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First Look at Cuban Revolution

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Many who criticize the communist regime in Cuba compare it with the halcyon days before the Revolution. However, Cuba of Col. Fulgencio Batista was no picnic either. In 1952, when he staged a coup, Cuba was relatively prosperous country, whose GDP per capita was roughly equal to that of Italy. However, the society was deeply unequal — as it is often the case in many one-crop economies. Landlords, plantation owners, and union bosses controlled all the wealth and power. Batista tackled the problem by introducing a service economy in the form of legalized gambling. Havana became a centre of gambling, prostitution, and drugs. Meanwhile, Batista was never coy about his own extravagance ; he used a gold-plated telephone presented to him by the United States. He and his wife were exempt from all taxes.

Fighting this capitalist system was a group of guerrillas in Sierra Maestra mountains, for long a bed of insurgency; their leader was a bearded, bespectacled figure largely unknown to the outside world. Fidel Castro was an illegitimate son of a wealthy farmer, who had already spent time in jail for an attack on a barrack. As Cuba’s press was censored, Castro contacted foreign media to spread his message. After 1957, his fame was on its ascendant; a New York Times journalist came to interview him for a story which would become widely publicized.

Also in Castro’s hideout was a young photographer from Madrid. Enrique Meneses spent a few weeks in Havana unsubtly asking about the rebels before finding  someone to take him to the rebel-occupied area. He spent a month photographing the rebels; a young woman, smuggled his film out of Cuba to Miami in a petticoat. His editors at Paris Match were pleased. On the cover on the magazine on April 19, 1958 was a gun-toting Castro, taglined “the Robin Hood of the Sierra” and “Le Maquisard” (a French resistance fighter during the Nazi Occupation). Batista and his feared secret police were less pleased; they arrested and tortured Meneses.

But his sultanistic regime was now in its final months. The U.S. government ceased supplying him weapons. General strikes surrounded him, and many of his soldiers had defected to Castro. By November, the rebels controlled half of Cuba. On New Year’s Eve, Batista fled, taking with him $300 million from the treasury. 

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Enrique Meneses died in January 2013. His work was credited with introducing the world to the Castro Brothers, Che Guevara, and the Cuban Revolution.

Written by Alex Selwyn-Holmes

December 24, 2013 at 6:53 am

Posted in Politics

Tagged with , , ,

4 Responses

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  1. Amazing photos!

    martaze

    December 24, 2013 at 12:02 pm

  2. After 1957, his fame was on its ascendant; a New York Times journalist came to interview him for a story which would become widely publicized.

    Yes, a story filled with nothing but lies about who Fidel Castro actually was and what his intentions were should he succeed in seizing power in Cuba. Former Times executive editor Max Frankel has written that Herbert Matthews article, “practically invented Fidel Castro for the American people.” And that without it, Castro might never have risen to power in Cuba.

    Of course, the New York Times was not alone in the pro-Castro propaganda push orchestrated by left-wing journalists in the U.S. and elsewhere:

    “This is not a Communist Revolution in any sense of the term. Fidel Castro is not only not a Communist, he is decidedly anti-Communist.” (Herbert Matthews, New York Times, July 1959)

    “It would be a great mistake even to intimate that Castro’s Cuba has any real prospect of becoming a Soviet satellite.” (Walter Lippmann, Washington Post July, 1959)

    “Castro is honest, and an honest government is something unique in Cuba. Castro is not himself even remotely a Communist.” (Newsweek, April 1959)

    “We can thank our lucky stars Castro is no Communist,” (Look Magazine, March 1959.)

    Handmaidens to tyranny, torture, murder, poverty and oppression.

    Those Cubans who have survived Castro’s murderous purges have had the potential of their lives destroyed by his disgusting socialist regime.

    Anyone offering him homage is just as degenerate as he is.

    Che is dead

    December 26, 2013 at 6:37 pm

  3. […] the great Mexican photographer; Fred O. Waters, who covered the wars in Korea and Vietnam, and Enrique Meneses, who introduced the world to Fidel, Che, and their […]


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