The Extent of Fidel Castro’s Achievement of His Aims Between 1959 and 1979
To what extent was Fidel Castro able to achieve his aims between 1959 and 1979, and what prevented him from achieving more? During Fulgencio Batista’s reign in Cuba, Fidel Castro had insistently professed his dissatisfaction with the government, and when he finally took over in 1959, he effected a government that formed the basis from which the criticism of many historians today derives. To a minimal extent, Fidel Castro was able to achieve his aims between 1959 and 1979. Revealed in the 26th of July Movement’s doctrine, Castro’s goals called for Cuba to become fully independent and purely democratic while having a just society.
Castro’s goals were hindered not only by the dependence on the U. S. , but also on the Soviet Union after relations with the U. S. intensified. By the end of his reign, Castro had not upheld his initial revolutionary ideology; therefore, he did not achieve his aims for Cuba to the greater extent. In one of his aims, Castro hoped to see Cuba become independent. In order to become less dependent on foreign countries, Castro implemented an economic reform that would allow Cuba to become less dependent on the foreign countries. He wanted to create a more centralized economy by confiscating businesses, many of which were American-owned.
The U. S. saw this attempt of nationalization as a direct challenge to their interests, thus they removed the sugar quota placed an embargo on Cuba, threatening to destroy the base of the Cuban economy. Cuba had now become independent from U. S. trade, but with no means self-sufficiency, Cuba turned to another group–the socialist/communist nations in the eastern hemisphere. Cuba had increased their sugar production tremendously because of Castro’s speech, “The Year of Decisive Endeavor,” in 1963 which set a production goal of 10 million tons of sugar by 1970 so that Cuba could industrialize and become more self-reliant.
USSR began buying this Cuban sugar in return for industrial equipment and machinery which allowed Castro to develop their countries as allies. Germany also agreed to sell the industrial necessities needed by Cuba. During these early 1960 years, Cuba quickly lost nearly all economic dependence on the U. S. , but any progress toward self-sufficiency was undermined by the developing relationship with the Soviet Union. Unlike the U. S. , the Soviet Union was not hostile to the idea of an independent Cuba and was willing to defend Cuban interest.
In reality, Castro might have professed his devotion to socialism in his Marxist-Leninist speech only for the benefit of siding with the world’s socialist superpowers for military and economic support. Castro’s favoring paid off because the Soviet Union placed nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962; however, this caused U. S. -Soviet tensions to peak when the U. S. made the threat of invading Cuba. Castro also attempted to establish Cuba’s independence by making the change to a Communist state, which began distinguished officially in 1965.
Although the changes were small in the early 1960s, it was not until 1976 that Cuba created a new constitution. Another aspect proving Cuban independence was the buildup of a strong military force from foreign intervention and internal opposition. Castro suspected the U. S. of military action because of their discontent with his socialist policies. Nearing the end of the first decade of his reign, Castro revealed that Cuba did not meet the 10 million ton harvest, but welcomed the shame and criticism that the failure would bring about.
Throughout the years of Castro’s reign, he strived to assert Cuba as an independent nation, as demonstrated with the victory in the Bay of Pigs Invasion; however, he never fully accomplished this aim, continuing to depend on their monoculture and export-oriented economy. Castro’s objective for Cuba was to uphold an uncorrupted, democratic nation. However many of his actions prove his ideology wrong. Within the early months after he overthrew Batista, Castro made a decision with other revolutionaries to pass the Fundamental Law of the Republic in February of 1959.
By passing this legislature he gave himself more legislative power as executive of the country, adding to his power to veto due to his rank as Executive of Army. Jose Cardona was replaced from his job as Head of Legislature which allowed Castro to basically become a dictator–the opposite of a democracy. The people of Cuba lost their freedoms that citizens should have in a democracy. The government began redistributing income from the urban to the rural working class. Although it created successes such as a raise in wages, a raise in purchasing power, and a decrease in unemployment, incomes were still not all equal.
Land became another freedom of the people that the government decided to take away and redistribute. Large plantation estates called Latifundios were outlawed and limited to 995 acres with the Agrarian Reform Law. The INRA enforced the ARL which hurt large American owned companies like Coca Cola and Hershey’s, contributing more animosity from the U. S. Along with the Second Law of Agrarian Reform in 1963, both reforms created an agricultural system that did not produce the same amount of crop as they did pre-1959 until the late 1960s.
After forming the Constitution in 1976, Castro made a government that was not very efficient and could silence any complaint with the “red tape” effect. By reorganizing the government into the military, executive committee, and communist party, the constitution made the Cuban bureaucracies contributing to a more authoritarian-like government. More and more, Castro nationalized Cuba in every aspect and Castro, having achieved an economic stability, made a Communistic dictatorship; therefore, he did not achieve his goal for a democracy in Cuba since his own regime was corrupt.
Another goal that Castro had for Cuba from 1959 to 1979 was to create a just society. One way Castro made this society was by targeting the needs of the people and providing them with an education and healthcare system. One of the biggest issues during Castro’s reign was the country’s lack of educated revolutionaries because most of the trained workers and professionals emigrated from the island. In his 1961 speech Castro proclaimed that this year would be the “Year of Education. ” To some extent he did achieve this aspect of providing immediate literacy which rose from 76% to 94% in 1979.
Other improvements occurred up through this first decade of Castro’s reign such as recruiting 100,000 students, the tripling of teachers, and quadrupling of schools. However, Castro did create a curriculum that would not only provide an education limited to only basic reading and writing but also indoctrinate students with the loyalty and morals of Communism. Vilma Espin, the head of The Cuban Women’s Federation, advocated for literacy rates in the female population while also pushing for education and healthcare as well. Through Espin’s work, Castro realized that it was larger issue, thus he passed the Family Code.
This law mandated equality in marriage and legitimized divorce. This law was never really enforced but women were generally happy with the gain. Gender and racial equality was an issue with which no other country in Latin America had dealt. Castro also stressed the need for a healthcare system in Cuban society in order to create a just society. His system would implement a method that trained doctors in universities around the country. Because of forming of education and healthcare systems, Castro’s aim for social justice in Cuba was achieved to some extent.
Castro was not able to uphold his ideology because limited reasons. The chief reason that may have hindered him from achieving more is the on-going tensions with the U. S. and the economic consequences from this. If the U. S. did not have the discontent toward Cuba’s regime, Cuba would have developed the revolutionized economy that they sought. If Castro had developed relations with the U. S. and given up the socialist policies, Cuba would have avoided severe U. S. tensions and the embargo altogether. The U. S. embargo on Cuba was a major influence that hindered economic prosperity and diversified agriculture.
Castro focused on manipulate Cuba from his revolutionary political aims in the 26th of July Movement. Initially, he attempts to create Cuba in the ideology of a system of social justice within the broadest concept of democracy, of freedom and of human rights. Throughout his reign Castro enacted laws and promoted policies in order to create this fully independent and democratic Cuba with a just society. To the least extent, Castro fulfilled this vision during the first two decades of the revolution, and on-going tensions with the U. S. prevented Castro from extending his revolutionary aim.