The Effect Of Anti-Batista Sentiment In Cuba On Castro’s Rise To Power Fidel Castro is considered by many to be a totalitarian dictator who completely and consciously confines the freedoms of a nation. As Thomas M. Leonard expressed in his book Castro and the Cuban Revolution, Castro tightened his grip on the nation. All labor, social, and professional organizations are directed by the state. The press is controlled. There is no room for opposition.
Dissidence means arrest and prison sentences. Taking this into account, people may speculate on how it is that Castro came to power with popular support in 1959. However, those who are unsure of the reasons of Castros ascension to power have not recognized the shortcomings of Castros predecessor, Fulgencio Batista. Having identified and comprehended the considerable inadequacies of the Batista government, one can state that Castros rise to power was significantly influenced by the overwhelming anti-Batista sentiment in Cuba during the revolution of 1959. Batistas rule came about not through the democratic process that was typical of Cuban society at that time, but through a successful coup detat . His rule was illegitimate and was maintained through repressive purposes.
Initially, Batistas rule was either supported, or met with indifference by the majority of the Cuban population, with the exception of student groups and rebels . Batista used his well-developed populist touch, to assure the population that he was attempting to institute economic reforms and bring an end to the rampant corruption within the government. The Cuban people were in a position where they desired a strong government to restore the law and order that had been lacking during the previous government administration. They were too demoralized and disorganized to resist such a military coup. The reality of the situation in Cuba was that the previous administration had been so atrocious that a transformation was needed, no matter the origin of that change.
Despite the sizeable amount of support Batista received from some factions of the Cuban population initially, there were groups that were single-mindedly devoted to removing Batista from power. Student groups in Cuba actively rioted and protested Batistas position. The rebels attempted to undermine government authority and demonstrate that the administration was incompetent. They exploded bombs, derailed trains, cut power lines, and kidnapped or killed their political enemies . These acts served only to infuriate Batista, and he responded by killing rebel and anti-Batista supporters, and beating student rioters to make an example of them for any future dissenters .
Batista promised plans that would bring Cuba out of the economic slump it was experiencing due to the troubles the sugar industry was having. Sugar was one of Cubas main exports, meaning that a drop in prices severely affected all portions of Cubas economy. Batista offered incentives for businesses to invest in Cuba. He publicized that the government would match, dollar for dollar, any hotel investment over one million dollars. This allowed for gambling establishments to inhabit Cuba, which eventually contributed to the moral degradation of the regime .
While this investment policy was apparently supposed to increase the tourism industry, and create new jobs it also generated resentment among the Cuban people. Many Cubans were denied access to new facilities, and the average Cuban did not profit from the presence of new investors. Instead, Batista himself profited as he received bribes from the establishments and potential investors. Although at first, the feelings within Cuba were not as remarkably anti-Batista, as they later would become, a series of actions by Batista aroused the dislike of many Cubans. Despite his assurances that he was doing things for the benefit of Cuban citizens, he began his administration by eliminating opposing political parties, and suspending constitutional entitlements, such as the right to vote .
The working class who originally reacted to his reign with indifference disapproved of his policies that eliminated the right to strike. Batista frequently censored, yet at times allowed media to denounce him when he felt secure. He also used barbaric practices to keep the nation in line and frighten them into obedience. Military police patrolled the streets on the watch for anyone known or suspected to be of an anti-governmental group. Batista had promised to hold elections once political stability was reached; yet he never adhered to that promise.
His policies were rash, inconsistent, and unfair to the people. Most of all, they were brutal. As Samuel Farber has observed, Batistas increasing reliance on the armed forces and corruption as his sole bases of power eventually alienated those upper-class Cubans who had originally accepted and even welcomed his rule. He ruled not with the support of the majority of the people, but with the support of a few powerful individuals. The main reason Batista remained in power was because of the lack of a singular strong and organized resistance against him.
There were a number of anti-Batista organizations, but they were unable to work cooperatively to attain their common goal . Batista did not have the interests of Cuba at heart; he operated mainly to benefit himself. The parasitic nature of the regime prevented it from acquiring the relative stability and strength that it could have obtained through the development of truly totalitarian institutions. Batista stayed in power in large part to the fact that all those considered to be his serious opposition were no longer factors after a period of time. The two main parties were the Autentico and the Ortodoxo. The Autentico had previously been in power, before Batista launched his coup.
Their regime was widely associated with corruption, which did not therefore provide them with much credibility. Their party was basically discredited as any sort of major political force due to their previous actions. The Ortodoxo were believed to be the one political party which any chance at organizing opposition, and succeeding in the overthrow of the Batista government. Had the Ortodoxo been able to consolidate their efforts and present a united front against the regime, they would have been able to depose it. This was recognized by a great number of Cubans including Fidel Castro who articulated that had the Ortodoxo party stood resolutely against the regime[Batista] would not be in power. The party was unable to organize a united front, and split into a number of groups, eliminating themselves as political adversaries.
A leader that could provide strong opposition to Batista and rally the support of the country behind them was needed, and Fidel Castro was to be that leader. Fidel Castro proposed to transform Cuba from a semi-developed, dependent society into a modern, progressive nation. As a student, Castro became politically involved in the university, and was soon to distinguish himself as a talented orator and organizer. He became associated with Eddie Chibas, a leading Authentico politician whose patriotic and populist radicalism greatly influenced Castro later on in his political career. Castros vision was one that recognized the immense need for change in societal conditions. The need for this change was inevitable, and in order to catalyze them, Castro formulated the 26th of July Movement.
The aim of the 26th of July Movement was to force the resignation of Batista, and vault the Ortodoxo party into power. During this time, the annual carnival would be occurring and Castro expected the military to have its guard down. A publicity campaign was designed to make it appear as if an army uprising by pro- Ortodoxo leaders was occurring. This would paralyze the army, thereby cutting off Batistas line of support. With no backing remaining, Batista would have no choice but to resign, and the Ortodoxo would be the clear choice for new leadership. However, things did not go as planned for a variety of reasons.
Castro failed to inform his party of his plan until a day before it was scheduled, and he did not have adequate human.