Explain Castro's Rise to Power

Essay by mur1017High School, 11th gradeB+, February 2010

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In 1950, Castro graduated from law school at the University of Havana where Castro first became involved in several political groups that opposed the then current Cuban regime. His involvement into this kick started his interest and engagement into the politics of Cuba. He also showed his care for the poor by taking time off to do volunteer work for them, this perhaps foreshadowed the support he late gains from the lower class of Cuba. 1959 was the year that Castro officially took power of Cuba, however there are many factors that supported the process of his rise to power. In between all those years, there are several events that occurred that helped in his rise to power.

In 1950 he joined the reformist Cuban People's Party (Orthodox Party) seeking out a position in the Cuban Congress, however, the government of Calos Prio Socarras was over thrown by Fulgencio Batista thus diminishing hopes for the planned election.

This stimulated Castro to begin plans for military and political action. As he was an active member of the Orthodox Party, he had intentions to run for the Cuban parliament and would've succeeded if it weren't for Batista's coup overthrowing the government in 1952 and establishing a military dictatorship. If Bastista did not take over and become dictator of Cuba, Castro may never have felt urged to attempt to overthrow Batista with his organization of a rebel force to attack the Moncada Barracks on July 26th 1953. This revolutionary plan ended unsuccessfully as a majority of the 160 men he took with him were killed and Castro himself was arrested and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was released in 1955 with his brother and then continued on with their crusade against Batista's regime. On October 16th 1953, Castro made a four-hour long speech, titled 'History Will Absolve Me', in which he put forward the details of 'five revolutionary laws' that he wanted to implement on Cuba. The five laws included; a reinstatement of the 1940 Cuban constitution, a reformation of land rights, and three other laws. He concluded the speech with his famous line 'Condemn me. It does not matter. History will absolve me.' Castro never gave up his quest to rise to power and take over Cuba, because he believed that revolution was the only way for the Cuban People's Party to gain power. Because he was such a commendable speaker, he was able to gain a strong liking from the younger members of the party. If Castro did not have the dedication and determinism that he had during his rise to power, he may have never succeeded.

During his time of imprisonment Fidel Castro still had an effect on the people and Cuba's politics as Batista was almost always faced with "Viva Fidel Castro" chants. This alone helped anger Batista and drive him away from being Cuba's leader. It was very clear that the people no longer wanted Batista to be in power and instead longed for Castro. The 26th of July movement originated from the failed attack on the Moncada Barracks in which Fidel Castro, along with his brother Raul Castro and other exiled revolutionaries, established a plan to form a guerilla force to overthrow Batista in 1955. However on December 2nd 1956 Castro and 81 others landed and were prepared to lead a revolution but they were attacked by the Cuban Air Force and were all killed apart from Fidel, his brother and 10 others. However, ever after the arrival of Castro and his men upon the Granma yacht, they had been getting stronger and this was good for Castro's plan to bring upon Cuba a revolution. For the 26th of July movement, Castro originally only had the support of the poor, but he slowly gained the support from the middle class as well. This was good for Castro and boosted his chances of a smoother rise to power because, not only did he have help from the majority of Cuba, the poor, but he also now had support from the wealthier middle class.

During June 28th to August 8th 1958, the Batista government launched an attack that was intended to destroy Fidel Castro's revolutionary army. It was named the Operation Verano during which there was a battle between Castro's men and Batista's men. The Battle of La Plata, also a part of the Operation Verano, took place in a small village which borderlines the La Plata river. The withdrawal of Battallion 17 led to the final battle, the Battle of Las Mercedes. During Castro's time in the mountains, his movement gained a lot of strength from the people who left the then current government in order to force Batista to flee Cuba on January 1st 1959. The aftermath of the Battle of Las Mercedes showed that Castro lost one quarter of his small army. This would've been categorized as a downfall or failure; however, it showed the weakness of the Cuban army because instead of killing Castro's soldiers they talked. The whole Cuban army was demoralized as Batista lost confidence in all his men. The defeat of Batista's army, to Castro, was proof enough that the Cuban army was weak and had given up on fighting so Castro took this opportunity to continue the battle in the rest of Cuba.

With the belief that they were destined to win, Castro's army and commanders spirits were uplifted and within four months, Batista had fled and Castro had won. This was a major strong point in Castro's rise to power, it showed that he was a good leader because he did not rush into things and he also had the ability to make the people he led like him and like his revolutionary ideas. Castro already gained the likings of the people as he made them see that Batista was weak and neither he nor his army had the courage to stand up to Castro and his army. Although the United States had supported Batista through his time of power as they supported his regime, there came a point where they no longer wanted to support him. When Batista fled and was sent into exile he took with him over $300, 000, 000 dollars that he has acquired through 'graft and payoffs'. At his departure, Castro's rebel forces took the chance to seize power.

When Castro moved to Havana and became the premier of Cuba, he decided to dedicate most of his time in running his country. He was only interested in helping rebuild Cuba as a better nation "Power does not interest me and I will not take it". Castro had promised several things throughout his campaign including; running an honest government, freedom of the press, and respecting the rights of the individuals and their private property, but he instead executed over a thousand Batista followers and confiscated more that $1 billion dollars worth of American property.

Castroism is the communist ideology that Fidel Castro created based on several theories of Karl Marx, Jose Marti, Vladmir Lenin and others. Castroism was established to focus on creating a revolutionary government in Cuba. It also focused on promoting Cuban nationalism, Latin American solidarity, social justice and democracy. It was built and formed by getting closely involved with the Soviet Union. Towards a later stage, Castroism actually led to closer, strengthened relationship between Russia and Cuba. Consequently, the influence on Cuba by the USSR facilitated the decision of policies associated to internal and foreign affairs. Fidel Castro's rise to power was successful due to his early involvement in the politics of Cuba. Although in his first attack on the Moncada military fortress failed, he never lost hope or gave up and this also helped boost his chances of becoming the leader of Cuba.