Front Door to Cuba

Cuba in the 1950s
An Introduction

Batista on the cover of Time

In March 1952, a few months after a poll in the magazine Bohemia foretold that he would loose his bid for the Cuban presidency; Fulgencio Batista took over the Cuban government in bloodless coup d'état. The U.S., already familiar with Batista from their previous collaboration in the 1930s and his presidency in 1940, recognized his government within two weeks.

Batista's reappearance on the Cuban political scene in such a manner became the major factor that influenced the decade, giving rise to a movement of opposition that culminated with the triumph of the Cuban revolution on the first day of 1959.

The second event that set the stage for the decade came on July 26 1953, when the Castro brothers and about one hundred other rebels attacked the Moncada army barracks in Oriente Province. The attack was a failure, and the few rebels who were not killed were caught, tried, and sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Camilo and Castro

Under the inspirational guidance of Meyer Lansky, Havana had become the Latin Las Vegas, with the expected increase in tourism and nightlife. The right people were living well, but there seemed to be many more who had much less, and the spirit of revolution grew.

The Castro brothers and the rest of the Moncada prisoners were pardoned in 1955 after a public campaign, and went to Mexico, where they were joined by Ernesto Che Guevara.

In 1956 the rebels returned on the yacht Granma, and the insurrection against Batista took on a new energy that dominated the island until Batista left the country.

The Timetables: 1951

Fulgencio Batista | Camilo Cienfuegos
Ernesto Che Guevara |

The 1960s

On Racism - An excerpt from Revolutionary Cuba by Terrence Cannon | Castro Visits the U.S. - An excerpt from Family Portrait with Fidel by Carlos Franqui

Women in Pre-Revolutionary Cuba - An excerpt from Fidel Castro & the Quest for A Revolutionary Culture in Cuba By Julie Marie Bunck.

Meyer Lansky | Lucky Luciano

July 26 1953 | Frank Pais & the Underground Movement in the Cities | Granma | Sierra Maestra | Battle of Jigüe - An excerpt from Terrence Cannon’s Revolutionary Cuba | Che: Escape to the Sierra Maestra

A Photo of Hotel Nacional & the Havana skyline

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The 1950s

Fulgencio Batista