Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Cuban History Chronology, Part Two

° 1 January, 1899. The first U.S. military governor of Cuba, General John R. Brooke assumes his office. Yankee imperialism has total control of the island.

° 16 January, 1901. Fulgencio Batista Zaldívar is born in Banes, Cuba.

° 1906-1908. First U.S. military occupation of the island after the so-called “independence” of 1902.

° 1912. Second U.S. military occupation.

° 1917-1933 Third U.S. military occupation and economic protectorate. (See: From Wounded Knee to Iraq: A Century of U.S. Military Occupations, by Dr. Zoltan Grossman.)

° The military occupation of Cuba on the above dates is further proof that Cuba was not really a free, sovereign and independent country, but merely became a neo-colony of the United States, like Puerto Rico and the Philippines. U.S. economic interests ruled the island by means of native puppets.

° 20 May, 1925. Gerardo Machado is elected 5th president of Cuba. He became a despot and forced his way into a second term. He was finally toppled in 1933 by veterans of the 1995 Cuban War of Independence, army officers and civic leaders in a general strike. Machado was in very good terms with American business interests in Cuba. Despite the repression and violence of Machado's regime, the Americans supported him strongly. U.S. president Calvin Coolidge went as far as saying that under Machado the Cuban people were “free, independent, in peace and enjoying the advantages of democracy,” which was a huge divorce from the reality of the Machado years."

° 13 August, 1926. Fidel Castro Ruz is born in Birán,, Cuba.

° 14 June, 1928. Ernesto Guevara de la Serna is born in Rosario de Santa Fe, Argentina; he will later be known throughout the world as 'Che'.

° 12 August, 1933. Cuban dictator Gerardo Machado is toppled by a general strike; a provisional government assumes power.

° 4 September, 1933. The provisional government of Cuba is overthrown by th 'Sergeants Revolt', one of whose leaders is Fulgencio Batista. Ramon Grau San Martin assumes the presidency. Batista becomes the Army Chief of Staff, with the rank of colonel, and effectively controlled the presidency.

Fulgencio Batista becomes the strongman of Cuba behind a succession of "puppet presidents." Grau was replaced by Carlos Mendieta, and within five days the U.S. recognized Cuba's new government, which lasted 11 months. Succeeding governments were led by José Barnet (5 months) and Miguel Mariano Gómez (7 months) before Federico Laredo Brú ruled from December 1936 to October 1940.

° 1934. U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt establishes his “Good Neighbor Policy.” The Platt Amendment is repealed, but American interests continue to rule the island.

° 1940-1944. First presidency of the strongman. Fulgencio Batista defeats Ramón Grau San Martín in the 1940 elections, and serves a four year term as President of Cuba. Batista was supported by a coalition of political parties. Although Batista was a capitalist and an admirer of the United States, he was endorsed by the old Communist Party of Cuba. The Communist party has ministers in Batista's cabinet.

° 9 April, 1948. Fidel Castro participates in the “Bogotazo” in Colombia, an armed uprising after the death of Jorge Eliécer Gaitán.

° 1950-1952. Fidel Castro becomes a public figure at the University of Havana. He graduates with a degree in Law. He joins the Partido Ortodoxo (Orthodox Party), a liberal democratic group, which was widely expected to win in 1952 on an anti-corruption platform.

° 1952. Fulgencio Batista runs again for president. In a three-way race, Roberto Agramonte of the Ortodoxos party led in all the polls, followed by Dr. Carlos Hevia of the Auténtico party, while Batista was running a distant third.

° 10 March, 1952. Three months before the elections, Fulgencio Batista, with army backing, staged a military coup d'etat and seizes power. He ousts outgoing President Carlos Prío Socarrás, cancels the elections and assumes control of the government as "provisional president". Shortly after the coup, the United States government recognizes his regime and supports him very strongly from that point forward. Batista's opponents are executed on the streets of La Habana and other major cities during his dictatorial regime. The United States never complains about Human Rights violations, especially the frequent tortures committed by Batista's National Police against his opponents.

° After Batista's March 10 coup d'etat, Fidel Castro presents a document before the Cuban Supreme Court which asks the court to declare unconstitutional and illegal Batista's March 10 coup. He is ignored by the court.

° Batista encourages large scale gambling in Havana, announcing that the government would provide a casino license and match the amount invested by anyone making a hotel investment over $1 million. Meyer Lansky, a leading American mobster, took advantage of the offer and became a prominent figure in Cuba's gambling operations.

° Batista established lasting relationships with U.S. organized crime, and under his rule La Habana became known as "the Latin Las Vegas." Lansky associate Chauncey Holt described Batista as "always in Lansky's pocket." The Mob also controlled and profited from all the La Habana brothels and the cocaine and marijuana trade. Batista gets a cut from The Mob.

° 1946. During Frank Sinatra's singing debut in La Habana, a summit was held at Havana's Hotel Nacional, where mobsters Frank Costello, Vito Genovese, Santo Trafficante Jr., Moe Dalitz and others confirmed Lucky Luciano's authority over the American Mafia.

° 26 July, 1953. Fidel Castro and a large band of his followers attack the army garrison at the Moncada Barracks in Santiago de Cuba. A smaller group attacks the Carlos Manuel de Céspedes Army Barracks in Bayamo. The attacks end in failure and Fidel and some of his followers head for the mountains, where they are captured later on by Batista's army. The date would be used to name Fidel Castro's 26th of July Movement.

° 1 August, 1953. Fidel Castro is taken prisoner.

° 16 October, 1953. Fidel Castro acts as his own defense attorney during his trial for the Moncada Barracks assault. He finishes his own defense speech by saying “Condemn me, history will absolve me!” He is condemned to 15 years in jail and his brother Raul Castro gets 13 years.

° 15 May 1955. Fidel Castro, his brother Raul and other political prisoners of Batista's dictatorship leave the Isle of Pines prison after a political amnesty. Later on they head for Mexico, where Fidel Castro meets Argentinian Ernesto 'Che' Guevara, who joins Fidel's 26th of July Movement group of revolutionaries. They are trained in guerrilla warfare by General Alfredo Bayo, a retired Cuban general of the Republican Loyalists (anti-Franco) forces in the Spanish Civil War of the 1930's.

° 10 October 1956. The Cuban revolutionaries purchase the yacht Granma, a 60-foot (18 m) diesel-powered cabin cruiser.

° 25 November 1956. Shortly after midnight, in the Mexican port of Tuxpan, Veracruz, the Granma is surreptitiously boarded by 82 members of the 26th of July Movement, including its leader, Fidel Castro, and they set out for Cuba at 1 a.m.

° 30 November 1956. In Santiago de Cuba, Frank Pais leads the 26th of July Movement militia in an uprising against the Batista government. The action is a failure, but it marks the beginning of a popular insurrection against the Batista tyranny.

° 2 December, 1956. Fidel and his group land in Cuba at Playa Las Coloradas, which is today part of Granma province. The location was chosen to emulate the voyage of national hero José Martí, who had landed in the same region 61 years earlier during the wars of independence from Spanish colonial rule. Batista's Air Force bombs the revolutionaries. A small group of survivors commanded by Fidel Castro head for the Sierra Maestra mountains. The last chapter of of the Cuban Revolution begins.

° 1957. The United States supplies Batista with planes, ships, tanks, and the latest technology such as napalm which were used in his battle against Fidel Castro's insurgency.

° 16 January, 1957. Fidel and his guerrillas stage their first military action. They attack and capture La Plata.

° 17 February, 1957. Herbert Mathews, of The New York Times, interviews Fidel Castro in the Sierra Maestra.

° 13 March, 1957. A large group of students, led by the University of La Habana's Federation of Students President, Jose Antonio Echevarria, attack the presidential palace of General Fulgencio Batista. The dictator uses a small elevator to escape to a higher floor of the palace. Echevarria is killed while trying to take over a radio station. The attack is a failure, but university students become strong allies of the 26th of July Movement.

° 28 May, 1957. Battle of El Uvero.

° 17 July, 1957. The second column of the Rebel Army is created. It is commanded by Ernesto 'Che' Guevara.

° 17 February, 1958. Fidel Castro creates three new rebel columns, commanded by Juan Almeida, Raul Castro and Camilo Cienfuegos.

° 31 August, 1958. The rebel columns of comandantes Camilo Cienfuegos and Ernesto 'Che' Guevara's depart the Sierra Maestra and start an invasion of central Cuba provinces.

° 20-30 November, 1958. Battle of Guisa

° 23 December, 1958. Cuban dictator General Fulgencio Batista sends an armored train toward central Cuba. The train is a combination of two locomotives and seventeen freight and passenger cars, containing 373 soldiers and $4 Million worth of ammunitions and provisions for two months. The train is paid by generous military aid to the Cuban dictator by the United States government. Forces under the leadership of Comandante Ernesto 'Che' Guevara advance on Santa Clara, Cuba's third largest city.

° 30 December, 1958. Ernesto 'Che' Guevara's men remove 30 feet of rails. The armored train is derailed by rebel forces under his command. At 7:00 p.m. the train and its soldiers surrender to the rebels.

° 31 December, 1958. Santa Clara falls to the rebel forces of Ernesto 'Che' Guevara. The island has been effectively cut in two.

° 31 December, 1958. Camilo Cienfuegos leads revolutionary guerrillas to victory in Yaguajay.

° 1 January, 1959. At 3:00 a.m. General Fulgencio Batista boards a plane and flees the island. He seeks refuge with fellow Dictator Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic. He empties Cuba's Treasury Department and takes with him his personal fortune of more than US$300 million amassed through graft and payoffs. Batista's supporters take as much as US$700 million in fine art and cash with them as they fled into exile in Miami. The cash was deposited in Florida banks and was never returned to Cuba by the United States government.

° 1 January, 1959. Cuba's third war for national independence and Fidel Castro's revolution are finally triumphant. The despised U.S. supported despot is finally gone. Cuba is at last free and master of its own destiny.

° 1 January, 1959. Fidel Castro enters Santiago de Cuba. A Caravan of Liberty, composed of Fidel Castro and his rebel column starts a slow and triumphant journey toward La Habana.

° 2 January, 1959. Rebel Commanders Camilo Cienfuegos and Ernesto 'Che' enter La Habana with their troops. The city receives them with a wild and huge celebration party. A provisional revolutionary government is established.

° 8 January, 1959. Fidel Castro enters La Habana and heads for Columbia Military Camp. He speaks before thousands of Cubans. White doves are released and they align themselves on Fidel's shoulders. He asks what becomes a historically famous phrase: “Am I doing well Camilo?” Columbia would be later converted into a School City.

° January, 1959. Many of Batista's bloody henchmen are captured and are executed by firing squads. Now that Batista no longer rules Cuba, the U.S. government starts complaining about Human Rights violations.

To be continued....

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