Cuba: What Political Influences Was Fidel Castro Exposed To?

Posted in Cuban Revolution on March 28, 2010 by rogerdealwis

Before I go into comparing and contrasting the ideas behind the two revolutions, I feel like it would help to give some background information about the ideas behind the two revolutions. After answering the questions for both of the revolutions I will be going into comparing and contrasting.

This post will be answering the first question: What ideologies were the leaders of each revolution exposed to?

To understand the ideas that Fidel Castro [the primary leader who led the revolution in Cuba] was exposed to it helps to know in what government system he was exposed to and what influences he had.

Background

Sine 1930 it became clear that Cuba was slowly moving into a revolution. Rebellion of the working class was becoming common among society. There were many groups fighting for an honest government and fair treatment of all. Fidel grew up in such a country where many Communistic Parties were fighting for a just government and where they were ruthlessly countered and tortured by the capitalistic government.Throughout the working class, Fidel was known as the lawyer who fought for the oppressed and the mistreated. So it was only natural for Fidel to want to use his skills to promote and support the slowly surfacing revolution. Fidel joined the the 1952 elections through the Orthodox Part, a Communist party. However when General Batista staged a coup and declared himself as the provisional president, or president coming into rule temporarily without general consensus, all hope for a proletarian revolution diminished. Fidel saw the only way to bring justice was through violent means.

Batista’s Cuba

The Cause of Social Classes

Right before Fidel Castro led the revolution, Cuba was ruled by Batista. Batista came to power twice, once in 1940 and once again before Castro overthrew his regime. Batista was a capitalist himself and he ruled Cuba in a Capitalistic manner. The reason as to why he did this was because he wanted to ‘fit in’ with the elites of Cuba and he wanted increase his personal fortune, for obvious reasons. He didn’t seem to care about the working class and let the ones that can be succesful be succesful. This was unfair as this only allowed people born into the ‘good life’ reach success. Those born into poverty without education and opportunities were almost always stuck there. This created a massive gap between the classes, almost separating the country itself.

Influences At University

Communism

Fidel attended the University of Havana, a university that had many different political ideologies and political parties. What caught Castro’s attention was the Orthodox Party which had its believed in ‘economic independance, political liberty, social justice and an end to corruption.’-(Castro and the Cuban Revolution, page92)

Che’s Influence

Che's Twist To Communism

Che Guevara was born into a republican family, so as a young kid he was brought up with viewpoints of fairness and democracy. His parents’ house had 3000 something books and Karl Marx was the author among the many books he read at home, so definitely he was influenced by Communist ideas. Che was given a worthy education. In 1951 Che set out on a motorcycle journey and he was shocked by the extreme poverty that was present. He concluded that this poverty was the direct consequence of Capitalistic governments. He had formed a dream or rather a fight against such poverty and his idea of getting rid of poverty was to directly reform the system of governing from Capitalism to Communism, like he learned in books of Karl Marx. When Che and Fidel met in Mexico, Che had said that the cause Fidel was fighting for was the cause that he had been looking for. Che helped shape Fidels political beliefs. With the help of Che, Castro had a well molded view of Marxism that could fit into Cuban society. In summary Che further educated Castro on Marxism. Che also advocated Guerilla warfare, a tactic that helped troops fight a bigger and better equiped opposition. Che played a key role in training the 81 men in Mexico to fight with Guerilla tactics.

The exposure of Ideologies definitely influences the ideology that someone would want impose in a country. Fidel Castro was exposed to Capitalism through the leadership of presidents in Cuba, he was exposed to Communism from his University and Communism with the addition of Che’s ideas. What makes the difference is the ideology Fidel Castro wanted to impose on Cuba and why?

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Why Did Fidel Castro Choose Communism For Cuba?

Posted in Cuban Revolution on March 28, 2010 by rogerdealwis

To answer this question one must first understand the situation of Cuba thoroughly. I will give some brief bullet points:    

  • During Batista’s second coup he suspended the constitution, allowing him to do whatever he pleased.
  • Cuba was a Capitalist country and Batista further empowered the rich in order to ‘fit in’ among their social circles.
  • Batista let Americans sweep in and invest in the Cuban cash crops, in most cases allowing foreign powers (USA) to exploit the working class in order to gain the maximum of the countries resources.
  • Batista allowed the opening up of casino’s where the minority elite and rich American gamblers could come and have a good time.
  • Cuba Was Americas Casino

  • In conclusion, Batista was trying to jump ahead into a stage of tertiary services without trying to develop the country as a whole.
  • This caused major separation between social classes, the elite engaged in the highest level of tertiary work while the poor worked primary jobs in the harshest of conditions.
  • Cuba’s Capitalistic policies didn’t allow the poor and the less opportunistic to become succesful in life. Most people were born as a farmer and died as a farmer.
  • Batista’s twisted constitution allowed him to take action unfairly and as a result any government opposition was put down mercilessly.

 

Any Opposition Was Silenced Forever

This is where Fidel Castro comes in the fight for the people and ousts Batista from power, while that’s all great, the question remains why he did this, or more importantly why did he replace Capitalism with Communism? Although the answer may seem quite obvious, I will answer in great analysis.    

Why Take Capitalism Out?    

With the influence of Che, Fidel saw that Capitalism was the root cause of poverty in Cuba, in fact the whole of Latin America. Capitalism kept the riches with the rich, it prevented ‘fair’ distribution of wealth. The question of success was almost entirely dependant on the life you were born into. If you were born to rich parents, they would be able to provide you with a proper education and this means a wide array of opportunities and paths to take in life. Whereas if you were born into poor parents, it is highly unlikely that you would be provided with a decent education. The children born into a poor family will be more likely working on the family farm or selling the products of the family farm in the market. So when the poor were stepped on and kept away from education and opportunities, they remained poor. This streak of ‘being born a farmer and dying a farmer’ could go as long as Capitalism was in place. The rich however, would keep getting richer and richer. If you were one of the few born into the rich life, you would love Capitalism. Unfortunately, the majority of Cuba’s population was poor, and they were being negatively affected by the Capitalism put in place by Batista. The reason why Capitalism was replaced with Communism by Fidel was because Capitalism didn’t work for Cuba. Sure it would for the elite, but they were a minority. When ruling a country, a good leader would consider the needs of the majority of the population and virtually all the people of Cuba were poor. Putting in Capitalism was an insane way of ruling Cuba but sane way of gaining wealth and being popular among the elite. 

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Why Put In Communism? What Does It Mean Economically and Politically For Cuba?

Posted in Cuban Revolution on March 28, 2010 by rogerdealwis

 Through Fidel’s eyes, Communism was the best suited system of rule for Cuba. He had been interested in Communism long before he was in a situation where he had to decide how he was going to rule a country. Majority of Cuba’s population was the working class and so Communism fitted in perfectly into Cuban society. After Fidel defeated Batista’s army, Fidel came into power. All the Elite and the middle class society fled to America in fear of a Communistic approach by Fidel as this would lower their standards of life. Most of the elite and the middle class sector were supporters of Batista and so the ones left in Cuba were tried and executed when they were proven guilty. The first approach towards change by Revolutionary Government was the passing of an Agrarian Law where any ownership of Sugar plantations by foreigners were seized. The size of a farm a farmer could own was limited to limiting the size of farms to 3,333 acres and real estate to 1,000 acres. The rest of the land was distributed to landless peasants and families. This would help lift everyone or the majority of the people in country to a certain stage, everyone would be at the same ‘level’. Castro quickly abandoned hos promise of democracy and he consolidated his power. All other parties were disregarded and there was only the Communist Party Of Cuba in which Fidel was the First Secretary. Fidel Castro tried to put into place a ‘new Socialist man’ where everyone worked for the better of the community and not for one’s own benefit. Initially one of Che’s ideas, it didn’t quite work out. If this idea had worked, they were planning to eliminate money! The reason as to why I think this idea wouldn’t have worked is because now everyone was at the same level, everyone wanted the same thing; more money. There was no one in need of the basic necessities of life, everyone was striving for the next level of living. So nobody wanted to work and do better to other people, they wanted to work and do better for themselves. Another reason as to why this had not worked would be because I believe human greed and selfishness is the biggest obstacle on the road to pure Communism. Nobody wants to work hard for the community, they want to work hard for the betterment of themselves. In a world where everyone everyone will be selfish like that, I don’t think democracy will work. There has to be an iron fist leader with good intentions. This is why he set up neighborhood ‘spies’ to seek and silence anit-revolutioanries. These people were obviosly the greedy that were only willing to work for the benefit of themselves. As part of Communism he set up housing for homeless famillies and provided free quality healthcare. Soon, as people reached a certain level, it became clear that everyone wanted to rise above the rest, going against the idea imposed by Fidel. To prevent this he had to become a harsh dictator, dictating social and professional organizations, media, education and art.

EXTRA: Why Dictate Communism?

When first imposing Communism on a country, I dont think that it needs to be dictated or imposed by with an iron fist. In the first place the reason the leader would have chosen Communism was becuase thats what the majority of the popultaion wanted/needs. So therefore one does not need to force people to do what they want or need. However after a while when people become more capabale and they are out of their situation of extreme poverty they will start to want to do better, go farther, be better than everyone else. But obviosly the only way you can do this is if you work for the benefit of yourself. The only way to do this is if you work hard and get paid for your efforts in return. The problem with communism is that you can work hard but you will be paid back grattitude and recognision as a ‘good’ person. The benefits of your work will be benefits to the community. So clearly one cannot be better than the rest and ironicalll people start to revolt the revolution. This is where the harshness of the leader comes in as he or she has to take drastuic measures to keep the crowd in control in a Communisitc governing system. This includes silencing the oppositions, and thus making him or her only as bad as the leader they ousted. There’s a quote from Batman: The Dark Knight that really got my attention and can be used here: “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

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