“Some men are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them”. Those were the words of William Shakespeare in “Twelfth Night”. Some men are born and die without been sung. Their impact is not felt and they die to be forgotten by men. On the other hand, some leave their prints on the sand of time, their names and memories warm in the hearts of men. Such men are rare and are called legend, their names remembered by generations to come. Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is such a man.
There comes a time in any nation when history is made. When the government of any given state fails in its responsibility, then there is need for a change. At such times, the people naturally desire a change because their trust and hopes have been drained. The people clamor for a new government, a fresh vision and seek a new hope. The question that raises concern in the minds of the people of such state is who will bear the touch? Who will lead the struggle against oppression? Who is the fearless man that will fight for what he wholly believes in?
In South Africa, it was Mandela, in India it was Gandhi, in America, it was Martin Luther and in Cuba it was Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz. One thing is peculiar of these people – They were all great revolutionary leaders in their countries. Who then is a revolutionary? A revolutionary is a person who promotes or actively engages in a form of revolution. Revolutionaries are often of the idea that a change is needed and that such changes might not come without forcing it out. The use of violence is acceptable once the desired result is achieved.
A revolutionary believes and seeks to uphold certain ideals or ideology. If history is to be written, the archives of Cuba will not fail to recognize Fidel Castro. For one thing, he is arguably the most prolific leader that the country has produced. He is not just a leader but he was the one that spearheaded the revolution in the nation of Cuba. His impact on the nation of Cuba can not be overemphasized. Today, one can hardly talk about the nation of Cuba without mentioning the name Fidel Castro. The question is how did this man, born like you and I were, create a niche for himself.
How did he become a revolutionary leader? What exploits did he perform that made his name indelible in the annals of history? Lawyer, Cuban Revolutionary, political leader, and the former President of Cuba, Fidel Castro was born on August 13, 1926 on Cuba’s North coast to Don Angel and Linda Castro. His parents were immigrants from Spain who had come to fight the United States during the Spanish- American war of 1898. He was trained under the Jesuit priests who instilled discipline, dedication and assertiveness into him. His interests were in issues that had to do with politics and government.
He immersed himself in the polemical climate of Cuban politics, nationalism, anti-imperialism, and socialism. As a student of Havana University, he was elected the president of The Law Student’s Association. He had his degree in law at the University of Havana in 1950. In 1951 he became a leader in the emergent populist political movement led by the Partido del Pueblo Cubano. The group was known in Cuba as Ortodoxos, an anti-Communist nationalist group promising major social, economic and political reforms, and expecting to gain the presidency through electoral politics.
He had planned to contest for a position in the congress but his plan was foiled when Fulgencio Batista usurped the constitutional government. When this happened, Castro and some of his folks who had the mind of contesting in the elections before the government was taken started planning a means of overthrowing the government. Later in 1952, Fidel Castro plotted his own quixotic revolt, this he did by leading 130 followers to attack the Moncada army barracks in Santiago on July 26, and 1953. The attack was a poorly planned fiasco in which the rebels tried to bluff their way in.
They intended to overpower the 1,000-man garrison, seize some weapons, and then hand them out to crowds of supporters who never rallied to their cause. In 1955, he was granted political amnesty and he later left Cuba for Mexico where he began to train an expeditionary force. He later formed a guerilla force that aimed at a revolution that was filled with promises of land reforms, jobs and equity for all. This made the militants grow by the day. The people of Cuba began to see a new hope and a new dawn.
They will give anything they can to stop the dictatorial rule of Fulgencio Batista. In 1956, Castro launched the revolution with the help of the 82 man strong guerrilla. Unfortunately, they were ambushed by the Cuban Army and were almost killed by the invasion. At the end of the day, only Castro and eleven of his men managed to escape from the hands of the Cuban Army. At this point, it was apparent that there was no man power to win this revolution. Therefore, Castro began a massive campaign where he sought to win the peasants to his side.
After two years of confrontation, the revolution turned out to be a victory as he has already won most of the peasants to his side. This victory is so significant because Fidel Castro’s Guerrilla will be the first to will a military in Latin America. This proved him to be a great political strategist. On the 1st of January 1959, the Cuban revolution began with him being at the center of it. Many people joined this revolution for different reasons. It was believed that Fidel Castro will return the country to a constitutional rule, and the reaffirmation of civil and political rights.
For others, who envisioned a major re-structuring of the society, the issue was social justice. These people placed their future into the arms of Fidel Castro and so it was easy for him to establish himself as the sole leader of the intended government. However, once he got to power, Castro steered his country towards communism and collective ownership of properties. He believed and practiced communism in its possible way. This made the landowners and the American nation furious. Apparently, Batista had previously developed relations with America.
This came to an abrupt end at the advent of Castro’s communism. All privately owned businesses, both the ones owned by Cubans and/or the one owned by internationals were taken over by the government. Prior to this time, the America was almost in total control of the industries in Cuba. They made money from the Cubans without fuss. The standard of living of the average Cuban citizen was greatly altered. The major idea of communism is that the working class should be in charge of the government. At this point, privately owned property was regarded as illegal.
Castro was of the idea that the money of the country should be distributed equally to all citizens, according to their needs. Also, the government controls the lifestyle of its citizens. Education is also an integral part of the new Cuba’s Communist government. As Castro had hoped for, these changes did have impressive short-term effects for Cuba. Serious illness and economic hardship were almost nonexistent and Cuba had the greatest number of teachers and doctors in that area of the Caribbean. It was a new dawn for Cuba as people seemed to be looking toward a better and more relying future with Castro in charge.
However, these benefits did not come without a price. For instance, in order to protect the new forms of communism, Castro eliminated elections and freedom of the press, imprisoned political opponents, and made religion a thing to be ashamed of. Castro then began to act like his counterparts who were leaders of communist countries, doing things such as putting industry under government management, claiming the property of people not born in Cuba, creating communities for agriculture, and establishing laws to help laborers and peasants .
Cuba’s new form of government not only affected its people, but also affected its own relationships with other governments around the world. International reactions varied from country to country about the communism in Cuba. Many of Cuba’s newly enforced laws and government created barriers with neighboring Latin American nations and in 1962 Cuba was dismissed from the Organization of American States. Because of the United States’ opposition of Communist governments, they were quickly on bad terms with Castro and Cuba.
The United States government was led even further in their decision to end any relation they have with Cuba after the Cuban government seized all land owned by Americans Not all nations were in opposition to Cuba’s change of government. As a matter of fact, Cuba enjoyed a cordial relationship with The Soviet Union. The Soviet government, which was also Communist, assisted Cuba by offering financial aid, trade and the overdue payment of Cuba’s debts. Apart from these, Cuba was also accepted into the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON) in an agreement signed in 1972 with the Soviet Union.
Through his long rule as the Leader of Cuba, there have been several attempts made by the US to assassinate him. All these efforts have proved abortive as he has tactfully eluded them. In 1961-63 alone, the CIA recorded hundreds of violent sabotage operations, including several assassination attempts that relied on everything from exploding cigars to bacteria-infected handkerchiefs and aerosol sprays laced with LSD. According to Mr. Castro’s security services, the CIA and Cuban exiles in Miami hatched no fewer than 638 plots to kill him. All these plots have proved abortive.
Fidel Castro is a legend. He has lived a life of impact and we are learning about him today. Whatever the view might be, one thing is certain; Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz is a revolutionary – one that will not be forgotten generations to come. Reference: • Buckman, Robert T. World Today Series- Latin America 2000. Harpers Ferry, WV: Stryker-Post Publishers, 2000. • “Fidel Castro Cuban Leader. ” Newsmaker Profiles. Internet. 28 November 2000 <http://www. cnn. com/recources/newsmakers/world/namerica/castro. html> • Kolb, Richard K. “Cold War Along the cactus Curtain. ” VFW Magazine Jan 1999.
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