The Cuban Revolution


Brief Context
Spain occupied Cuba and had it in its possession from 1492 all the way up till 1899. Cuba fought a succession of wars against Spain for independence, the third of which involved the U.S., known as the Spanish-American war. The U.S. had been heavily involved in Cuba and its affairs ever since it took the island from Spain in the Spanish-American War of 1899. The interference led to a growth of anti-American sentiment in Cuba, manifesting itself in opposition to the ruling regime. The Cuban Revolution was an armed revolt led by Fidel Castro against Batista, a U.S.-backed Cuban dictator, who was ultimately brought down from power and replaced by Castro’s revolutionary government.


Cuban Revolution Texts

Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution

Citation: Ferrer, Ada. 2016. Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution. Cambridge University Press.

Description: This book follows the reverberations of the Haitian Revolution in Cuba. By creatively linking two stories – one of the Haitian Revolution, arguably the most radical revolution in the modern world where enslaved and formerly enslaved people succeeded in ending slavery and establishing independence, and the story of the rise of Cuban slave society – that are usually told separately, Ada Ferrer sheds fresh light on both crucial moments in Caribbean and Atlantic history.

A History of the Cuban Revolution

Citation: Chomsky, Aviva. 2015. A History of the Cuban Revolution. 2nd ed. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Description: This book presents a socio-historical account of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, balancing a comprehensive overview of the political and economic events of the revolution, alongside a look at its social impact. It provides an on-the-ground look at the lives of ordinary people, featuring both U.S. and Cuban perspectives to provide a well-rounded look at the revolution and its repercussions. It encourages readers to understand history through the perspectives of those who lived and are living through it.

“History Will Absolve Me”

Citation: Castro, Fidel. History Will Absolve Me. The Moncada Trial Defence Speech. Santiago de Cuba. 16 October 1953.

Description: The primary purpose of Castro’s speech was to defend and justify the rebellion, or the attack on the Moncada Barracks in 1953, led by him, followed by his revolutionaries. In this speech he not only criticises and vilifies Batista’s regime, outing its corruption of Cuba’s constitution, military, and judiciary, but also provides a comprehensive set of reforms that he claims his revolutionaries and him would have implemented had they been successful. He ends the speech entreating the panel of judges to send him and his comrades to prison, claiming not to want to live in Batista’s Cuba as a ‘free’ citizen, claiming that future generations will forgive him for his attempt to overthrow the regime, and famously concluding with “History will absolve me”.

Sex and Revolution: Women in Socialist Cuba

Citation: Smith, Lois M. and Alfred Padula. 1996. Sex and Revolution: Women in Socialist Cuba. Oxford University Press.

Guerilla Warfare

Citation: Guevara, Ernesto Che. 1961. Guerilla Warfare. New York: Monthly Review Press.