During the 1950s and early 1960s – under the United States supported Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista – dissatisfaction with the Cuban government grew and the emergence of rebel movements there were underway. On July 26, 1953 – in the 26th of July Movement – Fidel Castro and other rebels attacked military barracks in Santiago and Bayamo. Many died in the attacks, but among the survivors were Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro Ruz, who were then captured. At his trial, Fidel Castro made one of his most famous speeches in which he closes, “Condemn me, it does not matter. History will absolve me. ” Both Fidel and Raul were sentenced to over ten-years in prison, but neither served out their sentences, after the Batista’s regime freed all political prisoners in Cuba in an effort to appease the unhappy masses. After Fidel and Raul were released from prison, they went onto Mexico to organize with other rebels. It was during this time that Fidel met and joined forces with Ernesto “Che” Guevara. In 1956, the rebels traveled by boat from Mexico to Cuba with the purpose of overthrowing Batista’s regime. Shortly after the rebels landed in Cuba, the Batista army attacked and killed most of them. However, among the survivors were Fidel, Raul, and Che, who would go onto lead the rebel army. During this same period in Cuba, the support Batista did have was dwindling. Other revolutionary groups began to protest against Batista dictatorship also; the most significant was the 13 of March Movement that was led by student anticommunists. Also, the United States was decreasing its support of Batista – they “imposed an embargo on the government and recalled its ambassador, weakening the government’s mandate even further” – the embargo placed upon the Cuban government weakened the Batista forces and made them more susceptible to defeat by the rebels (Perez). Even the Partido Comunista de Cuba – the Communist Party of Cuba or the PCC – once loyal supporters to Batista’s regime, began backing off their support. As the weakening of the Batista regime was occurring, so was the strengthening of the Fidel Castro-led rebel movement in the Sierra Maestra Mountains region. There, the rebel group – which was considerable small in size in comparison to the Batista forces – staged several successful attacks and consolidated political control. In Operation Verano, the Batista forces began a military campaign in response to the rebel control in the mountains. Several battles took place – the rebel army saw victory in the battle of La Plata, but not n the battle of Las Mercedes – and on August 1st, at Castro’s request, a cease-fire was granted for about a week. In the aftermath of the cease-fire, the rebel army was able to regroup back into the mountains. Operation Verano ended in failure for the Batista government, and Castro’s forces began to descend from the mountains in their own offensive. Castro’s forces accomplished several victories and captured several townships. In the Battle of Yaguajay on December 30, 1958, a combination of the rebel armies – Castro’s forces and those who were involved with the 13 of March Movement – made a key victory. The combination of rebel forces caused Batista to panic, he fled from Cuba to the Dominican Republic on January 1, 1959. In the wake of Batista’s departure, the Castro forces easily overtook the remaining areas of Cuba with little, if any, opposition. After Castro’s victory he went on to the United States to justify his revolution, and to assert them of his intentions for Cuba. He said, “I know what the world thinks of us, we are Communists, and of course I have said very clearly that we are not Communists; very clearly” (UPI, Year in Review).
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