On the brink of nuclear war: Castro interview

This stark inequality had entrenched poverty on the island, and had provided fertile ground for the ideals behind Castro’s revolution to take root. The Agrarian Reform law banned all foreign ownership of land and holdings of over 1,000 acres were confiscated. 

These lands had been redistributed, some turned into state-run communes, others given to some 200,000 rural workers who received titles to land. Castro had apparently even enraged his own mother by confiscating some of his family’s estate at Finca Las Manacas.

Castro wanted to show the press trip how that law, which remains today the basis of Cuba’s agricultural model, was changing ordinary Cubans’ lives for the better.

“You have been travelling across Cuba, what have you seen during [your] travelling? Everybody working, everybody happy. Have you seen economical difficulties?” he said to Day. 

A time of tension

But beneath the surface amiability of the tour, the situation could not have been more tense. 

The law had put Castro’s government at loggerheads with Washington and the press trip had been organised as part of a charm offensive to try to reverse the rapidly deteriorating situation between the two nations. 

Castro’s sudden rise to power had triggered profound repercussions internationally for the small Caribbean Island. The US government, in particular, was strongly opposed to Cuba’s burgeoning socialist experiment. Batista’s military dictatorship, while being corrupt, oppressive and deeply unpopular with Cubans, had been distinctly pro-US and the regime was seen as an ally with the US businesses that owned much of the country’s industry.

More like this:

The 1970 student protests that shook the US

Britain’s mysterious WW2 ‘island of death’

The man who saved 669 children from the Nazis

“Batista was considered the US’s best man in Cuba, who really enforced the law for the benefit of US companies,” Cuban diplomat and scholar Carlos Alzugaray told BBC Witness History in 2016. 

“For example, he and his cabinet received $2,000 each a month from the Mafia to let them do whatever they wanted to do in Cuba, about casinos, prostitution.” 

When the new revolutionary government took power, it had nationalised these US businesses without compensation, removing their stranglehold on the economy. In response, in 1960, the US had imposed a trade embargo – one which still remains in effect today – hoping that shortages and hunger would destabilise the new regime.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *