“The Rise of Fidel Castro is mainly due to his cult of personality” to what extent do you agree with this statement?
Although it is true that Herbert Matthews aided Castro to spark the Civil War by bringing the eyes of the world and portray sympathy towards Castro. The Rise of Fidel Castro Ruiz cannot be justified solely on 1 cause. His rise to power as a ruler is composed on many factors such as; the failures of Batista Government, the failures of Batista when acting against Castro, the role of the nationalist army, the army of the rebels and the Castro’s own discipline which contributed to his rise to power.
The failure of Batista government led to social discontent due to economic and political failures that motivated to a despair change in the society. “Fidelists wanted a change in society in which political and economic failures had deeply weakened the recourse to reform”. Politically; the country was ruled by Batista and a group of corrupt politicians that made no reforms at all. As Castro said In a speech of 1965; “the government was composed of the elite, those wealthy landowners and merchants that use the resources to satisfy their own purposes”.
Batista deeply failed in the satisfaction and wellbeing of the economy. By 1958; Cuba was a country highly dependent on the USA. Cuba 68% of all exports went to USA and 70% of all imports it received; came from the USA. USA controlled 3/5 of the railways, ½ of all the land and at the same time mainly all of the investments came from the USA. Even so; most of the mayor industrial lands and goods were under American domain. E.g. Cane sugar, cigars and oil refineries.
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Socially before Castro conditions were also chaotic. There were 600,000 people unemployed; the other people unemployed worked mainly seasonal to 3 months. 3 million people did not have electricity; 3.5 million people lived in huts. 70% of all the rural children lacked professors, the poor were not allowed an electoral system whereas at the same time; they lived in terrible conditions with poor standards of living. Illiteracy rates got as high as 37 ½ percent. The working classes had very small power. All of this; compared to the rich people showed a great income inequality. The rich were privilege, merchants and landowners owned most of the wealth in the country. Their life style was over exaggerated; this can be shown solely on the amount of money spent in casinos investment that was 52 million dollars just in casinos. Corruption, mafias and drugs controlled the higher classes. This gap in wealth led to the dissatisfaction of more than 2/3 of the country against Batista regime which was left “blind to the eyes of the elite”.
Culturally; the country was so attached to USA that they had many of USA traditions. Although the poor benefited from very rich cultural life of theatres and music involvement; the poor were not allowed to have any of these benefits. Castro himself came from a wealthy farmer’s family. His education was highly cultural as for his young upbringing in the Jesuits school. In 1945 he became involved in the University of Havana to become a lawyer. This shows the huge difference between the rich and the poor.
Castro perseverance and discipline was reflected on his ruthless attempts to seize power up to December 1958. His fist attempt to seize power was with Moncada attack in 1953 26th July. During this event; Castro organized 150 rebels composed of a mixture of high and low classes; including students, lawyers, doctors and peasants in order to spark a revolution. This resulted in a confrontation against the second largest Batista division which numbers reached 1000 men. Half of the men ended dead in battle; wounded or imprisoned. 7 days later; Castro was found and was put in trial. He was charged of aggression against the country. Although he was sentenced to 15 years; he only served 19 months in prison; less than 2 years.
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The consequences of the Moncada Attack were decisive in turn of building up his image and “cult of personality”. During the trial; Castro made his famous “history will absolve me speech” in which he stated that “I am the first one; however I am not the last one to try and change how the society works”. In return to this speech his popularity boosted up and he gained a lot of support.
Castro was released 19 months after October 1953; he immediately fled to Mexico to plan his second attack. During the following years; Castro met with Romulo Betauncourt a Venezuelan statesman and the ex president. This was very important in his attempt to power as they were the ones that provided the Grandma ship in which they were to go back to Cuba. During this time; Castro also met Che Guevara who agreed in supporting him in making up the revolution. The contacts he gained in Mexico were very important to his rise in power. Guevara was very important for the course of the Civil War while Betancourt and the ex president were important in providing him the means of transportation.
Castro left on mid 1956 with 22 men; Guevara and his brother in the ship Grandma in order to stir up the revolution. During this period; Castro coordinated his landed in Playa Las Coloradas with uprisings in Santiago. Castro was treasoned and out of the 82 people who were involved in the uprising; less than 20 survived to the failing attempt to recuperate power. The survivors hid in Sierra Maestra where they passed hunger and death.
These sacrifices however were not in vain. In the period that Castro was hidden in Sierra Maestra; he regenerated his military force. These were decisive to Castro success and at the time; lethal to Batista rule. In the cities; opposition groups grew and gained support, Castro’s generals at the same time used the famous “military tactics” to disturb Batista militaristic forces during the course of 1957 until 1959. This increased the support from the people to 800 units within Castro’s guerrilla force.
In February 1947; Castro granted an interview to a New York Times reported; Herbert Matthews. Whiter he knew it or not; “Castro found the perfect vehicle; Herbert Matthews; a veteran who helped him in the civil war, a person who was committed in the cause of revolution” Perez-stable. Matthews was a key element for the success of Castro because he wrote an article that put the USA on Castro’s side. The New York Times first pages described Castro as “a romantic but appealing leader, bearded and dressed with rags”; whereas before he had the universal sympathy of middle classes and peasants, Castro now had the support both locally and internationally.
... Taking this into account, people may speculate on how it is that Castro came to power with popular support in 1959. However, those ... By the time Castro came into power, the majority of Cubans were dissatisfied with the way Batista ran the country. Castro provided something ... policies that eliminated the right to strike. Batista frequently censored, yet at times allowed media to denounce him when he ...
The consequences of the interview were the most important and undeniable cause for his success to power. Within the society; this proved to Batista and the elites that Castro was still alive which disturbed the government. To the armed forces; this proved that Castro was gaining support from people to his cause; the uprising of generals in Ciefuegos is a clear example of this. To his supporters; this provided the boost of energy to increase the amount of riots and disturbances amongst the cities.
On the other hand, the fear created by the results of the interview led Batista to commit the greatest flaw within his actions to beat up and diminish the revolution. In 1958 Batista ordered the operation Verano. This allowed the permit to use bombers and military weapons in order to crush the rebel which made him “dig his own grave”. The military force; that was highly corrupt and unorganized started shooting randomly at civilians at their will (if they considered them to be rebels).
This; combined with his previous error in imprisoning Castro domed his rule.
As a result; USA stop trading weapons, the remaining middle class loyal to him now supported Fidel Castro, the church condemned this operation and began supporting Castro. At the same time; his own resistance began a mutiny against him; the remaining soldiers were weak in force.
Meanwhile; Guevara (who had been given a division in 1956) and Raul entered Havana to speed up the revolution with 9000 men. “Batista days were counted”; in the following months; some of the allies fled Miami and in December 31, 1959; Batista fled to Dominican Republic leaving the path to power open. The following week Castro entered Havana as prime minister and first secretary becoming the most powerful man in Cuba.
MachiavelliMachiavelli's views revolved around the ideas that one must do anything within his (Machiavelli did not refer to 'her') power to keep the influence and power that he has attained. For him, anything that must be done in order not to lose the influence and the power that one has should be done without question.' The ends justifies the means', he said. The power of one that rules must be ...
In Conclusion; from a line of 300 men in 1954 they ended being 3000 rebels; committed to the cause of changing Cuba and bringing reforms. The rise to power involve the failure of Batista government in reforming both economically and politically, the failure of the president in his actions against Castro which made him lose support from the people and the church; which, combined with the failure of the army consist on one side of Castro rise to power. On the other hand; Castro’s own persistence reflected from 1953 Moncada attack; to 1939 Havana Civil War enforced by the successful guerrilla tactics are invaluable in gaining of support of the people. However; the main cause towards his success lies on Herbert Matthews. He was responsible in creating fear in Batista’s government and at the same time; portraying ambitionary Castro as the leader of the people. Herbert Matthews was the person who shaped the elegance of Castro “cult of personality” bringing universal sympathy both locally and overseas not only bringing the eyes of the world towards Castro’s cause but triggering his success in becoming the leader of Cuba.