Cuba and the Cold War

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  • Cuba
    • In 1959 Castro took power from Batista
      • Castro inherited  significant urban and rural divides and  division between mulatto and Afro-Cubans and the white elite
      • Foreign investors controlled the economy and owned about 75% of the farmland, 90% of the essential services and 40% of the sugar production
      • On July 26th 1953, at the age of 26, he led a group of 165 students in an attack on the Moncada military barracks near Santiago
        • His trial brought him to the attention of the public.  His speech ‘history will absolve me’ was published and he became a national hero
        • Castro returned on Dec 2 1956 with 81 people
          • They landed in daylight and were attacked by the air force.  Most of the rebels were killed. 12 regrouped in the Sierra Maestra Mountains
            • They took reporter Herbert Matthews with them.  He wrote a series of articles which described a noble band of freedom fighters who were enduring hardships to fight oppression.  This won them support in the US 
              • In 1958 the rebels launched a three pronged assault that effectively cut the island in half.  The US refused to help Batista and had fled on 1 Jan 1959
    • Sugar
      • In 1959, sugar still accounted for 4/5 of Cuba’s export earnings
        • There were great disparities and rural workers earned only about ¼ of the average annual income
      • By the end of the 1950s, Cuba was one of the leading economies in Latin America with an annual income of $353 per capita in 1958
    • Castro took over the US owned telephone company.  He ordered the forced sale of vacant urban lots and slashed urban rents by 50%
      • Concentrated on national sovereignty, full employment, equal treatment of all citizens regardless of race or gender, education, healthcare


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