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Fidel Castro: after the revolution

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1959 is a tumultuous year for the people of Cuba. A mere six months after the Cuban revolution, president Manuel Urrutia Lleó resigns amid charges of being anti-Communist. One week later, revolutionary leader and Cuban prime minister Fidel Castro is ready to fill the void, and is interviewed in Havana by CBC-TV's Michael Maclear. In this interview they discuss Castro's plans for land reform, compensation for landowners and the social and democratic development of Cuba.
• Fidel Castro and his organization, known as the 26th of July Movement, overthrew Cuban General Fulgencio Batista's communist regime on Jan. 1, 1959.

• The 26th of July Movement's name originated from the failed attack on the Moncada Barracks, an army facility in the city of Santiago de Cuba, on July 26, 1953. The movement was reorganized in Mexico in 1955 by a group of 82 exiled revolutionaries (including Fidel Castro, his brother Raúl, Camilo Cienfuegos, and the Argentinian Che Guevara). Their mission was to form a disciplined guerrilla force to overthrow Batista. Their team of bearded guerrillas were known as the Barbudos.

• On Dec. 2, 1956, the revolutionaries landed in Cuba, having sailed from Veracruz aboard a boat named Granma. They landed in daylight and were attacked by the Cuban Air Force, and most of the men were killed. The group was divided and roamed the island, lost, for a couple of days. Sixteen of the original 82 eventually regrouped in the Sierra Maestra mountain range, where they encountered the Cuban Army. This was the beginning of the war of the Cuban Revolution, which continued for the next two years. It ended in January 1959, after Batista fled Cuba on New Year's Eve when the revolutionaries marched into Havana.

• The Bay of Pigs invasion of April 17, 1961, was an unsuccessful attempt by armed Cuban exiles in southwest Cuba to overthrow the government of Castro. This occurred shortly after John F. Kennedy assumed presidency in the United States. The invasion was planned and funded by the U.S. and led to a rapid deterioration in Cuban-American relations. Castro then declared Cuba a socialist republic and established formal ties with the Soviet Union. He nationalized industry, confiscated property owned by non-Cubans and created policies to assist labourers and peasants.

• In July of 1962, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev began secretly transporting nuclear weapons to Cuba. This led to the Cuban Missile Crisis, a confrontation between the United States, the Soviet Union and Cuba. This is the closest the Cold War came to becoming a full-scale nuclear war. On Oct. 15, 1962, United States reconnaissance photographs taken by an American U-2 spy plane spotted missile bases being built in Cuba. The crisis ended two weeks later on Oct. 28, 1962, when President of the U.S. John F. Kennedy and United Nations Secretary General U Thant reached an agreement with the Soviets to dismantle the missiles in Cuba in exchange for a no-invasion agreement and a secret removal of American Jupiter and Thor missiles in Turkey.

• After the Cuban Missile Crisis, John F. Kennedy imposed travel restrictions to Cuba. The Cuban Assets Control Regulations were issued on July 8, 1963, under the Trading with the Enemy Act. Under these restrictions, Cuban assets in the U.S. were frozen and the existing restrictions were consolidated. Multilateral sanctions were imposed by the Organization of American States (OAS) on July 26, 1964.

• In 2008 U.S. citizens are allowed unrestricted travel to Cuba, but there are still restrictions on spending U.S. currency in Cuba. In November 2004 Cuba banned commercial transactions in U.S. dollars in response to tighter American sanctions. Dollars now have to be exchanged for "convertible pesos" -- a local currency that can be used in shops on the island but has no value internationally.

• According to Fabian Escalante, the former head of Cuban Intelligence, there have been more than 600 failed assassination attempts on Castro. Failed plots include exploding cigars, femmes fatales, a radio station rigged with noxious gas, bombs, bullets, diseases, and a poison syringe inside a ballpoint pen.

• Castro and former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau were known to be friends. Castro was an honorary pallbearer at Trudeau's funeral in October 2000. Canada became one of the first North American allies to openly trade with Cuba. In 1998, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien arrived in Cuba to meet Castro, the first Canadian government leader to visit the island since Pierre Trudeau was in Havana in 1976. Cuba still has a good relationship with Canada.

• Fidel Castro resigned as prime minister of Cuba on Feb. 19, 2008. He was succeeded by his younger brother Raúl Castro (76). Raúl allowed ordinary citizens to watch foreign television, buy mobile phones, DVD-players, computers and other energy-consuming products which were forbidden under Fidel's rule. These changes were designed to improve the economy and generate revenue for the Castro regime. He also signed two United Nations human rights agreements which Fidel had refused to sign for over 30 years.
Medium: Television
Program: Newsmagazine
Broadcast Date: Aug. 2, 1959
Guest: Fidel Castro
Host: Norman DePoe
Interviewer: Ross MacLean
Duration: 11:10

Last updated: September 5, 2014

Page consulted on September 5, 2014

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