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What role did Fidel Castro play in the Cuban Revolution?
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Fidel Castro challenged U.S neo-cololonialism

Fidel Castro was one of the only leaders in Central America who challenged the United States over their attempts to infringe on Cuba's political, economic, and geographic sovereignty.

The Argument

Cuba is a nation that, historically, “has been unable to fully exercise its sovereign authority in the international system.”[1] Cuba originated as a Spanish colony and during the Spanish-American War, the United States engaged in a military occupation of the Caribbean island that lasted from 1898 to 1901. The Platt Amendment was written into the Cuban Constitution in 1901, and “preserved the United States’ right to intervene in Cuba’s internal affairs” while also “curtailing Cuba’s freedom to enter into treaties with other countries, and monitoring its financial relations,” [1] in order to protect U.S commercial interests while Cuba transitioned into a sovereign state. Although the Platt Amendment was withdrawn in 1934, the United States resumed impinging on Cuba’s political, economic, and geographic sovereignty when Fidel Castro came into power following the Cuban Revolution in 1959. Castro outlasted ten U.S presidents, all of whom attempted to undermine his leadership due to his long standing rejection of the American hegemony. The United States initially supported the ousting of Cuba’s previous tyrant, Fulgencio Batista, and Castro’s subsequent rise to power, but U.S officials later began to feel threatened by his radical left-wing policies and his willingness to embrace communism. One way in which Fidel Castro ensured Cuban sovereignty was through the nationalization of privately owned properties on the island. The Agrarian Reform Law put in place by Castro’s government in 1959 called for the "redistribution of farmland to tenant farmers and sharecroppers," [2] as eighty-five percent of peasants in Cuba worked land that was subject to foreign ownership. Much of the land was owned by U.S shareholders, who demanded compensation for their seized land. The law “struck at the heart of the economic relation between Cuba and the United States, and it defined the anti-neocolonial character of the Revolution.” [2] This, alongside many other factors, initiated many U.S-led operations to disrupt Castro’s government, including the infamous U.S-Cuba trade embargo, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the “planning of a U.S backed military invasion carried out by Cuban counterrevolutionaries based in Miami,” [1] and multiple failed assassination attempts. Castro continued to defy the interests of the United States by engaging in political operations such as “aiding leftist governments in Africa and nurturing guerilla movements that fought U.S back governments across Latin America.” [3] Castro repeatedly defended Cuba’s right to sovereignty, famously saying in a speech to the United Nations: “The United States Government cannot be for the integrity and sovereignty of nations. Why? Because it must curtail the sovereignty of nations in order to keep its military bases, and each base is a dagger thrust into sovereignty... World opinion, including American opinion, must be taught to see the other person's point of view. The underdeveloped peoples should not always be represented as aggressors; revolutionaries should not be presented as aggressors, as enemies of the American people.” [4] In this speech, Castro defends Cuba’s right to exist as a political and economic entity that is entirely separate to the United States, that poses no threat to the American way of life, and that is justified by the Cuban Revolution and hence the will of the Cuban people.

Counter arguments

While Fidel Castro did defend Cuba’s status as a sovereign nation, he’s the reason Cuba’s sovereignty was infringed upon in the first place, and he did not make any positive contributions to the independence of the Cuban people. Castro claimed that the legitimacy of his government stemmed from the fact that countries have the right to choose the political and economic system they desire. However, the Cuban people supported Fidel’s 1959 revolution because “its objectives were to restore the 1940 Constitution and the democratic institutions uprooted by the coup in March, 1952. Instead, the armed group from the Sierra Maestra took over the process, without prior approval or democratic consultation, through the issuance of decrees, gradually placing the entire economy in the hands of the State, and forging a single-party political model dominated by one man. Revolution is recognized as a source of power and rights, but legitimacy is granted by a popular vote.” [5] Castro justified many of his policy decisions by claiming that the Cuban Revolution and the will of the people is what made Cuba a sovereign state, but because his regime was never subject to a democratic vote, this nullified his government’s legitimacy and gave the United States an incentive to intervene when there previously was none. The United States supported Castro’s revolution, and this support only wavered when he began to embrace communism, repress the Cuban people’s right to freedom of speech, and take political prisoners. It can not be argued that Fidel Castro helped to protect Cuban sovereignty when he is the reason that sovereignty was challenged in the first place. In addition, his oppressive policies led to thousands of Cubans fleeing the island to find refuge in the United States, most notably in Florida and more specifically, Miami.



[P1] As a previously colonized nation, Cuba's sovereignty has historically always been infringed upon by other countries, most notably the United States due to their commercial interests on the island. [P2] When Fidel Castro began to embrace communism, the United States began to take economic and political measures against Cuba. This intensified once Castro began to seize and nationalize land in Cuba that was owned by U.S shareholders.

Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Thursday, 30 Jul 2020 at 04:08 UTC