Have you ever patronized a Cuban establishment and wondered why they were so passionate to emphasize “Before Castro” when referring to their product? Before the regime of Castro, Cuba was a different place socially, economically, and politically. Before Castro, Cuba was under Spanish rule from the days of discovery back in 1492 when Christopher Columbus landed on the island, until 1898 when the Cubans finally won their independence from the mother country. The United States helped greatly in their victory and in 1899 a treaty made Cuba a free republic under U.S. protection, which also allowed the U.S. to intervene in Cuban affairs. This treaty was terminated by Cuba in 1934. In 1933, a group of army officers, including army sergeant Fulgencio Batista, overthrew the President at the time- President Gerardo Machado. Batista became president in 1940 at which time he ran a corrupt police state. In 1956, Fidel Castro launched a revolution to overthrow Batista. After many unsuccessful attempts previously, in 1959, Batista fled into exile and Castro took over the Presidency. Fidel Castro received overwhelming popular support. The Cuban people had never idolized someone like they did Castro. He won them over with his extraordinary leadership and vision with the ability to relate to all Cubans. The U.S. initially welcomed what looked like a democratic Cuba, but within a few months they had a rude awakening. Castro’s government established military tribunals for political opponents and jailed hundreds. Castro turned away from Cuba’s military pact with the U.S. He confiscated U.S. assets and established Soviet-style collective farms. Castro's firing squads had murdered an estimated 600-1,100 people, and Cuba's jails held ten times the number of political prisoners as under Fulgencio Batista, who Castro overthrew with claims to liberating Cuba. The U.S. broke relations with Cuba on Jan 3, 1961, and Castro made formal his alliance with the Soviet Union. Thousands of Cubans fled the country. In 1961, a group of Cuban exiles backed by the U.S., invaded Cuba. The landing at the Bay of Pigs on April 17, 1961 was a fiasco. They did not receive popular Cuban support and were easily driven back by the Cuban military. Castro regained his popularity momentarily because he was able to embarrass the superpower. A Soviet attempt to install medium-range missiles in Cuba, capable of striking targets in the United States with nuclear warheads, provoked a crisis in 1962. Denouncing the Soviets for “deliberate deception,” on Oct. 22 Kennedy said that the U.S. would blockade Cuba so the missiles could not be delivered. Six days later Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev ordered the missile sites dismantled and returned to the USSR, in return for a U.S. pledge not to attack Cuba.
Meanwhile, the Soviet Union was the only supporter of Cuba because of their Communist like rule. They were the only one who would trade with Cuba; therefore, they were their only financial supporter. In 1990, this relationship ended, causing Cuba to lose billions of dollars per year. Other countries did not want to trade with Cuba either because Castro was not very reputable when it came to paying the bill. The people of Cuba were forced to live in poverty, eating even a banana peel to comfort the hunger pains.
Castro’s government also limited the people of their human rights of free speech, press, and religion. The government incarcerates people for their peaceful political beliefs or activities and commits serious abuses, and denies citizens the right to change their government. They have the right to freedom of speech as long as they conform to the aims of a socialist society. The government does not tolerate protest. It targets protesters by directing militants from the CP, the Communist Youth League, Committees for the Defense of the Revolution, the Federation of Cuban Women, the Association of Veterans of the...
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