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Cuban Revolution, 1953–1959

Mike Gonzalez


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In one sense, the Cuban Revolution is an event – the moment (on January 1, 1959) at which Fulgencio Batista, Cuba's dictatorial ruler, fled the country and a column of bearded young guerilla fighters took power in the capital, Havana. Yet a revolution is more than a seizure of power. It is that process, through time, in the course of which power is transferred from one social class to another. And that process is a continuum whose history begins with the stirring of new social forces and the earliest and perhaps unsuccessful challenges to the structures of the existing society. The origins of the Cuban Revolution lie in the colonial past. While most of Latin America registered its struggle for political independence from imperial Spain (and Portugal) in the period 1810–25, Cuba remained a Spanish colony until 1898, the last on the American continent. The second independence war (1895–8) broke the chains; the “hour of the furnaces” announced by its main political leader, José Martí , finally came. Yet victory was snatched from Cuba's independence fighters by a northern neighbor in full process of expansion, and anxious to establish a bridgehead across the Caribbean to mount a vigil on the southern continent. The United States was also interested in a Cuban sugar industry in which it had invested quite heavily in the wake of the American Civil War . For succeeding generations ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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