Q REPORTS – As thousands of Cubans marched in various parts of the country on Sunday, July 11, 2021, shouting “homeland and life” and “down with the dictatorship” we look at the Castro “revolution” of Fidel Castro and its politics through the last 6 decades.
1959 – The revolution triumphs
The rebels led by Fidel Castro come to power after dictator Fulgencio Batista fled in January. The US recognizes the new government. Soon “revolutionary laws” (such as land reform) affect American companies. In December, Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower approves a CIA plan to overthrow Castro in one year and replace him with “a friendly junta of America.
1960 – Nationalizations and rapprochement with the Soviet Union
Eisenhower prohibits exports to Cuba (except for food and medicine) and suspends the importation of sugar. Cuba responds by nationalizing US goods and companies, and establishing diplomatic and commercial relations with the Soviet Union. At the funeral of the victims of the steam explosion “La Coubre” (photo), which Cuba blamed on the CIA, Castro launched his slogan “Homeland or Death!”
1961 – Rupture and invasion
The US breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba and closes its embassy on January 3. After a series of airport bombings and store fires that Cuba accuses the US of, Fidel Castro proclaims the socialist character of the revolution on April 16. From the 17th to the 19th, Cubans trained by the US tried unsuccessfully to invade the island via Playa Girón and Playa Larga, in the Bay of Pigs.
1962 – The Missile Crisis
In 1960, Khrushchev said: “I don’t know if Fidel is a communist, but I am a Fidelista.” Moscow resumed diplomatic relations with Havana and increased support. The Soviet Union installed nuclear missile bases in Cuba. That triggered the “missile crisis.” Moscow yielded to Kennedy’s pressure in exchange for the US not invading Cuba and dismantling its nuclear bases in Turkey.
1971 – Fidel Castro in Chile
The Bay of Pigs episode accelerated the proclamation of the socialist, Marxist-Leninist character of the revolution. Cuba ended up being expelled from the Organization of American States. Castro was isolated on the mainland, but not indefinitely. Castro was received in Chile by President Salvador Allende (photo), who was overthrown by Augusto Pinochet in 1973.
1989 – Time for Perestroika
Mikhail Gorbachev’s rise to power in Moscow ushered in the era of Glasnost and Perestroika. The Iron Curtain began to fall apart and the Soviet empire ended up collapsing. Cuba lost its main foreign livelihood base, plunging into an acute crisis. Thousands of Cubans tried to flee to Miami in precarious boats. Many predicted the end of the Castro regime.
A decree of Pius XII prohibited Catholics from supporting communist regimes. By virtue of it, the Vatican had excommunicated Fidel Castro in January 1962. But the decades passed and, after the end of the Cold War, the moment of rapprochement arrived: in 1996, Castro visited Pope John Paul II and he rewarded He visits her two years later, in a gesture considered historic.
2002 – Fidel Castro and Jimmy Carter play baseball
Since the United States imposed its commercial, economic and financial embargo in 1962, there have been few moments of detente between Washington and Havana. One of the few signs in that direction was the trip of former US President Jimmy Carter in 2002, motivated by the intention of finding points of rapprochement. Neither did his good offices cause substantial changes in Cuba.
2006 – Fidel and Hugo
Since the 1990s, Cuba has ceased to be seen as a dangerous exporter of revolutions. With the resounding collapse of the Eastern bloc, leftist ideologies were shipwrecked. But in Venezuela a new leader came to power willing to propagate the “Bolivarian Revolution.” Hugo Chávez, declared an admirer of Fidel Castro, gave Havana effective support, also economically.
The disease forced Fidel Castro to leave power. In 2006, he left it in the hands of his brother Raúl, a guarantor that there would be no radical change in a system that, despite advances in education and health, took a heavy price: lack of freedom and repression. While the first changes were emerging, Castro was saying goodbye little by little, defending to the end his vision from the pages of Granma
In December 2014, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, and that of Cuba, Raúl Castro, announced that they would resume diplomatic relations. Obama visited Cuba in March 2016. It had been 88 years since the last time a US president traveled to the island. The United States removed Cuba from the terrorism list and the thaw began to take hold.
2016 – Fidel Castro dies
So many times announced and denied, few believed the news of his death at first. However, on November 25, 2016, bars began to close and street gatherings dispersed when word of his death spread. For years, Castro denied those who considered him dead by publishing undeniably topical photographs or opinion pieces.
2018 – The Succession
After 10 years, Raúl Castro retires from power. On April 19, the Cuban Parliament elects a successor who for the first time in almost 60 years does not bear Castro’s name. However, analysts argue that the political course in Cuba is unlikely to change so soon.