On January 1, 1959, the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista was forced to relinquish his presidential position and flee Cuba. Before Castro took control of Cuba, the oppressive Batista was effectively kept in power do to his relations with the US. In 1952, Batista ran for presidency. Although all signs pointed to him losing the election, with some help from the US, Batista managed to pull off a military coup that would essentially prevent anyone to undermine his authority. Although the US viewed Castro as an enemy, the people of Cuba saw him as a liberator. This difference in view is what would eventually become one of the root causes for the Cuban Missile Crises.
Castro’s first plan of action was to fix the Cuban economy. His second goal was attempt to fix war-crime trials. Hundreds of men in Batista’s regime were executed so that there would be little chance of opposition. The firing squads that killed Batista’s men were broadcasted on United States television. This created unrest in the US because the people of the United States were unaware of just how cruel Batista’s men were. When asked what Castro thought of the killings Castro said that the shootings were no worse than the US bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Other terms were also made that further widened the gap between the US and Castro. People in the US gradually agreed that Castro was a cruel dictator, however, they had no idea just how much of a savior he was to the people of Cuba.
In 1959, Castro was invited to the United States by the American Society of Newspaper Editors. Eisenhower decided to ignore Castro and instead send Nixon, while he himself went to play golf. At the end of meeting Nixon was left with the idea that Castro was not fit to rule a nation. Nixon believed that Castro was more likely to be the leader of a mob than a ruler of a nation. Nixon concluded that Castro was “either incredibly naive about communism or under communist discipline.” his guess, he said was the former.
After waiting a few months to see what Castro would do with his new found power, Eisenhower decided that it was time to take action. In March, 1960, a French ship carrying arms to Cuba exploded. Castro blamed the CIA for the incident, this set the Eisenhower administration over the edge. Eisenhower approved $13 million to round up former Batistianos to join forces with the US for the Bay of Pigs invasion. As Eisenhower prepared to invade he reduced the purchase of Cuban sugar bay nearly 95 percent. In response to this, the Soviet Union declared that they would buy sugar from Cuba to offset the deficit of their new allies. Cuban people were furious that the US would be willing to cut ties with them so hastily.
After the failed Bay of Pigs invasion on April 17, 1960, Khrushchev decided that Cuba should be under the protection of the Soviet Union. In the fall the US launched their first attempt of assassinating Castro. The attempt failed and left the Cuban people demanding reconcile. As one journalist, Walter Lippmann stated “Eisenhower shouldn't have pushed the Cubans behind the iron curtain.” He said the right thing for the US to have done would have been to “keep the way open for their return.”
Fulgencio Batista before he was over thrown.
Cuban firing squad shooting at Batistas men.
Fidel Castro meeting with Nixon in 1959.
Cuban troops capturing former Batistianos at the Bay of Pigs Invasion.