Cuban Revolution

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Cuban Revolution


a popular, anti-imperialist, agrarian revolution that was victorious on Jan. 1, 1959, and that subsequently developed into a socialist revolution. Breaking the chains of the imperialist yoke in Latin America, the Cuban Revolution led to the establishment of the first socialist state in the western hemisphere, thus marking a historical turning point and opening up a new stage in the revolutionary movement in that part of the world.

The Cuban Revolution took place under favorable international circumstances. A new balance of power had emerged as a result of the weakening of the world capitalist system, the growth of force and power in the socialist camp, and the solidarity and aid with which the socialist countries responded to Cuba. “The Cuban Revolution became possible only because the Russian Revolution of 1917 had taken place much earlier”

(F. Castro, Viva Kuba, Moscow, 1963, p. 21). The preconditions for a revolutionary outburst in Cuba included the rule of the latifundismo and the dominance of US capital, which retarded the development of the Cuban economy. Chronic unemployment, poverty, the lack of rights of the working people, and racial discrimination also stimulated the revolution.

The contradictions within Cuban society became especially acute as the result of the establishment in 1952 of the dictatorship of Batista y Zaldívar, who unleashed terror against all democratic forces and betrayed the country’s national interests. In the final analysis, the dictatorship was opposed by almost all classes and social groups in the country—industrial and farm workers, small and middle peasants, the intelligentsia, and radical strata of the urban petite bourgeoisie.

At first the struggle was, to a considerable degree, spontaneous, owing to the fragmentation of the political forces opposed to the dictatorship and the tendency of bourgeois party leaders to seek agreements with Batista and to practice militant anticommunism. Moreover, at that time Communists did not have sufficient forces to lead a revolution independently. Under these conditions a group of youths led by F. Castro attacked the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba on July 26, 1953. Their purpose was to capture weapons, arm the common people, and raise a revolt against the dictatorship to gain independence and sovereignty for the nation, to abolish the large estates, and to transfer the land to the peasants. The attack failed, and Castro and his comrades-in-arms were imprisoned. Nevertheless, it had a great influence on the domestic political situation and laid the foundation for the armed struggle against the tyranny. Despite extremely harsh persecution and the necessity of working underground, the Communists led strikes, which became particularly widespread in 1955. They did a great deal of revolutionary propaganda work, calling on all forces that opposed the dictatorship to take united action.

In December 1956 a group of revolutionaries brought together by Castro in Mexico, where he had emigrated after being freed from prison, landed in Cuba to continue the armed struggle against the dictatorship. Led by Castro, the group formed a partisan detachment in the Sierra Maestra. Drawing its ranks from the local population, primarily agricultural workers and peasants, the detachment gradually grew into the Rebel Army, which began to make significant attacks on government troops. This contributed to a further upswing in the revolutionary movement. During the growing struggle against Batista’s tyranny a de facto national democratic anti-imperialist front formed around the Rebel Army. It consisted of the revolutionary-democratic 26th of July Movement, which played a leading role in the coalition, the People’s Socialist Party of Cuba, and the 13th of March Revolutionary Directorate of the Students’ Federation.

Batista’s army became demoralized during the second half of 1958 and practically ceased to offer any resistance to the rebels. On Jan. 1, 1959, the Batista government collapsed. Power passed into the hands of the Provisional Government, whose members included right-wing bourgeois leaders who had attached themselves to the revolution but who were opposed to its further development. In the outlying regions, however, power was, in fact, held by the Rebel Army and its revolutionary leaders, headed by Castro. Subsequently, the government was purged of traitors to the revolution. In February 1959, Castro became head of the Revolutionary Government, and in July, O. Dorticós Torrado became president.

The revolution, which had been victorious as the result of the armed struggle by the Rebel Army supported by the popular movement, destroyed the military and state machinery of Batista’s tyranny, as well as the entire semicolonial and latifundiary regime. A new revolutionary regime was established which set as its goal Cuba’s complete liberation from foreign dependence, the promulgation of agrarian reform, and other profound social changes. The Cuban Revolution brought the proletariat to power and the toiling peasantry, who formed a close alliance. It removed from power the native bourgeois landowning oligarchy and put an end to the political and, eventually, the economic dominance of US imperialism in Cuba.

The participation in the revolution of the broadest possible spectrum of the popular masses, their determination to build a new life free of poverty and oppression, and the consistency of the Cuban Revolution’s leaders in promulgating socioeconomic changes have ensured the unswerving development of the revolution, as well as its rapid transition from the national liberation stage to that of a socialist revolution. With the support of the popular masses and the comprehensive aid of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries, the revolutionary regime has successfully opposed all subversive actions by the domestic counter-revolution, as well as US political, economic, and military pressure aimed at forcing the people of Cuba to turn away from the path which they have chosen. Examples of US pressure on Cuba include the Bay of Pigs invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962.

On April 16 and again on May 1, 1961, Castro publicly proclaimed the socialist nature of the Cuban Revolution. By this time the preconditions for building a socialist society had already been created in Cuba. The state had control of the economy, and there was a cultural revolution. In the process of unifying the country’s revolutionary organizations on a Marxist-Leninist basis, a single revolutionary party, the Communist Party of Cuba, was formed.

By 1969 the socialist sector encompassed almost the entire national economy. The private sector survived only in agriculture, where (as of 1972), 30 percent of the cultivated land remained in the hands of peasant proprietors. The country is being industrialized, and a great deal of work is being done to raise the people’s cultural level as well as to train cadres of specialists.

Under the leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba and the Revolutionary Government, the Cuban people selflessly strive to fulfill the tasks of peaceful construction. The most important factor contributing to the successful building of socialism in Cuba and the strengthening of its international position is the comprehensive aid and support of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries.


Castro, F. Rechi i vystupleniia. Moscow, 1960. (Translated from Spanish.)
Castro, F. Rechi i vystupleniia, 1961–63. Moscow, 1963. (Translated from Spanish.)
Castro, F. Nashe delo pobezhdaet: Rechi i vystupleniia, 1963–64. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from Spanish.)
Castro, F. Pust’ vechno zhivet bessmertnyi Lenin! Moscow, 1970. (Translated from Spanish.)
Castro, F. Sila revoliutsii—v edinstve. Moscow, 1972. (Translated from Spanish.)
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“Vtoraia Gavanskaia deklaratsiia.” Pravda, Feb. 6, 1962.
Guevara, E. Partizanskaia voina. Moscow, 1961. (Translated from Spanish.)
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Razumovich, N. N. Gosudarstvennye preobrazovaniia revoliutsionnoi Kuby. Moscow, 1964.
Grigulevich, I. R. Kul’turnaia revoliutsiia na Kube. Moscow, 1965.
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Blas Roca. 29 artículos sobre la Revolutión Cubana. Havana [1960]
Rodriguez, Rafael C. La close obrera y la revolutión. Havana, 1960.
Blas Roca, and L. Pena. Las funciones y el papel de los sindicatos ante la Revolutión. Havana, 1961.
Guevara, E. (”Che”). Obras, 1957–1967, vols. 1–2. [Havana] 1970.
Obra revolucionaria, 1960–66.
Cuba Socialista, 1961–67.
Ediciones COR, 1967–72.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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