Dr. Fidel Castro Ruz became involved with political protests as a young student. After Batista's coup in 1952, he went to court and tried to have the Batista dictatorship declared illegal. However, his attempt to peacefully bring down the Batista government did not work, and so in 1953, Castro turned toward violent means. On July 26, 1953, Castro led a group of men to attack the Moncada military fortress. However, his little rebellion was immediately crushed by the Batista army. In fact, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Santiago had to make the government promise that the rebels would live, if they would stop fighting and come down from the mountains. Sure enough, the government kept its promise and Fidel Castro and his followers were sentenced to three years of imprisonment. Batista, in order to gain some popular support, released them after a few months.
Castro's rebellion failed, it sparked hopes of revolution everywhere in Cuba. After a few years of exile in Mexico, Castro and a small band of about eighty-five men returned to Cuba in December of 1956. Many of the men perished during the initial landing, but a small group including Fidel Castro and an Argentinian Marxist Ernesto "Che" Guevara, survived and went into the mountains. During the next two years, Castro and Guevara fought the Batista army continuously in small guerrilla wars. They called themselves the Twenty-sixth of July Movement, after the earlier unsuccessful raid on the Moncada barracks. Their group gained in numbers and popularity among Cubans as the desire for political change in Cuba increased. Castro promised sweeping changes including free elections, non-corrupt government, land, improved educational systems, jobs and health care for all. Castro became sort of like a Robin Hood for Cuba and many flocked to his banner. The final blow to the Batista regime came when the United States withdrew its support as Batista was falling from power. Seeing that a full scale war against him was inevitable, Batista fled the country with his family and close friends to the Dominican Republic. On January 8, 1959, the revolutionary forces marched into Havana unopposed.
Tension between Cuba and the United States
Tension between Cuba and the United States increased dramatically after the Castro takeover. The main reason was that Castro and Guevara were leading Cuba toward communism. As a part of the sweeping reforms that Castro had promise, he took all estates larger than one thousand acres and nationalized it, meaning that it was made the property of the government. Most of the seized land, including over 2 1/4 million acres owned by U.S. investors, were made into large state-owned farms. The lost of sugar mills, banks, hotels, utility companies, etc. totaled about $2 billion. By then, it became clear that Castro was leading Cuba toward communism instead of his promise toward democracy. This conclusion was further bolstered when the USSR signed their first trade agreement with Cuba in February of 1960. Finally, in January of 1961, only two years after the fall of Batista, the United States severed diplomatic relations with Cuba and imposed an unilateral trade embargo against the island country.
Even before the United States broke relations with Cuba, there had already been plans made against the Castro regime. The U.S. supported Operation Pluto, the secret name of an invasion on Cuba, in hopes of overthrowing Fidel Castro. The Bay of Pigs Incident, as it was later known as, began on April 15, 1961 with air raids on Cuba. Two days later, 1,500 U.S. trained Cuban exiles landed on Cuba with weapons supplied by the United States. At the time, the U.S. government was convinced that the Cuban people would join the invading forces once they land and that the Castro army would disband. However, this assumption was fatally wrong. The...