The Cuban Revolution: Causes, Events and Leaders

Table of Contents


The Cuban revolution revolved around Fidel Castro’s movement which was out to overthrow Fulgencio Batista. The latter was a dictator in Cuba who humiliated and exploited the citizens of this country. The Cuban revolution began with the attack of Moncada barracks in Santiago and camps in Bayamo by Cuban rebels on 26 July 1953. Many rebels were killed by the Batista regime, amongst them Abel Santamaria who was second in command in the Moncada barracks. The survivors of the attack were arrested and put in custody. Among the survivors were Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro. The survivors were prosecuted in court and during the trial, Fidel defended himself for at least 4 hours in vain. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison while his brother was sentenced to 13 years in prison. In 1955, political pressure arose and forced the Batista regime to flee all political captives in Cuba. The Castro brothers were also released after a long persuasion of the Batista regime by their childhood teachers. Upon release, the Castro brothers joined other exiles in Mexico in preparation for overthrowing the Batista regime (UPI 21). They received training from such republican leaders as Alberto Bayo. It is during this time that Fidel got to know Ernesto Guevara with whom he joined forces in fighting to overthrow the Batista regime. The essay explores the causes of the Cuban revolution. Further, the events that have occurred in Cuba to date shall also be examined, along with the primary values of the revolution leaders and their counterparts.

Causes of the Cuban revolution

Before the revolution, Cuba acted as a tourist destination, mainly for visitors from the United States. Rich Cubans were also favored by the powers that be. On the contrary, Cuba was a terrible place for laborers and peasant farmers. There was a huge difference in the per capita income of Cuba and the United States. In the 1950- 1954 financial year, the United States registered an average per capita income of $2,279 while Cuba’s per capita income was only $ 312. This was so absurd because Cuba’s per capita income was lower than the per capita income of the poorest state in the United States. Most people living in the rural setting lacked sanitary facilities such as toilets, latrines, and wastewater drains. The rural people suffered from diseases like malaria, tuberculosis, and syphilis. These diseases were on the rise and claimed many lives during this time. Approximately 25% of the rural population was illiterate. A high level of employment was common too, with at least 25 percent of people jobless. This translated into an unemployment ratio of 1 in 4 of the entire population (Taaffe 3).

Children of school-going age remained at home and yet at this time, Havana had more Cadillacs than any other state in the world. Large pieces of land were mostly owned by tycoons. 71.1% of all the land was for the large scale farmer with only 39.1 % left for the small scale peasants. Imperialism dominated the nation with most of the Cuban economy being controlled by huge American monopolies. 90 percent of the telephone and electric sector in Cuba was owned by United States firms. Apart from this, the United States possessed 50 % Cuban public service sector and 40 % of the sugar company. Cuba only concentrated on sugar which mostly benefited the Americans since it was exported to the United States on a fixed annual quota and fixed prices. Simply put, the Cuban system was full of dictatorship under the regime of Batista. During his regime, many people died due to suffering and torture inflicted by his soldiers.


The Cuban communist movement together with other communist parties of Latin America joined hands to ally. The aim was to act as a means of clearing anti-imperialistic, nationalistic, and democratic revolutions. However, the Cuban capitalists had invested in land and owned the highest percentage of the public service sector. This prevented the alliance from carrying out any significant land reform. They were also not able to fight the United States imperialism since they relied on them for security against the Cuban masses. Against the wish of the alliance, they were led by the national capitalist into supporting the Batista regime after he took over power in the year 1993. Wrangles went on and soon, the Cuban communist party leader condemned Batista by referring to him as a national traitor (Taaffe 2).

In the year 1938, the Cuban communist party realized that Batista was no longer an influential figure in the reactionary camp. This imaginary change was because Batista had been given democratic qualifications by the United States President Franklin Roosevelt. The power vested on Batista meant that the communist party had to adore him. Batista legalized the communist party and later absorbed two ministers into his parliament. One of the ministers appointed was Blas Roca who later became a member of the Castro cabinet. In 1942, Blas Roca competed with Batista for power and he received overwhelming support from the Cuban masses. Batista could not stand Cuban support for Blas Roca against him, and this saw him leave office in1944. However, Fidel Castro was denounced by the communist party as they referred to him as a gangster. The communist party was persuaded to change its attitude towards Castro in vain, it doubted whether Batista could be overthrown by guerrillas. The doubts mounted and the party decided to form a democratic coalition government. In 1952, the second Batista’s coup took place. The coup provoked a lot of opposition especially from students and scholars like Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro. The Castro brothers, together with 120 other followers, organized an attack on the Moncada in July 1953. However, they were defeated, many people died and the Castros were arrested and put in prison. Later, political pressure mounted, forcing the Batista regime to release all political captives from prison. When the Castros were released, they went to Mexico and continued organizing on how to overthrow the Batista regime. While in Mexico, they organized for a guerrilla force which made its first appearance in Cuba in 1956. The force strived for at least 3 years and eventually launched the guerrilla movement. The movement received immense support from the peasant and together started the battle to overthrow Batista. The movement eventually defeated the strong Batista’s force and surprisingly, some of Batista’s soldiers and officers joined Fidel Castro’s camp (Taaffe 13).

In 1961, Castro faced so many difficulties in his attempt to fight American imperialism. Fidel declared to the public that he had a Marxist –Leninist at heart all through. This revelation was highly criticized. Many other Cubans also claimed to have been Marxist though they had not realized it until then. Others said that they were neutral and hence open to conversion. At this point, some Americans believed Castro and declared that he was a true hero. In the newspapers, it was published that Cuba had nothing against the United States; rather, what Cubans wanted was an independent Cuba free from dictatorship governance. To support this further, Castro’s movement swore to adhere to “Jeffersonian philosophy” and promised to struggle to attain agreement and harmony between capital and work so that they could raise productivity. Castro told the association of bankers that he had nothing against Batista and he desired for their collaboration. He did not intend to nationalize any industry; he assured the public that the information spread by the United States news and world report was a mere rumor. It was clear that Castro and his followers did not start their fight with an elaborate socialist project and perspective as Lenin and the Bolsheviks had in Russia. Lenin’s governance was based on the working class; he expected those who were working to lead the poor peasant in the fight against Tsarism. Castro and Guevara depended on the peasant and the rural inhabitants to promote good governance and democracy. The working-class people participated in the struggle only during strikes like the one that happened in Havana when guerrillas had already accomplished. Batista at this time was already fleeing to save his life which was under threat (Taaffe 13).

After Batista was overthrown, the small-scale farmers occupied large farms, which were initially meant for the United States large-scale farmers. The working-class people demanded wage increases and reinstatement of those who had been laid off in the previous regime. During the spring of 1959, 6,000 employees of the Cuban electric company downed their tools in demand of a 20% pay rise. Workers who had been sacked by the previous regime called for a strike and demonstrations outside the presidential palace. Cuban masses possessed firearms and formed militia groups, this acted as a threat to the American imperialists, who sought to force and blackmail the Cuban congress into submission. The Cuban revolution faced resistance from the United States government and famous oil companies not to refine Russian oil. Russia used to supply oil to Cuba and the United State wanted to interrupt the trade union between Russia and Cuba. Cuba intervened and managed to put oil through. Later, the companies were revenged by refusing to transport oil from Venezuela. At the time, Dwight Eisenhower was the president of the United States. According to the existing trade quota accord between the United States and Cuba, the latter was meant to export 700,000 tonnes of sugar to the United States. However, due to the unfolding events, Eisenhower put a stop to this. This was meant to bring the Castro regime to a downfall. As if on cue, Russia agreed to accept this sugar consignment. Within this time, the telephone, oil refinery, electric, and sugar mills companies were nationalized (Taafe 17).

By 1960, capitalism had been eliminated in Cuba. In turn, the imperialists from the United States revenged by announcing a total ban on trade. They also started plotting a military coup to bring down the Cuban revolution. The Cuban revolution faced a lot of difficulties, pressure of masses, blunder and miscalculation of the American imperialism, and faults of Cuban capitalism. The Castro regime still stood firm and continued in its mission to fight imperialism and to promote democracy. Cuba received a lot of aid especially from Russia this has helped the revolution to stand firm. Living conditions in Cuba have since improved, life expectancy has improved from 45.3 to 69.2. Today, all get some education, and malnutrition has considerably gone down (Taaffe 19).

Primary values of revolutionary leaders

Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro were determined to deliver Cubans from the dictatorship of the Batista regime. The Castros were consistent with the aims of delivering the Cubans. After the first attack, Fidel and his brother were arrested and when they were set free, they went to Mexico to organize a movement that late saw the Batista regime overthrown. Fidel was a socialist; he rewarded his supporters after he successfully overthrew the Batista regime. In 1961 he pronounced Cuba to be a socialist state; he put an end to the multiparty ruling and settled for one party. Blas Roca was a wise leader; he was able to overthrow Batista when he was a member of his cabinet (Bockman 15).

Primary values of counter Cuban revolution leaders

Batista was a dictator who only care for the rich, people living in the rural areas lacked basic requirements. Children suffered from malnutrition, they lacked education, people suffered from diseases like malaria and tuberculosis. During his regime, most Cuban owned small pieces of land, huge plantations were owned by the American imperialists. He was unjust and insensitive as during his regime most Cubans suffered from economic humiliation and exploitation (Gstelten par. 5). He only cared for his welfare and comfort, in 1952 when he won his second term in government he did not continue with the social policies which had been initiated in his previous term. On the contrary, he concentrated on improving his social status. At this time he was accepted by a social club referred to as Cuba’s upper class which had not accepted him before (Aimee 11).


Revolution involves a change of political regimes; this may entail overthrowing of a political regime by a more powerful movement. The Cuban revolution resembles this incidence whereby Batista’s powerful regime was overthrown by Fidel and his followers. The revolution had long-lasting on Cubans as they delivered from dictatorship to a more democratic state (International Social Review 86). The lives of many, especially those living in the rural areas, were transformed. They started getting better health services and many children went to school. The revolutionary theory brings about revolution movements. In Cuba, the Guevara movement formed by Fidel and his followers can be termed as the revolutionary movement. The movement brought about social changes, the poor received more attention from the government and this marked the end of dictatorship in Cuba (Guevara 23).


The Cuban revolution was a successful revolt that delivered Cuban from Fulgencio Batista’s regime of dictatorship. Fidel managed to overthrow the Batista regime and Cuban lives were changed for the better. The United States imperialist was sent away, a peasant from Cuba began n to own huge pieces of land which were initially owned by the Americans. People living in the rural areas got better health services, enough food, and all children went to school.

Works Cited

Aimee, Estill. Batista y Zaldívar. Fulgencio. 2000. Web.

Bockman, Larry. The Spirit of Moncada: Fidel Castro’s.Rise to Power. 1984. Web.

Gstelten, Tom. Cuba Marks 50 Years Since ‘Triumphant Revolution’. 2009. Web.

Guevara, E.C. Ideology of Cuban revolution. 1960. Web.

International Socialist Review. Chilean Trotskyists Defend the Cuban Revolution.

Taaffe, Peter. Cuba: Socialism and Democracy.1998. Web.

UPI. Cuban revolution. United Press International. 1959. Web.

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