

But with the collapse of the Soviet Union in December 1991, as a result of the “perestroika”, the Cuban economic situation plummeted, mainly losing oil supplies. The consequences for the industrial activities of the country were deleterious; communications and transport suffered, and exports were almost nil.

The government imposed restrictive measures in addition to those put in place since 1990 and then tried to run for cover by starting to reform monoculture, based exclusively on sugar cane.

Popular discontent was constantly growing. In July 1992 some amendments were made to the Constitution. With them, all religious forms of discrimination were abolished and practitioners could join the single party; then the direct election of the National Assembly was authorized.

But the United States continued to maintain the embargo and indeed extended, with the well-known Torricelli law, the prohibition to trade with Cuba also to those foreign companies connected with American companies. This law was vigorously contested by the European Union, the United Nations and the Cuban Catholic Bishops Conference.

The year 1993 was the one that brought some changes: in February the National Assembly was elected by direct suffrage; Fidel Castro and brother Raul held their positions; in July the ban, already in place for 30 years, to hold foreign currency, which was valuable, was abolished. So that also the Cubans could spend this currency in the special exercises hitherto reserved only for tourists and diplomats; in September, with a decree, the establishment of certain individual businesses was legalized and, at the same time, the transformation into cooperatives for state farms was arranged. The following year the farmers were allowed to sell on their own everything that exceeded the quotas of goods to be delivered to the state and in June 1995 private family-run restaurants were legalized.

But these openings, if they favored some of the workers, penalized others, so as to create significant differences in height between the beneficiaries and those not. The social climate deteriorated a lot, unemployment, until then almost unknown, entered the most precarious situation and also another phenomenon occurred: an ever growing number of Cubans approached the Church, not only the Catholic one.

Due to the international situation, Cuba did not go beyond improving relations with Colombia, Chile and Haiti. All other Latin American countries remained on their positions. Not to mention the United States which maintained the embargo even after the election of Clinton.

Of course, with this attitude of the United States, Cuba could never get out of its economic isolation, not even being able to access funding from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. China was therefore the country favored by Castro for economic exchanges.

Then, in the summer of 1994, a new crisis occurred between Cuba and the United States, caused by the continuous exodus of Cubans from the island towards Miami, Florida. In an attempt to stop this migratory movement, Clinton ordered the Cubans who were intercepted at sea to be hijacked on the Guantanamo naval base. This provoked the grievances of the Cuban community of Miami and then the two countries signed a pact. Clinton undertook to give entry visas to Florida to no more than 20,000 refugees per year while Castro declared he was ready to prevent new escapes. This pact was then finalized in May 1995.

Castro, while not promoting any political reform, but with the intention of improving the economic situation, authorized all forms of commercial liberalization. It also allowed the creation of “free zones”, where all foreign companies would have obtained privileged conditions and tax breaks. This also included companies whose owners were Cuban refugees abroad. But precisely in conjunction with these decisions, the United States drafted and enacted a law, called Helms-Burton, which strictly prohibited these companies from investing their capital on properties already owned by US citizens and requisitioned at the time by the Castro revolution.

This law was criticized by various states, including Canada and Mexico, and by organizations such as the European Union, for open violation of human rights. This wave of dissent forced Clinton to postpone the application of this law by 6 months in 6 months, starting from July 1996. And in the summer of that year Havana was shaken by various bomb attacks, all aimed at destroying the tourism industry in view of Pope John Paul II’s upcoming trip to Cuba, scheduled for January 1998.

This visit took place from 21 to 25 January 1998 and popular participation was immense. John Paul II condemned the embargo (as indeed the United Nations did in October of the same year and for the seventh consecutive year), but also criticized the Castro regime, especially on the issues: abortion, divorce and lack of freedom for the people.

In the same month of January, the legislative elections confirmed the roles of the two Castro brothers. In February, with an act of goodwill towards the pope, Castro had 299 prisoners released, including 70 for political reasons. Relations with the United States also changed somewhat because Clinton abolished the 1994 sanctions that had been added to the existing ones and so the United States-Cuba flights were put back into force as well as the money remittances. These improvements were also recorded during the course of 1999.

The pope’s visit to Cuba had important positive effects for this country. Canadian Prime Minister J. Chretien visited Havana, the Dominican Republic restored diplomatic ties after 40 years of suspension and flaky relations with Spain normalized. Italy was also present by sending Foreign Minister Dini. And always on the subject of international relations, Castro strengthened ties with the Caribbean countries by visiting Jamaica, Barbados, Grenata and the Dominican Republic.