ReviewEssays.com - Term Papers, Book Reports, Research Papers and College Essays
Search

Fidel Castro

Essay by   •  December 15, 2010  •  Essay  •  3,616 Words (15 Pages)  •  2,353 Views

Essay Preview: Fidel Castro

Report this essay
Page 1 of 15

Fidel Castro, the illegitimate son of a successful Creole sugar plantation owner, was born in Cuba in 1926. He was a rebellious boy and at the age of thirteen helped to organize a strike of sugar workers on his father's plantation.

Both his parents were illiterate but they were determined that their children should receive a good education and Fidel was sent to a Jesuit boarding school. Although he disliked the strict discipline of the school, Fidel soon showed that he was extremely intelligent. However, except for history, he preferred sports to academic subjects. Fidel was good at running, soccer and baseball, and in 1944 was awarded the prize as Cuba's best all-round school athlete.

After he had finished his education Castro became a lawyer in Havana. As he tended to take the cases of poor people who could not afford to pay him, Castro was constantly short of money. Castro's experience as a lawyer made him extremely critical of the great inequalities in wealth that existed in Cuba. Like many other Cubans, Castro resented the wealth and power of the American businessmen who appeared to control the country.

In 1947 Castro joined the Cuban People's Party. He was attracted to this new party's campaign against corruption, injustice, poverty, unemployment and low wages. The Cuban People's Party accused government ministers of taking bribes and running the country for the benefit of the large United States corporations that had factories and offices in Cuba.

In 1952 Fidel Castro became a candidate for Congress for the Cuban People's Party. He was a superb public speaker and soon built up a strong following amongst the young members of the party. The Cuban People's Party was expected to win the election but during the campaign. General Fulgencio Batista, with the support of the armed forces, took control of the country.

Castro came to the conclusion that revolution was the only way that the Cuban People's Party would gain power. In 1953, Castro, with an armed group of 123 men and women, attacked the Moncada army barracks. The plan to overthrow Batista ended in disaster and although only eight were killed in the fighting, another eighty were murdered by the army after they were captured. Castro was lucky that the lieutenant who arrested him ignored orders to have him executed and instead delivered him to the nearest civilian prison.

Castro also came close to death in prison. Captain Pelletier was instructed to put poison in Castro's food. The man refused and instead revealed his orders to the Cuban people. Pelletier was court-martialed but, concerned about world opinion, Batista decided not to have Castro killed.

Castro was put on trial charged with organising an armed uprising. He used this opportunity to make a speech about the problems of Cuba and how they could be solved. His speech later became a book entitled History Will Absolve Me. Castro was found guilty and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. The trial and the publication of the book made Castro famous in Cuba. His attempted revolution had considerable support in the country. After all, the party he represented would probably have won the election in 1952 had it been allowed to take place. Following considerable pressure from the Cuban population, Batista decided to release Castro after he had served only two years of his sentence. Batista also promised elections but when it became clear that they would not take place, Castro left for Mexico where he began to plan another attempt to overthrow the Cuban government.

After building up a stock of guns and ammunition, Castro, Che Guevara and eighty other rebels arrived in Cuba in 1956. This group became known as the July 26 Movement (the date that Castro had attacked the Moncada barracks). Their plan was to set up their base in the Sierra Maestra mountains. On the way to the mountains they were attacked by government troops. By the time they reached the Sierra Maestra there were only sixteen men left with twelve weapons between them. For the next few months Castro's guerrilla army raided isolated army garrisons and were gradually able to build-up their stock of weapons.

When the guerrillas took control of territory they redistributed the land amongst the peasants. In return, the peasants helped the guerrillas against Batista's soldiers. In some cases the peasants also joined Castro's army, as did students from the cities and occasionally Catholic priests.

In an effort to find out information about Castro's army people were pulled in for questioning. Many innocent people were tortured. Suspects, including children, were publicly executed and then left hanging in the streets for several days as a warning to others who were considering joining Castro. The behaviour of Batista's forces increased support for the guerrillas. In 1958 forty-five organizations signed an open letter supporting the July 26 Movement. National bodies representing lawyers, architects, dentists, accountants and social workers were amongst those who signed. Castro, who had originally relied on the support of the poor, was now gaining the backing of the influential middle classes.

Fulgencio Batista responded to this by sending more troops to the Sierra Maestra. He now had 10,000 men hunting for Castro and his 300-strong army. Although outnumbered, Castro's guerrillas were able to inflict defeat after defeat on the government's troops. In the summer of 1958 over a thousand of Batista's soldiers were killed or wounded and many more were captured. Unlike Batista's soldiers, Castro's troops had developed a reputation for behaving well towards prisoners. This encouraged Batista's troops to surrender to Castro when things went badly in battle. Complete military units began to join the guerrillas.

The United States supplied Batista with planes, ships and tanks, but the advantage of using the latest technology such as napalm failed to win them victory against the guerrillas. In March 1958, the United States government, disillusioned with Batista's performance, suggested he held elections. This he did, but the people showed their dissatisfaction with his government by refusing to vote. Over 75 per cent of the voters in the capital Havana boycotted the polls. In some areas, such as Santiago, it was as high as 98 per cent.

Castro was now confident he could beat Batista in a head-on battle. Leaving the Sierra Maestra mountains, Castro's troops began to march on the main towns. After consultations with the United States government, Batista decided to flee Cuba. Senior Generals left behind attempted to set up another military government. Castro's reaction was to call for a general strike. The workers came out on strike and the military were forced to accept the people's desire for change.

...

...

Download as:   txt (21.8 Kb)   pdf (225.8 Kb)   docx (17.8 Kb)  
Continue for 14 more pages »
Only available on ReviewEssays.com