When I wrote in a couple of posts, "stay tune," this is what I had in mind. I'd
be interested in seeing how anyone can read this general, almost bland,US-based
historical source (the World Book Encyclopedia) and not come to the conclusion I
have: that the U.S. has controlled, or tried to control, Cuba throughout the
history of the 20th century and *that* is Cuba's problem, not any particular
ideology Castro holds, held or may come to hold. I believe a simple reading of
the events of history shows how an anti-US ideologue like Castro could
successfully stage a revolution in order to stop US oppression.

IDEOLOGY as defined by the Oxford dictionary:

1 A system of ideas or way of thinking, usu. Relating to politics or society, or
to the conduct of a class or group, AND REGARDED AS JUSTIFYING ACTIONS, esp. one
that is held implicitly or adopted as a whole and maintained REGARDLESS OF THE
2. archaic. Regarding the science of ideas. [emphasis added]

The “course of events” from a neutral and general source, the U.S.-based World
Book Encyclopedia, mainstay of most school libraries and many homes.

CUBA  (World Book Encyclopedia, vol. 4, 1979 edition) Pp. 232, 234-236

Robert Freeman Smith, the contributor of this article, is Professor of History at
the University of Toledo and the author of Background to Revolution: The
Development of Modern Cuba.

[from the Introduction section]

Cuba has a long history of struggle for independence and social reform. For about
400 years, Spain ruled Cuba. During this period, many Cubans died in revolts
against Spanish rule. In 1898, the United States helped defeat Spain in Cuba's
struggle for independence. Spain then gave up all claims to Cuba, and a U.S.
military government ruled the island until 1902. During the 1930's, Cuba came
under the control of a dictator, Fulgencio Batista. In 1959, Fidel Castro and a
band of rebels overthrew Batista. They later set up a socialist government, with
Castro as prime minister. Today, the Cuban government is highly centralized, and
Castro has strong control over its policies. The government allows only one
political party, the Cuban Communist Party.

The Castro government provides many benefits for the people, including free
medical care and free education, But Cuba's economy has developed slowly under
Castro. The output of some industries has declined, and government attempts to
increase agricultural production have been only partly successful.

Relations between Cuba and the United States became tense soon after the Castro
revolution. In 1961, the United States ended diplomatic relations with Cuba. The
United States maintains a naval base on the island at Guantanamo Bay. Cuban
leaders resent the presence of the base, but the United States refuses to give up

[the History section in its entirety]

Early Years.

Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba in 1492 and claimed it for Spain. Spaniards
began to settle the island in 1511, and Cuba soon became one of the richest
colonies in the West Indies. Most of the settlers took up farming. They grew
sugar and tobacco on large plantations and forced the native American Indians to
work in the fields. Many Indians died from diseases and harsh treatment. As the
Indian population declined, the Spaniards began to import African slaves. The
first African slaves arrived in Cuba in 1517.

>From the mid-1500's to the late 1700's, Cuba developed slowly. Pirates raided the
coasts frequently, and many colonists moved to South America.

During the late 1700's, Cuba grew prosperous again. Havana became a commercial
center as its port developed into a shipyard and naval base. Sugar and tobacco
production increased, and Cuba began to sell its products to the British colonies
of North America.

Cuban plantation owners imported more and more slaves during the late 1700's and
early 1800's. Many owners treated their slaves brutally. In 1812, a group of
slaves, headed by Jos6 Antonio Aponte, planned a revolt. The Spaniards discovered
the plot and hanged Aponte and his followers.

Struggle Against Spain.

During the 1800's, various Cuban groups plotted revolts against the Spanish rule
of their country. In 1821, Jose Francisco Lemus organized the first important
revolutionary movement. But it collapsed by 1826. About the same time, Sim6n
Bolivar) a South. American general, and several Mexican leaders organized an army
to invade Cuba and Puerto Rico and free them from Spain. The United States warned
that it would support Spain against the invasions, and the military leaders
dropped their plans.

During the mid-1800's, some Cubans and Americans supported a movement to annex
(join) Cuba to the United States. A slave uprising had occurred in Cuba in 1844,
Cuban and American slaveholders, fearing that Spain would end slavery in Cuba,
supported the annexation movement. Other groups in Cuba and the United States
favored American control of the island for economic and military reasons. The
United States made several offers to buy Cuba, but Spain rejected them.

Cuba's struggle against Spanish rule led to the outbreak of the Ten Years' War in
1868. Carlos de G6spedes, a wealthy planter, headed a revolutionary group that
demanded independence and the abolition of slavery. Spain rejected the group's
demands, and fighting followed. The war ended with the signing of the Pact of
Zanjon in 1878. This treaty provided for the gradual abolition of slavery and
political reforms.

Slavery was ended in Cuba in 1886, but many Cubans still wanted independence for
their country. A revolution, led by Jose Marti, broke out in 1895. Thousands of
Cubans died in the fighting. But by 1898, Spain controlled only the major coastal
cities of Cuba.

President William McKinley of the United States believed that the fighting on the
island threatened American interests. He told the Spanish government to either
crush the revolution or give up Cuba. In February, 1898, the U.S. battleship
Maine, which was sent to Havana to protect Americans in Cuba, exploded
mysteriously. The United States blamed Spain for the explosion and, in April,
declared war on Spain. Cuba's struggle for independence thus became known as the
Spanish-American War. The Spanish army surrendered in August. Under the Treaty of
Paris, signed on December 10, Spain gave up all rights to the island. The United
States then set up a military government in Cuba. The presence of U.S. forces
angered many Cubans and Americans. See SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR.

United Slates Control.

Cuba experienced some development under U.S. military rule. General Leonard Wood
governed Cuba from 1899 to 1902. He began an important public works program,

For many years, a deadly disease called yellow fever had plagued the Cuban
people. In 1881) Carlos Finlay, a Cuban physician) said he believed mosquitoes
carried the disease. In 1900, a U.S. Army commission in Cuba proved that Finlay
was right. Mosquito-control programs were then begun to wipe out the disease.

Under strong pressure from the Cuban people for immediate independence, the
United States decided to let them govern themselves. In 1901, Cuba adopted a
constitution. The constitution included a set of pro-


1492 Christopher Columbus landed in Cuba and claimed the island for Spain.
1517 The first African slaves arrived in Cuba.
1868-1878 Cuban revolutionaries fought Spanish rule in the Ten Years' War. Under
the Pact of Zanj6n, which ended the war, Spain promised reforms.
1886 Slavery was abolished in Cuba.
1895 A revolution, led by Jos6 Marti, broke out in Cuba against Spanish rule.
1898 The United States defeated Spain in the Spanish-American War. Spain gave up
all claims to Cuba.
1898-1902 A United States military government controlled Cuba.
1902 Tomtis Estrada Palma became the first president of the Republic of Cuba.
1906-1909 American forces occupied Cuba for the second time, after opposition to
Raima's government grew into open rebellion.
1933 A revolutionary group, led by Fulgencio Batista, took control of the
1934-1959 Batista controlled the government, except for the years 1944 to 1952.
1953 Fidel Castro led an unsuccessful attack on the Moncada Army Barracks in
Santiago de Cuba.
1959 Castro's forces overthrew Batiste's government and Castro became ruler of
the country.
1961 Cuban exiles invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs and were quickly defeated by
Castro's army.
1962 Russia agreed to U.S. demands that it remove its missiles and missile bases
from Cuba.
1971 The United States announced that Russia had agreed not to establish a
permanent submarine base in Cuba.
1976 Cuba adopted a new Constitution. The Constitution declared the nation to be
a socialist state and a republic.

visions, called the Platt Amendment, which the United States insisted must be
part of the document. The amendment limited Cuban independence by permitting the
United States to intervene in Cuban affairs. It also allowed the United States to
buy or lease land for naval bases in Cuba. Under a treaty with Cuba in 1903, the
United States received a permanent lease on Guantanamo Bay and began to build a
large naval base there.

In 1902, the Cuban people elected loin's Estrada Palma as the first president of
the Republic of Cuba. American troops then left the country. But they returned in
1906, after opposition, to Palma's government developed into open rebellion. A
civil-military government, headed by Charles E. Magoon of the United States,
ruled Cuba from 1906 to 1909.

The Second Republic
of Cuba was established after American forces left the country in 1909. But the
new Cuban government did little to help the lower classes. A black uprising broke
out in 1912. In 1917, a workers' revolt threatened to destroy the sugar mills.
American companies owned many inills, plantations, and other businesses in Cuba.
During both uprisings) the United States sent military forces into the country to
protect American property.

The Cuban people elected Gerardo Machado president in 1924. During his campaign,
Machado had attacked the Platt Amendment and had promised reforms. But after
becoming president, he ruled as a dictator. In July, 1933, an army revolt forced
Machado out of office. Two months later, an army sergeant named Fulgencio Batista
and a group of university students and professors led a revolution that overthrew
the new government. They named a five-man committee, headed by Ramón Grau San
Martín, to govern Cuba.

The Grau San Martín government wanted to reduce U.S. influence in Cuba and make
far-reaching changes. The United States thought the new government was too
extreme and refused to support it.

The Balista Era. Batista felt that his best hope for power lay in winning U.S.
support. He removed Grau San Martín from office in 1934. Until 1940, Batista
ruled Cuba as dictator through presidents who served in name only. The United
States supported Batista's government. In 1934, the United States and Cuba signed
a treaty that canceled the Platt Amendment, except for the Guantanamo Bay lease.

In 1940, Cubans adopted a new constitution and elected Batista president. The
constitution prevented Batista from seeking re-election in 1944, and Grau San
Martín became president again. Garlos Prio Socarras won the 1948 election.

In 1952, Batista overthrew Prio's government and again became dictator. Cuba grew
prosperous under Batista. He stressed the development of light industry and
encouraged foreign companies to build businesses in Cuba. Batista also
established badly needed public works. But most Cubans continued to live in

The Castro Revolution. On July 26, 1953, Fidel Castro, a young lawyer, tried to
start a revolution against Batista by attacking the Moncada Army Barracks in
Santiago de Cuba. Castro and many of his followers were captured and imprisoned.
After his release in 1955, Castro went to Mexico. There, he organized the 26th of
July Movement, a. revolutionary group named after the date of his first revolt.
Castro's forces landed in Cuba in December 1956. Most of the rebels were soon
killed. But Castro and 11 others escaped to the Sierra Maestra mountains. There)
they formed a guerrilla band to carry out surprise attacks against the Cuban

In 1957, Castro's forces began to attack army units and to blow up bridges and
railroad tracks. Attempts by the government to crush the revolution increased the
people's support of the rebels. By mid-1958, Cubans had lost confidence in
Batista's government. On Jan. I, 1959, Batista fled the country. Castro's forces
then took control of the government. Later, Castro became premier of Cuba. Manuel
Urrutia was named president. The revolutionary leaders did away with the
political and military structure of Batista's government. Many former political
officials and army officers were tried and executed.

At first, the United States supported the Castro government. But the leading
revolutionaries did not welcome U.S. support. In 1959 and 1960, the Cuban
government seized American-owned sugar estates and cattle ranches, and relations
between the two countries declined sharply.

Immediately after the revolution, many Cubans who opposed Castro left the
country. Most of them moved to the United States. In late 1959, a group of these
exiles hired American planes and flew over Cuba, dropping anti-Castro leaflets
and small fire bombs. Cuban leaders criticized the United States for not stopping
the flights. The Castro government grew more hostile toward the United States
after Western European nations, under U.S. pressure, refused to sell arras to
Cuba. Cuba then turned to Russia for economic and military assistance. The two
countries signed their first trade agreement in February 1960.

In June 1960, the Castro government took over American oil refineries in Cuba.
The United States then stopped buying Cuban sugar. Castro responded by taking
over all remaining American businesses in Cuba. In January 1961, the United
States ended diplomatic relations with Cuba. The United States government also
severely restricted travel to Cuba by American citizens.

The Bay of Pigs Invasion.

In April 1961, Cuban exiles invaded Cuba at the Bay of Pigs on the south coast.
They had been promised direct U.S. military action, including air cover, to
insure the success of the invasion. President John F. Kennedy had approved the
invasion, but he refused to send military aid. Castro's forces crushed the
invasion and captured most of the exiles. His government later released many of
the captured exiles to the United States in exchange for nonmilitary supplies.

The Cuban Missile Crisis.

In 1962, Cuban leaders became convinced that the United States was planning an
attack on Cuba. They asked Russia for more military aid. Russia responded by
sending missiles and materials to build launch sites. In October, the United
States learned that Cuba had missile bases which could launch nuclear attacks on
American cities. President Kennedy ordered a naval blockade to halt the further
shipment of arms and demanded that Russia remove all missiles and missile bases
from the island. For several days, the world stood on the brink of nuclear war.
Finally, Russia agreed to Kennedy's demands in return for a U.S. pledge not to
attack Cuba. Russia removed the weapons under protest from Castro.

Cuba Today  [keep in mind this was from the 1979 edition, which is what we happen
to have – Marc S.]
is struggling to remain independent of Russia. Soviet aid has risen steadily
since 1960. In 1970, Cuba received $460 million in aid and trade from Russia. But
Castro does not want Cuba to become a Russian satellite.

The Cuban government resents the presence of a United States naval base at
Guantanamo Bay. Cuban leaders claim that the base threatens Cuba's security. But
the United States refuses to give up the Guantanamo location. In 1964, Castro
shut off the naval base's fresh-water supply. The United States then moved a
plant that turns ocean water into fresh water to Guantanamo.

In 1970, U.S. officials charged that Russia was building a submarine base in Cuba
that could endanger American security. Russia denied the charge, and U.S.
officials offered little proof to support their claim. In 1971, the United States
announced that Russia had agreed not to establish a permanent base in Cuba.

Castro has tried to spread revolution throughout Latin America and has supplied
military aid to guerrilla groups in several Latin-American countries. But the
guerrillas have not been successful. Gh6 Guevara, a leader in the Castro
revolution, was killed during a guerrilla ooeration in Bolivia in 1967. Since
then, the government has reduced its aid to Latin-American revolutionary groups.
In 1975, Cuba sent troops to Angola, in Africa, to aid a Communist-backed group
involved in a civil war there. Cuba also sent military and civilian advisers to
several African countries during the 1970's.

Relations between Cuba and the United States have remained strained since the
early 1960's. But from time to time, there have been signs of improved relations
between the two countries. For example, in 1977, the U.S. government ended its
restrictions on travel to Cuba by American citizens. ROBERT FREEMAN SMITH

Marc A. Schindler
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada -- Gateway to the Boreal Parkland

“We do not think that there is an incompatibility between words and deeds; the
worst thing is to rush into action before the consequences have been properly
debated…To think of the future and wait was merely another way of saying one was
a coward; any idea of moderation was just an attempt to disguise one’s unmanly
character; ability to understand a question from all sides meant that one was
totally unfitted for action.” – Pericles about his fellow-Athenians, as quoted by
Thucydides in “The Peloponessian Wars”

Note: This communication represents the informal personal views of the author
solely; its contents do not necessarily reflect those of the author’s employer,
nor those of any organization with which the author may be associated.

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